Plaster Walls Cost Guide & Tips in 2023
We put together a useful guide on plaster walls cost and plaster work contractor prices. Read more to find out all the details.
Plastering your walls is an essential part of the finishing job. It forms the base for painting, fixing accessories, and therefore any error might lead to catastrophic outcomes. Also, it is tough to correct any mistakes done at this stage, and we advise you engage a professional and only DIY if you have the requisite skills. Also, re-plastering your walls can save you the agony of continually repainting your walls. One of the top reasons why painting doesn’t seem to last is poor rendering. Re-plastering the walls then will give you a fresh canvas for your decorating efforts, and if done appropriately, it can last up to 25 years.
There are a few jobs which are the bread and butter of most plasterers. The amount you pay is subject to the task you hire the plasterer for. First, we have external rendering which is the most difficult, and it’s best left to the professionals. Not only of the complexities involved but for your safety as a homeowner. We also have re-plastering walls, which is the most common job for plasterers. It is also the easiest and the least expensive as it is all about repairing and reskimming over existing plaster. The idea here is to correct the blemishes.
In addition to external rendering and re-plastering, we also have plastering ceiling and applying new plaster. Plastering ceilings is complicated but can be accomplished with the right tools and equipment. As for new plastering, it involves stripping the existing plaster and putting on a new one. The process consists of all aspect of plastering as well. I.e., skimming, dry lining, new cosmetic finishes, etc. The amount you incur for plastering your walls will depend on the job you hire a plasterer for. Other factors that might influence the cost are:
Size – By size, we refer to the surface area of the walls. Most contractors price their work on a per square foot basis, or on the size of the room to make it easier to compare estimates. The price per square foot covers the labor, plaster boards, and other materials. Bigger walls will cost more, but the per square foot cost will be less compared to smaller walls. As price depending on the size of the room, they mainly boil down to either small, medium, or large. These, however, are just estimates, and the actual cost cannot be known until the contractor visits your home.
Type – Here, it boils down to basic dry plastering or ornamental plastering. The latter is going to be more expensive. Seeing as it is the task used to create intricate finishes inside or outside your house, it takes more time and skill. The above will increase your cost.
Job factors – Finally, there are the fundamental job factors. First, we have the location. The distance from suppliers affects the transportation cost and can increase or reduce the amount you pay. The decision to DIY or hire a professional is also going to have a significant effect on the price.
The above price factors apply to all plastering jobs. However, there are some which are unique to individual tasks and more so external rendering. They are:
Planning listings and restrictions – First, you don’t have the development rights to alter the finish if you reside in a flat. However, there are no restrictions that exist for rendering your residential house. Nonetheless, the local authorities have the power to make you correct the situation should the situation should there be too many complaints against you. Finally, there are restrictions for buildings that are listed, that are in a conservation area or a national park. Best advice is not to be too outlandish. Keep it simple and modest.
Existing substrate – This is the material you will be rendering on. It has a considerable bearing on what you can and cannot do. Where the substrate is involved, it boils down to the flexibility of the material which will influence your render. If the element (substrate) moves a lot, you will want a render that is flexible, e.g., lime. Otherwise, you can use a less flexible render such as cement.
Age – The last factor to consider during external rendering is the age of the property and more so the aesthetics and the flexibility. If you are working on an old building, there is a high likelihood that you are dealing with a substrate that moves a lot, and that means you need a flexible plaster. The second is that you might want a more stylish and modern finish.
Height – If you are dealing with tall commercial buildings, height will be the primary determinant of how much you pay. The amount you spend will increase as the height increases. In some instances, the price per square foot can be 50% more than standard rates. The difference boils down to the difficulty in accessing high areas that call for scaffolding, and the safety of employees. The contractor has to pay more insurance, and the cost is transferred to you.
Before we delve into the meat of this piece, there are some few final details you should know regarding plastering.
Rendering – If you render your walls appropriately, you create a solid foundation on which to apply your plaster. Unfortunately, most people don’t pay much attention to this part. This preparation can make the difference between a perfect finish and a nightmare. After speaking to professionals, it is evident that groundwork is everything. One trick to always remember is to add the render mixture to water and not water to the mix. Adding the jumble to water results in an excellent fusion but vice versa causes lumps which will prove challenging to get rid of.
Complexity – Plastering is not as simple as it looks. It is one of those trades that has more than meets the eye. It is an art form, and there’s need for broader knowledge and skill to obtain a perfect finish. Also, there are specific areas of your house that require better plaster. It is upon you to identify these areas and take the appropriate actions. Finally, you need to learn plastering basics. Only then can you make good use of sophisticated tools such as bell cast beads which help you achieve that perfect finish.
