How to Finish Plaster Walls


Plaster is a highly versatile product. Plaster walls typically use a combination of wood slats, called lath, and heavy-duty plaster to provide a sturdy wall. Finishing plaster walls requires obtaining the desired texture, and painting. Texturing plaster allows you to customize the wall's appearance, whether you want a smooth finish similar to drywall or a textured finished similar to adobe walls. Hardware stores offer different tools for obtaining various types of finishes. This article outlines obtaining a smooth finish to existing plaster walls.

Things You'll Need

  • Plaster
  • 6-inch taping knife
  • 120-grit drywall sanding block
  • Damp sponge or rag
  • Paint
  • Scoop a substantial amount of plaster onto a 6-inch drywall taping knife and hold the knife at an angle to the wall. Pull down along the wall to spread the plaster over the wall covering any existing cracks, textures or low spots in the plaster. Apply the plaster until the wall or section is relatively smooth. Allow the surface to dry following drying times listed on the container. Reapply plaster as necessary to cover any thick textures or cracks.

  • Sand the plaster with a 120-grit sanding block, a rectangular block with drywall sandpaper adhered to it. Apply light pressure to the sanding block and work the area in smooth, concentric circles to remove any presence of lines or grooves.

  • Clean the wall with a damp sponge or rag to remove any dust. Reapply plaster and sand the surface as needed to fill any low spots.

  • Paint as desired.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can texture the wall while the plaster is still wet using any material desired. A smaller knife held at an odd angle with half-circle motions can create grooves and channels similar to adobe construction. A damp natural sponge pressed into the wet plaster will create a rough-textured finish. Painting the plaster, after it has dried, is easiest with a roll-on paintbrush.

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  • "Lowe's: Complete Home Improvement and Repair"; Don Vandervort; 2005
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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