Quotatis | Plastering Advice

Plastering Cost Guide 2020

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While it may not seem like the most complicated form of home renovation, plastering requires years of training and experience. It is the key to decorating your walls exactly the way you want, transforming your home in the process. However, while this all sounds great, you’re likely asking yourself just much does plastering cost.

It’s difficult to give a short answer. “Plastering” is a complicated term in that it refers to and covers multiple types of work. Additionally, plastering projects can either be very small and localised, or larger and more comprehensive. All of this together makes it challenging to give a single, reasonable average.

Instead, throughout this cost guide we’ve set out to break down what plastering means, what options you have when it comes to renovating your home, and how each of those options will affect your final plastering cost.

While you’re here, make sure to educate yourself on the kind of home décor mistakes you should avoid when renovating.

Contents

  1. Before you start
    1. Budget
    2. Scheduling and time
    3. Weather
    4. Preparation
    5. Scaffolding
  2. DIY or professional?
  3. Plastering vs skimming
  4. Dry plastering vs wet plastering
  5. Types of plastering jobs
    1. Single wall vs whole room
    2. Ceilings
    3. External rendering
    4. Screeding and insulating the floor
  6. What is involved in the plastering process?
  7. How much does plastering cost?
    1. Single wall
    2. Whole room
    3. Ceilings
  8. How much does external rendering cost?
  9. What does it cost to repair plastering?
  10. How long does it take for plastering to set?
  11. How long should I wait before painting freshly laid plaster?
  12. What is a mist coat?
  13. Creating a mist coat
  14. Painting plaster – differences between internal walls vs external walls
  15. Other plastering costs
    1. Soundproofing
    2. Scaffolding
    3. Skip hire
  16. Get a quote

Before you start

As with any home design project, there are a few things you should make sure you are aware of before you start spending money.

Budget

Always an important preparation to make. Because of the highly variable cost of plastering, it’s important to know where your financial limits are.

If you want to save money, figure out ahead of time where your desires and your financial situation meet. It’s all well and good wanting to add completely new plaster to a whole room. However, you might only be able to afford new plastering for a single wall, or just skimming for a room.

The last thing you want to do is pay deposits or even get halfway through a project before realising you can’t afford the rest.

Also, in order to budget properly you should be discerning when it comes to any quotes you receive. Make sure to ask the professionals you’re talking to if they can give you a complete breakdown of what’s covered in their quote.

Scheduling and time

Saving time and money

Unlike some home renovation projects like gutter cleaning or laying laminate floors, plastering can take longer than a day.

In fact, the average length of a plastering job is between 15 and 18 hours. Bear in mind that this figure isn’t taking into consideration any repairs beforehand. Plastering takes this long for a few reasons and is of course dependent on the size of the space you’re working on.

The key reason however is that plastering often involves a minimum of two coats. These are an initial scratch coat and then a skim coat. In addition, your plasterer will have to leave the wall to dry for some time after applying a layer.

Experience can also affect the time the whole process takes. More experienced plasterers will take less time and vice versa, with less experienced tradespeople charging lower hourly rates.

In addition to the time it takes to plaster, you will also likely need to get the walls painted. Remember to ask your tradesperson if this is included in their quote, and if not, ask how it will affect your overall plastering cost.

Finally, you need to consider how you’ll schedule this project. Because plastering is a commonly sought-after job, qualified tradespeople are nearly always in demand. This means they’ll only have a select few slots in which they can take your job.

Booking in advance is key! Don’t leave it until the walls are in a state of complete disrepair.

Weather

Plastering might not seem like a delicate process, but temperature can significantly affect how quickly it dries. Specifically, extreme heat can prevent the plaster from solidifying, as can moisture in the air. As such, try and schedule your plastering jobs during colder and less humid periods.

The longer a layer of plaster takes to dry the longer it is until the next one can be applied. Forward thinking like this is necessary if you don’t want higher plastering costs on account of increased labour hours.

Also, consistent temperature is critical too. If the level of warm air around the plaster keeps changing, then different spots will dry at different times. This can lead to an incredibly uneven finish, that may require further work to fix it. Again, avoiding this will prevent raising the final plastering cost.

