It’s essential to understand the costs of plastering when planning your new home. The plastering cost will depend on whether you are wet plastering, dry plastering, skimming, or rendering. It will also depend on the size of the area you are plastering, the level of finish you require, and accessibility.
There is also some variability in contractor costs depending on where you live. You might be looking at the costs of typical plastering jobs if you are looking to replaster your home. If there are cracks or flaking plaster in your home, it’s probably time to go for replastering as a general rule. All the cost variables present for plastering a house from scratch are also present for replastering.
However, there is a cost involved in removing the old plaster. Conversely, you might be able to save money if your old under plaster is healthy enough for reuse.
How Much Does Plastering Cost?
The plastering estimates given by contractors are often classed for small, medium, and large rooms. The cost difference between small and medium rooms can be minimal as the cost savings on room size are offset by the premium charged by contractors for lack of accessibility. If it’s large, the cost to plaster a large room will be significantly higher than for a medium-sized room.
Contractors also quote scaffolding costs as additional costs. These costs need to be budgeted for when plastering or replastering exterior faces of walls. Contractors can often use an upturned beer or produce box to get the necessary height to plaster a single-floor bungalow.
A significant addition to the cost factor is VAT. When discussing the details of your plastering needs with a contractor, make it a point to ask whether the prices he quotes include or exclude VAT. All the costs given below include VAT.
|Project size||Typical price||Approximate project duration|
|Plastering walls from scratch|
|Small room||£450 to £650||2 to 3 days|
|Medium room||£550 to £900||2 to 4 days|
|Large room||£900 to £1,200||4 days|
|Plastering ceiling from scratch|
|Small ceiling||£150 to £350||Up to 10 hours|
|Medium ceiling||£250 to £400||Up to 12 hours|
|Large ceiling||£350 to £700||2 to 3 days|
|Small room||£350 to £450||1 day|
|Medium room||£350 to £500||1 to 2 days|
|Large room||£450 to £600||2 to 3 days|
Cost Factors of Plastering
Types of Plastering
One of the most significant factors in your final plastering bill will be the type of plastering done. You can use either wet plastering, dry plastering, skimming or rendering for common plastering jobs. Wet & dry plastering are generally done to the inside of a home, and skimming is done to older walls or ceilings that need a new finish. Rendering is done to the exterior of a home. The cheapest option that you can go for is skimming. It involves scraping some of the older plaster from your wall and then applying a thin (5mm to 8mm) layer of plaster over the existing base.
However, this assumes that the wall has an undeteriorated base to put the plaster over. If there isn’t, the wall has to be skim coated over a new base layer after the old plaster is removed. This process is more expensive than any other option, as the existing plaster has to be taken entirely off (instead of just the top layer). Then either the base for wet plaster or plasterboard has to be applied to provide a base for the final layer of finishing plaster.
When plastering a wall from scratch, you can go for either wet or dry plaster. Wet plaster is more time-consuming to apply and more expensive. The base of dry plastering is boarding, which is cheaper and quicker to install.
Significantly more skill is needed for wet plastering as opposed to dry plaster. It is recommended to go for higher-end contractors that are more expensive for this type of plastering. Rendering offers unique benefits when compared to wet or dry plastering. However, an experienced contractor is needed for any type of rendering.
Traditional rendering requires an initial layer of material as a base and then a final layer (generally with a different rendering mix of lime, cement, mineral, acrylic, silicone and sand). Monocouche (French for single layer) rendering applies pigmented material in two layers that bond into one.
You don’t need a final layer of paint if you use this type of rendering. Monocouche rendering is considerably more expensive than traditional rendering on average.
Size of Area
The size of the area being plastered determines what equipment can be used. If the area is relatively small, the builder will have to use unautomated hand-held devices that are cumbersome and hard to use. This translates to more work hours for the employees and a higher cost for you.
The surface of a wall increases more quickly than the edges do as the edges are one-dimensional while the surface is two-dimensional. Edges usually require more diligent work than the middle when plastering or rendering, and this means that a larger area will need less time-consuming work and will translate to a lower cost for you.
