Consider re-plastering the room if you’ve built an extension or need to repair a damaged wall or ceiling. It’ll stop the dust, and the skim gives a smooth surface for painting.
The average cost of plastering a room in the UK is between £15 to £25/hr, or £150 to £200 per day. Alternatively, typical charges of £150 per ceiling, £250 per wall or about £400 to £600 for an average room, including materials. A single wall takes 3 to 4 hours, while a room takes about a day.
However, these prices vary depending on the room’s size.
For example, when plastering a house, many plasterers find it takes about the same time to plaster 5m2 as it does to plaster 6m2 or 7m2. So, rather than give quotations using exact interior measurements, and plastering prices ‘per m2’ (which is very unusual but can be from £5 to £10/m2). Plasterers often categorise rooms as ‘small’, ‘medium’ or ‘large’.
Now, if you own a typical 3 bedroom terraced house, the rooms generally fall into the ‘small’ category. Therefore, an average ‘small’ room costs between £600 and £700 to plaster and take 2 to 3 days. In comparison, a ‘small’ ceiling costs between £200 and £350 and takes from 6 to 10 hours. In contrast, re-plastering and skimming a small room takes much less time, so it is cheaper at around £300 to £500, and might take as little as 1 day.
Alternatively, there might be little patches for re–plastering in many different rooms. In this case, it’s almost impossible to predict the cost of the finished job accurately. Therefore, rather than give a cost to plaster a room, the full quotation specifies the plasterer’s hourly rate. Furthermore, don’t be surprised if you have to pay a minimum charge!
How Much Does Plastering Cost?
We have compiled the data in this article from various online resources. So, take all prices and amounts as approximations and guidelines. Plasterer’s rates vary depending on the professional’s skill level and whereabouts in the country they live. Plasterers living in London and Southeastern England can charge up to 20% more than in other regions. We also found that the cost of materials can vary by quality and quantity too.
Below is a table showing the estimated cost of various types of plastering jobs. You can use it as a plastering quote calculator by comparing our data to yours.
In the table, ‘plastering’ involves removing old plaster, preparing the bare wall (usually with a PVA primer) and plastering from scratch.
‘Skimming’ involves coating the existing surface with a PVA primer to aid adhesion when skimming over old plaster. These figures are also relevant when skimming plasterboard.
Unless you own a bungalow, a plasterer needs scaffolding to provide a firm working platform at height, when applying external render or internal plaster in a stairwell. Suppose you have standard height rooms or live in a bungalow. The plasterer probably only needs a small footstool to give themselves a little extra height. Often, many plasterers stand on an upturned plastic milk or beer bottle crate.
Usually, for indoors work, a standard-sized room is about 2.4m, just a few centimetres higher than the average person can easily reach. So, the beer crate comes in handy for indoors plastering too.
Scaffolding can cost up to £1000 to access an entire house, so don’t forget to add this onto the basic price.
|Plastering job||Size||Estimated cost|
|Plastering a room||Small||£600 to £700|
|Medium||£650 to £900|
|Large||£1000 to £1500 (minimum)|
|Plastering ceiling||Small||£200 to £350|
|Medium||£250 to £450|
|Large||£400 to £750 (minimum)|
|Skimming a wall||Small||£100 to £150|
|Medium||£150 to £250|
|Large||£200 to £400 (minimum)|
|Skimming a ceiling||Small||£200 to £280|
|Medium||£280 to £380|
|Large||£400 to £550 (minimum)|
|External rendering||Small||£1900 to £2500|
|Medium||£3800 to £4500|
Plastering a Room
So how much does it cost to plaster a room?
Plastering isn’t just about slopping some wet plaster onto a wall and smoothing it down. Well, it is, but it takes a lot more skill than implied by that short sentence. Seriously though, as in all construction projects, preparation is the key to a good job.
Plastering onto new walls is straightforward, and usually, the new wall only needs to be damp for the plaster to stick. However, if you intend plastering over a previously decorated wall, you must give the new plaster something to fix to. Skimming over paint or wallpaper isn’t a good idea, as the new skim coat tries to bond with the paint, not the underlying surface. The paint or paper eventually pulls away from the wall, and the new plaster collapses.
