What’s the Difference Between Plastering and Skimming?

You’ve probably heard people saying that they want their walls plastering. However, have you heard the less common term that they require skimming?

We’re going to bust the misconceptions about the difference between these 2 terms.


Contrary to popular belief, plastering is the term offered to the whole trade. This means that skimming is really a method that a plasterer utilises, rather than plastering and skimming being totally separate terms.

Plasterers perform great deals of different types of plastering and need to be very well-informed in their trade. For example, some materials need more coats of plaster than others, and there are lots of different methods associated with doing a good job.

There are different kinds of plasters that plasterers must understand how to use:

  • Cement plaster: Made from cement, sand and water and generally used on walls where masonry work has been done
  • Lime plaster: Made from lime and water
  • Gypsum plaster: Made with water and calcium sulphate
skimming vs plastering
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Skimming is the name provided to a plastering method where a wall is plastered with a layer of thin coat.

It is usually applied to an existing plaster to smooth the surface area. It’s an extremely difficult task and shouldn’t be attempted by an amateur DIYer as the wall or ceiling might end up looking worse than previously!

The white layer of lime which is used to rough cement is called a skim coat. The plasterer uses various methods to make the surface area smooth, and it might depend on the tradesman’s proficiency. Then the skim coat can be painted to make it look far more appealing.

So overall, skimming is a subset of plastering. They are both used to decorate structures and increase the durability of a wall, but skimming is done to update an old building whereas plastering is done to a new one.

Another difference between skim and plaster is that plaster surface areas are constantly rough whereas a skimmed surface area is smooth.

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Emily Rivers

Emily Rivers is the Customer Experience Manager at Quotatis. She informs customers of the latest developments in a range of products so they can make the best choice for their homes and ensures they get the best out of our service.