First Time Plasterer Seeking Advice

Discussion in 'Other Trades Talk' started by AndyF55, Feb 26, 2014.

  1. AndyF55

    AndyF55 New Member

    Hello All,

    First time poster, first time home owner, first time DIY-er...

    I've decided to decorate a small office room as a practice run to see if I'm cut out for DIY or if I should just leave it to the pros.

    Removing the wallpaper revealed fragile and cracked plaster, so I figure re-skimming is the way to go. I've trawled through the many online resources and have a pretty good idea of how to get the plastering done.

    What I'm not sure about is prepping the wall. I plan to remove the loose plaster and then apply a few coats of PVA mix. But, should I also knock off the surface plaster that is still firmly attached? This would reveal the rough underlying plaster which I figure may be a preferable surface to work on.

    Also, do people usually bother removing skirting boards?

  2. Phil the Paver

    Phil the Paver Screwfix Select

    If your just going to skim it and the damaged areas are not to deep, ie: just previous skim come off, then PVA the wall as you say, then skim it 3mm should be thick enough, leaving the skirting on will be fine at that thickness.
  3. AndyF55

    AndyF55 New Member

    Cheers Phil. I'm pleased to hear that as I was not looking forward to smashing the entire layer off.
  4. BuilderMCR

    BuilderMCR Active Member

    Remove any loose plaster.
    Patch up anywhere you've removed plaster with bonding.
    Don't try knocking the old skim off, that's just stupid.
    PVA the wall after making sure you have every last bit of wall paper off.
    (Funny when you turn up at someone's house and they've left loads of bits of paper thinking you can skim over it) [bellends]
    Then skim the walls while the pva is tacky, one at a time. You won't be quick enough to do more than that at once. Start with the smallest area and preferably a wall that has no windows or doors to skim around until you get a feel for it.
  5. BuilderMCR

    BuilderMCR Active Member

    Skirting board is usually fine left on unless it's a chamfered edge skirting board and there's not much profile left along the top edge.
  6. DIYDave.

    DIYDave. Screwfix Select

    Hi Andy
    In your own words - "first time home owner, first time DIY-er..." So planning on skimming a whole room (regardless of how small) is a pretty daunting prospect to be honest

    It doesn't matter how many on-line resources you've looked at, it will give you an idea of what's involved but without any previous experience of plastering.......I would be seriously concerned to steam ahead and attempt to skim a room - plastering is a real skill that just cant be learnt watching you tube videos

    I'm a diy'er just like you, I've done loads of decorating in several houses and am generally happy with the results and can turn my hand to most tasks
    I'm happy to patch plaster, absolutely love a bit of bonding coat and more than happy to repair cracks, chases from cables or other localised damaged

    No way would I attempt to plaster a room though, not even a whole wall. I just wouldn't be happy with the finish

    I would suggest that you have a few practices first. Plaster is cheap and buy some plaster board to practice skimming onto first before you commit to the walls
    Most sheds will sell damaged PB sheets really cheap that have the odd corner smashed off - ideal to practice on and then scrap

    If your skimming doesn't go too well on the walls, painting it will make it look even worse and even heavy lining paper 1200-1400 grade wont always be a miracle cure

    At least practice first
    And there endeth my advice Andy

    But......please let us know how you get on........You could always be a total natural plasterer from day 1 :)
  7. BuilderMCR

    BuilderMCR Active Member

    I agree with Dave but skimming a piece of plasterboard is completely different to skimming existing plaster.

    Plus sand paper and a filling knife is cheap too if it all goes wrong

    One thing I would do though before you start is mix a bit of multi finish and see if you can keep it on the trowel before you start putting it on the wall.

    If you can't master keeping it on the trowel and start a wall your f.u.c.k.e.d
  8. BuilderMCR

    BuilderMCR Active Member

    It won't be much help but watching a couple of YouTube vids might give you a better idea than reading.
  9. DIYDave.

    DIYDave. Screwfix Select

    I will take your word Builder that skimming PB is completely different to going onto existing plaster - I've honestly never tried it

    My point though was that to practice first and if you can get a good finish on a 1.2 x 2.4 PB sheet, you may then be happy to start on the walls. You can get a sack of plaster and a damaged PB sheet for around a tenner, have a practice on both sides (yeah I know your only meant to plaster the light side) get a bit of practical experience and a feel for the material
    If you cover a large area of the wall and it goes badly wrong, its gonna take a lot of filler and sanding to correct

    But of course, it all depends on the finish that the OP is expecting and will be happy with

    I wonder if the ceiling is on Andy's remit as that's a whole more lot of pain ! (for a diy'er, obviously)
  10. BuilderMCR

    BuilderMCR Active Member

    Lol, as said before... Let's see if he can keep it on the trowel first. :D
  11. Tee hee.

