71. Hiding all manner of sins

I've started plastering.

8th May 2015

I plastered my first wall today. Fortunately it's the one at the back of our main living space with a very big window and a door in it, so I was able to complete the initial skim coat with one bucket of plaster, just in time to start the flattening, followed by the wet trowel. That's the thing about plastering: you have to work fast to prevent the initial slap-on coat from drying out before it can be coaxed into a lovely smooth finish.

I am a novice at plastering, though I did complete a two-weekend course at the Builder Training Centre in Croydon recently, which gave me the confidence to have a go and not fiddle about. You have to go for it: big strokes first, filling the space, pulling away from the edges, and getting a good overall covering. Then the flattening,which involves going over everything again when it is just tacky, smoothing out the lumps. Then the wet trowel which is the final finish, though a sponge can help here too.

Fortunately, last week I was able to revise my plastering knowledge before picking up my trowel and hawk as Szymon, our ever-helpful electrician, transmogrified into an expert plasterer. He completed the entire ground floor ceiling on his own, which is pretty good going. Here you can see him applying the initial coat and at work with the wet trowel.

Plastering is hard work and messy but also quite satisfying. It's pretty obvious why: all the joins and repairs and clumsy junctions in the plasterboard suddenly disappear behind a fine, unbroken, unblemished finish. It's the kind of thing we wish we could do with our lives, a plenary indulgence enacted with bucket and trowel. I still have quite a few walls to go; by the time I'm finished I will be filthy and tired but hopefully redeemed.

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