Number of Walls
The number of walls plastered will make a big difference. The contractor will often do two walls of a room and leave the other two until the next day. This is as new plaster walls need time to dry before applying the final coat. This means that there’s a limit to the number of workers working in that room, which might equate to time lost for the contractor.
This will translate to a higher bill for you. If the number of rooms plastered is higher, the contractor can save time by using all his workers simultaneously. This also means that the supervisor’s time is maximized. The higher the number of plastered walls, the lower the square meter cost.
The condition of the wall is vital on several fronts. The plasterer will have to determine how thick a layer has to be applied to cover any wall deformation. If the builder has done a poor job of making the wall a flat surface, plastering will be the last opportunity for you to correct any errors.
However, as you may have guessed, the thicker the plastering or rendering job, the higher the cost. This also applies to old walls that have lost their shape. If the job is to plaster a room that has gone through the wringer, some walls might have holes in them. This could be due to malformed bricks or due to blunt force accidents.
Your contractor will have to decide whether the problem(s) can be fixed through plaster or rendering or whether you will have to fill these holes up with mortar. Mortar uses cement and sand just like rendering material, but the consistency is different in most cases. If a mortar job needs to be done before the finish, the final cost will be higher.
Location of Property
If your house is located in an area where your contractor can’t park their truck and supplies, the job will be considerably more expensive. The contractor will need to incur additional costs for transporting their equipment and supplies.
This could also mean that the workers will have to travel further to fulfil their basic amenities (toilet and food). Suppose you have ample parking space, space for an employee amenities area (as prescribed by the country’s building authority), and room to store and retrieve the contractor’s equipment. In that case, your additional costs will be minimal.
Ease of Access
If the area you need to plaster is in a hard-to-access part of the house, the contractor will add a surcharge to the final bill. Hard to access rooms, often through passageways that are too small for the contractor’s equipment, will force the team to use less efficient equipment.
The contractor might also need to transport some equipment through a window to the room, which might take more time and additional equipment. If your property does not currently have electricity or water, the equipment and techniques used by your contractor will have to be altered. Again, the efficiency will be significantly reduced, resulting in a higher bill for you in the end.
Generally, the cost to plaster a room increases as the size becomes larger. However, since plastering needs equipment and manoeuvrability, a smaller room doesn’t necessarily translate to a smaller bill. When looking at the cost of plastering rooms, there is an overlap between what a small room would cost versus how much a mid-sized room would cost.
The overlap sometimes happens due to the lack of manoeuvrability for needed equipment. The difference in cost to plaster a medium room versus a large room is mostly proportional. The larger the room, the higher the cost!
Existing plaster condition
Evaluating the condition of the existing plaster is essential when going for a re-skimming plastering job. If the base or board has integrity, all that needs to be done is scrape off the top layer of plaster. You can then key (scratch the surface to allow the new plaster to hold) the old plaster in preparation for the new layer of plaster.
This is a low-cost option for making your room or home look new. If the old plaster is inadequate and a contractor thinks that applying a skim job will result in the job being a failure in a few months, then the whole plaster layer needs to be removed. This is an expensive operation since the plastering then has to be done from scratch.
Location in the country
The cost of your plastering job might increase or decrease depending on where your home is located. If it is located close to where a contractor is working or generally works, you might be able to get a better price. If your home is located at a rural location where the contractor will have to make additional arrangements for food delivery, the cost will be higher.
The cost is also higher if the logistics costs of the scaffolding, waste skip and materials are higher. If your contractor can source the needed material and equipment locally, the price will be significantly lower.
If you are the owner of a bungalow, you are in luck, as your contractor will be able to use upturned crates as boosts for reaching the tops of walls or the ceiling. If you have an older house with high ceilings, the contractor will use either scaffolding or stilts. Using stilts can be tricky, so scaffolding is generally used.