Rules – Though plastering is one of those trades where it’s better to hire a professional, it is not entirely out of reach for a proficient DIYer. You should accomplish the task provided you follow the rules. One such canon is that you should always remove the underlying plaster and clean the wall before putting on a new render.
Ornamental rendering is slowly growing in popularity owing to the increasing demand by homeowners to restore old houses or reproduce houses from any period in history. Surprisingly, this plaster does not disappoint, and it is becoming more natural to do precisely that.
As for the cost, there are two things to consider; the products, and the installation. Though the skills required aren’t that different from those needed for regular plaster jobs, it is better you hire a plasterer with years of experience under his belt. And yes, this is one of those jobs which you should not attempt to DIY. You will pay more for the skills, but you will love the outcome.
As for the products, there is a lot to choose from. You can have anything from rosettes, decorative cornices, fireplace surrounds, ceiling domes and panels, etc. The price of these products depends on the size and complexity but expect to pay $2.5 for one linear foot simple colonial cove cornice and $5 for one linear foot Victorian cornice. An elegant fireplace surround will set you back around $700. If you are looking to plaster the whole house, expect a price tag of about $26,000.
|Colonial Cone Cornice||$2.5|
|Elegant Victorian Fire Surround||$700|
Re-plastering involves anything from making some simple repairs to resurfacing the whole house. Patching plaster is cheap, but resurfacing is quite expensive. Often, fixes for a small room will set you back between $280 and $420 while a medium size room will set you back between $420 and $560. Mending will take 2 to 3 days. Find a place to stay given that plastering is a messy job.
Resurfacing, on the other hand, will set you back above $10 per square foot. The only upside of resurfacing is that it saves time, and saves the need to remove the old plaster. Therefore, if time is a constraint and there are no budget limitations, you can consider resurfacing. However, it is not as resilient as new plaster, and only adds loads to walls. Resurfacing will set you back about $1,200 which is way more than a new plaster.
Replastering is more expensive owing to the extra tasks. From removing old plaster (not a requirement) which will set you back between $2 and $3 to sealing cracks, to streamlining whole wall parts.
|Small Room||$280 - $420|
|Medium Room||$420 - $560|
|1 Sq. Ft.||$10+|
Expect a price tag of about $800 to plaster a 100 square foot surface. First, you will have to prepare the walls. It can be anything from removing old plastering ($1 to $3) to moving furniture, sanding, filling holes, masking switches and sockets, etc. Whatever the task, preparation accounts for 10% to 30% of the total cost.
On a per square foot basis, new plastering will set you back between $2 and $10 per square foot. The cost is subject to the complexity of the task and finishes required. As for the price according to room size, a small room will set you back around $720, a medium place $880, and a large room about $1260. Again, remember that these are just estimates, and excludes VAT. The reason for excluding VAT is because some contractors work as sole contractors and they aren’t subject to this. Therefore, expect to pay more if you hire a company.
However, despite its cost being significantly lower than resurfacing, it has more advantages. First, you will get a more even finish, it is more durable and doesn’t burden the surface with additional loads. The shortcoming though is that it takes more time to complete.
|1 Sq. Ft.||$2 - $10|
Cost According to Type
Other than according to design, plastering is priced according to the type, i.e., materials used.
These are pre-built panels used to line walls of homes and are availed alongside drywall. It is a low-cost option costing between $2 and $5. Don’t let the price fool you though; it has several advantages. First, it acts as an insulator and deters the spread of fire; it is easy to put in, doesn’t require any extra finish and is sound insulation. Finally, there is its high decorative value. Plaster of Paris otherwise known as POP is one render that is known for its attractiveness. It is calcined gypsum, and when mixed with a little water, it can be used decorate and stylize. As for the drawbacks, it is less durable, susceptible to water damage and not resistant to rust.
Cement is another render you can consider. We advise you use this on walls that don’t move owing to its inflexibility. Otherwise, it will set you back between $4 and $5 per square foot. Its shortcomings are that it’s difficult to spread on walls and it has internal stresses that lead it to crack. However, it is easy to work with and has a high rate of strength development.
