How much does it cost to apply plaster?
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Plaster Application Cost Guide
Updated: August 19, 2022
Plastering is the method of finishing interior walls to prepare for painting. There are several different options to choose from for your plastered walls. Homeowners need to hire a professional to apply plaster as it can easily make a mess.
The national average to apply plaster ranges between $450 and $550, with most homeowners spending around $500 for a 100 square foot project. On the low end, to plaster a 100 sq. ft easy to reach surface will cost around $200. On the higher end, plastering a difficult to reach surface of 100 sq. ft. with prep work and finishing styles will run you at least $1,200.
Average Price for Plastering
|National average cost||$500|
Cost of Plasterer
Applying plaster is done by professional plasterers and is not a job that can be undertaken DIY. A plasterer begins by taping all the joints in the drywall, then giving them a skim coat of plaster to create a flush surface. Plaster dries quickly, so a plasterer works quickly to trowel the plaster onto the walls in smooth, even strokes. A wall will cure within one hour. So, during this time, the plaster will be applied, cut into the edges, and smoothed out to a flat, even finish with no blemishes. While most plasterers charge by the square foot, at a rate of between $2 and $10 per sq. ft., the plasterer cost per hour is about $45 to $90. Adding special designs, textures, or finishes may run you $1 to $3 more per square foot. High walls or ceilings add square footage. You can expect to pay an additional amount for plaster installation. For instance, a 10 x 10 room with regular 8-foot ceilings may cost you $500, but if that same room has 12-foot ceilings, it could add $800. Outdoor applications are more expensive due to the type of plaster needed. Exterior plaster costs $7 to $13 for a square foot.
An expert plasterer starts with a base coat, which is about 2 mm in thickness. The focus here is to achieve a smooth, even surface. A clean trowel will be used to complete the first coat. Moving into the second coat, the goal is to add about half of the thickness of the first coat while eliminating as many holes as possible. At this point, the professional plasterer allows the plaster to dry for a bit. While the plaster is still tacky, the surface will be evened out, and any ridges, bulges, or holes filled and smoothed. Using firm pressure on the trowel creates the right surface for finishing.
While it may sound like a simple procedure, some difficulties can come up in the process. Curved walls, corners, and other challenges require extra skill. Straight corners are accomplished by using a metal piece called an angle bead or corner bead. The bead is nailed in place and used as a guide to float the plaster. A curved wall is constructed using a product called Gyprock Flexible. This plasterboard is 6.5 mm thick and easily bends. These specialty areas require more time and materials. Consumers should expect to pay an additional $100 to $1,000 for corners or curved walls, depending on the complexity of the situation.
Plastering a ceiling may be challenging. A professional will have the right tools and experience to do it! Using a trowel, the plaster is applied away from the edges in a firm, even movement. It is important to work quickly in a small area at a time. During application, it is important that the plaster not spill over the edge of the trowel. The plaster is spread to the edges, carefully avoiding build up. Next, the trowel is used to smooth out and even the surface before the second coat is applied. As the plaster is hardening, water is added, and the final troweling is done. The plaster ceiling price is around $300 to $800, depending on the ceiling height and any special textures or finishes added.
Plaster Cost per Square Foot
Professional plasterers may choose to use a pump or spray to apply the product. However, many use hand tools. This type of application is more expensive. The cost also depends on what type of plaster is utilized. The average cost to plaster a room, including labor and materials, should be calculated at a rate of $5 to $10 per square foot. The cost to plaster a house will vary, of course, by the size of the home. The cost of plastering a house that is 2,000 square feet would be about $10,000 to $20,000.
|Square Feet||Plaster Wall Cost (Including Labor)|
|50 sq. ft.||$250 - $500|
|100 sq. ft.||$500 - $1,000|
|250 sq. ft.||$1,250 - $2,500|
|500 sq. ft.||$2,500 - $5,000|
|1,000 sq. ft.||$5,000 - $10,000|
|2,000 sq. ft.||$10,000 - $20,000|
|3,000 sq. ft.||$15,000 - $30,000|
|4,000 sq. ft.||$20,000 - $40,000|
|5,000 sq. ft.||$25,000 - $50,000|
Plasterer Cost by Type
Different varieties of plaster have advantages and disadvantages. The variations in durability, style, cost, and ideal environments make understanding the characteristics of each a vital part of your decision. Another factor is the complexity of the product. Some plasters may require special training and experience to be installed properly. Homeowners should note the differences and choose wisely to receive the full benefit of your plaster.