If you are doing the exterior of your house and it is more than one storey, you have no option but to go for scaffolding. The amount of scaffolding used will depend on how many employees are working at any given time and how adjustable the scaffolding is. The scaffolding rental cost can be a significant part of rendering a home with high walls and gables.
Make sure you ask any contractor whether they are quoting prices with VAT when discussing plastering or rendering costs with you. If this tax isn’t included, VAT can add up to 20% to the quoted price. VAT stands for Value Added Tax and is applicable for many products and services.
Types of Plastering
This is the traditional type of plastering that has been done in the UK. Wet plastering is a good option if you are looking for a layer that will dampen sound. Some types of wet plastering can have cracking and a prolonged drying time. It can also result in blown plaster if it is improperly applied.
Plaster that has lost its adhesion to a surface is called blown plaster. The initial coating of a wall is called undercoat plastering. It can be used on dense surfaces, low-suction surfaces, surfaces that have been treated with a bonding agent, brickwork, concrete and blockwork. This layer is cheap, adds thickness to the wall and can be used with a wide variety of walling.
Another option that is available for undercoat plaster is called bonding plaster. It can be used as a layer that goes on material that has poor bonding capability.
However, it is considerably more expensive than a regular undercoat plaster per kg. Bonding plaster is not used as often as standard undercoat plaster, and therefore it is not as widely available. If you are looking for a fast-drying undercoat plaster, you can go for hardwall plaster.
This type of plaster is highly resistant to impact, has good sound insulation and is widely available. However, it can be considerably more expensive than the regular kind. If you don’t want to spend money on two coats of plaster, you can go for a one-coat plaster. This type of plaster can be used both as an undercoat plaster and a finishing plaster. It also has the advantage of being relatively cheap.
However, it cannot be used on any exterior surfaces and is only for interior use. Browning plaster is also an inexpensive undercoat plaster that can be used indoors. It is usually used with brick or brickwork but is suitable for any type of absorbent surface.
One of the major advantages of Browning plaster is that it dries in 1 to 2 hours. Finishing plaster can be applied after using an undercoat plaster. This type of plaster is commonly available and is relatively inexpensive. Once this plaster has dried, it will create a smooth surface that is suitable for paint or decoration to be applied. This product can be used on low to medium suction surfaces and has a high-quality finish.
Another option for the final plaster coating is textured plaster. This type of plaster is for homeowners who don’t want a smooth surface after applying the finishing plaster layer. Textured plaster gives the final layer an unpolished and textured look and feel. It is more expensive than finishing plaster but is excellent at hiding blemishes and imperfections. The downside of this is that it can be more challenging to repair. Generally, one-coat plaster is less durable and long-lasting than two-coat plaster.
A quicker and less expensive method of plastering your walls is dry plastering. With this method, the ‘undercoat’ is actually plasterboard fixed onto the wall using a bonding compound. You can also fix Rigidur boards to wooden battens attached to the wall using wall plugs.
A solid, non-shrinking substrate should be used when using the dry plastering process, and this is so that it is protected from dampness and moisture. You can skim the plasterboard after you are finished fixing it. You can also use all the options mentioned in the wet plastering section for a smooth surface finish.
If you want to keep the plastering for later, you can even directly apply a coat of paint to the plasterboard after filling out the connection points and lines with plaster. This is a good option if you want to temporarily use the space without quickly plastering a room, which can result in a botched job.
Skimming is the act of plastering over existing plasterboard or plaster for a fresh look. The skimming process is quicker than going for replastering. The plaster applied during the skimming process will only be 5mm to 8mm thick. For this inexpensive method to be used, your wall should be free of blemishes and deformities.
You also cannot apply skim plaster to mortar and brick surfaces. The underlying plaster should also still be firmly fixed onto the undercoat or plasterboard.
You should consult your builder to ensure that you can go for this process before committing to it. Otherwise, you might find out that your new plaster is coming off the walls after a few months or years.
