Newbies plastering guide.

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This post is for complete newbies. This is my system for plastering and it's served me well. It's also probably every one else’s system ;D

Right, so let’s just take a basic wall in a bedroom as an example. Let’s say the wall is 10 m2, a decent size for a first go and it is ready to scim.

For this you will need:

3 buckets. One for mixing, one for cleaning water, and one for clean water. I always do this when working alone as it saves me time as I can clean my mixing bucket with the cleaning water leaving the clean water in the other bucket for rubbing up.

1 big brush. 6 inch or so. For cleaning and polishing up.

1 hawk. Preferebly a metal one 12x12 at least. Do NOT buy the plastic hawks. In my opinion they are a terrible waste of money.

1 Trowel. Again get a metal one. 10 inch works for me.

1 tub/jug of PVA.

2 bags of Thistle Multi Finish. Incase you mess up and need to redo the wall. 1 bag is usually sufficient for a 10m2 wall.

1 mixer. Either a mechanical one for a drill, a hand mixer or a guy called Big Dave.

1 bucket trowel/gauge

That’s about all you need. Every job is different, other tools you might need are hammer, snips, steps etc.

Oh aye, don’t forget dust sheets. If you haven’t been doing this for long or this is your first wall then it’s gonna get mighty messy.

Prepare the wall.

Make sure it is free of dust and crap like flakey paint and bits of paper. Mix up some pva solution in one of your buckets. Lets say 5:1 mix, 5 parts water, 1 part pva. With practice you won’t have to measure it out, you’ll just be able to whack it in the bucket.

Take your brush, or roller as some do and apply it to the wall. Don’t tickle the wall, get it on and give it a good coat. Leave for a few hours until well dried in. Put a second coat over this and leave till tacky to the touch.

Prepare the plaster

Take your bucket. Those orange B&Q buckets will do fine. Fill it with water to just below the halfway mark. Add half a bag of multi in stages while mixing up. A rough guide to mixing is half a bucket of water will usually equal a full bucket once the plaster is added. Every guy likes a different mix, but for me the mix should be stiff enough so that when you take the mixer out, you have peaks that stand and don’t fall. Think of it as a giant bowl of Angel Delight you’re mixing. Mix until smooth. Do not over mix.


Wet down your hawk and trowel slightly. Take your bucket trowel/gauge and add a couple of scoops to your hawk. Not to much though as chances are it’ll go of the hawk and onto the floor. Lay your trowel on the hawk at about 70 degrees and push forward while at the same time bringing your hawk up from level to about 110 degrees. This is THE hardest skill you will have to master in your plastering journey. The key is in the flick of the wrist actions.

Once the material is on your trowel, start at the bottom left hand corner of the wall. If you’re left handed start from bottom right and go left.

Lay it on with your trowel angle at about 45 degrees and sweep upwards and curve to the right making sure the higher you go the shallower the angle gets. Do this along the length of the wall. Once this is done, start at the top left corner sweeping down wards in exactly the same way you done at the bottom. Once you have done this, start on the edges. Put a small amount on your trowel and bring the edge in, always sweep away from the edge, never towards it. Sounds obvious but I’ve seen it done silly ways.

Once you have coated the wall, go over it with your trowel again, make sure it’s clean, just to flatten out the high spots, it doesn’t have to be perfect smooth, you’re going to put a second coat on anyway. Clean your tools and bucket and mix up another batch, only a half to 3 quarters this time.

Repeat the process of laying on making sure to fill any hollows and give even coverage to the wall again. Once this is done make yourself a cuppa.

After about 25 minutes the wall should start to stiffen up, this is the exciting bit for some.

Clean your tools and go over the wall just with your trowel to flatten everything in nicely. After a few minutes repeat the process. Do this the same way you put the stuff on, start from bottom left, work along then do top left then the edges.

Give it a good 3 or 4 rubs to make sure it’s all flat and smooth and then start rubbing up with a little water thrown at the wall. Just a little, to much will create problems such as water marks and lines. Make sure you clean off any crap you get on your trowel. That stuff is called “fatâ€, the watery plasterer that you accumulate when rubbing up and will show on the wall. After a couple of rubs this way that should be you done. Wait until the wall is good and set and rub over it once or twice with a dry trowel to bring it up to a polish. Remember to keep the angles quite shallow when rubbing up, you do not want to be taking stuff OF the wall. This is where the “fat†comes in.

Job done. Clean your stuff and get to bed.

With practice you’ll figure out the best way to do things for yourself. I have been doing this for 10 years and still learn everyday. What I have written above may not be the way everyone does it, but it was how I was taught along with a few things I picked up along the way.

If any of you guys have stuff to add then please feel free. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something somewhere.
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