How to plaster a brick wall

How to plaster a brick wall ? Plaster over brick wall explained.


Can you plaster a brick wall?

Yes you can absolutely plaster a brick wall. In fact if you have indoor brick walls, plastering them is the best way to ensure insulation. This also prevents bugs from making their homes in the gaps in the brick walls. If you want to learn more about bricks, and what dimensions and sizes do they come in, check this article.

How to plaster a brick wall ?

Plastering over a brick wall is the most easiest thing to do. You would require the tools I list below as well as the plaster itself. You can buy premade plaster. It is usually called thistle in a lot of areas. It has the advantage that it ready made and comes with instructions to make it properly. But you can easily make plaster on your own using the materials and the mix that I explain below.

Materials required for plaster

You can make plaster on your own with cement, sand and water. You can add lime to the mix to make it harder and bring a whitish color to it.

You can also go for making plaster with white cement. This will make the plaster white and it won’t show up as black spots even if the paint flicks off. But white cement costs double of regular grey cement so it’s entirely up to you in this case. The mixing ratio for plaster of various kinds is shown below.

Mix Ratio of Plaster Cement : SandGeneral Usage Recommended
1:3 This is a type of rich plaster mix. It is not recommended for general usage on brick walls unless you have removed a brick for any reason. It can act as a repair plaster with a waterproofing/bonding agent. Generally will harden much more quickly.
1:4This mix is used for applications for e.g. external plaster and also for ceiling plaster.
1:5This is brickwork plaster mix and is meant for usage Internal plaster if sand is not fine enough. (Fineness Modulus > 3)
1:6This one is the perfect composition for internal plaster (if fine sand is available)

Tools required for plaster

  • Bucket for mixing the plaster (This one wouldn’t be cleanable easily if the plaster hardens in it. So its better to use a steel bucket that could be scraped off)
  • Buckets of water
  • Dust mask
  • Hawk trowel for loading the scoops
  • Mixer or just a drill attached to a mixing extension
  • Paint brush for cleaning and wetting the wall
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Two Scoops (one for holding and one for applying)
  • Screed for leveling the plaster
  • Spirit level to check for leveling if applying the plaster on a horizontal surface

Method of plastering

Prepare the workplace for plastering

Lay a drape on the floor in the area you will be plastering. Also ensure to remove any furniture or materials away from the wall or the room in which plaster is going to be applied.

Prepare the wall

Gently brush up the wall with the paint brush. Remove any hard uneven layering plaster on the bricks with the hawk tool. Now wet the wall with paint brush. This ensure that the plaster will stick to the wall.

Make the Plaster mix

Mix according to the ratio. For example mix three buckets of sand with half a bucket of cement. You also add lime to this is its available. If you have lime handy also add half a bucket of lime. Use a mixer to combine all three and then add water to the mixture so that it gets to a semi liquid paste. Now mix hard and fast. A good comparison of the consistency of the mixture would be with single whipped cream.

Put on your safety equipment

This includes the dust mask, rubber gloves and the eye protection.

Scoop up the plaster

Now we are getting to the fun stuff. Gently put one corner of the hawk tool into the plaster mix and use the trowel (scoop) to push the mix onto and over the hawk. Now rest the trowel on the hawk at an angle, tilt the hawk back and scrape the plaster onto the trowel. This is just an easier way of handling thick plaster but all this jargon is explaining is to just put the mix on the scoop aka trowel.

Ok, in simpler terms scoop up the plaster on one scoop and use the other one to apply a layer of plaster to the wall. Check the consistency at this point. If the plaster is running off the wall, mix in the solid components according to the same mix in a separate bucket and gently add on the dry components till the mix starts adhering to the wall.

Applying the plaster to the wall

When applying plaster work from the top to the bottom and from the right to the left. Don’t spread a very heavy layer of the plaster on to the wall. You can use a brick line to aid in the process so that you don’t apply more plaster than is required. Now just continue to apply the plaster evenly until you cover an entire wall. Remove any imperfections as you applying the plaster and try to make it smooth.

Screeding the wall after plastering

When the plaster is touch dry, you can then proceed on over to screeding the wall with the screed tool. The tool will have marking of the site which needs to be used. Start at one end of the wall and move to the other. The screeding will remove any imperfections in the plaster that you applied. Ensure to keep the straight edge level with the wall. Do not screed diagonally. Just go from top to bottom.

Checking level of the plaster

Hold the spirit level against the wall and check if the plaster you applied is levelled on all sides. If it ain’t just push it in to the wall till it get level. Mark this area. Do this on the other side of the wall as well. Now try to get the plaster to level using the screed tool. Check again with the spirit tool. Keep on repeating this process until you get an even and smooth wall. after the last screed there may be area on the wall where the plaster got removed due to screecding. Use the trowel and hawk for patching up. After this patch-up, screed the wall again.

Cutting the corners after plastering

Now just cut the corner with the trowel tool. This basically means to run the trowel against the corners of the adjacent walls. This ensures that the wall sits square with the adjacent walls, floor and ceiling. And, you are done. Wasn’t that hard. Well now you need to get to the other walls of the room and repeat the same process over and over. Do not let people touch the plaster till it dries at it will definitely leave impression. But if you want to lay your mark on the wall that you just plastered, on your own, you can leave your signature using the hawk tool. 🙂

How to plaster a brick wall

Here is also a video of the entire method.

Frequently asked questions about plastering:

Can you plaster an outside brick wall?

Yes, you can. It is can be done if need be. Mostly outside walls can look cool if they especially made of clay fired bricks. But if the job bricks don’t look as cool as you thought they would you can absolutely plaster them. Just make sure you use the mix for the outside walls as i mentioned earlier.

Can I plaster a wall myself ?

Yes, you can do it yourself. Just keep the various mixes in mind when making your plaster. Also make sure you get the tools required especially the scoop and the screech.

How do you plaster a painted brick wall ?

Just dust off the paint and the debris, if any. You can then proceed on to lubricate the wall with water and proceed to plastering normally. The methods is no different than plastering a non painted wall.

What’s the difference between plastering and skimming?

Plastering generally means to apply a thicker coat to a bare brick wall. Skimming means to apply only a finer layer of plaster to smooth up the roughened plaster previously applied. For skimming the mixture of cement to sand will be 1:6 to 1:7 depending on how rough the previous plaster is.

How much does plastering a room cost?

It generally doesn’t costs about 100$ in materials and about 400$ in labor to fully plaster a single room. But costs can vary widely based on material costs in the area and labor costs. So it’s best to contact a local contractor and ask for a quote.

Is skimming cheaper than plastering?

Yes, it is, but only slightly. While the material cost may be less, the labor costs will roughly be the same. And as labor makes up most of the cost in construction work, it will roughly be the same. But skimming can be cost effective as if you decide to redo the plaster you would have to also pay for the labor of removing the plaster and then reapplying it. So, if you can just do with skimming, don’t think twice, just go ahead.

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