Choosing your plastering equipment is all about getting the right tools to get the job done. To some extent that will depend on how experienced you are – if you’re a professional, your trowel is likely to have corners worn down from use and maybe a slight belly, both of which make it perfect for achieving a great finish. They’re not cheap, but pre-worn in ‘ready to use’ trowels are worth the investment if you want to get a professional result.
The Tools of the Trade
Any plasterer will have plenty of tools in his kit, but the most important pair are the trowel and the hawk. The hawk is used to hold the plaster and should match the size of the trowel. A comfortable padded handle makes it easy to hold the hawk throughout the day.
The trowel, like the hawk, should be made of tempered stainless steel. Why? Because it’s resistant to corrosion so the surface will stay perfectly smooth. When you’re starting out an 11 inch trowel can be easier to handle, though the professionals usually use a 13 or 14 inch version. It’s all to do with how much plaster you can comfortably work with before it goes off, so the more experienced you become, the bigger the trowel you’ll be comfortable with.
You probably won’t need any of the speciality trowels that the pros use yet, but you will need a bucket trowel to lift the plastering compound from bucket to hawk. It’s much more efficient than using your plastering trowel for the job.
Stick to the Essentials
When it comes to choosing your plastering equipment, for your first job you need the equipment that lets you hit the ground running, so it’s worth checking out trusted websites like Plasterers1StopShop to see their recommendations for essential plastering kit.
Your bucket and finishing trowel plus your hawk are the absolute essentials, but then you’ll probably need a plasterer’s float if you want to achieve that flawless finish. A jointing knife is the only tool that will give you a straight line when you’re plastering into a corner, which is the kind of detail that distinguishes a professional job from a sloppy one.
Other must-haves that you should invest in for your basic kit are a scratching tool and a paintbrush or a spray bottle. The scratching tool, or scarifier, is designed to key the first plaster coat for optimum adhesion of the second. The paintbrush or spray bottle will help to keep the plaster wall you’re working on damp. The spray bottle saves repeated bending to wet the brush so it’s more efficient. Don’t be tempted to use a household cleaner spray bottle, as the chemicals can seriously compromise your plaster.
Also never underestimate the importance of some sturdy buckets. Filled with clean water they’ll keep your tools in perfect shape and help you to mix the perfect plaster compound.
Other Things You’ll Need in Your Kit
Whilst the equipment listed above outlines the essentials you’ll need, there are plenty of other useful tools that are relatively cheap, or that you may already have in your tool bag, that are indispensable for plastering.
A good Stanley knife with some spare blades is the only tool you’ll ever need for cutting plasterboard and tape. A utility knife is also the best tool for squaring out a crack or hole in a damaged wall, making it much easier to plaster. You’ll also need to dig out a pair of tin snips if you intend to use a lot of plastering bead, as they’re hands down the best tools for cutting bead.
A hammer and bolster will deal with any old plaster with ease, though make sure you have a pair of well fitting safety goggles before you start. You should also add a hi-vis jacket for working on site, steel toe capped boots and a dust mask to your PPE kit.
You’ll also find that a spirit level is invaluable for achieving a perfect finish. To check that your level is running true, place it on a level surface and make sure the bubble is in the centre, then turn it through 180 degrees and check again. If the bubble is still centred then the level is good to go.
Finally you’ll want to invest in a good and sturdy pair of step ladders. Make sure the treads are wide and that the ladders are solid, that way you’ll feel absolutely secure and be able to work with greater speed and efficiency.
Every plasterer has their essential gear, but if you stick to the kit outlined above you should be able to tackle most jobs with ease.