Average Labour Cost/Price to Plaster/Skim a Wall

To clarify the following prices it is recommended that you read the article in the INFORMATION box below the PRICES…

(These prices are based on a tradesman’s rate of £150.00 per day and a labourer if required at £100.00 per day. This includes the cost of buying and collecting any materials, dumping any waste if necessary and any incidental materials they will need. The minimum price will usually be for a half day)

How Much Does it Cost To Plaster Walls?

walls plaster

All the following prices include setting up, (buying the plaster, covering carpets etc, getting the materials and tools up to the room) and cleaning up properly when he’s finished, (don’t actually expect
clean, just “not all that dirty”).

The room in question is about 13’ square and he’s plastering “around” the radiator and electrical sockets. These should really come off, of course but that’s 2 more trades to involve. You can add an additional…..
£150.00……. to each of the following prices if you want them removed and replaced.

Job 1 ( A patching repair job)

Lets assume 30% of the plaster is off the walls in various areas around the room.

This will take 2 men 1 day, so £250 + about £40 for materials………….

If you want just one small area plastered, he will charge a minimum of half a day because all the setting out and clearing up has still to be done, so expect a to pay…………

Job 2 ( Replastering the whole wall)

You get a better finish if he plasters the whole wall after effecting any repair, he doesn’t have to spend time trying to get his repair flush with the surrounding surfaces, he just does the whole lot. It takes about the same amount of time as well!

So he repairs first, probably with “bonding”, then applies PVA adhesive and “skims” the whole wall, that’s
one wall of our pretend room.

2 men half a day etc ……..

Job 3

As above but 2 walls…now this will take more than half a day so he will charge for the whole day …………

Job 4

As above but the whole room….this will still take him a day and a half and he will use more plaster, so…….

Material Information
One bag of finish plaster £6: 5l tub of PVA £15

Standard Job: to plaster one 4m x 4m room with one doorway, one chimney breast, and two windows. Assumption - walls are sound, with loose plaster. 1.5 days for a plasterer and labourer.
Labour and materials: £430.00 (one tub of PVA, three bags of plaster)

For your must-see guide to Tradesmen's Rates please click on the map…


General Plastering Information and Further Prices (And questions to ask a plasterer when quoting)

Modern plaster is “gypsum” based (it’s a mineral)! It used to be made with lime and horsehair and stuff and the chaps did all sort of unmentionable things into it to make it sticky!

Plaster was and still is, applied to walls in 2 coats. The first, the “float” coat comprises either “bonding” or “browning” plaster, depending on the particular wall surface. Each of these is slightly aerated and relatively light, (i’m not Louis Pasteur but I do believe they both contain vermiculite) and is applied to a thickness of approx. ½” (15mm). Its job is to take up any discrepancies in the wall and present a flat surface for the second coat.
The second coat is the “set” coat and here, “finish” plaster is used. This is much denser and will be spread less than 1/8” thick (3mm). A good plasterer can leave a wall totally flat, smooth and with a glass like finish. Applying “finish” plaster is called “skimming”.

I’d make a glossary of all these names if I were you, then get your wife to test you and if you get them all right you can award yourself a biscuit.

The older your house, the greater is the likelihood that the plaster needs attention. You usually discover this when you eventually decide to remove
all the wallpaper from a wall to start wallpapering again from scratch and layers of plaster come away from the wall with the paper.

Had you investigated prior to removal by knocking the walls gently with a small hammer or your knuckles, you would have been rewarded with a hollow sound quite different to the solid surface you expected. In fact if you live in an old house and do this now in all your rooms, you
will encounter this but I don’t advise it, as it will only upset you!

Whenever coats of plaster (or if outside,…. render) are applied one over the other, it is essential to seriously rough up the surface of the initial coat, (“scratching”). This will provide a
mechanical key to aid the inherent chemical bonding agent, the following coat of plaster naturally possesses. If this scratching is insufficient, the two coats will eventually separate.

When plaster sounds hollow, it’s said to have “blown”. Usually when this happens
over time, it’s because the house has been eventually subjected to central heating, the plaster has become incredibly dry, the initial mechanical key or “scratching” was insufficient and the thin “set” layer of finish plaster loses its chemical adhesion to the “float” layer.

“Wake up at the back, you look like you’ve lost the will to live man.” I’m not handing out all this information for the good of my health you know!

So, you’ve removed “all” the wallpaper in your bedroom and now you’re faced with a room with dirty great patches of plaster missing.

Questions to ask the plasterer during his quotation visit.

Can he start plastering on the wall as you have left it?

In a word,… NO. Firstly, he will say:-

“You will have to get
all the loose plaster off the wall before he can give you a price and remove all the hundreds of little bits of paper that are still stuck to the sound plaster which remains”

You couldn’t be bothered to remove these bits because it was going to take just
too much time wasn’t it? There is no way he will try and plaster with them still there, they will roll up under his trowel and put wonderful little lines in all his work and your wife will hear words that Wellington’s dragoons were banned from using.

Of course, you’d rather hoped that he was going to be a magician and somehow would be able to do the job
around all the blown plaster which you hadn’t actually pulled of the wall yet but which hadn’t come off with the paper.

He also tells you to make sure that any “set” coat plaster (that’s the very thin top coat), which has
also “blown”, is pulled off as well, (even though the float coat is still nicely stuck to the wall) because if he has to come back a third time.

So, he says he will come back next week when he can see what the job
actually entails and makes a mental note to charge you for wasting his time.

Right, here we are again and the picture is very different! Great big holes everywhere.

At this point if you are feeling brave you ask him the question:-

Can he give you 2 quotes please, one to patch, one to plaster the whole room?
(This won’t bother him, he knew it was going to be asked before he made the first visit).

Now you’re on a roll!

Where will he be mixing his plaster?
(“Knocking up” in builders parlance).

Where will he be getting the water from?

Not your bath hopefully!

Will he be completely covering the route from that spot to the room in question and cleaning up on completion?

Plastering is the filthiest job in building! Given carte blanch, his labourer will take his water from your bath taps, “knock up” on the landing with not a dust sheet in sight!

Do not allow this, be firm from the start!

Will he be using PVA adhesive on the newly exposed brickwork and float plaster prior to plastering?

(This will reduce the inherent suction in the surface and slow down the new plaster’s drying time (the time it takes to “go off”). This will allow him more time to perfect his art and more importantly seriously help stick the new stuff to the wall)

Will he be leaving the new patched areas completely flush with the surrounding areas?

(This is essential. After all this hassle and you have eventually wallpapered, you don’t want to be reminded of him every time you put the light on and see all those strange shadows on what should be a flat wall)!

How will he be making any external right angles? (i.e. into a window reveal).

(If he is making a complete corner up from scratch, he will use angle bead, so no problem. If he’s
repairing, it’s not that simple. The art of freehand corner making has mostly disappeared).

Will he attempt to “feather” the new plaster in, where he is adjacent to tops of skirting boards?

(If he’s not careful and with certain thin board tops, he will end up covering a small area of the board. This will soon crack off and look nasty but not before your check has cleared! Feathering is simply reducing the plaster thickness to nothing at the last minute so to speak).

If he is quoting for the whole room, does he intend to knock off every bit of plaster and start again. Or will he simply fill in all the holes, apply PVA to all of the old surfaces and plaster over the whole lot?
(The latter is perfectly acceptable IF all the blown plaster has been removed).

OK, he came back the second time, you had been a good boy and done the preparation properly this time, so he can now see what’s actually required. You agree you will clear the room of every scrap of furniture and he says he will come back next week to do the job (how many weeks is it now you have been sleeping in a “cave”)?

A-Z of Job Pricing