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Beginner’s Guide to Plasterboard Skimming

Created: 15/07/2015

What’s the difference between a sheet of plasterboard and a lovely smooth wall? A nice, smooth layer of plaster – or skim as it’s known in the trade. While applying the skim might seem like a case of just applying it to the wall, there is an art to it and not considering this often results in a bumpy surface that’s full of trowel marks.

Plasterer's Trowel

If you’re interested in trying it out for yourself before calling on expert London handyman services, here’s a few tips to help along the way.

Tools needed


Spirit level

Spot board

Steel float


Mixing utensils


Tin snips

Plasterer’s trowel

Angle beads – only if working around corners

Preparing the area

After you have screwed the plasterboard panels to the wall studs, make sure you brush any excess debris off the panels so you have a clean surface to work with. During the preparation, you should also tape all the joists between the panels as this will reduce the risk of cracks along the joints; there is specialist plasterboard adhesive tape available from all leading DIY stores. With the tape, lay it together rather than overlapping to avoid an uneven finish.

Mixing the skim and applying the plaster

Always match the amount of plaster with the same amount of water, stirring well until the mixture is lump free and smooth.

Once you’re happy with the mixture, place your spot board near the wall, sprinkle some water on and pour over some of the wet skim. You will now need to take your hawk and, if you’re right-handed, pick it up with your left hand. In the case of left-handed people, use the hawk in your right hand. Your opposite hand will be used for the steel float. After picking up the plaster with the hawk, take a bit on to the float and begin applying the plaster from the hawk and start spreading in the opposite corner to your strong hand. For example, people who are right handed would begin in the top left-hand corner. Apply evenly in vertical strips until you have an even surface, and leave to dry for around 15 minutes.

Applying the second coat

When putting on the second coat, you should apply with a long vertical coat to eliminate any ridges and create a seamless coverage. After leaving this coat to dry a little, go over the wall with a clean float to smooth over any marks.

Finally after the plaster has been hardened further, but not completely dry, smooth over again with a clean float. You should lubricate the wall using water and a wide paint brush as you go. This will help to make the skim more malleable and help it cover any last minute holes.

If this all sounds a little too complicated and you’re worried you will get it wrong, the team at Handywork Solutions are more than happy to take on the task. As well as offering expert carpentry, electrical and plumbing work in Beckenham and other London boroughs, our skilled team are more than happy to undertake all manner of jobs around the home.

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