What does a Plasterer do?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 May 2020
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Plasterers are building professionals who apply plaster to walls and ceilings to create a finished look to an interior space. They may work with new construction or manage repairs to existing buildings. In addition to the creation of basic coverings on walls and ceilings, plastering may also involve the creation of architectural details that enhance the overall look of the space.

For basic plastering jobs, the plasterer will begin with either a solid surface or wire lathing that is attached to the surface. For many projects, an even coat of gypsum is applied to the facing of the wall or ceiling to create a surface that the plaster will adhere to with no problems. The use of gypsum is particularly helpful when the plaster professional is working with a concrete wall.

With the gypsum in place, the builder will apply what is typically known as the finish coat. This coast is usually plaster that is formulated with a lime base. For jobs where some sort of lathing was employed, the person putting up the plaster will also use a tool known as a hawk, which is used to hold the plaster before it's applied.

While this basic process will vary from one application to another, it can be used to create a plaster ceiling as well as a plaster wall. The exact ingredients of the plaster will depend on whether the application is for an interior space or for a wall located out of doors. For exterior projects, the plasterer may add in pigment or apply additional coats of gypsum, especially if the wall surface is particularly rough.

Along with creating basic surfaces for walls and ceilings, design elements that can enhance the overall look of the space can also be created with plaster. In some cases, the design may involve using sculpting tools to create recessed designs in the surface of the plaster wall or ceiling. Other enhancements, such as chair railing or cornice pieces, can be constructed off site and then installed once the plaster walls are dry.

Working as a plasterer requires a great deal of physical stamina. The work involves lifting, bending, reaching, climbing ladders, and constantly moving along scaffolding. At times, the materials themselves may be heavy, requiring a fair amount of upper body strength to handle.

A plasterer may work with different types of plaster, such as stucco or various types of drywall. As with any building professional, the work of this type of craftsman must comply with local building codes and standards. In some jurisdictions, a plastering professional must be licensed and bonded in order to secure work in the area.

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Plastering also varies from country to country. In Ireland, exterior plastering is usually done by mixing sand, cement and lime together and applying to a block surface in three coats to produce a smooth finish.

There are also many stone finishes produced, like dry dashing, which involves throwing pebbles at plaster while wet. Wet dash is another method which produces a pebble type finish. This is a lime based plaster and is done by mixing lime, sand, cement and stone and applied over two coats of scratch by throwing wet mix at the wall.

Internal plastering is normally done as both sand and cement with a skim finish plaster-boarding and skimming. All block walls will be coated in solid render and ceilings and partitions in plasterboard. When all is in place, we will put tape on all joints before coating all walls in skimcoat.

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