what is a plasterer?

A plasterer is a skilled tradesperson who specialises in mixing plaster for interior and exterior walls to cover exposed surfaces of a building. Your job is to add a thin cover of cement mortar to seal the walls. The layer of plaster also soundproofs and fireproofs houses.

Aside from improving the functionality of the building, you also add a decorative effect to the walls and ceilings. Your role is crucial in the finishing process since it makes the building habitable.

what does a plasterer do?

As a plasterer, you work with various materials to achieve the desired effect, since each material produces a unique appearance. Interior and exterior wall items include gypsum, lime, sand, cement and clay. Before applying the plaster, you mix the dry materials with water to create a paste that will stick to the walls.

The materials you use usually depend on the client or the construction manager. With dry lining becoming quite popular, you need to be familiar with drywalls and wet plastering.

Working as a plasterer often requires various tools for mixing the plaster and trowels to smoothen the surfaces. If you are plastering high walls, you need scaffolds and a hawk to lift the plaster along the wall as you apply. You need to be physically fit and familiar with the tools of the trade to take on professional projects.

Would working as a plasterer suit your eye for design and creative touch? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a plasterer role.

plasterer jobs

average salary of a plasterer

According to National Careers, the average plasterer’s starting salary in the UK is £19,000 per year. When you are experienced, your earnings could increase to £34,000 per year. You can also earn hourly or weekly wages, depending on the project and your level of experience.

Some companies have end-of-year bonuses and overtime pay for working evenings and weekends. Other employers reward workers with monetary and non-monetary benefits like medical insurance schemes and contributions to pension funds.

how can I increase my salary as a plasterer?

As a plasterer, your earnings often depend on various factors like location, employer and the scope of your role. In urban areas with large construction projects, plasterers are in high demand to finish new housing developments and repair historic sites. Hence, the compensation package reflects the demand and the cost of living.

Areas with minimal building projects have a low demand for plasterers, and the salary is low. When you are employed by a contractor for residential buildings, your earnings will be less than a plasterer working on commercial construction projects.

While becoming a plasterer doesn't require high academic qualifications, your experience and skills determine your earning potential. As your experience increases, your compensation package also reflects the transferable skills.


types of plasterers

Some of the types of plasterers include:

  • solid plasterer: as a solid plasterer, you apply wet finishes to surfaces and smoothen them to insulate the walls. Your job is to add a protective cover on external walls like sand or cement render and pebble-dash. A solid plasterer can work on a new building or restoration work like removing old plaster and replacing it with a new layer.
  • fibrous plasterer: as a fibrous plasterer, you use moulds, panelling and centre roses to produce ornamental shapes on your plasterwork. Your job is to create decorative plasterwork using short fibres and plaster mixture based on artist drawings or architectural designs.
  • dry lining plasterer: as a dry lining plasterer, you create the internal wallboard partitions and plasterboards. You also prepare them for decorations by fastening them on a metal frame. 

working as a plasterer

duties and responsibilities

  • estimating the materials necessary for a project: as a plasterer, it is crucial to inspect the project site and the height of the walls that need plaster. You can determine the amount of plaster required from the wall materials and measurements and estimate the cost. Most walls require two coats of plaster but, if the surfaces are uneven, you may apply four coats. Don't forget to incorporate the cost of coverings for external walls.
  • preparing surfaces for plastering: before a plasterer can start plastering, it is vital to design the interior and external walls. Remove any rough particles since uneven surfaces require extra coats of plaster. If the ceiling is too smooth, use a scratcher for the first coat to stick with minimal effort. You can also put a wire mesh on the wall to ensure that the plaster stays in place.
  • mixing and applying plaster: when you complete the preparations, it's time to mix the plaster and stucco to the desired consistency. Usually, the site manager will recommend the look that they want to achieve for all walls and ceilings. It is crucial to work fast when applying the wet finish since it dries quickly. Ensure that you use trowels to spread plaster on solid surfaces faster and produce a high-quality finish. You can also create decorative textures or patterns using the trowel.
  • adding protective coverings to walls: after creating textured or smooth surfaces, you need to add sealants or waxes to keep the finish smooth. External walls need cement render, sand or pebble-dash to protect the plaster.
  • handling repairs and renovation projects: as a plasterer, you do repairs and home renovations. That involves removing old plaster or adding a new layer with decorative elements. You can also work on historic buildings to conserve the old plasterwork.
  • creating ornamental plasterwork: a plasterer makes decorative plasterwork using fibres and plaster. Once you finish moulding and casting the plaster at the workshop, you can fix the panels or plasterwork on site.
  • installing insulation systems: some construction projects require the installation of prefabricated insulation on external walls. The exterior insulation boosts insulation, and you can cast ornamental designs on the surface to improve its appearance.