|Plaster Type||Average Cost per sq. ft. (Including Labor)|
|Veneer||$5 - $10|
|Venetian||$5 - $15|
|Lime||$9 - $11|
|Gypsum||$10 - $11|
|Cement||$11 - $12|
|Acoustic||$13 - $14|
|Tadelakt||$15 - $16|
Veneer plaster price per square foot is $5 to $10. This construction methodology is the process of putting a thin veneer plaster over a substrate. The substrate most often used is gypsum or blue board. Veneer plaster is harder than drywall, so it eliminates problems such as dents or dings. It doesn’t show joints at all. It creates a great surface for paint to adhere smoothly and evenly. The only concern is that it must be installed correctly to ensure a long-lasting veneer plaster.
The Venetian plaster price per foot is $5 to $15. Venetian plaster is made with fired lime plaster. It was used in the ‘90s during the Tuscan movement. However, today’s Venetian plaster has been improved upon and has recently become popular when looking for a minimalist style. The difference between this plaster and others is there are no aggregates mixed with it. Traditional Venetian plaster has a shiny surface, while Marmorino plaster has more of a matte finish. It is a durable, low-maintenance product that is forgiving. Applying it is a complicated procedure that must be performed by someone who knows what they are doing.
Expect to pay around $9 to $11 for a square foot of this product. One of the best choices, lime plaster, is lightweight, flexible, and crack resistant. It is a mixture of hydrated lime, sand, and water. While lime plaster is breathable, it doesn’t work well in extremely damp environments. Application requires a talented, experienced plaster specialist. You will see it often in older homes due to its flexibility.
Gypsum plaster cost per square foot is $10 to $11. Gypsum plaster is an excellent choice as it is easy to install, does not require an extra finish, and provides good thermal insulation. It is stylish but also deters the spread of fire. On the con side, it doesn’t recover well from water damage, is less robust mechanically, and may be prone to rust due to steel corrosion.
The cost of cement plaster per square foot is $11 to $12. Cement plaster is a strong, easy to work with material. It works well in damp conditions. However, it isn’t flexible, so homes that are older or that are settling won’t fare as well and maybe prone to develop cracks in the plaster. It consists of a mixture of plaster, sand, cement, and water.
For acoustic plaster, expect to pay $13 to $14 a square foot. Acoustic plaster is mixed with cotton fibers to achieve its primary purpose of soundproofing. It is an easy install and produces a lovely finish that can be made to look like marble, stone, or cement. It works well as long as the humidity index isn’t above 70%. It doesn’t react well to water or leaks. Acoustic plaster is typically used for commercial buildings where soundproofing is required but could be used for a music or theater room in a house.
It is an expensive install at $15 to $16 per square ft with labor and materials. Originating in Moroccan architecture, Tadelakt is a lime-based product that is mixed with black soap from olives. The soap makes it waterproof and water-resistant. This unique blend makes tadelakt perfect for bathroom and kitchen applications. Though extremely durable, it has its drawbacks as it is challenging to repair and usually needs to be replaced if damaged.
Plastering Costs per Room
When determining costs, experts will include drop cloths, trowels, scaffolding rental, brushes, and other items. Often these items can be reused when doing an entire house. Thus, it may be more expensive per square foot to do one room versus an entire house. Additionally, some areas are harder to plaster or require a special kind of plaster, such as a waterproof or heat resistant type for the bathroom or kitchen. As with just about everything, buying in bulk is less expensive. Another thing to consider is that professionals sometimes have a minimum amount they want to make before committing to do a project. So, if you just do one or two rooms versus a whole house, the square footage price may go up. Garage, basements, and attics may end up costing more due to accessibility and the need for more finishing work.