Preparation

In terms of supplies, your plasterer will arrive with their own tools, so you don’t need to supply those. They will, however, need consistent access to a water supply in order to properly mix their plaster.

Make sure that whatever rooms you’re plastering are unfurnished by the time renovations begin. Plastering is an incredibly messy task, and you don’t want to damage any of your furniture. Removing any wallpaper that’s up before the plasterer gets there is also helpful and will cut down on labour costs.

Lay a tarp or cloth over your floor. Much in the same way you’re avoiding furniture damage, you want to prevent any plaster staining the floor too.

Scaffolding

Most plaster work won’t require scaffolding. If you’re having work done on any ceilings though, then it may be necessary. The price of scaffolding is covered towards the end of this guide, if you’re curious about costs.

DIY or professional?

Some types of home renovation are simple enough that you can get away with doing it yourself. Painting your walls or planting flowers in your garden are good examples of this. Plastering, however, is not among them.

The main reason for this is that plastering requires a reasonable level of knowledge in order to be done properly. Additionally, if you carry out a DIY job and make some mistakes it can take a while for these to become obvious. When they do though, the damage can be so bad that you’ll need to hire a professional anyway to fix it.

Plastering vs skimming

As we noted at the start of this guide, “plastering” is a bit of a catch-all term under which there are many types. Throughout this guide you’ll see plastering broken up into two forms:

  1. Skimming, also known as re-plastering
  2. Adding new plaster

But what is the difference between adding new plaster and re-plastering? After all, they seem like very similar terms.

Skimming is a quicker process in which you coat finishing plaster over existing plasterboard, walls and ceilings. It requires less prep work and is more focused on refreshing plaster that’s already there. Hence why it’s sometimes referred to as “re-plastering”, as plaster is just reapplied.

Adding new plaster is a more comprehensive style of project. This will involve skimming, but before that stage you may need to replace existing plasterboards with new ones.

In short, the difference is about whether you need to refresh or replace your plaster.

Dry plastering vs wet plastering

Wet plastering

If you’ve done some research on plastering, you may encounter the terms dry and wet plastering. There is some debate over which style is better and therefore which style you should seek out from a professional.

In this section we take a look at the difference between each, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches.

What is the difference between dry and wet plastering?

Dry plastering is oftentimes referred to as dry lining or drywalling. It is where someone fixes plasterboards to the face of a wall with dots of adhesive solutions. Once this is set, you can then seal any open seams and joints.

Wet plastering, by contrast, is more like the traditional image you have of plastering. That is: coating walls in one layer with wet material, waiting for it to dry, then repeating the process.

Others may refer to this as plasterboard vs plastering.

Dry plastering – strengths and weaknesses

If you’re on a budget or short on time, dry plastering is more appropriate than it otherwise would be.

Strengths

  • Installation time: As there’s no drying period like there is with wet plastering, the total time to install dry lining is significantly less. Not only is this more convenient but will save you money on labour costs.
  • Smaller error window: While wet plastering dries, a lot can go wrong. If it hasn’t been applied correctly, wet plastering can crack during this period. Dry lining avoids this by circumventing the drying process entirely.

Weaknesses

  • Not very flexible: And we don’t just mean that you can’t bend them! Plasterboards are great for flat, characterless walls. However, if your walls have odd shaping or other unique qualities then a tradesperson is going to have to cut the boards to size. This increases preparation time, as well as labour costs.
  • Cheaper, but less effective: While plasterboard tends to cost much less than wet plastering, it is less effective in its secondary effects. This includes soundproofing and the ability to be painted on smoothly.

Wet plastering – strengths and weaknesses

Preferred by most professionals. While wet plastering isn’t the simplest procedure, it can provide the most solid results.

Strengths

  • Strong finishes: The final coating of a successful wet plastering job will leave you with a smooth and resilient finish.
  • Flexibility: Wet plastering is ideal for more unusual areas, such as doors and windows.
  • Excellent sealing: Once wet plaster dries, the sealing properties are exceptional. It creates a finish that is airtight, something that dry lining cannot replicate.