Though the most expensive at around $6 per square foot, lime should be among your top picks for plastering. First, it is flexible. Its flexibility makes it ideal for walls that move and more so old houses. Also, it doesn’t crack, it’s lighter than cement meaning it is easier to work with, and it allows moisture to pass through unlike cement. It is not without its shortcomings though. First, it isn’t suitable for external rendering, not ideal in moist areas and there is a high level of expertise required to work with lime.
|Cost According to Type|
|Gypsum||$2 - $5|
|Cement||$4 - $5|
Enhancements & Additional Costs
After re-plastering or applying a new plaster, you will need to clean up. Cleaning is a task you can handle to lower the costs, but it’s best you hire a professional especially if you are dealing with hazardous materials. Could be plaster with asbestos elements, or plaster painted with lead paint. You don’t want to risk exposing yourself to such materials. Also, to prevent the spread of dust to other rooms in the house, cover all openings and any surface the dust might adhere to. Finally, spray the debris with water to keep the dust from rising.
By and large, the clean-up accounts for 3% to 5% of the total project cost.
Finishes and Painting
You can select a more exquisite finish to improve the aesthetics of your home. Plasterwork can be finished in several styles and texture. However, this will increase your cost by $1 to $3 per square foot. Painters, on the other hand, will charge you between $20 and $35 an hour. Only paint when the plaster is dry.
Plaster Repair Costs
The cost to mend a render depends on the extent and type of damage. However, we advise that you correct the situation soon as it arises to avoid extensive destruction. Also, damaged plaster has various practical problems and reduce the value of your home. You can engage a professional to do the repairs, but these are DIY friendly. If you still insist on hiring a professional, expect charges between $100 and $300 for a reasonable 4 square foot job. If you want to pay on an hourly basis, expect to pay between $60 and $90 for an hours work. Finally, repair the plaster before painting to cover the marks.
Plaster Problem, Cause, and DIY Repair Costs
Despite being DIY friendly, you will need plastering skills and some tools. You can hire, or purchase (view costs below).
Holes – Could be a screw or nail holes caused by mounting TVs, hanging paintings, and shelving or hit in accidents. Plumbers or electricians could also cut them. Small holes are effortlessly repaired with spackling which will set you back between $5 and $10 per quart. For more extensive holes, you might need a new plaster reinforced with wire lathes. Expect to pay around $8 for a 27” by 8’ lath.
Sagging plaster – Flaccid plaster maybe be a result of cracks, broken wall pipes or flooding, high humidity, or plaster with high sand content. It can easily be remedied using plaster washers. You can get 100 pieces for $10.
Cracks and chips – hairline cracks are caused by one vibration from movement (these are common under stairwells and under areas that have high traffic). They can also result from broken wall pipes and flooding, or plaster with high sand content. Another reason could be earthquakes, or you have a settling foundation. If it’s the later, get a foundation repair specialist. Chipping plaster is often caused by accidents. Both can be repaired using spackling.
Just open them slightly and fill them with the substance. Cyclical cracks will need more advanced repairs. These are cracks that return in a few seasons. Use a fiberglass tape which will set you back around $7 for a 2” by 300’ foot tape.
Water damage and crumbling – Often, you will have to apply a new plaster after you have remedied the underlying problem. Damaged pipes and flooding often cause water damage. Crumbling is often a result of excessive hammering, earthquakes, and plaster with high sand adhesive.
Tile adhesive – Given how cumbersome, time-consuming, and unnecessary it is to remove tile adhesive, we advise you cover it to create a smooth surface and then re-plaster. It often remains after removal of tiles.
Enhancements and Additional Considerations
There are instances where the damage is so extensive that the issue isn’t the plaster but the wall. Leave such tasks to professionals. You can also enhance your plaster by painting it at the cost of $0.50 to $1.20 per square foot or hire a specialist for a more decorative finish. Often, at a cost between $12 and $14 a square foot.
|Wall Cleaner||$3 - $5|
|Expanding Foam||$4 - $20|
|Taping Knife||$3 - $13|
|Spackling||$5 - $10|
|Caulk Gun||$10 - $100|
|Drills with Bits||$30 - $100|
|Painting||$.50 - $1.20|
|Decorative Finish||$12 - $14|
How to Hire a Plasterer
Hiring a proficient plasterer is worth the money, and it is the first step towards getting a perfect finish. It will also save you cash down the road as you will avoid constant repairs.
Get an experienced contractor
You want to work with an individual or company which is well versed in various types of plastering. Also, ensure they have several years of experience under their belt. To get an experienced, credible company, you have to put in some hours researching the various institutions around. Ask for referrals from colleagues or friends who have undertaken a plastering job. Preferably colleagues whose renovation was within the last six months. If references are not an option, there are some sites which are dedicated to helping homeowners get proficient contractors. One such place is the Better Business Bureau. The reviews and ratings from previous clients will help you make an informed decision.
However, be wary of institutions that have excellent reviews but very few jobs completed. These haven’t stood the test of time. We advise you hire a company with hundreds or thousands of completed tasks albeit with a few negative ratings.
