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How to Fix and Fill Damaged Walls and Ceilings with Plaster

Updated on January 23, 2013

Problem: Plaster Cracking Falling Blowing Away from the Wall?

By Dale Ovenstone 2012

Plastering, skimming, can be a painful experience for the complete beginner or novice when refurbishing, upgrading, repairing or redecorating the interior of their homes, but there is a method you can use for yourself to actually patch plaster back into your damaged blown walls or ceilings, without plastering the whole room if the plaster is sound anywhere else, & cutting the expense of calling in a professional contractor or plasterer to do the work for you.

What we cover here is when just the surface layer of skimming plaster, (about 2-4mm thick) has blown off the wall or ceiling!

If you would like to save money by doing it yourself you will need to purchase a few tools & some materials but if you have quite a few patches to plaster throughout your house then I recommend you pay close attention to this article, helping you to prepare, make good & re-skim any blown plaster to blend & match back in to the existing if the rest of the surface is still good & sound.


Tools & Materials Required To Do The Job!

The materials & tools you require are as follows:

Tools: Plastering trowel & hawk, gauging trowel, a bucket, a mixing stick or a drill with attachment, a scraper, and a small hammer.

Materials: A bag of skimming plaster, some sealer or primer, cold clean water.

How to Patch In the Plaster!

1: Identify the blown patch of plaster, gently hack it out, only the loose stuff mind you!

To do this you must first pull out the loose plaster, then, do not dig the scraper behind the rest that is still stuck onto the surface once you have removed the loose, instead, gently (very) tap around the perimeter of the blown plaster that still remains to the surface, with a small hammer, until eventually, all loose will blow & loosen even further any remainder that is not too secure, with the gentle tapping of the hammer.

2: Once fully removed you need to seal the area, both immediately around the perimeter of the patch that you just hacked off, also, seal inside the area that needs to be re-skimmed.


Why Must I Seal Before Commencing Work?

Sealing the area is a two way affair, you may even call this method ‘priming,’ or primer, & this important method of sealing a surface to be worked onto has two uses, one being, the sealer helps the new plaster material to adhere to the surface so that it does not fall of at a later stage once dried out, & the next usage is, by sealing a surface to be worked onto prevents the new plaster drying out too quickly, thus, providing you more time to work your material, creating a kind of ‘bond’ between the new & the existing work which also prevents too much porosity from drawing the water from the new plaster.

Over here in the UK we have some very good stabilizer solutions that once mixed down with water, creates a perfect seal for ceilings & walls, for instance; one brand name being ‘Unibond PVC Sealer’ in as much as, some sealers resemble a white sticky thick consistency ‘such as wood glue’ which can be watered down also & used as a sealer.

3: Once sealer has dried completely, or even becomes a little tacky to the touch, mix up the correct amount of plaster into clean cold water to the right consistency, once mixed, all the lumps out, transfer some plaster onto your hawk, then transfer from your hawk onto your skimming trowel, then lay the plaster over & onto the area to be patched up.

This last section takes a little practice to achieve, what you are looking at is, the area to be patched has to be totally filled in, to the level of the existing good plaster covering the wall or ceiling, the finish must be (reasonably) smooth, ridge free, by stroking smoothly, the trowel over the area once plaster is applied!


Plaster Your patch Downloadable E-book Guide

Downloadable step by step book shows how to patch in your interior ceilings & walls using plaster.
Downloadable step by step book shows how to patch in your interior ceilings & walls using plaster. | Source

What Next?

As you must understand, any material that uses water to be mixed with it (such as skimming plaster) will therefore shrink back once dried out as the water evaporates, so for this, we must therefore second coat (skim) over the existing first coat applied, but, instead of waiting for the first coat of plaster to go completely dry (otherwise it becomes porous once again thus, you will have to re-seal the area before second coating it or the next coat of plaster won’t adhere) when it is touch dry & your finger marks the plaster only slightly when touched, now is the correct time to second coat the area.

Smooth over the area with your trowel, blending into the surface of the existing sound plaster, letting the work touch dry once again, then using water (as a lubrication so that your trowel won’t stick, pulling the plaster back off) spray the water over the patch, make sure your trowel is clean & stroke over, blending it into the surface.

Thank you for reading I hope this information serves you well, although, it is quite difficult trying to explain all the methods here with just words, a few pictures & explanations, for your interest 'Plaster Your Patch' downloadable step by step photographic workbook guide for complete beginners has aided many folk to patch in their own ceilings & walls at home without the expense of calling in the pro’s.

Any questions or queries please contact me or leave your piece in the comments box below

Regards Dale Ovenstone


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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      How to Fix and Fill Damaged Walls and Ceilings with Plaster a problem many people face and still don't know how to go about it. You have explained to the point and have written a useful hub, voted up!

    • Inspired to write profile image

      Dale J Ovenstone 3 years ago from Wales UK

      Thank you DDE

    • red mermaid profile image

      red mermaid 2 years ago

      Your Plastering tips are very informative Inspired to write but they explain how to plaster a flat wall. Could you give some advice on how to plaster the corner edge of a wall that has been damaged.

    • Inspired to write profile image

      Dale J Ovenstone 2 years ago from Wales UK

      Thank you red mermilaid for your comment

      Because it is damaged on the corner, could you send me a picture as the beading may also be damaged, and I will know better then.

      There is actually a way to sort out the damaged, by (mini) disc-cutting out the metal bead, (if the entire section does not need doing) and replacing with new, prior to making good and patching in to look cool and classy

      Obviously, I cannot give specifics unless I know the true damage to your situation

      Hope this helps, please let me know

    • red mermaid profile image

      red mermaid 2 years ago

      Thank you Inspired to write, my query was for future reference in the event that my attempt at repairing the wall should deteriorate in the future. The beading was slightly bent and the gap was 2 inches deep by 3 inches long. I managed to reshape the beading and plastered in several thin layers over a few days, building it up to the required level. The area is now wallpapered. If I have problems with it in the future I will definitely get back to you. Yours Redmermulaid

    • Inspired to write profile image

      Dale J Ovenstone 2 years ago from Wales UK

      Definitely you are on your way to becoming a fine building patcher and finisher of walls. Well done on your attempt, and I bet it all looks good, now completed.

      Take care for now, red mermaid, twas good communicating with you

    • red mermaid profile image

      red mermaid 2 years ago

      Thank you for your expert advice inspired to write and for corresponding so quickly to my plight. Yours red mermilaidu2 . Good luck with your future books, just remember if you want to catch your dreams, you have to chase them.

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