Weaknesses

  • Price: Wet plastering is a much more expensive option. Not only does it take longer, increasing the plastering cost through higher labour hours, but the materials cost more too.
  • Rarity of qualified tradespeople: Learning how to lay plaster takes years of practice and experience. Depending on how rural your home is, it can sometimes be difficult to find someone local that has the skills you’re looking for.
  • Not suited for DIY: As the above weakness suggests, this is not an easy task to perform. Adding wet plastering yourself is almost guaranteed to end poorly.
  • Time: Wet plastering needs to dry. If you don’t have a lot of time, then this isn’t the procedure for you. Either wait until your deadlines aren’t so pressing or consider alternatives.

Types of plastering jobs

Now that we’ve covered some of the ways you can define and refer to plastering, it’s time to look at the types of projects you can contract someone to carry out.

Single wall vs whole room

The space in which you’re renovating will generally fall into one of two categories. Either you’re going to want to plaster one wall at a time, or a whole room (or multiple rooms).

Single wall projects are quick to complete and carry a low overall plastering cost. Whole room jobs, of course, take longer and cost more. It should be noted however that the preparation time isn’t too dissimilar for either option.

Ceilings

A lot of projects focus mainly on the walls, but you can also add plaster to ceilings. We’ve listed it separately in this section because professionals considered it a separate job and it costs extra.

It also takes longer and requires more care than regular plastering jobs. Yet, if you can find a highly experienced tradesperson then this can be a relatively painless task.

External rendering

This is a way of protecting and refreshing the outside of your home. Applying an external render means involves coating your home in a material that is weather resistant, particularly to rain. Furthermore, depending on the coating you use, you can use it to alter the aesthetic of your home.

External rendering can either be carried out with a hawk and trowel or via machine.

The hawk and trowel option consists of mixing the plaster with water until it has the consistency of paste. This is then applied to walls and pressed into something level.

Machine application are slightly different. Instead of creating the plaster mixture manually, the machine acts like a mixing pump. Once mixed, you can spray it out onto the given surface through a nozzle.

Screeding and insulating the floor

In some cases, you may also have to have work done on your floors. This can involve two things: screeding and installing insulation.

Screeding is where a surface is layered with a material, often a mix of cement and sand. This can be mixed at your home or it can be bought pre-mixed. The aim is to either shape it to be level or, as is increasingly common, use a self-levelling solution. From here, you can then add whatever you like.

Beneath the screed layer, you can also install insulation.

What is involved in the plastering process?

Plastering cost
Plastering

This is a little more complicated a question that it first appears. On account of the many different types of plastering jobs, the processes involved can vary.

That being said, we’re going to break down the full process from beginning to end. This breakdown will assume a few things. First, we’ll be looking at this as if you had hired someone to add completely new plaster to a room. This means it will include four walls and a ceiling. It will also not be a skimming job but a full renovation.

The reasoning behind using this as a model is that it is both a typical style of job and a large one. If your potential renovations are smaller then you need only take the process described here and ignore the sections that are inapplicable.

Beginning to end: four walls

When it comes to replacing old walls with new plaster, a tradesperson will strip a wall down to its basics. This is because adding wholly new plaster involves installing new plasterboards.

After a wall is initially put up, 12mm plasterboards are attached to them. Depending on the make of the house, these can be installed with counter battens or vertical studs. Some even install plasterboards using adhesives in a “dot and dab” method.

Alternatively, a builder might forego plasterboards in favour of wet plastering, described above.

Adding new plasterboard requires access to these original fixtures (or, if wet plastering was used, the wall’s original surface). So, all of the intervening wallpaper, glue and plastering has to first be removed. Then, the original plasterboards themselves are taken down if there are any. In the case of wet plastering, a plasterer is likely to sand or chisel through the coating.

After this, new plasterboards will be fixed to the walls, following by an additional layer of plastering. Here, the new plasterboard is covered in a base coat, then typically a finishing coat. These will be a couple of millimetres thick in each case.

