Choosing the right plastering equipment for you is the most important step in creating a beautiful finish every time you use your trowel and hawk. You’ll need to decide on budget, material and even the look and feel of your equipment to be able to achieve perfect plastering time after time.
Your Basic Kit
The right tools are essential if you’re going to tackle your plastering jobs with confidence. After all, you wouldn’t expect a footballer to score goals in hobnail boots, would you? There are five fundamental tools that you’ll need to get started, but as you progress you’ll find that you need more specialised trowels for certain finishes.
You’re not going to become an expert overnight, but having tools that are comfortable, durable and robust will go a long way to helping you improve your technique.
Choosing Your Trowel
Your trowel is obviously the most important piece of plastering equipment and will have the most effect on the results you achieve. Trowels are available in different sizes and materials, but if you’re a beginner a 13-inch trowel should prove ideal.
Stainless steel is the choice of the professionals, as it’s incredibly long-lasting, easy to maintain and resists corrosion – a pre-worn trowel is often worth the investment, as it will cut in beautifully and help you achieve that professional finish.
Save on a Bucket Trowel
However, if you don’t want to invest in a top-of-the-range trowel while you’re getting started, don’t waste your money on something cheap and nasty either. If you want to save money on your plastering equipment, buy a cheap bucket trowel.
The only purpose of the bucket trowel is to get the plaster from the bucket where you mixed it to the hawk where you’ll hold it ready for use, so this can be a relatively inexpensive item. However, try to buy a bucket trowel in a material that won’t corrode, as rust can ruin your plaster.
The Handy Hawk
If the trowel is like the artist’s paintbrush, the hawk is your palette. And you’ll be holding it hour after hour as your other hand skims the plaster over the walls. As you can imagine, that plaster-laden hawk doesn’t get any lighter over the course of a day. In fact, plastering can be extremely strenuous, especially when you’re new to it.
Just a note here on hand health. If the hawk you choose feels too heavy or uncomfortable, or you hold your wrist or hand in an awkward position, not only can you reduce the strength of your grip by around 27%, but you can also lay the groundwork for repetitive strain injuries that can have long-term implications. So try to find a hawk that makes ergonomic sense for you.
Another thing to consider is weight. Aluminium hawks can be a good compromise between durability, strength and weight. However, for beginners a good foam or plastic hawk can be the ideal tool as you get used to plastering on a daily basis. They’re not durable, and you will replace them frequently, but they’re also an inexpensive solution as they’re extremely light. They’ll also give your arm muscles the opportunity to develop without getting injured.
Mix It Up
Yes, you can mix plaster by hand, and plasterers once did on a daily basis. It’s incredibly hard work, and it can be almost impossible to get a perfectly smooth result. And when there’s technology available to help, why struggle? That’s why you need a plastering mixer.
These stand-alone machines consist of a powerful motor and a paddle. They can create a smoother, creamier mix than you can get by hand and in a fraction of the time. And the better the mix, the better the results when you come to put it on the wall.
Ask any plasterer and they’ll tell you that a plastering mixer is an essential part of their plastering equipment. Make it part of your plastering kit too.
Keep It Clean
A bucket of water might not seem essential, but you won’t mix a beautiful plaster skim without it or keep your plastering equipment spotless, which is the only sure-fire way to create that desirable polished and professional effect.
You’ll need a good brush or a spray bottle to keep your edges clean and to splash water on the walls for that perfect finish. You’ll also need plenty of water to keep your tools clean so they don’t contaminate a fresh plaster mix. Is it worth paying more for a high-quality water brush? Yes it is, as one stray bristle can ruin a beautifully plastered wall.
Moving Beyond the Basics
Over time you’ll almost certainly find that you need a cornering trowel for that smooth and sharp edge-to-edge finish and a plasterer’s float to achieve that ideal eggshell top coat.