How to Plaster an Interior Wall

Plastering a wall is a DIY task that takes skill and patience. As with all of the more difficult tasks, the sense of satisfaction upon completion is immense. Giving your walls an attractive and professional finish is a fundamental first step in achieving a stylish home décor. Our guide will help you get the job done.

What you need:

Laminated dustsheet or tarpaulin | Vacuum cleaner | Washing up brush | 2 buckets | Screwdriver | PVA (optional) | Large paintbrush (optional) | Watering can | Handboard
Trowel | Plastering trowel | Spray bottle | Drill | Drill mixing paddle bit | Plaster | Paintbrush

    Step 1: Prepare
    Plastering can be a messy business so lay down a protective floor covering such as a tarpaulin or laminated dustsheet before you start.

    Cleanliness is absolutely essential when plastering. Any grit or dirt that end up in your mix or on the trowel will end up spoiling the smooth finish of your walls. Vacuum clean all surfaces and the floor before starting.

    Wash all plastering tools before starting and after applying each layer of plaster using a washing up brush.

    If you are about to plaster a fresh brick wall, it may be necessary to seal the wall with a 50:50 PVA and water solution first. This will stop the wall from sucking all of the water from the freshly applied plaster, which will ensure the plaster remains workable for longer and does not dry out. The wall should be completely dry before you begin plastering.

    Step 2: Remove Obstacles
    Remove all sockets, curtain rails and other obstacles from the wall.

    Step 3: Gather Equipment
    Gather all the items required.

    Step 4: Mix Plaster
    Fill your mixing bucket to 25% of its capacity with water, and then add the plaster to the water bit by bit. Use an electric drill with a plaster mixing paddle to get a professionally smooth consistency.

    While mixing, scrape the edges of your bucket with your trowel to include all dry material. Keep adding plaster until you reach a consistency resembling that of thickly whipped cream; when you withdraw the paddle it should leave a hole in the mixture.

    Step 5: Wet Tools
    Mist the surfaces of your trowel and hand board with water from the spray bottle. This helps prevent the plaster from sticking.

    Step 6: Load Handboard
    Using the trowel, load two scoops of plaster on to the handboard.

    Step 7: Apply Plaster
    Load the plastering trowel from the handboard. Start plastering from the corners and work towards the centre. If you are right-handed, start at the top left-hand corner. If you are left-handed, start at the top right-hand corner.

    Lay down the first coat roughly. Don't worry about smoothing at this stage, just aim to get the material onto the wall. Don't be too careful going around obstacles either, they can be dealt with at a later stage.

    Step 8: Smooth First Coat
    Allow the plaster to set for 10-15 minutes, then starting in the corner again, run the trowel over the surface of the wall using long, deliberate strokes to smooth out any bumps or hollows and to make the surface smooth enough for the second coat. Ensure an even thickness of coating around obstacles at this stage.

    Step 9: Clean Tools
    As mentioned in step 1, it is now time to wash all the plastering tools in a bucket of water with a washing up brush.

    Step 10: Apply Second Coat
    Apply a second coat, much thinner than the first. Use broad strokes, backwards and forwards to lay a smooth top layer.

    Step 11: Smooth Edges
    Run a wet brush along the edge where one wall meets another wall or the ceiling. This helps to produce a smooth inside corner.

    Step 12: Dampen & Smooth Wall
    Use a spray bottle to dampen the surface of the wall as well as the plastering trowel with water. Then use long deliberate strokes to smooth out the plaster as much as possible.

    If you have not achieved the smooth finish you require after a few strokes, don't be tempted to think that you can fix it later by sanding it flat. It is impossible to properly sand plaster smooth. Keep skimming and polishing the plaster while it is damp and have patience, it will pay off in the end.