Plastering is not an easy project for amateurs, but it can be done with the right products and techniques. Artex, one of the best known manufacturers of plaster and wall coatings, makes the most user-friendly solutions for do-it-yourself enthusiasts. With a little care and the proper tools, you can repair, protect and brighten your walls and add value to your property. Most of the Artrex coatings last for 25 years, greatly reducing maintenance chores.
Professional plasterers typically use a gypsum-based plaster applied in two layers; this is a difficult product to use and requires years and years of training and practice to master. Artex products are designed for easy application even by novices.
The condition of your wall will dictate the products and techniques you should use. Hairline cracks and small holes can be repaired with wall fillers. Use a repair plaster where the plaster has pulled away from the wall. If the walls are rough or uneven, applying an Artex plaster finish or a textured coating will hide damage. Masonry can be covered with textured plasterboard and is a good choice for beginners. If dampness or water intrusion is an issue, seal the wall with Artex Clearshield water-repellent coating. Artex also offers hard-wearing exterior coatings, flexible paint coatings, and GRP Roofing for flat floor, terrace floor or deck repair.
The first step in repairing a wall is removing all damaged plaster using a bolster chisel and lump hammer. Then, with a stiff brush, remove all loose plaster, debris and dust. Lay out a dust sheet to facilitate clean up. Wearing a dust mask, mix the plaster with water, as directed, to a creamy consistency.
If the area to be repaired includes a corner, apply a metal angle bead to it first so the corner will be neat and the bead will provide a guide for your levelling board; be sure the bead is vertically level. Cut the bead with a hacksaw and prime the ends before affixing it with a few dabs of plaster.
Be sure to dampen the walls before applying the plaster. Put a small amount on a hawk -- a flat board, 30 cm by 30 cm (1 foot square), with a handle on the underside. Pick up a small amount of the plaster on a steel plasterer's trowel, and apply to the area in an upward motion. The angle of the trowel is critical -- begin with a steep angle and gradually flatten out as you go. Be careful not to flatten the trowel completely, or you will pull off the plaster you are spreading. Continue until the area is covered.
Screed the area (level and remove excess plaster) by moving a straightedge piece of wood along the wall in a side-to-side motion; fill in any hollows that may show up, and repeat until the patched area is level with the rest of the wall.
Rinse your trowel frequently in a bucket of cold water to keep it clean. Once the patch has dried slightly and the surface is hard, dampen it with a spray bottle of cold water and resmooth with the trowel. Scratch the surface of the undercoat lightly with a trowel before applying a finishing coat.
Plaster finishing coats applied before the undercoat is completely dry adhere the best. If you are putting the finish on existing plaster or plaster board, be sure to roughen it slightly so the coat will stick. Before the coat is completely dry, dampen as above and resmooth.
Textured coatings are flexible and strong, unlike paint, and they can mask cracks up to 3 mm (1/8 inch) wide and uneven surfaces. All paper, loose paint, dirt and debris must be removed prior to application. Take special care to remove all grease or nicotine stains thoroughly using a strong floor and wall cleaner; rinse and let dry thoroughly. It is helpful to patch cracks wider than 3 mm (1/8 inch) with a wall filler and tape over with joint tape. Seams in plaster board must also be taped. Any chalky areas of the wall should be treated with a stabilising solution. If the wall is porous, apply a special sealant before applying the textured coating.
When the wall is prepared, you can apply the textured coating with a brush for a relatively flat look or special roller that will leave a distinct pattern. In addition, there are several tools that create decorative effects, including stippling brushes, combs, lacers (triangular plastic blades), margin brushes to create borders and damp sea sponges.