How to Price a Plastering Job

Updated April 17, 2017

Finishing a building's interior or exterior with plaster or stucco provides a versatile, cost-effective and durable cladding. Whether you are a project's general manager, a subcontractor or a general handyman patching a hole in a wall, you must bid on jobs to get the work. Cost estimates are free to the customer, but cost you time, gas and money, yet most jobs go to the lowest bidder. Use specialised computer software or your own experience, current information and a disciplined approach to successfully price plastering jobs to win the bid without going broke.

Determine the start and finish dates and the square footage to be plastered. Estimate how much work must be completed per day to meet deadline; determine how many workers you need to fulfil the job's work requirements. Calculate labour costs: multiply number of hours by wages per hour for all employees. Include cost and time for supervisory work if you will not be on site.

Determine materials and equipment needed. For example, you may need to apply plaster onto metal lath or blue board. Determine if the job requires use a two-coat system, or only one lime putty plaster coat. Contact supply companies and price needed material amounts. Arrange availability of workers, equipment such as scaffolding that you will rent and equipment you must purchase, such as cage-style mixers and trowels. ,

Add up all costs. Add a percentage (exact amount varies by market) to cover profit and administrative overhead costs such as insurance and payroll services.

Create a payment schedule proposal. Determine if you need financing or a down payment to cover the initial cost of items such as plaster, scaffolding, covering for floors and salaries.

Prepare your bid sheet and a contract outlining all conditions of the job and the method and timing of payment. Address how change orders, delays and other liability problems will be handled and paid for. Include how you will protect and clean floors, windows, woodwork and other surfaces from splatter damage.


Determine if desired finish can be achieved with locally-available cement and aggregate size and colour. Calculate amount of pigment needed if plaster or stucco is to be coloured before application. Make sure plasterers know the mix consistency required for each plaster coat and any special application techniques needed to complete the job successfully. Keep track of wages and materials cost trends in your area to ensure your bid is "in the ballpark." If you own your own equipment, your overhead figure should include a portion of that expense, since you will use that equipment on many jobs. Spreading out the cost over a specified period of time is called amortisation.


Outline your policy regarding future cracking in the contract. Since industry standards vary by location and economic conditions, spell out your liabilities and the length of time for which you offer coverage. Ask the client to approve samples of selected plaster colour and texture finish in writing prior to general application.

Things You'll Need

  • Dimensions of total area to be plastered
  • Job specifications, including type of plaster backing, number of plaster coats
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Phone
  • Calculator
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About the Author

Based in Texas, Catherine Hudgins began writing medical, technical, real-estate, travel and pet-care articles in 2000. Her articles have appeared in magazines such as “Food & Leisure," “MDNews,” and “CollegeBound." Hudgins received her Bachelor of Arts in fine art and Spanish from Trinity University.