How to Plaster Walls

Updated April 17, 2017

Plaster is a durable, long-lasting substance traditionally made out of lime and gypsum. Today, veneer plaster is available. Plaster can be applied on walls over construction materials such as brick, stone or wood to create a surface that is easily cleaned and can be decorated with paint or stencils.

Cover the floor below the area you wish to plaster with a tarp or plastic sheeting.

Knock on different spots in the wall and listen for echoes. Where none sound out, there are supporting beams and joists in the wall.

Apply plaster to the parts of the wall that stand right in front of the supporting boards. Put plaster onto the hawk, then scoop the plaster onto the trowel from the hawk. Lay the plaster 3/8-inch thick with the trowel with a motion like a paint brush going both ways, only less of an angle. The first coat of plaster needs a little roughness to provide a grip for the next coat.

Lay the second coat on the next day; this coat will run more smoothly on the wall. Start the sweep with the trowel perpendicular to the wall. While moving up the wall, gradually flatten the trowel to the wall. The trowel should end flat on the wall with the plaster laid smoothly all the way through the stroke. Move the trowel back to the starting position, smoothing plaster with the trowel flat to the wall.

Apply any patterns desired to the plaster, using the tool of choice, such as a sponge. To pattern using stencils, tape the stencil onto the wall and cover it with a thin plaster coat using the edge of the trowel. Then carefully remove the stencil.


Wait for a day with low humidity and temperatures of 10 to 12.8 degrees Celsius before plastering. After the plaster job, try to keep the humidity low in the room. Dampen the hawk and trowel so that the plaster will not stick or warp. Also, while fine-tuning or smoothing plaster, use a spray bottle to keep the plaster wet for better flexibility. Lay plaster like a professional by starting the sweep with the trowel perpendicular at the bottom of the wall. While moving up the wall, flatten the trowel to the wall gradually. The trowel should flatten to the wall at the end of the stroke. Also, move left to right with a curve like a palm tree's trunk. Lay two rough coats instead of one over the entire area to add endurance to the plaster.

Things You'll Need

  • Tarp or plastic sheeting
  • Veneer plaster
  • Trowel
  • Hawk
  • Tarp or plastic
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About the Author

April Lee started writing professionally in 2009. She is the marketing writer for an independently owned cheese business. She attended the University of North Texas and majored in English.