How to Plaster a Ceiling - Your Complete Guide (With Costs!)
August 9, 2019

Does the plaster on your ceiling need a touch-up? Are there cracks or holes in your ceiling you need to repair? Then it might just be time to learn how to plaster a ceiling.

The process of plastering a ceiling can be messy but that doesn’t mean you should rush through it. Mastering proper plastering techniques takes time and patience. So pack your patience, dedication and some elbow grease, and before you know it your plastering project will soon be well on its way.

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Plastering Trowel

How to Plaster a Ceiling Step by Step

So you’re ready to take on plastering your ceiling, are you? Well, just follow the simple steps outlined below and you’ll soon be well on your way!

1. Gather Your Tools and Equipment

Before you begin plastering your ceiling, you will need to gather a few tools first. Keep these handy for the duration of the project. Then, if you need something mid-project it will be close at hand.

We’ve included a list below of the most important tools and supplies for plastering a ceiling:

  • Plaster
  • Plastering trowel
  • Ladder
  • Mixing stick
  • Sandpaper
  • Clean water and sponge

Once you’ve gathered all the essential supplies then it’s time to begin the prep work.

2. Prepare the Area

Plastering a ceiling is messy there is simply no better way to put it. You’re balancing on a ladder with wet plaster on a trowel that you spread across the ceiling. This means, there’s a pretty good chance that some of it is going to drip down and land on your or the surrounding area.

The best way to counteract this is to plan ahead. Remove as much furniture as possible from the room. Then, cover any remaining furniture as well as the floor with a sheet of plastic. Take special care to ensure that the entire floor is covered. You don’t want plaster falling and hardening on your carpeting or hardwood.

To protect yourself, you should wear a renovation mask and some old clothes. While the mask prevents plaster from landing in your mouth, the clothes will protect your skin. Not to mention that using old clothes means you won’t destroy any favourite pieces.

Plaster Ceiling

3. Prepare the Ceiling

Do you have uneven patches on your ceiling? Then you should sand these down first. You don’t want the faults of your old ceiling to carry over after you are finished your project.

Then you’ll need to tidy up. Even if your ceiling is newer you should still follow these steps and tidy to remove any hidden dust. The good news is, that cleaning your ceiling is relatively easy. Use a vacuum to remove old cobwebs from the ceiling and then a sponge with some soapy water to wipe up any dust that remains. After this, get rid of any traces of soap residue by sponging the ceiling with clean water after following this step.

Are you plastering on a surface that has been exposed to oil? Then use a degreaser. If you don’t remove the oil before you plaster, it won’t set.

If you have a hole in your ceiling, you will also need to take some steps to patch this up first.

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4. Start Mixing Your Plaster

Mixing plaster is relatively easy. The best way to mix plaster is by using equal parts of water and plaster. Then add the plaster to the water using your mixing stick to create a smooth consistency. Once the consistency is just right you can move on to the next step.

Mixing Plaster

5. Plastering Techniques for Skim Coating

Now that you have your plaster all mixed you can begin plastering your ceiling. In order to plaster your ceiling properly, you will need to learn how to skim a ceiling with plaster. This is a pretty simple process but it does require some patience.

Remember that while you are plastering the ceiling you should always have someone nearby to hold the ladder steady. It is important to make safety a top priority.

To skim a ceiling with plaster, first, dab some clean water on the ceiling where you plan to apply the plaster. Then add a small amount of plaster to the edge of your plastering trowel to create a thin, even layer. For your convenience, apply the plaster in rows that are about a metre long. Divide each part of the ceiling into manageable steps and don’t forget to take breaks!

As you apply the plaster you should also use the rough edge of your plaster trowel to create scrapes or scratches in the plaster. Continue this process along the entirety of the ceiling.

Once the ceiling is entirely covered with a skim coat, let it set completely. Depending on the type of plaster you use this could take up to 48 hours. After your plaster is set you can apply a second coat continuing to use the skim coat technique. Together these two fine layers of plaster will contribute to a smooth and even ceiling.

6. Sand and Smooth It Out

No matter how skilled you are at applying a skim coat to your ceiling you’re going to end up with a few bumps along the way. Don’t fret though, this has an easy remedy. Just grab your handy piece of sandpaper that you gathered earlier with your tools. Then, use this to sand the bumps away. With a bit of elbow grease, your ceiling will soon be smooth, even and ready for a coat of paint!

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How to Fix a Hole in the Ceiling

Do you have a hole or crack in your ceiling that you need to patch up? Then you’ll need to take a few extra steps first before you begin the plastering process outlined above.

Hole in plaster ceiling

First, brush any loose plaster away You don’t want loose plaster particles around the edge of the hole to compromise your project.

Second, fill the hole with plaster. This will be the first coat of plaster you apply. If you have a lath ceiling, make sure the plaster surrounds the lath. Then let this set completely.

Then, cover the hole with a piece of wire mesh. If the piece of mesh isn’t sticking properly, use wooden dowels to keep it in place. The wire mesh will strengthen the area so that it is sturdy and strong once the project is complete.

Add another layer of plaster over the wire mesh. When the plaster is completely dry, snip off any exposed pieces of wire from the mesh.

Then, sand down the edges of the hole so that they are smooth and even. With proper sanding, you won’t even notice the area where you sanded the hole!


How Much Does It Cost to Plaster a Ceiling?

The two main factors which influence the cost to plaster a ceiling are ceiling size and its general state of repair. Logically, larger ceilings will cost more to plaster than smaller ceilings. Not only does it take longer to plaster a larger ceiling but, you will also need more materials to completely plaster it.

