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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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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.
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).
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).
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).
Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement
© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009