|Room||Cost to Plaster per Square Foot (Including Labor)|
|Bedroom||$5 - $10|
|Living Room||$5 - $10|
|Kitchen||$10 - $15|
|Bathroom||$10 - $15|
|Garage||$10 - $30|
|Basement||$10 - $30|
|Attic||$10 - $30|
Cost to Plaster a Wall by Surface Type
Adding plaster over an existing wall has its advantages. Although it is an old form of design, plastering has become much more popular over exposed brick, paint, and wallpaper. Many professionals advise against plastering over wallpaper, but other surfaces are an excellent receiving platform. Plastering is a simpler process that allows for texture and interest. Exposed brick portrays a more industrial look, so those looking for a more minimalist style may prefer smoothed plaster. Painted walls give a light, airy look and can be problematic in high traffic areas or areas where children and pets are present. Plaster is a durable, low maintenance way to cover these types of walls.
|Surface Material||Cost per Square Foot (Including Labor)|
|Painted||$3.50 - $6|
|Brick||$3.50 - $6|
|Concrete||$3.50 - $6|
|Wood||$5 - $12|
|Breeze Block Wall||$6 - $8|
Plaster over a Painted Wall
The cost for plastering over a painted wall is $3.50 to $6. In general, if the paint is in good condition and isn’t cracked, peeling, or damaged in some way, you can put plaster over a painted wall. The painted wall should also be free of dust, dirt, or grease to allow the plaster to adhere properly. Additionally, the walls should be dry. If there are issues with the current paint, a professional should strip the paint before plastering.
Plaster on a Brick Wall
The cost to put plaster over brick interior is $3.50 to $6 per square foot. Although plastering over a brick wall is a fairly simple job, there is some extra preparation. The plaster should stick easily to the brick unless there is damage. The brick should be dusted with a brush to remove any dust or dirt and then thoroughly dampened to help the plaster stick.
Plaster over Concrete
The pricing for manufacturing an interior concrete plaster wall is $3.50 to $6 per square foot. Concrete, just like brick, is an ideal surface for adhering to plaster. As with brick, the concrete will need to be undamaged and clean of dirt and grime. Water should be applied to prepare the concrete to receive the plaster properly.
Plaster Over Wood
To apply plaster over wood, the cost is $5 to $12 per square foot. The main concern with plastering over wood is moisture. No water damage can be present that could grow mold or mildew when covered with plaster. Wood walls should be cleaned, sanitized, and completely dry before applying plaster. Additionally, a waterproof product should be applied to protect the wood from the moisture in the plaster. Some professionals advise against putting plaster over wood.
Plaster Breeze Block Wall
The cost for this process is $6 to $8 for a square foot. A breeze block wall is commonly seen in warmer climates like Florida. These walls are typically open style concrete blocks. This is to provide more of a “breeze” between buildings or on the side of a carport area. These are typically hollowed out bricks, so a bonding plaster will need to be added to the hollow area. Then, a finishing layer is added.
Plaster Removal Cost
In older homes, it may be necessary to remove plaster walls or ceilings. The biggest problem in removing old plaster is the possibility of the presence of asbestos. Asbestos is a very dangerous construction material used primarily before the1980s. The natural mineral is a carcinogen and causes mesothelioma, a deadly cancer. Only those with training and education in asbestos should remove plaster due to this risk. It is a messy job to remove plaster that creates lots of dust, and it is easy to inhale asbestos. Asbestos removal can be expensive. The average cost for removal starts at $400 to $500 and goes to as much as $10,000 for a more complicated project.
Plaster can become water damaged, cracked, buckled, bulging, or otherwise unusable. Remember that often the plaster can be repaired. This is always the best recourse. Plaster is thicker than many other types of walls and provides a natural acoustic barrier. It is also a major factor in the authenticity of historic homes. The cost to remove plaster walls is $2.10 to $3.20 per square foot.
Removing a plaster ceiling is slightly more expensive due to the nature of the work. It requires standing on a ladder or scaffolding with the neck and arms up for hours at a time. The cost to remove a plaster ceiling is $3.50 to $6.90 per square foot.
Skim Coat Plaster Cost
Skim coating is a type of plastering that consists of applying a thin layer of plaster. It can be done on an existing plaster wall to create a smoother finish. It can also be used to repair or cover drywall. Skim coating allows for a new look to your walls or ceilings. The average cost of skim coating is $.90 to $1.30 per square foot.