    Been there, and can just about get away with it.

    My tuppence worth; don't bother with practice on small sheets - just do it.

    Don't apply to tacky PVA - it'll be like plastering on oil. It'll slide all over the place :(. Instead either allow the PVA to dry fully - it'll be nice to skim on to - or else even use the Blue Grit mentioned in another thread (I've never used that myself, but it sounds useful.)

    Since this is your first 'go', I'd recommend getting the old surface as level as possible, so I would suggest you apply a filling skim to the missing plaster bits to get them to the rest of the wall's level. PVA the 'holes' first, and then fill - level off using the surrounding wall as a guide - it doesn't have to be smooth.

    Then PVA (Grit?) the whole wall.

    Remove the skirtings. Just do it. Lots more work, but you'll be glad you did. The trickiest parts for a newbie is working along edges, and you are giving yourself a room-wide edge 4" off the ground - jeepers...

    Get a good mixing paddle for making up the skim - don't think you can stir it by hand (I did a 3-storey Victorian town house by hand around 20 years ago, and I had tennis-elbow for a months afterwards...)

    When you are finally ready to skim - GO FOR IT WITH CONFIDENCE. And enjoy.

    (But read up and watch Pootube vids first - get a 'feel' for it in your head.)

    Oh, and have something lining the floor to catch all the slops. Oh, and wear really old clothes...
  12. AndyF55

    AndyF55 New Member

    Wow - this is an active forum!

    Some interesting points raised that I hadn't considered. Duly noted that this might not be the best of ideas given my lack of experience. My view is that it will be quite obvious quite quickly if I'm not cut out for it, in which case I'll call in a professional. Can I really do that much damage? (please don't answer that).

    This week I aim to get the walls completely clean and fill in all the holes and cracks.

    I'll decide closer to the time about the skirting boards as it does seem like 'yet another job'. If I can get away with keeping them on I will.

    You never know; there may be some nearly-new plastering gear going on the cheap next week.

    Many thanks for all the advice. I'll let you know how I get on.

  13. BuilderMCR

    BuilderMCR Active Member

    Don't use blue grit for your first time skimming! It makes skimming a little bit different and a little bit harder!

    Best using pva to start with. If you don't already have tools which I presume you don't. Don't buy a cheap plastering trowel.

    Get a Marshall town trowel with a preworn edge. The cheap trowels will pretty much scrape the plaster off as you're putting it on.
  14. Phil the Paver

    Phil the Paver Screwfix Select

    LOL, the for cost of a marshalltown, he could get a Pole in to do it for him. :p:p
  15. BuilderMCR

    BuilderMCR Active Member

    ...They're £50-ish... It's not going to bankrupt him is it.
  16. BuilderMCR

    BuilderMCR Active Member

  17. Phil the Paver

    Phil the Paver Screwfix Select

    That what I said, in fact at that price he'll have some change. :p
  18. AndyF55

    AndyF55 New Member

    I had a spending spree at Wicke's yesterday and purchased all the essentials.

    I purchased the Wicke's own brand stainless steel trowel - it was about £28. I was hoping to get a better one, but they didn't have any in store so I just purchased the best they had.

    I must confess; my wife and I turned up to screw-fix the previous week not realising you couldn't just wander around. Felt pretty stupid.

    This is going to be a disaster!

    Will post photos of progress.
  19. FatHands

    FatHands Well-Known Member

    Hi Andy,

    I've done a fair bit of plastering and can only say its practice, practice, practice. You are likely to make a mess (of the floors and walls!) on your first attempts, but it depends if you are prepared to get to grips with it. If you haven't got a deadline - then go for it!
    Best of luck, looking forward to the photos!
  20. Cheburashka

    Cheburashka Active Member

    I done a bit of plastering at home, I found a company that sells a DVD and it was very helpful. I just watched that and then got on with it. Although my finish was not perfect it was better than when I paid a (supposedly Professional) plasterer to do one of the bedrooms. I left the skirting on and just pushed in tight on the skirting not to lose too much of the top of the skirting (only about 2mm at the skirting tops).
    Like has been advised I just did it one wall at a time, Starting with the smallest wall and then working my way around.
    If your going to do more than one room, You'll recoup the cost of the tools.

    good luck

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