Instead, the plasterer (or the labourer) rubs the surface using a wire brush to remove all loose and flakey masonry or paint. If the surface contains large holes, then fill with a sand and cement mortar. Or, he might have to remove existing paint by making small indentations in the surface called ‘scabbling’.
Scabbling knocks off existing paint and provides a key for the new plaster to grip the wall’s surface. Finally, treat the surface so the plaster sticks. This task might involve priming with PVA or perhaps just spraying water onto the dry surface. The plasterer’s knowledge and experience dictate the correct preparation method. Unfortunately, all these extra tasks take time and increase the total cost of the job.
Other aspects of plastering include erecting pre–formed boards made from plaster sandwiched between two layers of paper. The boards fix onto timber or metal studs (dry lining), followed by skim plastering the plasterboard. Skim coat plaster on board is around 3 or 4mm thick and provides a fast method to give a smooth plastered surface. Skilled plasterers can also add cosmetic finishes to a plastered wall, or add plaster coving to the internal corner between ceiling and wall.
Generally, the basic costs for plastering a ‘small’ room starts at around £600, a ‘medium-sized‘ room’s starting cost is £650, and a ‘large’ room starts at about £1000. These prices include materials and labour, but don’t include VAT. Typically, to plaster a room takes between 2 and 4 days, depending on size and the amount of preparation time.
Re–plastering a room ranges from around £400 to £700, while skimming costs from £300 to £500 for small and medium rooms. In comparison, re–plastering a large room costs from £1000 to £1500, while skimming a large room costs from £500 to £700.
Plastering Entire House
Plastering an entire house costs slightly less than adding up the costs to plaster individual walls or rooms. A typical 3-bedroom terraced house costs around £600 to £700 per room plus £200 to £350 for each ceiling.
Plastering the entire house is cheaper because:
- The plasterer is already geared up for working on the house, so doesn’t have to transport tools and materials back and forth.
- Usually, a tradesman plasters opposite walls in a room. This method allows him to plaster the other pair when the plaster has cured. If he is working on the entire house, he can choose to do any combination of walls, saving time waiting for the plaster to cure.
- The labourer can remove old plaster and prepare other walls while the plasterer works in a different room.
- Hiring a large waste skip probably holds all the old plaster in the house. A skip of this size costs a few hundred pounds, but you can hire smaller ones for less.
- Don’t forget scaffolding. If we consider the external render, hiring enough scaffolding for the entire house costs less than scaffolding for individual walls. Scaffold for a single external wall costs around £300, while for the entire house could be anything up to £1000.
Plastering a Ceiling
Plastering a ceiling is difficult and back-breaking. The plasterer works above his head, which puts much strain on shoulders, back and upper arms. As such, the cost to plaster a single ceiling is more than you would expect by just taking into account its area. Typically, plastering a ceiling costs a substantial proportion of the price to plaster an entire room.
Most plasterers need some way to reach the ceiling from the floor. Standard ceiling heights are 2.4m from the floor. However, older period houses might have significantly higher ceilings. The plasterer might use a beer crate or purpose made ‘step-up’ to reach a standard ceiling. Alternatively, many plasterers use adjustable stilts to reach higher ceilings.
Typically, a plasterer over–boards the ceiling joists with plasterboard before skimming a ceiling. The minimum cost for a small ceiling starts from £200, a medium–sized ceiling costs from £250, and a large ceiling costs from £400. Typically, a small one takes from 6 to 12 hours to complete. A medium ceiling takes from 8 to 12 hours, while a large ceiling takes 2 to 3 days. All durations include over–boarding.
Skimming Walls & Ceiling
New plaster walls on brick or block need an initial render or plaster base–coat to give a suitable top-coat bond. However, skimming doesn’t need this as the surface already has a suitable base. Usually, domestic extensions and conversions use plasterboard on studwork as a quick way to erect walls, and these only need a thin skim, before decoration. Similarly, re-skimming onto existing plaster also needs just a thin coat to cover a poor plaster surface and repair blemishes and cracks. A skim coat over existing plaster produces a surface indistinguishable from a wall plastered from scratch.
