How to Plaster a Wall

We at Building Supplies Online have put together a simple to follow guide on how to plaster a wall. Our guide will walk you through the steps you need to follow, show you how to do it and also what you need to make it a success. Our useful guide on how to plaster a wall properly including the amount of time and effort it can take you will help you prepare the perfect wall or ceiling for decorating and leave you with a great finish and sense of satisfaction in your DIY project.

Before you start on your plastering project make sure you have the following materials and tools available, all of which can be found in stock at Building Supplies Online.

  • Plasterer’s trowel and bucket trowel
  • Plasterers Float
  • Corner Trowel
  • Hawk
  • Two Buckets
  • Mixing stick and/or paddle
  • Plaster
  • Clean Water
  • Sandpaper
  • Stepladder, platform or stilts
  • Flat Mask
Plaster Tools

How to Plaster a Wall - Step by Step

Make sure your wall is clean by removing any existing plaster, wallpaper or dust. Check the suction of your wall to ensure that it isn’t too porous. If the surface to be plastered is too porous it will suck the moisture from the plaster too fast which will mean that the plaster won’t have a chance to work correctly before it dries.

Mix the plaster and water together roughly half and half. Using a simple trick of filling half a bucket of clean water and adding the plaster you should make a full bucket of plaster that can then be used. When mixing your plaster it should end up having a creamy, thick consistency with no lumps. Use the second bucket to clean your mixing tools as you go. It's easier than cleaning of dry plaster at the end.

Using your Plasterers Hawk, tilt it towards you and skim a small amount of plaster from the hawk onto your trowel in one quick smooth movement. Then, with the plaster from your trowel run a horizontal top border line along the uppermost section of the area you are plastering and if at all possible try to work from right to left. Work the plaster into the edges creating a flat even coat of plaster that is flat and even and around 2mm thick.

Once the top border is complete continue putting the plaster onto the wall but this time using vertical upwards motion curving around as you reach the top border. Angle the leading edge of the trowel away from the wall as you apply the plaster and gradually flatten the trowel closer to the wall as you move along and the plaster comes off the trowel. Make sure you overlap the top border and continue using a curving motion. Every time you finish an upward application make sure you go over it with a fairly flat trowel using an angle of approximately of 10-15mm to ensure you flatten everything you’ve just done.

The next stage is to flatten the first coat off and give your trowel a quick clean. The sole purpose of this stage is to get your wall flat and knock the ridges back, wait for 5 to 15 minutes until your wall has dried to a tacky consistency and then run your trowel over the wall to knock any ridges make the wall flat. Once the first coat of plaster has been applied it can be trowelled up and you can then apply the second coat of plaster. the second coat of plaster is applied in a similar way to the first coat but you should aim for a thickness of around 1mm. Remember to firmly push with your trowel when applying the second coat otherwise, you may end up with some small holes as you go over the first coat. To do this effectively use a flattish trowel going along the wall with the leading edge at around 10-15mm combined with firm pressure.

Pass your trowel over your wall looking out for holes or hollow areas and if you find any, gently work the plaster into them. You can also use a small paintbrush to help you with any corners at this stage, using big strokes up and down the corners to make sure the plaster is applied evenly. The next step is the trowelling up process. make sure you leave the wall to get tacky and then it will be time to remove the trowel marks. You will be able to see from the colour of the plaster when it is time for the final trowel as the plaster will darken in colour as it sets.

Third and Final Coat

It is important to make sure at this stage that you do not over polish the plaster. The plaster should be slightly polished and even but feel like an eggshell when you run your hand over it. If the plaster is any smoother than this it will make it extremely difficult for any wallpaper or paint to stick to it.

As you start to complete the finish of your plaster using the float it is possible that the float could pull some plaster from the high spots on your wall to the lower spots, but just remember, you can always add more plaster if it is needed or just wipe away any surplus plaster from your float onto your hawk.

Some things to remember

You can use your scraper or trowel to fill any corner gaps between the plaster walls with the first coat and make sure you scrape off any excess.

Corner faces

Once your first coat of plaster is dry you can use the scraper or trowel to take off any small ridges. After you have done this, cut a small piece of paper tape to the height of your wall and fold the tape in half to create a crease running down the centre. Apply a thin coat of plaster base coat to both sides of the internal corner of your paper tape and then press the tape over the top of the corner of walls in your room. Once the paper tape is in place use your trowel to flatten the tape onto the wall making sure to squeeze out any excess plaster and then leave it to dry. Once it is dry use a trowel or paint scraper to apply a top coat of plaster onto both corner faces. Then, using an internal corner plaster tool, run it over the top coat to give your corner a flat and flawless finish.