How To Plaster A Wall: Full Plastering Guide

Written by  John Davies
Last updated: October 26, 2023

Plastering is something every house needs at some point, it doesn’t last forever (although you can expect to get 20 years out of a good job!). More and more people are trying their hand at plastering, so today I’ve put together a guide on everything you need to know to understand how to plaster a wall. Also, I’ll list the tools you need, so you can weigh up if it’s cheaper to just get a professional to do it.

What Tools Do You Need To Plaster A Wall?

You’ve decided you want to give plastering a wall a go. The first step is to collect everything you need in one place. You do not want to find yourself missing a tool or two when you start plastering because believe me it will get stressful quick! So first, we need to make sure you have everything in place before you start.

Here is a list of the tools you need to successfully plaster a wall:

  • Trowel
  • Plastering brush
  • Water
  • Plaster
  • Mixer
  • Floor covering
  • PVA
  • Snips – Although you should have already prepared the wall so maybe you don’t need these.

Remember that you will also need the appropriate building materials for plaster.

Multi Thistle is the best and most popular stuff, it’s easier to show you how to mix over a video, so here if a video on how you mix plaster:

Step By Step – How To Plaster A Wall

Once you’ve collected all the tools and building materials needed for the job, the next phase is to start plastering. We’ll cover the process step-by-step, which will make it easier for you to get started. Our goal here is to make the steps as easy as possible, allowing even those with no previous experience to get a chance to plaster their first wall.

1. Protecting Your Floors

You do not want to get plaster all over your floor. Whether you have hardwood flooring or carpets, plaster can create a huge mess if the floors are not effectively protected.

A plastic cover or a tarp can be used to protect your floors. Make sure to spread it out to cover a wide around in front of the wall. You should secure the cover on the floor. This can be done with something as simple as a bucket or brick. If you have furniture closeby, move it out of the way. Some people prefer to cover their furniture as well.

2. Start With Holes

Take a good look at your wall. Do you see any holes? If this is the case, then you should avoid jumping into the plastering right away. Instead, consider options to help repair the holes first. Expanding foam insulation is a good option if you have holes that seem a bit too big for other solutions.

If you have bonding user that, you can plaster over wet bonding so you don’t worry, just remember to score it.

3. Adding A Primer

This is a step that some people skip, but it is actually an important one. A primer can help the plaster stick to your wall more effectively. This ensures the plaster does not fall off. It also provides better overall quality for your plaster job.

Before applying the primer, it’s a good idea to give your wall a good cleaning. Once cleaned, use a PVA glue primer. This is a good option for ensuring plaster sticks. A 3:1 mixture should be used when combining the PVA glue primer with water.

It is a good idea to apply two layers of the primer. Once the first layer is applied, it should dry before you apply a second one.

4. Plastering

After the second coating of the primer is dry, you can continue with plastering. Mixing your plaster is the first step to take here. As mentioned before, a 1:1 ratio is needed (plaster and water). Start with this mixture and then add more water or plaster mix until you achieve the right consistency and texture. The plaster should not be dripping, but should also not be too firm, as this will make it hard to apply.

You will apply two layers of the plaster to the wall. The first can be applied with a standard paint roller to make things a bit easier. The plaster should be added to a mud or paint pan. Cover the entire wall with the plaster and paint roller. Make sure there are no holes in the plaster after applying it.

You should allow about 20 minutes for the plaster to start drying. After 20 minutes, it is time to do the next layer. Some people do the second layer with a paint roller, but it is often recommended to use a trowel instead. The second layer will be a bit thicker than the first. This one should be applied carefully and slowly.

5. Creating A Smooth Finish

There is just one last step left to do – and that is to smooth out the surface of your plastered wall. A squeegee knife can be used for the process. The idea is to scrape it over the surface of the plaster. Remove any excess plaster that you find on the wall. The excess plaster is placed back into the mud pan.

If the plaster has dried up a little too much when you start the scraping process, grab a spray bottle and fill it with water. Spray a bit of water on the wall to create some moisture at the outer surface of the plaster. This will make it easier to scrape off the excess plaster on the wall.

It’s easier to watch than read about it, so here is a video of the whole process:


Even when you understand the plastering process, you may have a few lingering questions before you get started. In this section, we answer a few common questions that you may have.

Should You Hire A Plasterer?

Whether you should hire a professional or not really comes down to your own personal preference. Some people prefer to do the process themselves, although be sure to learn the costs of plastering yourself. Plastering, however, is not something that everyone will be able to master.

It’s better to get the job done right the first time, compared to spending extra money later on to fix problems that occur. With this in mind, you should consider your own skills as a handyman (or woman) around the house.

If you feel like plastering is something you can master, then by all means – go for it. On the other hand, if you fear that you may end up causing long-term problems, then it might be better to get a professional. Just remember to start small.

In reality, unless you truly mess it up, you can always sand down the rough bits although this does take a lot of elbow grease!

Tip: It looks easier than it is, if you’re unsure I would recommend hiring a professional.

How Long Before I Can Paint?

You should never apply paint to plaster just after it is done. The thing with plaster is it needs to stand a while before the next step can be implemented – which will usually be applying an undercoat, followed by your main paint. If you do not wait for the plaster to dry completely, you will run into problems in the future.

The time it takes for the plaster to dry depends on a few factors. In some cases, plaster may be dry in as little as a week. It is, however, advisable to wait longer. When the plaster is thoroughly dry, the paint will just look better.

Before applying paint, closely inspect the plaster. See if you find any dark patches on the plaster. If there are patches, then the plaster still needs to dry more. It is usually best to allow about a month for the plaster to dry before starting with the paint.

Do I Need To Apply A Mist Coat?

A mist coat is something that a lot of people overlook after they’ve applied plaster to a wall. This particular layer does play an important part in ensuring your wall looks great once it is painted.

A mist coat consists of emulsion paint. The paint is watered down into a relatively thin consistency. This will essentially form a base coat for the wall. It is applied directly to the plaster.

If you want your paint to last long and look good, then yes – you need to apply a mist coat first. By applying your main paint directly, there is a big chance that it will eventually start to peel off. The mist coat acts as a barrier. It sticks to the new plaster, creating a better surface for you to paint on.

Here’s what a mist coat should look like.

Plastering looks easy, but believe me, it is a difficult skill to master. However, if you’re patient and don’t bite off more than you can chew, it is absolutely something a DIY enthusiast can do themselves.

Remember to start small and allow yourself plenty of time, and remain calm throughout, and then you’ll be well on your way.

Still not confident? It’s probably best to hire a professional.

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