The other option, of course, is to rip out old plasterboards and replace them with multiple coats of wet plastering.

For a whole room (minus the ceiling) this process typically takes 2 to 3 days. Depending on the training and experience of your tradespeople, wet plastering can take longer. At most, this is likely to add another day to the total completion time.

Finally, work can begin above.

Plastering a ceiling

Ceilings can take a long time to be plastered, despite only being one surface. This is because of the training and skill required to effectively plaster them without causing mess, imperfections or damage.

When a ceiling is plastered, a 15mm thick plasterboard is installed using drywall screws. Nails used to be used, but they can be imprecise and, if used incorrectly, damaging to the property. Screws of this nature better keep the integrity of the boards, allowing them to last longer.

This saves you further plastering costs in the long run.

Plastering times for ceiling vary greatly depending on their size. For a small to moderate room, the surface could take 6 to 12 hours to finish. Larger rooms can, on their own, take a couple of days however.

How much does plastering cost?

Just as with the process of plastering, the pricing of it is variable. To accommodate for this, we’ve pulled out the average costs for different elements of a plastering job. That way, you can price up each section of the house you want renovated and the calculate a total cost.

Single wall

Plastering a single wall isn’t an overly expensive project. The cost of materials is usually low. However, plastering jobs can take a day even just for one wall, so the majority of your bill will be labour costs.

If you’re skimming a single wall, the fully inclusive cost should be somewhere between £100 to £200. That said, if you’re adding new plaster, then the costs are higher. Expect to pay closer to £150 to £300 for a fully refurbished wall.

Whole room

Interestingly, the cost of plastering a whole room isn’t massively different to that of a single wall in certain cases.

While the cost of materials to skim a single wall are around £20 to £30, the cost of materials for a room is closer to £60 to £80. After this there’s just labour costs to consider. Considering the relative simplicity of the skimming process, it doesn’t take much longer to re-plaster a room than it does a wall. Therefore, the total plastering cost for skimming a room is around £250 to £300.

Adding new plaster to a whole room is much more, however. This is due to the different materials needed – which are more expensive. It’s also a longer process, incurring higher labour costs.

New plasterboards, coating materials, finishes glues and more can cost roughly £300 alone. On top of that you have the price of skip hire, to deal with the waste produced. Then you have the wages of your tradespeople. All in all, the total plastering cost for this type of job can range between £550 and £650.

Ceilings

Again, plastering ceilings requires more technical knowledge and skill than walls do. Because of this, prices are higher. Smaller ceilings can cost you anywhere from £200 to £300, with larger ceilings being double that.

How much does external rendering cost?

As you might expect, the price of external rendering is conditional on the size of the property being renovated.

Smaller houses, such as a bungalow, will cost much less while multi-storey houses will be priced higher.

House type Cost Time
Bungalow £1950 – £2100 4-6 days
Semi-detached £3500 – £4000 5-8 days
Detached £5000 – £8000 1-2 weeks

 

What does it cost to repair plastering?

Common causes of repairs include:

  • Cracking
  • Small gouges
  • Scuff marks
  • Minor water damage (such as from leaky roofing)

The method used to repair plaster depends on the severity of damage sustained by the walls. In small cases, such as cracks, a professional might sand down the area slightly before using a filling agent. Larger issues demand that a wall be reskimmed.

When it comes to skimming prices, you can find those in the earlier sections of this guide. For more localised repairs, the prices are variable – due to the specific costs of the tools and materials needed.

Typical repair costs range from as low as £100 for materials and labour, up to £500 dependent on the project.

How long does it take for plastering to set?

Touching wet plaster is a fast way of ruining all the hard work that’s gone into your walls. You need to wait until the entire wall is completely set before you do anything to it. This includes adding wallpaper and applying paint.

But how do you know it’s set if you can’t touch it?

The answer to that is entirely dependent on the type of plastering that’s been used. So, make sure to ask your tradesperson what they’ve used. Below is a table put together for quick reference. Beneath that, we’ll cover what each type of plastering is used for, in case you’re unclear for whatever reason which type has been used on your walls.