Skim Coat Ceiling
As with plastering, skim coating a ceiling is a difficult feat. A ladder or scaffolding is used to reach the ceiling. The process is the same as skim coating walls, but just more awkward. A ready-mix product may be used, and a smaller area completed at one time to avoid dripping before it dries. Skim coating a ceiling will allow for a smooth, uniform surface. The cost to skim a ceiling is slightly higher at $1.00 to $1.30 a square foot.
Skim Coat Walls
Skim coating walls is a little easier than ceilings. The walls need to be prepared first by repairing any dents, dings, or holes. A primer is applied and allowed to dry. Next, two thin layers are troweled onto the wall and smoothed out. Lastly, a finish is done--texture, paint, or other material. Skimming walls cost $.90 to $1.00 a square foot. Wall skimming costs may be higher if extensive repairs need to be done to existing walls.
Preparation of Surface for Plastering
Before you can start plastering, the surface where the plaster will be applied needs to be prepped. Prep work incurs an additional amount. The cost of plastering prep work varies based on the condition of the surface being plastered. Prep work includes sanding textured surfaces, moving furniture in rooms, filling holes in the wall, masking crown molding and switches and/or sockets with tape, and applying drywall mud and primer. The cost of plastering prep work ranges from $1 to $3 per sq. ft. and normally increases project costs by 10% to 30%.
Pros and Cons of Plaster Walls
Plaster walls have long been used in different types of housing but lost some popularity when drywall entered the industry. However, some pros and cons can be noted when choosing plaster walls instead of other choices such as drywall, wood, or brick. That is why plaster has regained marketability in the last several years.
A plaster wall is a stronger choice than drywall. The dents, dings, and nicks that come easily to drywall are not a problem with plaster. Additionally, plaster walls can be used to create a consistently flat wall. As a thicker application, plaster walls are better at thermal insulation and soundproofing. Your home will stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer while providing a quiet atmosphere. Plaster walls are believed to be more fire-resistant than drywall or wood.
One of the disadvantages of plaster is that you may have a poor Wi-Fi signal. Those strong walls that you love for aesthetic reasons are harder for a Wi-Fi signal to penetrate. Additionally, plaster walls are somewhat prone to cracking. Hanging up pictures and other decor is problematic.
One of the most interesting things about plaster walls is adding texture designs to create a unique, interesting wall. There are many different ways to produce these textures. While it may sound like an easy thing to do, it takes some artistic ability and knowledge about how the process works.
Dash plaster texturing makes the wall rough so keep that in mind. There are three types of dash plastering: fine, heavy, and knockdown. Fine dash texture is achieved by applying a fine mist of air pressure, heavy by using an even amount of air and product, and knockdown by using more product and less air.
Lace plaster gets its name from its look--a lacy one. This texture hides imperfections and looks lovely. It requires a base coat and then a texture coat. Most professionals offer a fine, medium, and coarse pattern.
Two-tone plaster is much like the Venetian plaster we mentioned earlier. The difference is that it uses two different colors to create a two-tone style. This plaster looks great for a dining room or hallway for more interest.
Available in fine, medium, or coarse, sand texture is perfect for a beach house or cottage as it mimics beach sand. This texture is the easiest to apply and can be done in one coat. A professional may prefer to trowel this texture on or spray it on and then trowel it.
Stucco plaster is a textured wall that looks very much like the stucco you see outside of houses. It is usually created with the use of a trowel and various swirled or looped patterns. Stucco plaster uses a lot of creative license, as there is no exact pattern.
Grooved plaster is constructed to look like bricks separated by grout. The surface is smooth except for the grooves made with a small tool to mimic the grout between the blocks. The effect is fairly easy to achieve, and the result is a stunning brick-like style without all the trouble of adding grout.
Finishes on plaster can change the entire feel of a home. Whether the finish is smooth, or rough, or somewhere in between, homeowners can obtain a distinctive design for any room. Finishes are often used to make a home appear more rustic, in the case of texture, or more simple, such as a smooth finish.
