Plastering might not be for the faint-hearted. Often seen as much as an art as anything, it takes some confidence: once you are committed, you have to see the job through! However, like any art, it’s one that you can learn, and if you are willing to give it a go, you might be surprised at how quickly you can pick it up and find yourself working on a smooth wall.
There are five key tools that you will need. While some of these may look like they serve a similar purpose, you will quickly realise each has a key role in plastering.
1. The plastering trowel
This is the main tool you will be using, and it’s important you get the right one. Unless you are considering a career as a plasterer, it’s probably better to get a smaller one. It is a question of balance, the bigger the trowel, the more plaster it can hold; professionals will tend to use bigger trowels. However, smaller trowels allow for more control, which will be important when it’s your first time.
2. The bucket trowel
This might be one of those tools you can work without. As its name suggests, it’s the trowel that goes into the bucket! You might well be able to do the same job with another tool you already have, however, the bucket trowel does not need to be expensive and is shaped to make it easy to get all the plaster out of the bucket. You might find you don’t regret spending a few quid when you are struggling to get the last few bits of plaster out to finish off that wall!
3. The handboard
Sometimes called a hawk, these are the boards you will see plasterers hold in their non-dominant hand with a pile of plaster for the plastering trowel to dig into. It might seem like one of those tools you can do without, but it serves two key purposes. First, it means you can focus on plastering because you have a supply at hand as you go (especially if you have a smaller trowel), and second, it means you have more control over how you load up your plastering trowel than you do straight from the bucket. You will be holding this up all the time, so look for something light.
You can, of course, mix your plaster manually, but it’s hard work. Plaster needs to be thick, but consistent, and that takes effort if you are working the bucket with a spade. An electric mixer will do all the work for you. It would be overkill to buy one for just a few walls, but they can be hired relatively cheaply from your local hire-shop.
5. Water brush
Perhaps the most critical tool for plastering. Using the water brush on the final coat will help it dry a little slower, preventing pulls and cracks. However, it’s also useful to keep the plaster wet if it’s drying a little too quickly, something that’s likely to happen if you are a beginner and haven’t quite got up to speed. Don’t be fooled into thinking that any old brush will do, get a high-quality water brush unless you want to spend your time picking bristles out of the plaster!
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