This process requires that the wall be prepared to apply the skim layer of plaster. You can do this by removing the top layer of the plaster with an iron brush or brushing machine. Any paint and wallpaper should be removed entirely as well. Then the wall should be prepared for a new plaster coat through ‘keying’. This is the process of causing indentations through the scratching of the underlying plaster. Without this step, the new plaster layer will not stick to the old plaster.
Once the wall is prepared for the skim coating, you can apply the finishing plaster. Most of the finishing plaster options that have been mentioned above are applicable for skimming. You may go for a paint layer or wallpaper once the finishing plaster has dried. You will need to pay a premium if you live in an older building that needs lime plastering, even if it is a skim job.
Rendering is generally done to the exterior of a home. Two layers of materials have traditionally been applied to a wall: the undercoat and the final coat. However, the more modern monocouche rendering process uses only one optimised material, applied twice to create one bonded coat.
There are three different types of materials used for rendering, mineral, acrylic and silicone. Acrylic and silicone are man-made substances, while mineral materials can be anything from sand, cement or lime.
Cement is the most traditional type of render. Cement and sand are mixed with water to produce mortar. One or two layers of this mortar can be laid on top of each other for the final rendering. Modern techniques also allow some pigmentation to be mixed into the mortar, though the general mix dries to the usual grey colour. Paint can be applied after the material dries.
While this rendering method is cheap and relatively quick, the finished product is not attractive. Cement render doesn’t last for a prolonged period and isn’t very weather resistant. It can lead to cracks in your wall’s finish in the long run.
Another traditional type of render is lime. The material used for rendering is a mix of sand and lime to form mortar. Lime is more flexible than cement, making it less prone to cracking, and the finish is also considerably more attractive than a cement render. This type of render is considered generally eco-friendly and lasts longer. However, the application process is more drawn out, and the cost is higher.
Pebbledash rendering is made by adding gravel, pebbles, shells or flint chips to either cement or lime mortar. The addition can be made during the mortar mixing or applied to the wall after the mortar rendering is complete. A pebbledash render has a unique, rough and textured quality, and it also provides added protection against the weather. While this type of rendering is relatively cheap, it can look worn and dated after a few years.
Acrylic render is more modern. Material for this render is created by adding acrylic resin to the rendering material. Since acrylic is a man-made substance, it is considered less environmentally friendly. However, it is water-resistant, which means that it is highly weather-resistant. The same traits that make it water-resistant make it prone to dampness, becoming a problem in very wet areas. Acrylic is flexible, making it less likely to crack due to extreme weather situations. An expensive option to go for is a silicone render. This process adds silicone to a cement-based mortar. The final render is breathable and water-resistant, which makes it very long-lasting.
Silicone rendering looks fantastic and is very durable compared to most other rendering methods. The addition of pigment will allow you to have a durable, weather-resistant coating that maintains an excellent finish for a prolonged time. One downside is that silicone is not considered the most environmentally friendly.
A very modern option to go for is SprayCork rendering. In this method, cork is added to the rendering mix to provide water resistance, thermal efficiency, noise insulation and flexibility. Cork is also considered more sustainable and environmentally friendly. However, the process can be pretty expensive, and you have to make sure that your contractor is up for the job.
An extremely long-lasting rendering method is called monocouche rendering. Monocouche is a French term that means ‘one coat’. The finish is considered very high quality, and since the pigmentation is added to all monocouche renders, there is no need for an additional coat of paint. While two layers of the material are applied to the surface, the timing and unique material allow the two coats to bond into one beautifully finished one.
Planning Permission & Building Regulations
Plastering is a crucial part of the finishing process of a home. Two main reasons there are building regulations for plastering is because it contributes to insulation and fire safety. These regulations generally apply when building a new home, as the house has to meet insulation targets.
Plastering should conform to roofing and ceiling guidelines. The regulations also determine the plaster thickness, which will be different values for internal and external walls. If you are skimming or replastering your home, the regulations will not always apply as this is allowed under permitted development rights.
