How to Plaster a Ceiling

Written by  John Davies
Last updated: July 5, 2023

After a certain amount of time, our ceilings begin to look unsightly. They crack or crumble, giving our homes a generally unattractive appearance. If you have repainted your ceiling and it still looks tired and shabby, it is time to plaster the ceiling. Ceiling plastering is a mid-level job in terms of complexity. Therefore, we do not label it as a natural DIY job, nor is it one of those highly complex or dangerous projects that only a professional is equipped to handle. I would always suggest starting with a wall first, and if you felt good plastering a wall, then try the ceiling. If you take the proper precautions and follow these instructions carefully, you can readily complete the task yourself. This is welcome news, since you may pay dearly for calling a professional plasterer. Plasterers may charge £400-1200 depending on the size of the room. Plastering your ceiling is not particularly complicated. Instead, the main problem you will face is that it is quite an untidy undertaking. Besides, you cannot rush this type of job. You will need to maintain your patience to do it right. However, by taking the proper precautions, you can protect your home and property while saving a significant amount of money. These are the materials and tools you will need:

Tools & Materials

  • Bucket
  • Ladder (tall enough to reach the ceiling comfortably)
  • Mask
  • Masking tape
  • Plastic Sheets (to protect the furniture)
  • Sandpaper
  • Trowel
  • Multi Thistle Plaster
  • Wire mesh

Steps To Take

  • Protect and Cover the Room and Yourself.

We have already mentioned this, but it cannot be said enough, this is a downright messy project. After all, the last thing you want is big blotches of plaster drying on your floor or furniture. So, take all the precautions you can to protect the room and your belongings. Then take some more precautions. Protect the floors by covering them entirely with drop cloths. Remove any furniture you can from the room. It is best if the space is empty. However, if you must keep any items inside, cover them thoroughly with two plastic sheets layers. You will need to protect yourself. Put on your gloves and goggles before you start. You should also wear a mask, so you don’t end up with plaster in your mouth. Finally, it is probably better to wear old and dispensable clothing. There is a good chance that whatever you wear will get ruined.

  • Smooth the Ceiling.

You will want to cover up all lighting fixtures thoroughly with masking tape. Remove unnecessary obstructions from the ceiling, such as nails and paint or old plaster hanging off it. If there is any crumbled plaster found on the ceiling, use your sanding block to smooth it down. Do the same for any noticeably uneven patches. If the surface is smooth before you apply the plaster, the finish you use will look better. It would be a shame to carry over flaws in your new plastering job.

  • Mix the Plaster.

You can either buy dry plaster or pre-mixed plaster. The pre-mixed type costs about £5 more. However, mixing plaster is a reasonably straightforward process. Therefore, there is no need to buy the pre-mixed variety. The best recipe for usable plaster is half part water and half part plaster. Mix the two components in a bucket. However, follow the specific instructions for the plaster you have purchased. Mix until you have attained a smooth consistency that does not appear either too runny or thick.

  • Deal with Holes.

After sanding and removing various forms of debris, you may find there are holes in the ceiling. You cannot apply the plaster with significant gaps in the surface. To seal the gap, start by removing any excess plaster from the ceiling. Then fill the hole with the plaster you just mixed and allow it to set. Next, apply wire mesh on top to strengthen that part of the ceiling. Apply another layer atop the mesh before trimming any visible wires. Once you have sanded out the area, the hole should not be noticeable anymore.

  • Apply the Skim Coat.

The first coat you apply to the ceiling is thin and is therefore called a skim coat. If you have never plastered a surface before, start with a small amount until you perfect the necessary technique. Then you can use larger increments once you are comfortable with the process. First, dab a small amount of water on the surface. Then put a small amount of plaster on the trowel and apply a thin and even skim coating. It is advisable to portion out the work into manageable chunks of one metre. Once the layer has begun to dry, scrape and scratch it with the notched portion of the trowel. Stop once you have coated the entire ceiling with a scratched skim coat. Now let that layer set. Every plaster make has a different setting type, so follow the instructions. However, be advised that for best results, it is usually best to wait roughly 48 hours.

  • Smooth and Trowel

You may notice that the skim coat you applied is a bit bumpy. Some imperfections are to be expected. Your sandpaper will quickly fix that problem. Sand the problematic areas thoroughly, and the coat will now appear even and ready for painting.

How Much Does It Cost?

Plasterers may charge £400-1200 depending on the size of the room. However, the vast majority of that price goes to labour. The cost of actual materials varies by the size of the room. However, it is significantly lower. If you’re getting a lot of plastering done for example if you’ve just had a new extension built, you can get a cheaper deal. A small room would set you back around £450 if you hire a plasterer. However, the materials should cost roughly £75. For the largest rooms, professionals will charge £1200 or so. Meanwhile, the materials are likely to cost about £200. Therefore, doing the job yourself makes financial sense. However, keep in mind that this is not an easy job and can create quite a mess. Therefore, be sure you are up for the task before you undertake it.

How To Plaster Ceiling Video For Beginners:

Email newsletter
Tell us about what you want to learn!
We won’t spam you, we promise!