Skimming or repairing existing plaster is a quick job for a skilled plasterer. Also, cheaper when compared to plastering. The cost to skim a room ranges from £350 to £500 for a small room; £400 to £550 for a medium–sized room; and around £800 for a large room. Typical durations would be from 1 to 2 days, depending on the room size.
Plastering Cost Factors
As you might expect, many factors affect the plastering costs shown in your quotation. We’ve already mentioned the ‘small’. ‘medium’, and ‘large’ categories of room size. Plasterers use this pricing method in conjunction with other factors such as the plaster condition, how many coats required, and so on.
You might be surprised to hear that plastering a small room can be as difficult as working in a large room. This is because a plasterer needs room to work and use the tools properly. When smoothing plaster, an experienced plasterer uses broad arm sweeps and needs plenty of room to do this. Generally, a large room takes longer to plaster than a small one, so it costs more. Similarly, if you are skimming onto plasterboard, you have to include the cost of boards, the studwork, and the labour.
Difficulty comparing quotes
Even though the plasterer might not use this quoting method, ask him to give a price per square metre. This information allows you to compare prices from different contractors.
A plasterer needs to access high walls and ceilings. Most standard ceilings measure 2.4m from the floor. But, period homes and stairwells have high ceilings. For safe access, the plasterer needs scaffolding. But, if your budget is tight, some plasterers use adjustable stilts to reach the high surfaces. Usually, scaffold hire is specified separately on the quotation, so you can see how much this costs.
Existing plaster condition
A contractor can plaster on top of existing plaster as long as the surface is stable, dry, adheres to the wall, and not covered with paint. Depending on the walls, the condition dictates the amount of preparation.
- If paint covers the existing plaster, the surface needs scabbling, using a scabbling gun. The gun is a hand-held tool, run by compressed air that punches small indentations, about as large as a penny, into the plaster. The punching action breaks up the paint surface and provides a key for the new skim plaster. Usually, plasterers hire a scabbling gun and an air compressor from a local hire shop. The cost is then added to your quotation.
- Knock loose plaster lumps from the wall using a hammer and bolster chisel. For a flakey surface, use a wire brush to remove small loose pieces.
- If the existing wall is damp, you must find the cause and cure it before continuing. If this isn’t possible, then the wall can be ‘tanked’. That is, painted with bitumen paint as a waterproof barrier. When you’ve applied the final tanking coat, throw sharp sand onto the wet bitumen. When the paint dries, the sand provides a key for the plaster skim.
- Bare brick, concrete or block surfaces need either render or plaster base-coat to provide a smooth surface for the skim. The plasterer knows from experience which base–coat and application method to use.
- Suppose the existing wall is in poor condition. In that case, it might be cheaper to cover the surface with plasterboard and skim the surface. Once again, the plasterer knows whether this is appropriate in your situation.
Many available alternatives need a skilled eye before making a final decision. Ensure the professional sees the job before submitting a quote.
The size of the company
Large companies have high volumes of work so you might think they charge less than a small company or a self–employed tradesman. Unfortunately, large companies also have high overheads, often needing to pay for premises, and office staff. On the other hand, small companies can easily offer lower prices to undercut larger companies. Furthermore, small companies or single contractors willingly take on minor jobs such as repairing surfaces or skimming a single wall, that large companies won’t bother with.
Location in the country
Labour costs in Southeast England and London can be up to 20% more than other parts of the country. You can’t change this by hiring a plasterer from a different region. But, it’s worth knowing when comparing prices you might find online.
Usually, quotations don’t include VAT. If you don’t realise this, you might end up with a bill substantially higher than you expected when adding VAT onto the total. Always ask the person giving the quote to include VAT, so you know exactly how much you have to pay.
Additional hire costs
We’ve already mentioned scaffolding and scabbling guns. But, there are other hire costs that you might pay for:
- Waste skips.
