March and A Passion for Homes ‘How to’ – plaster a wall

Monthly ‘How to’ from and A Passion for Homes

Our very popular monthly ‘How to’ blog from a expert continues with how to plaster a wall: By Peter Vice, owner, Jonique bathrooms and kitchens.

‘Plastering a wall can be tricky but is usually within the remit of those with DIY skills. First you need the right tools for the job.

‘These include:
•    Bucket
•    Stirring rod
•    Piece of board supported by a crate (known as a spot)
•    Long spirit level
•    Trowel
•    Hawk
•    Stainless steel float
•    Plasterer’s bead or timber grounds
•    Straightedge
•    Scarifier
•    Splash brush or spray bottle
•    Ladder

1. Preparation
Make sure the environment is free of clutter and all existing wallpaper stripped from the walls. Lay down plastic sheets to protect the floor.

When plastering on to walls made of brick or stone use a stiff wire brush to remove dust and loose debris, otherwise this will mix with the plaster and produce a rough, uneven surface. Before plastering, it is best to apply a diluted solution of PVA bonding. This will help the plaster stick to the wall and is essential if using multi-finish plaster. It also helps prevent cracks appearing. When plastering onto plasterboard be sure to tape all joints together before beginning work.

2. Set timber grounds or beading
These are important because they help keep the plaster layer’s depth consistent. Timber grounds are small pieces of wood cut to the depth of the plaster and are removed after plastering. Plaster beads come in all shapes and sizes (there are different ones for edges and corners for example) and remain in the plasterwork once it is completed.

Fix the timber grounds or beads to the walls at intervals of at least 900mm and use the spirit level to check they are perfectly vertical.

3. Mix the plaster
Mix the plaster according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use a clean mixing bucket and always add the plaster to the water, not the other way around. Mix it well using the stick to produce a thick creamy plaster with no lumps. Plaster sets quickly so only mix as much as you need. Place the mixed plaster on the spot board. You are now ready to apply the plaster.

4. Plastering
Using the trowel, scape some plaster off the spot board and onto the hawk. Starting at the bottom-left corner of the wall, apply the plaster to the wall using the float, keeping it at a narrow angle to the wall. Use smooth strokes and fill a complete vertical section between beads or timber grounds before moving on to the next. As you complete each section level off by running the straight edge over it from the bottom upwards, left to right.

You may need to apply a basecoat first and then another layer of plaster afterwards. In this case as the previous layer sets scratch it with the scarifier so the new layer will adhere. If any plaster spills onto the carpet leave it to dry and it will brush off without leaving a stain.

5. Smooth the surface
Using a wet brush, clean the edges of the wall and remove plaster from adjacent walls and surfaces. Levelling and smoothing the surface can only happen once the plaster has hardened slightly. This can take up to 20 minutes depending on the temperature of the room (i.e. in cold weather it will take longer). Run a clean float over the wall to remove marks and flatten it.

6. Polish
After smoothing the plaster wait about 40 minutes for it to dry. Now it is time to polish. Wet the face of the float and flick water onto the wall with a large paintbrush. As you run the float over the surface, the water acts as a lubricant to fill tiny holes and imperfections with loose plaster. Use sweeping strokes to produce a smooth, silky finish. Be careful not to over polish as the plaster may gloss and become difficult to paint.

When painting be advised that multi-finish plaster will first require a mist coat, which is a watered down version of undercoat. The paint supplier will advise on the mix.’

To find genuine tradespeople in your local area, visit helps combat the UK’s rogue trader problem by continuously vetting and monitoring local tradespeople such as builders, plumbers and electricians as well as service providers. has grown to employ 130 staff with a turnover in excess of £7.5m. It has nearly 13,000 genuine trade members, growing by an average of 300 new members every month. Over the past 12 months, Checkatrade-certified tradesmen carried out a combined total of £1.4b worth of work, with complaints at just one in 215, compared to the national average of one in four.

Also, don’t forget to visit the main A Passion for Homes website for interior design, home staging stories, home products, dream homes, estate agent and show home search facilities, celebrity interviews and beautiful buildings – thanks, Jo


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