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How to Apply Finish Plaster on Walls (page 1 of 2)

Finishing (skimming) with topcoat plaster is an art that takes practice to get a smooth finish. Follow these steps to master the technique of applying finishing plaster.
Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

More in Windows Walls and Doors

Spread Plaster Quickly Before It Starts to Dry

Here's How You Do It:

The technique for applying finishing plaster is the same whether you skim over drywall sheets (as here), render, or undercoat plaster, though the surface preparation varies. An undercoat should be slightly damp when plaster is applied; use a mister to dampen it, if necessary. Practice using plastering techniques on a small area before tackling a whole wall.
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Tip: Covering Board

Drywall can be skimmed with plaster to make the surface suitable for painting or papering. Use tape to cover the joints between boards. Apply a layer of plaster across the entire surface. Then follow the steps below to achieve a smooth surface. The same type of plaster should be used for each layer.

Covering board graphic

Courtesy of © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Smooth Drywall Joints

Use drywall tape to cover joints between drywall sheets, attaching it with a little prepared plaster (Image 1)

Trim tape with scissors to get a neat edge. Fill any gaps greater than 1/8 inch with pre-mixed plaster (Image 2).

Prepare Plaster

Half-fill a bucket with clean tap water, and slowly add the plaster, carefully following the manufacturer's instructions. Mix more as you need it (Image 1).

Use a power stirrer to mix the plaster. Submerge the stirrer before starting the drill and use at a low speed. You can also mix manually (Image 2).

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 (Image 3).

Pour the plaster onto a board. It should be thick enough to spread evenly over the board without running over the edge (Image 4).

Apply the Plaster

Use a trowel 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 (Image 1).

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 (Image 2).

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 (Image 3).

Continue to add more plaster, building up a rhythm of loading the hawk and transferring the plaster to the wall surface (Image 4).

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Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009