How to Plaster Internal Walls

Written by lewis levenberg
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Plaster can cover many types of internal, or 'interior,' walls. These include wood lathe as well as masonry. Apply plaster in layers, starting with a base layer that adheres to the rough wall itself. A second layer provides depth and evens out the surface. Finally, a thin top layer of finer plaster gives a smooth finish to the wall. Take the time to allow each layer to dry before applying the next. These three layers of plaster can last for years without sagging, when installed properly.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Plaster mixes
  • Taping knife or trowel

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  1. 1

    Apply a thin, less than 1/2 inch, layer of plaster to the wall with the trowel. This first layer is called the base, the render, or the key layer. Cover the entire surface evenly, making sure that the plaster adheres to the wall and packs into any gaps or voids in the wall. Dip the trowel periodically into the bucket of water to keep clumps of plaster from sticking to the tool.

  2. 2

    Draw a criss-cross pattern of thin, shallow notches in the render with the edge of the trowel. Allow the render to dry overnight.

  3. 3

    Apply a second, "floating" layer of plaster over the base, using the same techniques with the trowel. Make the second layer thicker and ensure that the surface is flat and even. Again, draw notches in this layer before allowing it to dry overnight.

  4. 4

    Add a final "skim" coat of plaster over the floating layer. Use a plaster mix with a higher proportion of gypsum and lime and less of cement or sand. Use the same technique to apply plaster with the trowel. Create a decorative pattern, such as peaks or etching, with the trowel. Otherwise, do not notch the surface, instead making it as smooth as possible. Allow the plaster to dry thoroughly.

Tips and warnings

  • The base and floating layers of plaster usually include some cement and/or other aggregate such as sand in the mixture to help it dry faster. The topping or skim layer does not include these aggregates, only gypsum and lime putty. These mixes are available already blended, eliminating the need to mix your own plaster.
  • Wear a breathing mask to avoid inhaling dust from the plaster mixtures.

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