How To Repair A Damaged Plaster Wall

Plaster Wall Repair

Keeping your home looking great can be a constant challenge as you fight against cracks and holes appearing all over the place. Repairing damaged plaster can often be high on your list, but thankfully it’s a task that can be completed successfully by a skilled DIYer.

As homes age, it’s only natural for things to become a lot more susceptible to deterioration. This is particularly common in older buildings that still have walls or ceilings made from plaster rather than the now standard drywall or wallboard.

When you come across damage to a wall in your home or patches of loose plaster, you’ll need to repair the area before you can start painting or wallpapering – keep reading to learn how!

First things first, make sure you’ve got all the necessary tools to get the job done: check out our comprehensive plastering tools checklist.

To repair a crack…

Before getting started, make sure the floor under the crack has been covered with a protective dust sheet and this has been secured with painter’s tape. This will ensure the floor isn’t damaged by any spilt plaster or joint compound, as well as making the clean-up a lot simpler.

Once you’re prepared and ready to go, start by inspecting the crack and removing any loose pieces of plaster if there are any. You can also use a damp rag or cloth to wipe away dust or small debris to ensure the crack is clean for repair. The next task is to dampen the immediate area around the crack with a spray bottle of water to ensure the surface is ready to be repaired.

Then following the manufacturer’s instructions, mix up your plaster or you could used (ready mixed jointing compound) in a large bucket and pour this into a mud pan. From here, apply a thin layer of plaster/jointing compound directly over the crack with a plastering knife or jointing knife as they are commonly known and make sure the finish sits level with the rest of the wall.

Thankfully, repairs to cracks generally only require one layer of plaster or joint compound, so just allow this to dry over the next 24 hours and check when the plaster has set. If you’re short on time, why not add our plaster accelerator to the mix.

Safety note – whenever you are dealing with plaster, make sure you wear the appropriate safety equipment including clothing, footwear, goggles and also a mask to prevent dust inhalation.

The last step once the plaster or joint compound has dried successfully is to sand and smooth the area down ready for decorating. Take a piece of fine-grit sandpaper and simply sand the jointing compound down until the finish is smooth and level with the existing wall.

Once you’re happy, wipe the area with a damp cloth to remove any dust and allow this to dry fully before painting.

If you prefer, you can also use a joint compound to patch a crack if the damage isn’t too severe. Just smooth a small amount directly onto the crack, allow it to dry and then sand down before painting or wallpapering.

To repair a hole…

In most cases, when you come across a hole in your wall, you’ll need to start by removing any damaged plaster using a hammer and chisel to chip away and smooth out the area.

Take care here not to chip away too much plaster or hit too hard as you may damage the plaster even further. As a final step, smooth the edges of the hole as required with a utility knife.

When the plaster is prepared and dry, use a paintbrush to apply a layer of bonding agent to the exposed plaster. This will allow the plaster or jointing compound you’re about to apply to bond correctly with the rest of the wall.

After mixing up your plaster in a bucket, the first coat should be applied using a putty knife. For the second coat, you’ll need to cross-satch the first coat of plaster as it begins to set – this means scratching or scoring the plaster with a putty knife to create shallow grooves which help the two coats of plaster bond together more effectively.

Once this first layer has dried for 24 hours, dampen the area with a spray bottle of water and repeat the process. Again, let this new layer dry for a further 24 hours.

To complete the repair, you’ll need to apply joint compound on the newly dry plaster layer. Smooth this out to reach around 3” wider than the hole to create a thin veil across the wall, blending the old plaster in with the new. Once this is dry, grab your fine-grit sandpaper and smooth the entire area down.

It’s at this point you can prime the area and prepare it for painting or wallpapering.

So there you have it, two step-by-step methods to repair the most common types of plaster damage in your home. Follow our guides and you can’t go wrong, but if you do need more guidance, here’s a video version of the process.

Plastering & Drylining Health & Safety Tips For Work On-Site

Plastering Health & Safety Tips

When it comes to staying safe on the job, health and safety is not something you should ignore in any profession. Although it can sometimes seem time-consuming and even frustrating, the whole idea of this practice is to keep you and those working around you safe.

If you’re not convinced of its importance, it was widely reported that 507,000 workers suffered from work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2016/17 – many of which were a direct result of inadequate health and safety practices. The Health and Safety Act 1974 regulations are regularly tweaked to improve worker safety and reduce this number as much as possible, but a small number of injuries are always going to occur.

Construction sites are a dangerous place so it pays to take your time and consider how you can stay safe when completing the task in hand. Thankfully plastering isn’t classed as one of the more risky jobs on site (compared to scaffolding for example), but there are still particular elements that require certain safety measures to be followed.

With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at some basic health and safety tips for plasterers.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

All plasterers and Dryliners are required to protect themselves from hazards with specific protective equipment when working on site. This includes odour masks, shoes that are suitable for use on ladders and protective eyewear designed to block airborne particles and flying pieces of plaster.
Without these pieces of equipment, you run the risk of being injured by debris caused by plastering or falling from a height when applying plaster to a ceiling or wall. This leads nicely onto our next tip for health and safety.

Working At Height

Whenever you climb a ladder or work at height, stability is crucial in order to work safely and minimise risk. There are unfortunately a number of hazards directly linked to working at height and there will always be an inherent risk, but taking the required steps to ensure everything is as safe as possible can make a huge difference.

Make sure your ladder is in good condition and secured on a level, stable base before climbing. When working, don’t lean or overstretch yourself – come down off your ladder and reposition it to reduce the risk of falling.

Plasterers also generally have to use hazardous equipment such as heat strippers, drills and hammers to get the job done. With that in mind, having a stable base for your ladder or plastering stilts is even more important. If you can’t maintain your balance when working at height, you’re at risk of serious injury.

Working Alongside Other Tradespeople

Plastering is usually completed during the stages of a build where other tradespeople will still be carrying out their jobs around you – plumbers, tilers, carpenters etc for example. As you’ll be working in close proximity to others, it’s important to bear in mind their safety as well as your own.

In most instances, a cross trades risk assessment is required to ensure all workers can complete their jobs safely without impacting anyone else around them. Different tasks being completed mean different risks to those on site, so as there will be a bigger range of health and safety issues at play, it makes sense to understand all risks and work towards minimising them as much as possible.

General Health & Safety Guidance

All construction sites should undergo a full risk assessment as well as identifying who will be responsible for the safety and wellbeing of the workers during the build. This person should also be in a position to keep themselves up-to-date with new information regarding hazards or materials.
If you are involved in this on your site, here are some questions you should consider:

  • Is the workplace well organised and efficient?
  • Is the correct protective equipment available?
  • Are the correct health and safety signs/notices being displayed?
  • Are site visitors aware of the various health and safety risks?
  • Is there a first aid resource?
  • Who will report any and all health and safety breaches?

The CSCS Health, Safety & Environment Test

This is a minimum requirement for all plasterers regardless of whether you are a labourer, skilled worker or looking to move into a supervisory position on site.

The test is official recognition that you understand and meet the various health and safety standards that relate to your job. Alongside that, it’s also an indication that you remain up-to-date with the latest health and safety standards. To find out more about this test, visit the official CSCS site here.


Staying safe when plastering is straightforward if you’re able to correctly follow the appropriate regulations. Get yourself the right protective equipment, make sure you follow health and safety protocol when on site and you should be able to stay safe.

If you’d like to find out more about the minimum health and safety requirements for plasterers, visit the UK Government HSE site here for further details and example risk assessments.