work environment

As a plasterer, you will work indoors and outdoors, depending on the project. Plastering interior walls and ceilings requires working indoors, while exterior walls are plastered outside. You have to climb high walls using scaffolding and ladders when applying plaster.

The work environment is often dusty and messy when mixing the plastering materials. Hence, you need to wear protective equipment like overalls, gloves, safety glasses, face masks and hard hats. A solid plasterer works at a construction site, while fibrous plasterers work on-site or at a workshop.

who are your colleagues?

As a plasterer, your colleagues may include architects, interior designers and cost estimators. The interior designer helps you to create the best texture to improve a house's functionality, while architects assist in making the best ornamental pieces that enhance the aesthetics of a building. You may also work closely with site managerscarpenters and other specialists, including construction managers, project managers and contractors.

work schedule

A plasterer’s working hours range from 43 to 45 hours a week. Your standard workday runs from 8am to 6pm but sometimes you have to work evenings. When you are on a deadline, you work weekends and public holidays.

Most employers provide full-time opportunities but you can find part-time work on small projects. Some contractors also hire on a contract basis. You also have to travel from one construction site to another – for instance, fibrous plasterers alternate between the workshop and the site.

job outlook

Becoming a plasterer is a fulfilling career with exciting options for career progression. As a plasterer, you can grow your career in the construction industry. Some plasterers progress to supervisory roles like site manager or construction manager.

It is also possible to become a cost estimator or interior designer. Alternatively, explore different specialisms in plastering like fibrous or dry lining. When you have many years of experience, you can explore self-employment opportunities.

advantages of finding a plasterer job through Randstad

Finding your plasterer job through Randstad provides important advantages such as:

Want a permanent contract? A temporary job as a plasterer is often a stepping stone to an attractive permanent job. Every year, thousands of people earn a permanent contract with great employers thanks to a temporary job found through Randstad. What's more, many companies recruit their permanent employees through Randstad, too


education and skills

How to become a plasterer in the UK and how long it takes:

  • college: most colleges and training providers offer plastering courses like Level 3 Advanced Technical Diploma in plastering[GG1] . If you have no experience or knowledge of plastering, the Level 2 Diploma in plastering or the Level 1 Award in Construction Skills would be a good place to start. When you finish your qualifications, you should find an internship with an established plasterer to gain practical skills in the profession.
  • apprenticeship: pursuing an apprenticeship is an excellent way to become a plasterer. The intermediate plastering apprenticeship covers coursework and 30 hours a week of on-the-job training. It takes about two years to finish the apprenticeship, and you can progress to a Level 3 Diploma.

skills and competencies

Plasterers need the following skills and competencies:

  • physical stamina: being a plasterer involves a lot of manual work like lifting items and climbing scaffolds. Hence, you should be physically fit to withstand being on your feet for hours, stretching and bending.
  • eye for design: as a plasterer, you need artistic skills to create decorative textures or ornamental pieces from plaster. Your creativity and eye for design can transform a bland wall into a masterpiece.
  • maths skills: as a plasterer, you need mathematical skills to estimate the costs of the materials. Mixing plaster and stucco also involves calculations to measure the ratios and ensure perfect consistency.


FAQs about working as a plasterer

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