Rendered walls and homes are generally present outside conservation areas and other specially-designed planning areas such as ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. If you render more than 50% of a wall or over 25% of the walls of your house, your render will be subject to building regulations. The same standards will apply to a render as for plastering for fire resistance and insulation.
DIY or professional?
Whether you opt to get the help of a professional or whether you do it yourself depends on the time you have available and your skill level. It is generally advised that if you are going for a complex render, you should enlist the support of a professional contractor. Wet plastering should also not be attempted by a novice, as the result could lead to even more expenditure on replacement and maintenance later on.
If you are looking to skim plaster a room, you might get the result you are looking for by doing it yourself. It goes without saying that if you are looking to plaster a ceiling or room from scratch, you should at least have a friend with experience that can give you some advice!
Get a Plastering and Rendering Quote
Get a Quote
There are many websites online that can help you get a quote. Before asking for a quote:
- Ask for the lowest cost options, the best looking options, and the longest-lasting options.
- Make sure that the quotations include VAT so that you can compare them to each other.
- Ask for at least three quotes before deciding on what plasterer to hire.
Plasterer Hiring Tips
- Determine what your needs are before you talk to plasterers.
- Go through websites to shortlist some contractors that service your area with good reviews.
- Make sure your shortlist has both national and local plasterers to see which type will best serve your interests.
- If your knowledge level is poor, talk to as many plasters as you can until you feel ready to make an informed decision.
- If you are looking to plaster a room, ask for the costs to plaster small, medium and large rooms.
- Ask for several plasterers to come to your home and look at the area you are looking to plaster before making the final decision.
- Ask what facilities are required for the workers to ensure they don’t expect to use your house’s amenities if you are not comfortable with it.
- Never pay the total amount before the job starts. Keep at least 30% to be paid after the work is fully finished if possible.
- You can reduce the overall cost by removing furniture, radiators and other fixtures before asking a plasterer to plaster a room.
Should my plasterer be a member of a trade organisation?
This depends on whether you have a big job for him or a minor job. A non-professional plasterer that hasn’t joined a trade organisation will be fine for a patch job or repair. If you want to plaster a whole house or replaster a significant portion of your home, you should go for one registered with a trade organisation. The contractor should know the planning permission and building regulations for the final certification and safety reasons.
How much time does it take to plaster a 3 bedroom house?
Depending on how many people are working and how skilled the workers are, it can take 10 to 21 days.
How long does it take to skim a room?
A room can be skimmed in around 1 to 2 days. Again, this depends on the skill level of the plasterer and how many employees there are.
How much do plasterers charge per day?
A plasterer can charge from £100 to £200 per day. The variance is due to the location, skill level, the job’s complexity, accessibility, time of year, and equipment used.
How long does plaster take to dry?
The undercoat plaster should be left for 7 days to dry in some instances. If you use plasterboard, the plaster layer will take 3 days to dry thoroughly. If you are skimming, the plaster layer is thinner, so it might dry in 2 days. The speed of drying depends on how much sunshine is present, the moisture level in the air, and the temperature. Ensure that there are no dark areas or patches on the plaster, as this indicates moisture. If the plaster is uniformly light coloured or buff, it is ready for an application of paint.
How thick should the plaster be on my walls?
The thickness of plaster depends on what type of plastering you are going for. A skim coat can be as thin as 5mm, and if you are using a lath, the thickness can go up to 15mm.
What are the alternatives to plaster?
The main alternative used for plaster is rendering. However, the use of render for the interior of a home is not widespread; it is used chiefly for exteriors.
What is the difference between plastering and skimming?
Skimming is a form of plastering. Plastering usually refers to the undercoat and finishing coat applied to a wall. Skimming involves a thin 5mm to 8mm layer of plaster to existing plaster. Several conditions need to be met for skimming to be an option, and skimming also requires some old plaster to be scraped off and keyed before application.
How long after a skim coat can I paint?
You should allow for up to 4 days to pass before applying paint. If the weather is dry and sunny, the skim coat can dry in a couple of days, but this is not guaranteed.