- On-site toilet, hand-washing and changing facilities. Health and safety law specifies that all construction workers must access these and have somewhere to eat food and have a hot drink. Large companies sometimes own ‘welfare huts’ which they bring to the site for their workforce. But, anyone can hire them.
Hiring a Professional Plasterer: Hiring Checklist
After you find a plasterer, and before choosing them for the project, talk to them and find out what they’re like. You are trusting a stranger to come into your home, so it makes sense to be happy with their professionalism.
- Always ask for a quotation in writing. It must specify the scope of the job and the total price. Sometimes it might specify a deposit to be paid before work starts.
- Find out how long the plasterer has been in business and their experience with your type of job.
- Ask about references from previous jobs. If possible, ask for contact details to follow them up.
- Make sure the plasterer has the correct insurance.
- Public Liability Insurance covers the contractor for damage to your property and if anyone is injured. The typical cover is from 1 to 5 million pounds.
- Employers Liability Insurance provides cover for the company’s employees working on the project.
- Personal Accident Insurance covers the plasterer if they experience an injury.
What is the Process of Plastering
The standard for plaster types in the UK is BS EN 998-1 Specification for mortar for masonry. Unless you have a real interest, don’t bother reading it as it’s very dry. In truth, only professionals, retailers and manufacturers need to read this information.
You can find more information (and it’s easier to read) from the NHBC website. This site also includes best practice guidelines for mixing and applying plaster onto various surfaces. However, most customers don’t need to know this in great detail. So, let’s list the steps involved in mixing and spreading plaster.
How to plaster a wall
- Ensure the mortar and brick surfaces are rough enough to give a good key to bond with the plaster.
- Remove all loose particles, oil and grease from the surface with a wire brush.
- Wet the surface for about 6 hours before applying the plaster (or apply a PVA sealer coat followed by a bonding coat).
- First, apply a base coat of sand and cement mortar (alternatively bonding or browning plaster) to a depth of about 10 to 15mm.
- Let the base coat partially dry and scratch the surface with a trowel to provide a key for the finishing coat to bond with.
- Spread the finishing coat to about 3mm deep. Level this with a wooden float, before giving a smooth finish with a metal trowel.
- After finishing the top–coat, allow it to cure without adding heat. Keep the wall moist for around 7 days to allow the plaster to reach its correct hardness without cracking. Remember that both plaster and mortar cure with a chemical reaction, they don’t dry through losing moisture. After the first few days, ventilate the room naturally to remove excess moisture from the air.
- Finally, clean splashes from skirting boards and door frames before the plaster sets.
How to plaster a ceiling
Most ceilings use plasterboard as a base for a plaster skim. So, use finishing plaster or board finish.
- Fix the specified size of plasterboard sheets in place onto the ceiling joists. Remember, the Building Regulations might specify a certain thickness board for fire-proofing.
- Mix a plaster slurry and trowel into the grooves between the boards.
- Before the plaster dries, press plasterboard joining tape across the joint.
- Then smooth the plaster slurry over the tape to cover it.
- Apply a coat of finishing or board plaster onto the plasterboard from the edges towards the middle using a wooden float to make the surface level.
- Use a metal trowel for a smooth surface, splashing water onto the surface if necessary to keep the plaster workable.
- Finally, go around the edges, removing any lumps before the plaster has cured.
- Clean splashes from the walls and floor before the plaster sets hard.
Benefits of Plastering
Plaster has many benefits in the home. Some you might have already realised.
- Plaster seals rough brickwork and stonework preventing dust.
- A smooth plaster surface provides the decorator with a good surface to accept paint.
- The smooth plaster gives a ‘wipe clean’ hygienic surface when painted.
- Plaster can repair holes and cracks in existing plaster. Giving a surface indistinguishable from the original finish.
- A skilled plasterer can shape plaster to build up decorative mouldings.
- Plaster gives a fire–proof barrier.
- A layer of plaster adds to the thermal and acoustic insulation of the wall.
