The Ultimate Guide to Plastering Tools

Introduction to Plastering Tools

Chapter One – Plastering Trowels

Chapter Two –  Hawk and Float

Chapter Three –  Mixing Tools

Chapter Four –  Straight Edges and Feather Edges

Chapter Five – Corner Tools 

Chapter Six – Plastering Stilts and Hop Ups

Chapter Seven – Cleaning and Maintenance Tools

Plastering Tools FAQs


Introduction to Plastering Tools

Introduction to plastering tools

Plastering and drylining are skilled trades that require precision, attention to detail, and the right tools for achieving a high-quality finish.

Understanding the purpose and usage of each plastering tool is essential for anyone looking to undertake a plastering project, whether you are a DIY enthusiast or a professional plasterer.

This ultimate guide will help you become familiar with the most important tools in plastering, ensuring you are well-equipped to handle any task that comes your way.

Chapter One – Plastering Trowels

Plastering trowels

One of the most essential tools in any plasterer’s toolkit is the trowel. Trowels come in various types, each designed for a specific purpose in the plastering process:

  • Finishing Trowels: These trowels are used for smoothing and finishing the plaster surface, providing a professional and polished look. They typically have a flat, rectangular blade made of stainless steel or carbon steel and a comfortable handle for easy use.
  • Skimming Trowels: Skimming trowels are designed for applying a thin layer of finishing plaster on top of a base coat, creating a smooth surface. They often feature a pre-worn blade to help achieve an even finish.
  • Bucket Trowels: This small, flat trowel is useful for getting plaster and compound out of the bucket and onto the hawk or mortar stand.

When selecting a trowel, consider factors such as blade size and shape, handle type, and material. A larger blade can cover more surface area, making the job faster, while a smaller blade offers greater control for detailed work. Additionally, choose a trowel with an ergonomic handle for comfortable use during extended periods.

Proper trowel maintenance is crucial for ensuring longevity and optimal performance. Clean your trowel after each use, removing any leftover plaster to prevent buildup. Occasionally check for signs of wear and replace the trowel if necessary.

Chapter Two – Hawk and Float

Hawk and float

The hawk and float are essential tools for holding and applying plaster during the plastering process.

  • Hawk: A flat, square platform with a central handle underneath, used to hold plaster while you work.
  • Float: A smaller trowel-like tool used in conjunction with the hawk to apply and smooth plaster.

When choosing a hawk, look for one made of durable materials like aluminium or magnesium, with a comfortable handle that provides a secure grip. The size of the hawk should match your hand size and the amount of plaster you’ll typically be working with.

To use a hawk and float effectively, practice scooping plaster onto the hawk with the float, then applying the plaster to the wall with smooth, controlled motions. Mastering these tools will make the plastering process more efficient and help you achieve a high-quality finish.

Chapter Three – Mixing Tools

Mixing tools

Properly mixing plaster is crucial for achieving a smooth, even finish. There are several tools available for mixing plaster, including mixing drills and paddle attachments.

  • Mixing Drills: These are power tools designed for mixing various materials, including plaster. When selecting a mixing drill, consider factors such as power, speed settings, and overall durability. A higher wattage drill will provide more power for mixing thicker materials, while variable speed settings allow for greater control during the mixing process.
  • Paddle Attachments: Paddle attachments, also known as mixing paddles, are used in conjunction with a mixing drill. These attachments come in various shapes and sizes, each designed for specific mixing tasks. A helical or spiral-shaped paddle is ideal for mixing plaster, as it promotes a smooth and consistent mix.

To properly mix plaster, add the dry plaster to a clean mixing bucket, then gradually add water while operating the mixing drill with a paddle attachment. Be sure to mix the plaster thoroughly, eliminating any lumps or inconsistencies, and achieve the desired consistency based on the manufacturer’s recommendations. Proper mixing ensures the plaster will apply smoothly and adhere well to the surface.

Chapter Four – Straight Edges and Feather Edges

Straight edges and feather edges

Achieving a flat, even surface is essential for professional plastering results. Straight edges and feather edges are tools designed to help plasterers accomplish this goal.

  • Straight Edges: These are long, straight metal or aluminium tools used to check and correct the flatness of a plastered surface. To use a straight edge, place it against the surface and look for any gaps or high spots, then adjust the plaster as needed.
  • Feather Edges: Feather edges are similar to straight edges, but they have a thinner profile and are typically more flexible. This flexibility allows for easier use on curved surfaces or in tight spaces.

