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Planning & preparation

  • Lay out heavy-duty protective sheets to protect the floor, and cover any furniture that you can’t remove from the room with dust sheets
  • Plastering can be quite messy, so it’s best to wear old work clothes
  • Unless you are working with new plasterboard, you will need to remove any loose plaster, paper, grease and dust from the surface you plan to plaster
  • Treat the surface you are plastering with a primer that is a mix of PVA glue and water, following the manufacturer's guidelines. When the surface is still damp and feels tacky to the touch, you can start applying the plaster. New plasterboards do not require priming
  • Work with a small quantity of plaster, in a brisk, rhythmical manner
  • Try to achieve a smooth surface when plastering because sanding down rough plaster once it’s dried can be tricky
  • Have a bucket of water to hand when working so you can clean your trowel as you need to; this will help to avoid lumps and unnecessary work

Do it right

  • When mixing plaster, add the powder to the water, never the other way around, as that can make the mixture lumpy and hard to work
  • Don’t be too ambitious initially. Work in smaller sized areas, so you can confidently apply the first coat in less than 30 minutes, giving you time to smooth off the finish
  • It’s best to make more plaster mixture as and when you need it, instead of making a large quantity at the start
  • Turn off any radiators in the room you’re working in so the plaster doesn’t dry out too quickly

Staying safe

  • When mixing the plaster, be sure to wear safety goggles and a dust mask
  • Wear protective gloves when trimming the plaster tape
  • You may want to wear vinyl gloves when handling plaster


  • Allow plaster to fully dry before applying any paint or wallpaper. This may take several weeks, so you need to follow the manufacturer's guidelines

Step by step

Step 1

When plastering, it’s important to get a smooth, even coverage, so start by applying plaster tape to cover all the joints between plasterboard sheets.

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Step 2

Once the tape is in place, use a snap off knife to trim the tape for a neat edge.

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Step 3

When preparing plaster, you should always add the water first as this keeps the mixture from becoming lumpy. To prepare the mix, start by half filling a bucket with clean tap water.

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Step 4

Slowly add the plaster powder to the water. It’s best to make more plaster mixture as and when you need it, instead of making a large quantity at the start. Be sure to check and follow the manufacturer's instructions on the packaging.

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Step 5

Use a bucket trowel to incorporate any dry plaster around the edge of the bucket. Do this several times during the mixing process.

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Step 6

You can either mix the plaster manually or by using a power stirrer. If you opt for a power stirrer, then make sure it is fully submerged in the mixture before switching on. Use at a low speed in order to not overwork the mixture.

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Step 7

When you’ve finished mixing, clean the power stirrer before the plaster has time to set on it.

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Step 8

If you are going to be plastering a large area, then it’s best to pour your plaster out onto a spot board. The mix should be thick enough that it is easy to spread but doesn’t run.

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Step 9

Using a plastering trowel, cut away a section of the mixed plaster and transfer it to the plastering hawk. It’s best to only use a small amount to start with if you are not used to handling the hawk.

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Step 10

If you are working with plasterboard, it’s best to start by adding a thin coat over any joints.

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Step 11

Then push a section of the plaster up and onto the wall surface using the plastering trowel, and spread from left to right.

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Step 12

It’s best to press firmly and distribute the plaster as evenly as possible. Use both vertical and horizontal movements to spread the plaster.

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Step 13

If you need to plaster around a light socket, disconnect your electricity supply before doing so. To avoid getting plaster within, it’s best to cover the socket whilst working.

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Step 14

Try to work quickly and build up a rhythm in order to cover the surface before the plaster begins to set. Then, go back over the whole surface with a thin second coat and smooth to an even thickness.

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Step 15

Following the manufacturer's instructions, leave the plaster to dry until the surface is still slightly damp but is firm enough that it doesn’t move when touched.

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Step 16

Go over the whole surface with a clean trowel blade, dampening the surface with a spray bottle as you go. This will smooth the plaster and help to fill any small indentations.

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Step 17

To achieve a smooth and level finish, hold the blade so that only one edge is on the plaster.

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Step 18

Then, use a small damp brush to smooth corners and edges.

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Step 19

Following the manufacturer's instructions, allow to dry further before repeating this smoothing process for the final time. The plaster should be harder than before but still slightly damp at this stage.

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