Plastering a Wall
Plastering looks like it ought to be easy -- and can be if you know the secrets. Here are a few tips for the novice who wants to do some plastering:

If you are touching up small cracks, using "spackle" and a small putty knife (plastic or metal) are fine.
  • Remove and loose plaster.
  • If you are repairing a fine crack, you will need to dig out a trench for the new plaster.
  • Dampen the cracked area with water (just moisten it) so that the spackle grips better.
  • Apply the spackle; press the spackle into the crack and leave a little excess material.
  • As the spackle drives, you can smoothe it with a damp rag or paper towel and remove any excess spackle from the surrounding area.
  • When completely dry, use a fine grade sand paper (150 and above) to smoothe the entire area.

If you are recoating a large area of wall with plaster, you will need a wide (at least 6-8") putty knife and a sanding device in addition to the spackle.
  • Apply thin coats; if applying to plaster or spackle, pre-dampen the surface.
  • The smooth finished surface comes from sanding down rather than from perfectly applying the spackle, so make sure you apply a little excess spackle.
  • Use a hand sander designed for plastering (looks like a flat trowel except that it has either a rough sanding surface or allows the attachment of sand paper) for smoothing.
  • As you work, use a wide putty knife to make sure the patched area is flat; you can use a straightedge to check your work as you go.
  • Keep applying additional layers (once the prior layer is dry) until you reach the desired smoothness.
  • Plaster dust can be dangerous, so wear proper safety equipment.

Updated September 24, 2003 - go to our home or life advice page