When using these tools, work methodically across the surface, checking and correcting the flatness as you go. This process helps ensure a smooth, even finish that will look professional and stand the test of time. Consistent use of straight and feather edges will enhance the quality and appearance of your plastering work.

If you need further help getting a smooth finish, consider sanding tools.

Chapter Five –  Corner Plastering Tools

Corner tools

Achieving clean, sharp corners is an essential part of plastering, and specialised corner tools can help you accomplish this with ease. Some of the most common corner tools include:

  • Angle Trowels: These trowels feature a blade with a 90-degree angle, designed for finishing internal corners. The angled blade allows for smooth application and shaping of plaster in tight spaces, ensuring a clean, professional finish.
  • Corner Floats: Corner floats, sometimes called corner sponges, are used to smooth and shape external corners after plastering. These tools consist of a sponge or foam material with a 90-degree angle, allowing you to work the plaster into a clean, sharp edge.

When working with corners, be sure to use the appropriate tool for the specific task, and take the time to ensure a precise, professional finish. Mastering the use of corner tools will greatly improve the overall look and durability of your plastering work.

Chapter Six – Plastering Stilts and Hop Ups

Stilts and hop ups

For larger plastering projects, or working on ceilings, plasterers often require additional height to reach their work area comfortably. Plastering stilts and hop ups can provide the necessary elevation, allowing you to work more efficiently and safely.

  • Plastering Stilts: These adjustable stilts strap to your legs and feet, allowing you to walk and work at an elevated height. Stilts offer flexibility and mobility while working on high surfaces, but they require practice and skill to use safely.
  • Hop Ups or Ladders: Alternatively, you can use a sturdy hop up or a ladder to reach higher areas. While these options provide a stable platform for working, they may not offer the same level of mobility as stilts.

Whichever option you choose, always prioritise safety when working at height, using appropriate fall protection measures and ensuring that your equipment is in good condition. Proper use of stilts and hop ups can greatly enhance your efficiency and comfort during plastering projects that require extended reach.

Chapter Seven – Cleaning and Maintenance Tools

Cleaning and maintenance tools

Proper cleaning and maintenance of your plastering tools is essential for extending their lifespan and ensuring optimal performance. Some essential cleaning tools include:

  • Plasterer’s Brush: A soft-bristle brush is perfect for cleaning your trowels and other tools after use. The soft bristles help remove plaster without damaging the tools.
  • Cleaning Water and Sponge: Keep a bucket of clean water and a sponge nearby while working to wipe down your tools as needed. Regular cleaning prevents plaster buildup, which can affect the performance of your tools.

After each plastering job, clean your tools thoroughly, removing all traces of plaster, and store them in a dry, protected location. Consistent maintenance of your plastering tools not only extends their lifespan but also ensures they perform at their best, helping you achieve high-quality results in your work.

Plastering Tools FAQs

Plastering Tools FAQs

What is the most essential plastering tool?

The trowel, available in various types for different tasks, is the most essential plastering tool.

How do I choose the right trowel?

Consider blade size, shape, handle type, and material. Larger blades cover more area, smaller blades offer more control, and ergonomic handles are best for extended use.

How do I maintain my plastering tools?

Clean tools after each use, check for wear and damage, and store them in a dry place to ensure they perform well and last longer.

What safety measures should I take when using plastering stilts?

Ensure proper fit, practice to develop balance, use fall protection, and check equipment condition before use.

What are the benefits of using a hawk and float?

The hawk holds plaster while you work, and the float helps apply and smooth it efficiently.

How do I achieve a smooth plaster finish?

Mix plaster to the correct consistency, use a skimming trowel for thin layers, and use straight and feather edges to ensure flatness. Proper tool maintenance is also crucial.


Plastering tools conclusion

This exploration of plastering tools has offered an in-depth view of the essential instruments used in the plastering trade, from basic hand tools to specialised equipment.

A well-equipped plasterer’s toolkit should feature a range of trowels, a hawk and float, mixing tools, straight and feather edges, corner tools, and potentially stilts or hop ups. Additionally, proper cleaning and maintenance tools are critical for ensuring the longevity and effectiveness of this equipment.

Understanding these tools, their use, and care is vital for anyone engaged in plastering, whether as a DIY enthusiast or a professional. By mastering the use of these tools and adhering to best practices for maintenance, you can achieve a professional, high-quality finish that will stand the test of time.