Hire local contractors
Most “fly by night” contractors are often from out of state. Hiring contractors from out of state is a recipe for disaster.
To get a proficient plasterer, go local. First, it will be easier to establish contact with the individual/organization and check their past jobs. You can check out their sample jobs or catch them in action to get a feel for their work. Finally, they will be easy to track should the results not be as agreed upon.
Get some basic plastering knowledge
Before you meet any contractor, arm yourself with some basic knowledge about the job you want to hire them for. By knowing beforehand what your task is likely to involve, you are better equipped to ask appropriate questions. These questions will help you gauge the expertise and knowledge of the plasterer. Avoid contractors who generalize responses.
Ask how they are going to prepare for the job
Remember that the most crucial part of any plastering job is the preparation. Yes, the result might look the same but what lies beneath will determine how long it will last. That is the reason why it is crucial you ask each contractor how they intend to prepare the walls.
Always get three quotes for any home improvement job. Ensure that all companies are applying for the same job and that they are all in-person quotes. Three estimates will give you a broad field to choose from Avoid bids that are out of range from the rest. There is a likelihood that you are dealing with a fraudster.
Get it in writing
Finally, you want to sign a contract. An agreement protects you and the contractor as well. Ensure you add a stipulation to be notified of any change in
price beforehand. Also, the contract should include all agreements from the guarantees to the payment schedule.
How to Avoid Scams
Plasterers are a busy lot, and getting one is going to take some time. Also, a good plasterer isn’t cheap to come by and will set you back a reasonable sum of money. With these conditions, some fraudulent persons have made it a trade to swindle homeowners. There are procedures to ensure that you are dealing with a legit individual.
All fraudulent companies are after your money for little or no work. Therefore, the best way to prevent this is to agree on a payment schedule with the contractor. First, never make payments upfront. You aren’t guaranteed that the contractor will return. They might request a discount, but it shouldn’t exceed 20% of the total project cost.
Second, don’t make cash payments and don’t deposit in an individuals’ bank account. Also, professional contractors will insist on bank payments. Avoid any individual who requests for cash. Cash payments are exacting to substantiate, and you might be subjected to double pay. Bank payments, on the other hand, leave a paper trail that shows proof of payment.
Finally, only make the final payment after you are comfortable with the work.
Contractors have a habit of purchasing low-quality products despite the homeowners paying for quality materials. You want to avoid this. The best way is to make the purchases yourself. Otherwise, inspect all products once they arrive.
Finally, keep the receipts so that you can return any materials left over.
Qualifications, Licensing, and Insurance
You want to work with a plasterer who has been cleared by the authorities. Ask for the license and visit your local authorities and confirm. Finally, ensure the contractor is insured.
Questions to Ask a Plasterer
How many coats of plaster do they intend to apply?
Some plasterers have made it a habit of applying only one layer of skimming. They often get away with it seeing as most homeowners cannot tell it apart from an appropriately skimmed wall. The problem arises during painting. You will have uplighters and downlighters and trowel marks as well. A credible plasterer should apply several coats of plaster to avoid the above issues.
The idea here is to ensure you are hiring a proficient and qualified person. Remember, though plastering looks like a simple job, it is messy, requires a lot of attention, and it pays to hire a professional. The least you can do is ensure the said expert is qualified. Some credentials include NVQ, City & Guilds or diploma.
Can I see previous jobs?
The best way to know if you are dealing with a proficient individual is to ask for their previous work. Some have websites, and others social media accounts. If you have the time, you can visit them on one of their jobs to get a feel for their work. While at it, you can ask for references and their contacts. Call them to know their experience with the said contractor.
Plasterers have different qualifications. The task itself has various aspects that no one individual can handle. Some people can only skim while others are only capable of rendering. Some are expert with lime while others are good at working with cement. Get a contractor who specializes in your type of work.
How long has your business been operational?
We advise you work with a company that has been operational for several years. This is not to say that their quality is the best, but there is a high likelihood that they have streamlined services and have years of experience. While at it, ask under which names they have been operational and check to see if they have any pending legal complaints.
Are there any legal complaints filed against you?
The idea here is to know how forthcoming the company is with information. You want to work with an institution that owns its mistakes. Avoid any company that is reluctant to provide the information.
Plastering can make the difference between a nightmare or a perfect finish. Also, it affects the value of your home with a professional job increasing its value. You, therefore, want to hire a professional for the job. However, to reduce the amount you pay, you can provide your labor, or take up some of the tasks. Don’t forget the tips provided on how to get a proficient contractor and the questions you should ask all prospects.
Finally, there are various types of plastering available. Choose one which works for you, and fits your budget.