Plaster type Time to set
One coat 2-3 hours
Board finish 1-1.5 hours
Multi-finish 1-1.5 hours
Bonding 2 hours
Browning 2 hours

 

One coat

As the name suggests, one coat plaster is designed to be simple and quick of use. With this, you don’t need to worry about applying one layer, waiting for it to dry and then repeating the process.

Because it only requires a single coat however, that one quote takes longer.

One coat plastering is ideal for smaller jobs, as well as DIY projects.

Board finish and multi-finish

The two finishing options – board and multi – are applied as topcoats to different materials. What this means is that after everything else has been applied and set, a topcoat is added as a finishing layer. This provides additional protection to wear and tear as well as liquids and more.

Board finish is used on top of plasterboard. So, if you’re conducting a top-to-bottom renovation by ripping out the old plasterboards and adding new ones, then board finish is a necessity.

Multi-finish on the other hand is applied over browning or bonding plaster.

Bonding and browning plaster

These options are more effective for external rendering. Bonding and browning plaster is ideal as a basecoat for brickwork, breeze blocks and blockwork. Additionally, browning plaster can also be used on plasterboard.

How long should I wait before painting freshly laid plaster?

plastering cost painting
Painting over plaster

Most people have their walls re-plastered before they plan on giving them a new lick of paint. However, if you’re planning on painting them as soon as you can, then you need to know when that is.

Specifically, you need to figure out when it is dry.

Setting time and drying time are two different things when it comes to plaster. The paste-like consistency of it can largely have set after a few hours, but it may not be completely dry.

Plasterboard can take a couple of hours to become fully dry, or even sometimes as long as three hours. Backing plaster, however, can take double that length of time.

That being said, common professional advice is to leave it at least a week. That way it will be completely dry. Some professionals even go so far as to wait a month. But unless your hired tradesperson recommends this, waiting a month can be excessive.

How can I tell if plaster is dry without touching it?

Visually, if your plaster has dark spots throughout then it hasn’t dried completely. Plaster that is no longer wet will set in a consistent, light colour.

Is a week an excessive waiting period?

A week might seem like an irritatingly long time to wait, especially if you need that space. Yet, there are few ways of starting over when it comes to renovations – at least without doubling the plastering cost. So, you don’t want to ruin your new walls by being impatient.

The reason most professionals recommend a week is that this amount of time accommodates all kinds of plastering. Additionally, it accounts for the variance caused by seasonal temperatures as well as the number of layers of plaster used.

A well-ventilated room is key to shortening drying times. It also has the added effect of reducing the risk of cracking.

What is a mist coat?

A mist coat is crucial when it comes to treating new plaster. As the plaster often has unthinned emulsion, if you try to paint on it then you’ll notice it dries too soon. Most paint wont bond with plaster but will once a mist coat is added.

There are, however, some paints available nowadays that are designed to be applied directly onto plaster. These are also thinner than normal paints, so the dry time is shorter.

If you don’t treat your walls with a mist coat but do paint them (with traditional paint), then they’re likely to peel. This can leave them looking worse than they did before you started renovations. Fixing them will add even more to the final plastering cost.

Creating a mist coat

There are a couple of solutions to the issues presented by new plaster emulsion. As we’ve discussed above, the emulsion prevalent in freshly applied plaster makes painting it challenging. In order to circumvent this, you can invest in a modern make of plaster paint that is designed for quick and immediate application.

Unfortunately, these paints that don’t require a mist coat are expensive – often prohibitively so.

Instead, most homeowners will want a cheaper, but just as simple solution.

This is where mist coats come in handy and making them is straightforward. Take some water from the tap and mix it with standard emulsion. You should mix 2 parts water to every 3 parts emulsion, but that’s only a guide. The ultimate goal is to create a diluted solution.

The reason dilution is so important is that undiluted paint emulsion wont work properly when applied to walls. Instead of seeping into the plaster and sealing, undiluted emulsions will extract the moisture of the wall.

Consequences of this include the paint drying too quickly, thus risking cracks and other issues.

