Plastering Final White Coat

The Old House Web

Parts of this story: ~~ Preparing the house ~~ The final white coat

The final white coat

Wally first takes a load of lime and works it into a circle. The lime has been mixed with water, but it won't set up by itself. He shapes the lime into a doughnut and pours water into the center.


The real tricky part: Wally adds retardant to slow the curing time for the plaster. Every job is different, and depends on weather, plaster and many other conditions. This master plasterer says that after the first batch he gets a feel for how quickly plaster sets, and adjusts the retardant accordingly.

It takes 15 or more years to be deemed a "good mechanic" -- high praise in the plastering trade.


Next comes the gauging plaster. The substance most of us know as Plaster of Paris is sifted in carefully, as one would sift flour into a cake batter. This sets up and makes the white coat hold.

Wally switched from gauging plaster to molding plaster after a few days. His explanation: He likes how "it works" better.


Wally next gently tamps the gauging plaster down to absorb the water. Patience is key: The plaster must soak up the water gradually so that there will be no lumps.


While the water is being absorbed into the white coat, Wally scrapes down the brown coat base to remove high spots and bumps.


Once the plaster has absorbed the water, it must be fully mixed. Then, it's time to load up the hawk and start applying it to the wall.


Like an artist contemplating a canvas, Wally applies the very thin white coat to the wall.


A view of the third floor master bedroom, with most of the "lid" (ceiling) plastered.


For more details on this project, click here for Sue and Philip Dodd's on-line restoration journal of The Pleasant Plains.

Parts of this story: ~~ Preparing the house ~~ Theplastering begins ~~ The final white coat

About the Author
The Old House Web

Search Improvement Project