For many people, plastering is one way or another considered to be an art form, and rightfully so, as even some expert builders and keen DIY enthusiasts will not tackle a plastering job, favoring instead to hire a professional plasterer. However, undoubtedly, plastering is a skill that can be acquired quite quickly and easily even for the amateur DIY individuals. Follow these steps to master the method of applying finishing plaster.

Step 1
The method for applying finishing plaster is the same whether you skim over drywall sheets, render, or undercoat plaster, though the surface preparation differs. An undercoat should be a bit damp when applying the plaster; if necessary, try to use a mister to dampen it. Practice using plastering methods on a small area first before doing a whole wall.

Step 2 – Covering board
You can skim a drywall with plaster to make the surface appropriate for painting or papering. Use tape to protect the joints between boards. Apply a layer of plaster throughout the whole surface. Then follow the steps below to accomplish a smooth surface result. The same kind of plaster should be used for every layer.

Step 3 – Smooth dry wall joints
Use drywall tape to protect the joints between drywall sheets, attaching it with a little prepared plaster. Cut off excess tape with scissors to get a neat edge. Fill any gaps greater than 1/8 inch with pre-mixed plaster.

Step 4 – Prepare the plaster
Fill a bucket up to half its height with clean tap water, and add the plaster slowly, carefully following the manufacturer’s instructions. Mix more if there’s a need to. Use a power stirrer to mix the plaster. Dip the stirrer before starting the drill and use at a low speed. You may also mix manually. Keep adding plaster and mix until it has a creamy consistency. Run a trowel around the edge of the bucket to incorporate all the dry plaster. Pour the plaster onto a board. It should be thick enough to spread evenly over the board without running over the edge

Step 5 – Applying the plaster
Use a trowel or a piece of clean cloth to cut away a section of the mixed plaster, and transfer it to a hawk. Use a small amount at first to get used to handling the hawk. Holding the hawk in front of the wall, cut away a section of plaster, using the plastering trowel. Push the plaster up and onto the wall surface.

Spread the plaster across the wall surface, pressing firmly and distributing it as evenly as possible. Work from the top of the wall to the bottom, in broad, vertical and horizontal strokes. Aim to work quickly to cover the surface before the plaster starts to dry. Continue to add more plaster, building up a rhythm of loading the hawk and transferring the plaster to the wall surface.

Step 6 – Smooth the plaster
Once the surface is covered, go back over it, smoothing the plaster to an even thickness. Do not try to achieve perfect smoothness yet. Leave the plaster to dry for another half hour, until it is harder, but still slightly damp.

Sweep a clean, dampened trowel blade across the entire surface, smoothing the plaster and redistributing any excess to fill small indents. Hold the blade at a slight angle with only one edge on the plaster to achieve a smooth finish. Leave the plaster to dry for at least half an hour, until the surface is firm enough to touch without moving the plaster, but is still damp. Repeat the smoothing process, again using any excess surface plaster to fill small depressions. If necessary, use a wet brush or garden spray gun to dampen the plaster as you work. Aim for a smooth finish at this final stage; it is more effective than trying to sand rough plaster when dry.