Pebble Dash Plaster Finish
This finish involves the plasterer adding pebbles or small stones to the plaster before it dries. Sometimes the pebbles are thrown at the wall or applied with a float or a texturing machine. This type of finish might be nice for a small cottage or beach house.
Spatter Dash Plaster
Spatter dash plaster is done by throwing the plaster onto the wall and using a stiff brush or whisk broom to pull the plaster into the pattern of the brushes. It results in a rough surface.
Applied in one coat of 12 mm, the depeter finish is a gravel finish. The gravel rocks are placed by hand in the wet plaster. This type of finish results in a rustic look suitable for a cabin or woodland cottage.
Smooth Plaster Finish
With this type of finish, the plaster is smoothed until the surface is free of roughness. This can sometimes be difficult to accomplish and requires a highly experienced plasterer. The plaster must be mixed with very fine-grained sand.
Sand Finish Plaster
This finish is applied in two coats. The first coat consists of one part cement and four parts sand mortar that is 12 mm in thickness. A zig-zag pattern is used to apply this coat. After a seven-day curing, the second coat goes on with a sponge. This mixture is 1:1 ratio at a thickness of 8 mm.
Cement Plaster Finish
Cement plaster is mortar mixed with cement, sand, and water. It is applied to the wall and can be smooth, rough, or textured.
Plaster cleaning is an important part of the maintenance of your walls. The surfaces will look better and last longer if void of dirt, dust, and stains. Plaster walls that are textured are sometimes difficult to clean. Although it may seem like a DIY project, it is wise to consider hiring a professional to clean your plaster walls. Some cleaning agents may contain products that can harm your plaster. An expert will know just the right thing to use. Special non-toxic but effective brands are often only available to professionals. The average cost of cleaning walls is $300 to $400 for the whole house.
Water-based plasters such as tadelakt should only be cleaned with soap and water. Earth plasters require no maintenance except to repair cracks or holes as they appear. Joint compound or plaster can be used to fill these areas and will blend nicely with the plaster. The cost of plaster repairs and maintenance is $50 to $120 per square foot.
Plaster vs Drywall Cost
Drywall is often the preferred material for new homes as it is a quicker and easier install for builders. Plaster is more labor-intensive and requires a more specialized technique. So, finding a talented plasterer may cost more. However, drywall isn’t practical for curved walls, so plaster is the better choice. Plaster can also be more aesthetically pleasing to provide certain textures or finishes not available in drywall. Both materials provide good insulation from heat or cold, especially because drywall is now available in various thicknesses. Older homes with existing plaster may not have sufficient insulation. Retrofitting those walls with insulation is a challenging feat. Both products allow for a long-lasting, durable finish. The cost difference is higher with drywall installation costs of $1.50 to $3.50 per square foot as opposed to plaster costs of $5 to $10 per square foot for labor and materials.
Spackle vs Plaster
Spackle is typically used for repairs to drywall and plaster walls. Plaster is only used on plaster walls. Spackle dries much quicker than plaster and can be used in a very thin layer. Plaster requires more dry time, a thicker application, and multiple layers that must dry in between applications. The cost for spackling is very low, $50 to $80 total, while plaster repairs are commonly $50 to $120 per square foot.
New Plaster vs Refinishing
Installing new plaster is significantly cheaper than resurfacing due to the extra preparation and restoration work needed before doing the new plaster overlay. If you are trying to decide between new or refinishing, consider the following pros and cons of each. Installing new plaster results in a more even finish and is less of a strain on the walls. It is also more durable. However, new plastering takes more time to install. Resurfacing is more expensive but requires less time. The disadvantages also include that it adds extra weight to walls and may not be as long-lasting. Replastering cost around $500 for a 100 sq. ft. surface. Resurfacing the same size will cost $1,000 or more.
Any plastering project involves some basic, conventional sub-tasks. First, the surface needs to be prepared for plaster. Next, any dust or mold must be removed. Third, the surface needs to be screeded for proper bonding. Once that is done, the mortar is prepared. Finally, the plaster is applied. However, for resurfacing, extra tasks are involved. They range from removing old plaster, which costs $2.10 to $3.20 per sq. ft. to repairing cracks and holes and tearing down and restructuring whole wall parts. The cost of resurfacing depends on the extent of the prep work and is usually above $10 per sq. ft. while new plastering averages around $5 to $10 per sq. ft.
