Plastering is a difficult enough job to do without having the proper tools and equipment. It is not just enough to have a good selection of tools at your disposal, you must also know when to use the right tool. Professional plasterers use a greater variety of tools to ensure perfect levelling and a smooth finish, but you should be able to do a more than adequate job with fewer tools.
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A hawk is a square piece of softwood or satin-finish aluminium that comes with a handle placed in the centre of its underside. Look for a hawk that measures 12-by-12 inches and offers a detachable handle so that it can be set down on a surface. The hawk is used to hold the plaster mortar.
A plasterer’s trowel has either a metal or wooden handle attached to a flat, rectangular sheet of metal. This trowel usually measures around 4-by-10 inches or so. This trowel's large size allows it to be used to spread a plaster scratch coat or give a smooth finish to the top coat. This trowel can also be used for shaping mortar.
A float is another tool for spreading the plaster onto the wall evenly. Floats can be useful for smoothing out the plaster that was applied using a trowel. Floats are rectangular pieces of wood, plastic, or metal that has a bottom made of rubber or sponge. A bull float is very large version that used for finishing spacious areas quickly and efficiently.
A pointed trowel that is smaller than the plasterer’s trowel is useful for spreading the plaster in spots where the larger trowel cannot reach. The pointed edge of this trowel will also come in handy for scraping off mortar from other tools.
The margin trowel is another alternate tool to have on hand when the plasterer’s trowel is too larger. The margin trowel is rectangular and has a flat end so it can be used to apply a larger amount of plaster than the pointed trowel.
A very effective tool for plastering goes by a variety of names. It may be called a slicker, a rod, or a jointer. The slicker is simply a strip of aluminium about four feet long and six inches wide. It is drawn across the plaster vertically and horizontally to evenly smooth the surface.
A stippling brush can be used to texture your plaster. A round stippled brush is good for creating swirled texture effects. Stippling brushes also come in rectangular shape to create a more even effect. Best results are achieved by applying overlapping bands when using the rectangular stippling brush.
A wallboard knife can be used for applying plaster when you are just repairing holes. The wallboard knife can be used for scraping away loose plaster as well as applying new plaster into the hole.
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