Fixing up your walls will get dusty. Save your floors and furniture from dirt and splatter by removing anything you can from the space and covering anything you can’t with plastic sheeting.
Cover the floor with protective sheeting and remove cover plates from your light switches and plug sockets to keep them free from splatters.
It’s also a good idea to cover doorways to save plaster dust from escaping into other rooms.
3. Clean and prepare your walls
Before you start skimming, you’ll need to make sure your walls are clean from dust and that any cracks have been sealed. This will help you achieve a smooth finish with as few coats as possible.
Start by scraping off any loose plaster, then fill the cracks using the pre-mix joint compound and either your taping knife or a smaller drywall knife. Pull any nails from the surface and fill in those holes in the same way.
Once your walls are repaired, you can dust and clean them down to remove any grime that might affect your plaster sticking.
Make sure that all your walls are completely dry before moving onto the next step.
4. Prime your surfaces
Use a water-based primer to finish preparing your walls. With your roller, paint over every surface you are intending to plaster. The primer will help to seal any loose paper still on the walls and assist the adhesion of your joint compound.
Again, wait until your surfaces have dried before applying anything else to the walls.
5. Mix your plaster
If you're using a quick-set joint compound you will need to mix it with water before use.
Mix your joint compound according to the instructions and remember to take note of the time limit printed on the packaging – this indicates how long you can use your mixed paste before it goes hard.
Mix the compound in your large bucket, using your drill with mixing attachment to make the process quicker (and easier on your arms).
The compound should form a mud-type consistency. Remember not to make too much compound at a time as the mixture won’t wet again once it has stiffened.
It can be useful at this point to pull in a helping hand, where available. While you set about plastering, your helper could start mixing your next batch of compound.
6. Apply the first coat
Now you’re ready to apply your first skim coat. Transfer your mixed compound to your skimmer plate – you want to be holding your skimmer plate in one hand and applying with the other.
Pile just a small amount of plaster onto your trowel, you can always add more later. Starting in one corner of the wall, drag your trowel vertically over the wall, applying a firm, even pressure.
Continue to apply out from the first spot you have covered so that each new scoop slightly overlaps the last. This will help make sure you don’t leave gaps and create an even finish.
Lay the plaster as quickly as you can and try not to worry about leaving trowel marks – you can smooth these over on the second coat.
7. Apply the finishing coats
Be prepared to apply at least two coats for a smooth finish.
You don’t need to wait for the first coat to dry before applying the second. As soon as you’ve finished covering a wall, go back to the beginning for your next coat, dragging your trowel.
This is where you can focus on smoothing over trowel marks, making for a completely even surface.
If you can still see obvious grooves and indents after the second coat dries, trowel on a third coat and drag it vertically, so each layer is at a right angle to the one before.
Try using a squeegee-like taping knife to taper the edges without leaving obvious trowel lines.
8. Sand away imperfections
Wait until your walls are completely dry before picking up your sandpaper, this will probably take 24 hours.
Once the surfaces are completely stiff, smooth away any rough edges, bumps or grooves using fine-grit sandpaper (180-220 grit).
If you have some higher areas, you can sand these using slightly coarser paper (100-120 grit), blending them into the lower areas for a completely flat surface.
9. Clean up
Once you're done, you’ll want to give the room a proper clean-up to remove any excess plaster dust.
Reach the hoover right up in the corners and along the walls themselves. Leaving excess dust will make the surface less adhesive to wallpaper paste or paint, so be sure not to miss any.
And there you have it. Smooth and dust-free walls, ready to be decorated.
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You will need to measure your walls to find out how much plaster you'll need.
For each wall, multiply the width by the height to determine the area in need of plastering. Then check the manufacturer’s instructions on the bag of your compound to find out the exact water to powder ratio that you'll need.
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