Then, the general state of repair is also a key consideration. If your ceiling is in rough shape and there is more than just a small hole to patch up, this will contribute to a higher cost.

On average, plasterers in the UK charge around £18 per hour. Then, in terms of materials a 25kg bag of dry plaster which you would then mix on your own runs at around £7-15. If you buy pre-mixed plaster, which is ready to use the cost is a little higher with prices ranging between £15-20 for a 6L container.

A 25kg bag will cover about 2.25m² if the layer is about 35mm thick. On the other hand, a 6L container covers about 0.75 m²  when you make the layer 6mm thick.

To get the precise cost for plastering your ceiling, first measure the square footage. Then divide this by the area the bag covers. This will tell you how many bags you need to buy. From this, you will be able to estimate the material cost.

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You may not consciously notice it, but your ceiling is always looking out for you! It offers a layer of sound protection, blocking the sound from different levels of your home. A ceiling also helps with insulation to make sure your room is comfortable. Plus, a smooth surface above you keeps your home looking finished and tidy. So, when you are considering renovations learning how to plasterboard a ceiling is a must!

But sometimes, it can start to look shabby. It could even show signs of damage! If you spot signs of wear or worse, it means you need more than just a fresh coat of paint. You need to install plasterboard to give your ceiling a new start. This also makes it a great opportunity to have some fun with how your ceiling looks. Shake up your home’s looks by choosing a fun paint colour or incorporating a textured finish. Plasterboard is the perfect foundation for your ideas. 

Before you travel to your nearest home supply store to get your materials, you should learn how to plasterboard your ceiling to make sure the job is done right. Once you know what to do, it can be a simple DIY project that you can tackle over a few days. When you have a brand new ceiling overhead, you’ll be glad you did!

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What is Plasterboard?

Before you learn how to plasterboard a ceiling it’s a good idea to have a solid understanding of what plasterboard is. After all, if you haven’t worked on wall or ceiling project before, you might not know what plasterboard is. It’s a preformed sheet of plaster held together between two sheets of heavy paper. This plaster is made of the same material as the plaster used on traditional plaster walls and ceilings, already dry and ready to go. It’s perfect for covering your ceiling. It reduces the muss and fuss of traditional plaster and gives you a quicker option.

It also takes a lot of the guesswork out of plastering. To plaster properly, it takes a bit of skill. With plasterboard, even an occasional DIY dabbler can get a smooth, sturdy covering for your ceiling. It will look brand new! It also takes less time to dry, which means you can finish your project much faster. This is great for the times you can’t wait for traditional lath and plaster ceilings to dry! You can start painting and finishing on a much shorter timeline. It also gives you a uniform surface that looks great with less effort.  

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How to Plasterboard a Ceiling Step by Step

When you look up how to plasterboard a ceiling it can seem quite daunting! It could be a struggle to know where to start when you aren’t sure what you’re doing. But you can bring your project in hand with the proper preparation. This includes getting the right materials for the job and following each step through to completion. This way, you won’t get stuck with your ceiling a mess! more
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The dot and dab technique remains a very popular method for attaching plasterboard to a wall. For speed, efficiency, and cost, dot and dab plastering can’t be beaten. However, the dot and dab technique which is also often referred to as dry lining has its detractors. Sometimes it is viewed as less stable and less reliable than traditional wet plastering techniques.

However, if you are a D.I.Y. novice who needs to attach or fix plasterboard, dry lining is perfectly fine.

This article will guide you through the dot and dab process. We have also included plenty of tips and trick to help you achieve great results the first time.  We’ll also explain the pros and cons of dry lining, to help you decide whether this plastering method is right for your D.I.Y. project. Think you'll hire a professional instead of DIY? Easily find top local plasterers near you!

What Is Dot and Dab?

First of all, be aware that dry lining and dot and dab are terms that are now often used interchangeably. Usually, these terms refer to the process of attaching plasterboard to a wall by dotting adhesive at various points across the surface.

When Is the Dot and Dab Technique Used?

The popularity of the dot and dab technique has risen alongside the popularity of plasterboard. Plasterboard provides a smooth, even surface that is easy to hang. Dry lining allows you to easily and quickly attach plasterboard to a wall.

Dry lining also allows you to avoid an excessive mess. This technique requires little water when compared to wet plastering.

Are There Any Disadvantages to Using Dot and Dab?

So, dot and dab is quick, cheap, and it is a great starter project for D.I.Y. novices. It sounds like the perfect plastering option, right? Well, there are some potential problems that you need to be aware of before you take the plunge at start dry lining your wall.

One of the biggest problems that people find with plasterboard that has been attached using dot and dab is that it provides little in the way of sound insulation. To avoid this problem, it is advisable to invest in some further insulation before you attach the final layer of plasterboard that you intend to decorate. Just be aware that this will be an additional expense, so add insulation into your budget.

To get more information on the costs of plastering check out our comprehensive Plastering Price Guide.

How to Identify a Dot and Dab Wall

If you have just moved into a new house or flat, you might not know what is going on behind your walls. What are they made of and how were they put up? You need to know the answers to these questions before you can start to make any changes. Don’t start decorating or drilling through the walls before you are fully informed.

One of the simplest and most effective ways of finding out if you have a dot and dab wall is to knock on the surface. You’ll need to knock the wall at various points. If you can hear a hollow sound at certain points, but a denser sound in other areas, you have a dot and dab wall.

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