Also, don’t use vinyl paint! When layered onto plaster it often creates a film-like layer that will peel and not set properly.

Mist coats are leagues better at sealing to new plaster than PVA glue, which some people mistakenly recommend. Using PVA leads to any additional layers of paint sitting on top of it, rather than bonding properly. The paint wont last and you’ll be left with a surface that looks like it’s in a state of disrepair.

Additionally, using light coloured emulsion is recommended on account of the fact that it won’t show through topcoats.

Painting plaster – differences between internal walls vs external walls

You may be wondering if there’s much difference in how you paint internal walls vs external walls. In fact, there is. This is because of the different types of wear and tear that they can expect to take, as well as the general conditions they’ll experience.

If you’ve read our section on preparation at the start, you’ll be well versed in how to prepare internal walls.

When it comes to external walls, there are a few extra steps you should take before the main work begins. To start, find a scrapper. You’ll need to use it to clear the surface of any and all bumps so that it’s smooth. Where the imperfections are smaller, such as ingrained dust and other particulates, use a wire brush.

Additionally, your choice in paint will have to differ. Masonry paint is a good option for external walls. It can be applied to plaster without dilution and works on a great many surfaces. You will nevertheless need to use at least two coats for an even finish, despite not needing a mist coat.

Other plastering costs

Beyond the standard expenses of supplies and labour, your total plastering cost may also include a few other things.

Soundproofing

If you’re renovating your walls, it’s a good time to examine how well your home deals with outside noise. Do you get an uninterrupted night’s sleep, or can you hear every noise – however minor – from outside? Are you near a busy road and constantly aware of it, even with the television on full volume?

If your answer is yes, then soundproofing your home is a good idea.

You might think we mean sticking soundproofing squares to your walls and making it look like a recording studio. Rest assured, there are options more appropriate for your home.

Whether you’re skimming your walls or adding new plaster, soundproofing can be added. There are a variety of methods to do this.

The most common option involves creating a second wall that stands in front of the original. Then, the gap between them (usually 100mm to 150mm in thickness) is filled with soundproofing filler. Typically, this will be a foam product, but it can also be rubber or something fibrous.

For a sound reduction of around 25 decibels, you can expect to pay roughly £1200 to £1600.

Scaffolding

Most plastering jobs won’t require scaffolding on account of being internal renovations. There are some though, particularly the external rendering kind, that will need this.

For projects of this type and size, you won’t need the scaffolding for very long. As such, the hiring prices will be lower. The flip side of this is that it may be more difficult to find a company or firm willing to erect it.

Most companies that you can hire scaffolding from prefer to take on longer projects. Usually these will last between 6 to 9 weeks. Of course, external rendering shouldn’t take more than a day, two at the most.

Finding a local company willing to take on the job often comes down to a question of scale. Smaller companies are more likely to accept these jobs, with local independent tradespeople being ideal candidates.

The average cost of scaffolding hire is reportedly around £600. Prices do depend on the size of the project in question though, are plastering projects are notably smaller than most. As a result, the lowest bound estimate could be closer to £400 to £450.

Furthermore, if you need to erect scaffolding then you will likely need a permit. Most of the time, tradespeople will acquire this on your behalf. However, if you want to be as knowledgeable as you can on the subject, then check out the government’s page on scaffolding rules.

Skip hire

Waste removal is one of the often-forgotten parts of any renovation.

As always, ask the tradespeople that you’re working with if waste removal is included in your quote or if it’ll be extra. Plastering is a job that produces a lot of waste, and so it’s something you can’t really do without.

Get a quote

At this point, you should have everything you need to know when it comes to the price of plastering. If there’s anything you think we’ve missed, get in touch with us on Twitter @Quotatis.

Furthermore, if you’d like help finding a local, qualified tradesperson to carry out a plastering job for you, fill in the form below. We’ll contact you with a list of professionals who can give you a quote as soon as possible.

Also, keep in mind these 8 things you should ask your plasterer. Once you’ve settled on a professional to conduct your renovations, they should be able to answer any of these questions for you.

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