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Repairing damaged plaster

Skill Level: Intermediate



Damage to plastered walls, caused by either damp or general wear and tear, is not difficult to fix-nor that expensive. Professional plastering is a skilled job involving the application of a system of plasters- a Browning undercoat, or a Bonding undercoat- and a finishing coat. Plastering to new, bare brick or new build block-work requires a high level of skill to obtain a level and perfectly flat surface. Skimming a ceiling is even more of an art. But here we shall look at repairing a smallish area of a plastered wall; something we can do ourselves without too much trouble. We’ll look at repairing both solid plaster, and plasterboard. For ease of use, when tackling smallish areas, it is recommended you use a quality ready-mix plaster.


Repairing a solid plaster Wall – Preparation

Using either a cold chisel or bolster, chip away any loose or crumbling plaster until you have a solid background, surrounded by firmly adhering plaster. Brush away all debris and dust from the excavated area.

Repairing a solid plaster Wall – Applying Ready-Mixed Plaster


After following the manufacturers and stirring thoroughly, apply the new plaster into the area previously dug-out, with a small plasterers trowel or filling knife. Where the area to be filled is quite deep, apply the plaster in layers, allowing adequate drying time between layers (coats). It is advisable to apply the plaster in layers until it stands proud of the surrounding surface. This can then be sanded flush and flat when completely dry, prior to either painting or wall-papering.


Repairing a Plasterboard Wall – Small Patch

Small, shallow holes and dents in plasterboards can be repaired in much the same way as described above. Medium sized holes will need to be repaired by means of inserting a small piece of board into the hole to provide a backing “plate”, then filling out to surface level. Anything over about 125mm, where the board is more seriously damaged, may require the board to be replaced. The steps to follow when repairing small areas of damaged plasterboards are;
  • Using a sharp trimming knife- cut back the edges of the board to give it a firm and clean edge.
  • Cut a small piece of plasterboard, narrow enough to pass through the opening, but large enough to overlap on the inside, when turned. Before inserting the board, punch a small hole through the centre and insert a piece of string; tie on a slither of wood or a large nail at the back, so the piece can be pulled tight against the surrounding boards, providing a firm background to plaster onto. Apply a suitable adhesive around the edges of the piece for insertion( Coving adhesive is ideal for the job)
  • Carefully guide the adhesive coated board through the hole and pull the string firmly to fix the board into place. Keep the string tight until the adhesive has set.

Repairing a Plasterboard Wall – Large Patch

Where the area to be repaired is large; then the only option may be to cut back the damaged board to the nearest timber framework members, insert a new piece of board-and infill with fresh plaster. For these larger areas requiring repair, follow the steps outlined below;
  • Using a level, mark horizontal pencil lines approximately 50mm above and below the damaged edge of the plasterboard, extending to the centre of the vertical timbers
  • Join these pencilled marks vertically, from the top to bottom lines.
  • Score and cut the marked lines using a sharp trimming knife; ending up with a nice square cut opening.
  • It may be necessary to insert and nail fix two timber cross members between the two vertical timbers, in order to enable nailing of the patch-piece all round.
  • Cut the replacement piece of board accurately, and nail into place using 75mm oval nails.
  • Fix the nails at approximately 150mm centres with at least 13-15mm from the edge of the board. Try not to damage the outer layer of paper on the plasterboard.
  • Finally, fill-in the joint around the new patch using either finish plaster or jointing compound.

Tools you will need:
Stanley 4-18-298 3 Piece Cold Chisel Set
Stanley 4-18-298 3 Piece Cold Chisel Set
- Faithfull 16oz Fibreglass Handled Claw Hammer
Faithfull 16oz Fibreglass Handled Claw Hammer

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