What is Spray Plaster?

Spray plaster, a relatively new addition to the world of plastering, has become increasingly popular amongst professional contractors and DIY enthusiasts alike. But what exactly is it, and how does it differ from traditional methods? This guide will delve into the world of spray plaster, explaining its benefits, applications, and the process itself, all tailored for our UK readers.

Traditional Plaster vs. Spray Plaster: A Tale of Two Techniques

For decades, the standard method of achieving a smooth, level finish on walls and ceilings involved manual application of plaster using a trowel. This time-tested technique, while effective, can be labour-intensive and requires a skilled hand to achieve a flawless result.

Spray plaster, on the other hand, offers a modern approach. It utilises a specialised machine to apply a pre-mixed plaster compound onto the surface. This method boasts several advantages:

  • Speed and Efficiency: Spray plaster application is significantly faster than traditional methods. Professionals can achieve a smooth finish on large areas in a fraction of the time compared to manual application. This translates to quicker project completion and potentially lower costs, especially for larger jobs.

  • Uniformity: The machine ensures a consistent application of the plaster, minimising the risk of uneven patches or trowel marks that can sometimes occur with manual techniques. This leads to a more professional-looking finish.

  • Reduced Waste: Pre-mixed spray plaster minimises the chance of mixing errors and reduces the amount of leftover material that goes to waste. This can be a significant advantage for smaller projects.

  • Lightweight Material: Spray plaster formulations tend to be lighter than traditional plaster, reducing the overall weight placed on walls and ceilings. This can be particularly beneficial in older properties or for specific applications.

  • Less Mess: The spraying process itself creates minimal mess compared to manual plastering. Dust and splatter are contained within the machine, making cleanup considerably easier.

Is Spray Plaster Right for Your Project?

While spray plaster offers numerous benefits, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Here are some factors to consider before deciding if it’s the right choice for your project:

  • Project Size: Spray plaster shines on larger surfaces. For smaller areas, the time saved with spraying might be negligible compared to the setup and cleaning involved.

  • Surface Condition: While spray plaster can be used on various surfaces, uneven walls with significant dips or cracks might require additional work before spraying to achieve a smooth finish.

  • DIY Expertise: While some pre-mixed spray plaster products cater to DIY enthusiasts, operating the spraying machine itself requires a certain level of skill and knowledge. For complex projects or those lacking experience, hiring a professional plasterer with spray expertise might be a safer option.

The Lowdown on Spray Plaster Products in the UK

Several reputable brands offer spray plaster in the UK market. These products typically come pre-mixed in bags or buckets and are formulated for use with spray machines. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect:

  • Product Availability: Look for reputable plastering suppliers who stock spray plaster products compatible with your chosen spraying machine.

  • Mix Design: Spray plaster formulations are designed for specific applications, such as walls or ceilings. Ensure you choose the appropriate product for your project.

  • Drying Times: Drying times for spray plaster can vary depending on the brand and the thickness applied. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for accurate drying times before sanding or painting.

Spray Plastering Your Walls: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re a confident DIYer and have decided to tackle a spray plastering project, here’s a basic step-by-step guide to get you started. Remember, this is a simplified overview, and professional guidance is always recommended for complex projects.

Preparation is Key:

  1. Clear the Workspace: Remove all furniture and belongings from the room to create ample working space.

  2. Protect the Surroundings: Use dust sheets and masking tape to meticulously cover floors, skirting boards, doorways, windows, and any fixtures you don’t want plastered.

  3. Prepare the Surface: Ensure the wall or ceiling you’re plastering is clean, dry, and free of dust, grease, or flaking paint. Fill any significant cracks or holes with a suitable filler material and allow it to dry completely.

Spray Plaster Application:

  1. Assemble the Spray Machine: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for setting up your chosen spray plaster machine. Ensure all hoses and connections are secure to avoid leaks or blockages.

  2. Pre-mix the Plaster (if applicable): Some spray plaster products might require mixing with water before loading them into the machine. Refer to the specific product instructions for mixing ratios.

  3. Practice Makes Perfect: Before tackling the walls or ceiling, it’s highly recommended to practice using the spray machine on a spare piece of plasterboard or cardboard. This will allow you to get comfortable with the machine’s controls, spray pattern, and material flow.

  4. Start Spraying: Once confident with the machine, begin applying the plaster in a smooth, sweeping motion. Maintain a consistent distance from the surface and avoid over-applying the material in one go. It’s better to build up thin layers progressively than risk creating drips or sags.

  5. Maintaining a Smooth Finish: Use a levelling tool, such as a hawk or a wide trowel, to smooth out the applied plaster immediately after spraying. A straight edge, like a spirit level, can also be helpful to ensure a level finish.

  6. Multiple Coats: Depending on the condition of the underlying surface and the desired level of finish, you might need to apply multiple thin coats of spray plaster. Allow each coat to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions before applying the next.

Finishing Touches:

  1. Sanding: Once the final coat of spray plaster is fully dry, use a fine-grit sandpaper to eliminate any minor imperfections or unevenness on the surface. A sanding block will help achieve a smooth finish.

  2. Cleaning Up: Turn off the machine and thoroughly clean it following the manufacturer’s guidelines. This will prevent the build-up of dried plaster material which can hinder future use.

  3. Disposal: Dispose of any leftover spray plaster and used cleaning materials responsibly, following local regulations.

Safety Precautions:

Spray plastering can be a messy process, so prioritizing safety is paramount. Here are some essential precautions to take:

  • Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Always wear safety glasses, a dust mask, and gloves when handling spray plaster and operating the machine.

  • Proper Ventilation: Ensure adequate ventilation in the workspace to avoid inhaling plaster dust. Open windows and doors whenever possible, and consider using a ventilation fan.

  • Electrical Safety: Double-check all electrical connections on the spray machine before use, and ensure the machine is properly grounded.

  • Read the Manual: Thoroughly read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions for both the spray plaster product and the spraying machine before starting your project.


Spray plaster offers a compelling alternative to traditional plastering techniques, particularly for larger projects. Its speed, efficiency, and ability to achieve a smooth finish make it an attractive option for both DIY enthusiasts and professional contractors alike. However, carefully consider the project requirements, your DIY expertise, and the necessary safety precautions before embarking on a spray plastering project.

For complex jobs or those lacking experience, consulting a qualified plasterer with expertise in spray application is always recommended. With the right preparation, tools, and a touch of practice, spray plastering can be a rewarding way to achieve a professional-looking finish on your walls and ceilings.