Exceptional Plastering - Exceptional Quality Across all Aspects of the Trade
Frequently Asked Questions

What is plastering?
When do you need a plasterer?
Why get a plasterer?
Different levels of quality?
How long does plastering take?
How long will it be before I can paint?
How much mess will there be?

What is plastering?

Plastering is essentially the art of turning a building from a bare shell into something that is recognizable as a home. Using a variety of products plasterers cover up the inner workings of the building and leave it ready to be second fixed and decorated by other trades. 

When do you need a plasterer?

This depends on a few factors, I generally put plastering into two categories; Cosmetic and Technical.

Cosmetic plastering - covers damaged finishing plaster, small holes, non structural cracks, overskimming etc. These can usually be completed in a short space of time with minimal mess. A lot of cosmetic work can be completed by a competent decorator.  

Technical plastering - covers the technical plastering elements, replacing damaged ceilings, severely damaged base coat plaster, big holes etc. These types of damage should be inspected by an experienced plasterer so the best course of action can be determined.

So you need a plasterer when the work is too technical, too damaged or large for a decorator to handle. It is always a good idea to get the opinion of a trusted, experienced plasterer.

Why get a plasterer?

Plastering is a highly skilled trade often described as an art. It takes years to gather the necessary experience and skill to be able to identify the most effective and efficient way of solving a plastering issue. If you employ the services of an experienced plasterer they will be able to tell you exactly what can and can't be done, and the best way to go about achieving the results you desire.

Different levels of quality? 

It is a simple fact that some plasterers are better than others and there is a variety of reasons for this;

Training - The level of training plasterers receive can vary immensely, from self-taught odd-job plasterers, to inexperienced college/course taught plasterers, to properly apprenticed plasterers who have learned their trade on the job under the supervision of other skilled plasterers. 

Experience - As a plasterer gains more experience they learn from trial and error which are the most effective and efficient ways of carrying out a certain task. With this understanding it is then possible to adapt standard techniques to fit different situations and maintain a consistent, high level of quality.

Quality Control - Not all plasterers get subjected to quality control measures, such as can be found on building sites. If a plasterer operates solely on the domestic/private side of the trade it is quite possible they will go their whole career without having their work quality assessed or "snagged". 

How long does plastering take?

This obviously depends on the job being carried out and how much work is involved.  There are usually three phases involved;

Preparation - The first phase of any plastering task is the preparation, where the surfaces are prepared ready to be finished. Preparation includes plaster boarding, bonding, beading, base coating, filling any deep surface holes.

Finishing - This is the second phase, the finishing coat is applied. For skim this is usually a gypsum based finishing plaster, it should be troweled up to a smooth even finish. For external renders it is a slightly weaker coat of render which is then finished to the specifications of the customer (Many different patterns and effects are available.

Cleaning- The third and final phase is to clean the space in which the work has been carried out. Note: Clean does not necessarily mean spotless, the area should be left in a similar condition to how it was before work commenced. 

A competent plasterer should be able to assess how much work is involved and give you a specific time frame for the work to be completed.

How long will it be before I can paint?

This is the question that gets asked on practically every job. There is no standard, set amount of time that must pass before painting can be done. What is essential is that the plaster has fully dried out before any paint is applied.

Drying times will vary depending on a few factors;

Background - Different backgrounds have different suction values, finishing plaster applied to a new sand and cement backing coat may take considerably longer to dry out than plaster applied to plasterboard. 

Atmospheric temperature - Colder conditions will slow the drying out process. Note:Whilst colder conditions will slow the drying time you should NEVER apply direct heat to wet plaster. It may result in the plaster cracking or "crazing".

Air Circulation - If there is little or no air circulation in the area that has been plastered it can cause the moisture to remain in the atmosphere and slow the drying out process. You can increase the rate at which the plaster dries out by increasing the airflow through the area.

Plaster will go through three distinctive colour changes, from pink/brown whilst being applied, to dark brown as it sets, and finally to a light pink once it has dried out. When all sections of the plaster have turned light pink it will be ready to be painted. Note:The colours/behaviours are based on standard British Gypsum Finishing Plaster, other plasters may be different colours or behave differently.

How much mess will there be?

Plastering is a wet trade, it is a dusty trade and as such mess will be unavoidable. In general, better plasterers create less mess, and most mess can be scraped, wiped or brushed clean. A plasterer should clean up any mess they have created at the end of the job.

Mess can be kept to a minimum by;

  • Using dust sheets and other protective measures
  • Making sure the work area is clean and clutter free
  • Removing or covering any furniture
  • Taking up carpets

Types of mess include;

  • Dust
  • Plaster splashes
  • PVA splashes


© 14/10/2012 by Jonathan Meredith All Rights Reserved. This FAQ is the intellectual property of Jonathan Meredith, written using his own knowledge and experience. Any unauthorized reproduction of this FAQ, in any format, will be a breach of Copyright and will result in legal action.