My experience starting out

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cornsack

Member
Hi all,

Been following this forum on and off for a while now and thought it was time I introduce myself before I start posting.

I'm Charlie and I'm a relatively new plasterer. I am hardworking and keen to learn as much as I possibly can. I am honest and I have respect for those with more experience than me. I mostly work in the Surrey/Hampshire/Berkshire area.

I decided to get into plastering a couple of years back and began talking to people I knew in the trade as well as looking on here and other places for advice on starting out. What I found was lots of conflicting advice on wether to take the route of doing a course or to start at the bottom as a labourer and work up from there. What I noticed was an overwhelming amount of hatred for plastering courses expressed by most in the game. But I also met a couple of people with genuine success stories. In the end I opted for both.

Immediately after doing my course I began to understand and appreciate why those with experience hate these courses so much. Taking someone stupid or naive and telling them that a 6 week course will give them the skills and knowledge to go straight into work on their own is dangerous. Its dangerous because there are a lot of stupid and ignorant people out there these days who will believe it. I got to meet some of them. It also makes an absolute mockery of all those who have given decades of hard work and commitment to achieve the level of skill as knowledge they have today.

I knew from speaking to real plasterers that this wasn't the case. I knew before I started that I would not come out the other end able to call myself 'a plasterer' or be able to go out looking for work on my own. Or even be any good at all.

So why did I still go for it?

A plasterer made a good point to me. As a labourer with no experience you'll know nothing, it'll be a long time before you'll even grasp what they're really doing. After that it'll be a while before they let you have a go for yourself. Even then it will just be half hour of trowelling here, a coat or two there and you'll be rubbish, they'll have to explain everything to you every step of the way. If you do a hands on course, you can get the same amount of trowel-in-hand time in a few weeks as you'd get in several years.

So I did a course. It wasn't a college, it was private one. 5 people at a time max, with 2 tutors. Tutors who were real time-served plasterers. My main tutor had spent over 50 years working as a plasterer before he opened up the school. He knew it all.

We spent only 1 day in a classroom, to get the compulsory health and safety bit done. Every single day of the course was hands on actual plastering with your own ceilings, walls and reveals, usually doing 2 sets a day.

After my course I went and found a local plasterer and started out as his labourer, mixing up and washing out. When it came to me having a go, he didn't need to teach me the very basics and watch me drop it all over myself time and time again, I could show him what I'd learned and he was able to teach me invaluable real-world things I could NEVER have learned on a course. Things he had only learned from his 35 years of plastering. I worked for him for over a year as an improver. I could not have any more respect for the knowledge and skill that only time can provide. Learning both the new and the old school ways is a privilege.

As much as I respect his work, as a person he turned out to be a bit of a see ya next tuesday and now I work mostly (but not exclusively) on my own.

Some might say I'm too early to do this as there is still so much to learn. But I am aware of this and so my number one policy is honesty with my self and others. I will make my level of experience clear to everyone I work with and I will not pull the wool over anyone's eyes. I know I could make mistakes without even knowing so if I get to a job and I'm not 100%, I will say that. I will consult someone who knows better and if I'm still not 100% I will gladly turn the work down and even recommend someone else if needs be. My own pride as well as my working reputation is worth a lot more than chancing it.

That's my story so far. Any advice welcome...
 

Dropsalot

Private Member
"Agree" Flynnyman, nice post.
Cornsack, you seem to have gone about things the right way. Respect.
Remember, every day is a school day. Plan your work, pay attention to detail, don't panic, work hard, clean up and be reliable. Good luck.
 

Nicm

Well-Known Member
"Agree" Flynnyman, nice post.
Cornsack, you seem to have gone about things the right way. Respect.
Remember, every day is a school day. Plan your work, pay attention to detail, don't panic, work hard, clean up and be reliable. Good luck.
Agree.
 
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