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Painting over Plaster
You may want to paint your plastered walls or casing once they are dry. Painters charge around $40 to $75 per hour, and one painter can take one to two hours to paint a 100 sq. ft. wall at a total cost of $40 to $150.
It is wise to seal plaster before painting it. The sealant will make it less absorbent so that the paint will adhere more successfully. It is best to use a watered-down emulsion product to paint, but this can be messy unless you are familiar with how it works. Using a white topcoat may result in darker patches which have to be faded with a stain block. Although there are paints specifically geared to use on bare plaster, the costs can add up as they are expensive. The cost for the application of sealant is $1 per square foot.
Decorative or ornamental plaster is a specialty item used in plastering. Plastic is used to mold a design of your choosing and then applied to the wall. You may have seen such decorative plaster mouldings on cornices, arches, ceiling domes, fireplace surrounds, and more. Decorative plaster ceiling molds include roses, medallions, and rosettes. These unique additions will make an ordinary home unique. The average cost for these types of molds varies greatly based on the intricacy of the design and the size. A fairly detailed cornice would run you around $1.50 per square foot.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- The location of the area you are having plastered 2 may affect its cost. Interior walls are usually less expensive than external areas, as workers don’t have to struggle with unpredictable weather. Outdoor plastering costs around 5 to 8% more than indoor plastering for this reason. Exterior plastering is $6 to $8 per square foot.
- When plastering unfinished rooms, the final surface needs to be finished. An extra 10% labor cost should be added for the extra time in unfinished rooms.
- When plastering a room already in use, extra costs can also be expected, especially if the room is filled with furniture or other objects that the plasterer needs to move around. However, the owner can reduce this cost by moving objects himself/herself or pay an additional 2% to 5% in labor costs.
- Deciding whether to repair or replace plaster is based on the amount of work and cost involved. Small cracks or holes are easy and inexpensive to repair. A crack or hole can be fixed with plaster that is smoothed, primed, and painted. The average plaster repair cost is $50 to $120 per square foot.
- Plastering a pool is an option instead of painting it. Pool plaster is a long-lasting, durable product. You can expect a plaster pool to last about 15 to 20 years, while a painted pool needs to be repainted every two to seven years, depending on the product used. The cost for plastering is around $5,500 vs pool painting at approximately $1,500.
- As mentioned above, DIY plaster removal or repairs can be dangerous to your health due to a product called asbestos used in plaster and other construction materials prior to the 1980s. It was unknown at that time that the mineral was a carcinogen. The plaster asbestos dust produced should be handled by a professional who has had asbestos handling training.
- Are plaster walls expensive?
Plaster walls are more expensive than drywall. Drywall costs $1.50 to $3.50 per square foot, while plaster walls are $5 to $10 per square foot.
- What are the disadvantages of using plaster?
The disadvantages of using plaster for your walls or ceiling are the cost and the time it takes. Plaster application is also a messier process. Additionally, plaster walls often block Wi-Fi signals, and hanging things such as pictures or decor is more difficult due to the hardness of the surface.
- How much does it cost to skim coat plaster?
The cost for skim coat plastering is $.90 to $1.30 a square foot.
- How do you treat mold on plaster walls?
To treat mold on plaster walls, they should be cleaned first with a non-ammonia based soap and water. Then, use a mixture of 1 cup of bleach in a gallon of water.
- Does plaster crack with age?
Hairline cracks are normal in plaster. When you begin to see multiple cracks that are large, discoloration, bubbling, bulging, or a convergence of cracks headed in one direction, that is when you have to worry. This can mean settling has occurred.
- How much does it cost to plaster a ceiling?
The cost to plaster a ceiling is a little more than a wall at $300 to $800. The actual cost will depend on the size and height of the room.
- How much does it cost to plaster a wall?
The cost to plaster a wall starts at $100. More expensive types of walls that are curved can run as much as $1,000.
- Can you plaster over a painted wall?
If the paint is in good condition with no peeling, bubbling, or water damage, plaster can be installed over it.