Planning Permission & Building Regulations
Generally, you won’t need to apply for planning permission when plastering an existing or new internal wall. However, you must apply for listed building consent for significant internal and external work.
New plastering comes under the Building Regulations if it affects certain aspects of the internal wall.
- Part A – Structure. This document deals with structural stability and safety of all buildings.
- Part B – Fire Safety deals with fire hazards. Both plasterboard and plaster give fire–proofing in a building.
- Part D – Toxic Substances. Plaster and cement is a caustic material and can cause dermatitis if in contact with skin. And can burn eyes and other mucus membranes. Storage and use of these materials must follow the COSSH Regulations. Furthermore, operators must read the material datasheets before producing a standard HSE risk assessment.
- Part E – Resistance to the passage of sound. This document deals with acoustic insulation. Plaster blocks any gaps in a wall and helps to prevent the passage of sound.
- Part L – Conservation of fuel and power deals with thermal insulation.
- Regulation 7 – Materials and workmanship gives guidance on the quality of materials and workmanship.
Do I need to PVA before plastering?
You only need to apply a PVA solution to the wall, if you cover old plaster or old brickwork. Use the first coat to seal the old surface. When dry, use another coat as a key for the finishing plaster. As an alternative to PVA, you can use a product such as Blue Grit. New plaster and brickwork should have enough moisture to help provide a bond.
What are the types of plaster?
Manufacturers supply various types of plaster for different applications,
- One coat plaster acts as a 2-in-1 base and finishing coat.
- Multi-finish plaster provides a smooth finish on many different surfaces.
- Bonding plaster is a base-coat for surfaces which aren’t very absorbent. It’s easy to apply and spread.
- Browning plaster is a base-coat used on brick or concrete block or other absorbent surfaces.
- Finishing plaster is spread as a finishing coat on top of browning plaster, bonding plaster or plasterboard.
- Board finish can only be used on plasterboard.
How much does it cost to plaster a 3 bedroom house
The cost to plaster a 3 bedroom house depends on the condition of the walls, whether you have access to the entire house simultaneously and the size of the rooms. However, you can have a typical 3-bedroom terraced house plastered for about £600 to £700 per room. Additionally, if you want the ceilings skimmed, these cost £200 to £350 per ceiling.
Can you learn to plaster yourself?
Yes. It’s perfectly legal to have a go yourself, and many DIY enthusiasts do. You can learn the theory from books and online videos. But, you won’t do a good job unless you have practical hands-on, one-to-one practice and teaching. Most local adult education centres run plastering courses in the evenings, and the teachers are all expert plasterers.
How much do plasterers charge per day in the UK?
Usually, plasterers rates are around £150 to £200 per day. However, it’s a good idea to make sure you have enough work for at least a day because many plasterers charge a minimum fee of around £100.
Plasterers also charge by the hour for small jobs, such as repair jobs spread over many rooms. Typical hourly rates can range from £15 to £25/hr. But don’t be surprised if you have to pay a minimum fee here, as well.
How thick should the plaster be on my walls?
The first coat of bonding or browning plaster should be between 10mm to 15mm thick. Then, the finishing coat should be around 3mm thick.
What are the alternatives to plaster?
Probably, the cheapest alternative is plasterboard without the plaster skim. Mount the boards onto timber or metal studs. Fill the nail holes and tape and fill the joints. Once this is dry, you can decorate the surface as if it was plaster.
Alternatively, cover the wall with decorative, tongue and groove, wooden boards. These also fix to studwork, so it’s just an alternative to the plasterboard. Most people with good DIY carpentry skills can attempt this.
If you have an existing wall with a poor plaster finish, you can cover the surface with ceramic tiles. This method is especially useful if your wall is in a bathroom or kitchen. Because you fix the tiles with an adhesive layer, the underlying plaster doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth.
Find Local Plasterers
Applying plaster to walls and ceilings in your home is a job for those with a bit of training. But, if you don’t think you can manage it, the cost of plastering by a professional is very reasonable.
If you want some plastering done in your house, complete the form on this page, and you will get 3 or 4 quotes from qualified and experienced professionals.