How Much to Plaster a Room

Plaster is one of the most common forms of interior décor and finishing in a house. It is used to create plain, smooth surfaces for door surrounds, windows, and walls.

The cost of plastering a room is based on the area to be covered. The cost for each square foot increases with how difficult it is to access and height of the wall. Difficult to reach areas may cost up to 50% above normal rates.

The surface that needs plastering needs to be prepared before the plaster is applied. This is an additional cost. The cost of preparing the area varies and is determined by the surface to be plastered.

Prep work includes:

  • Application of drywall primer and mud
  • Masking socket and/or switches with tape and crown molding
  • Filling holes in the wall
  • Moving furniture
  • Sanding textured surfaces

The cost of plastering prep work ranges from $1 to $3 per square foot. Normally it increases project costs by 10% – 30%.

Resurfacing Versus New Installation

how much to plaster
A worker smoothing out a newly plastered wall

Resurfacing is significantly more expensive than installing new plaster. This is due to the extra restoration and preparation work required before installing the new plaster overlay.

New plaster goes for approximately $800 for 100 square foot surface. Resurfacing of the same size costs a minimum of $1,200.

Any plastering project involves other tasks such as:

  • Preparing the mortar
  • Screeding the surface for bonding
  • Removing deleterious materials such as mold and dust
  • Preparing the surface

When it comes to resurfacing, extra tasks are involved. For starters, removing old plaster costs $2 – $3 per square foot.

Other tasks include restructuring and tearing down whole walls and repairing holes and cracks. Resurfacing typically costs $10 or more per square foot. New plastering averages about $2 – $10 per square foot.

The table shows a summary of the costs, pros, and cons associated with the application of new plaster and resurfacing.

Type of plasterProsConsCost
New plaster
  • Has a more even finish
  • More durable
  • Does not add weight to the structure
Takes more time to accomplish$2 to $10 per square foot
Resurfacing
  • Saves time
  • Saves the cost of removing old plaster
  • Adds extra loads to other surfaces and walls
  • Does not last as long as new plaster
$10 per square foot or more

Types of Plaster

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A plasterer applying a new coat of plaster.

The cost of plastering is determined by the type of materials used. Wet plaster is mostly made up of cement and lime mixed with sand and water to standard consistency. They cost an average of $5 to $10 per square feet.

On the other hand, drywall is mostly in gypsum, pre-built panels. They line the walls of a house and cost an average of $2 to $5 for each square foot.

Calcined gypsum (plaster of Paris) or POP, can be used to mold and stylize shapes to decorate a house in many styles. Take note this only works when it is mixed with water.

The cost of POP is a minimum of $3 per square foot. The cost goes up depending on the decoration.

The following table is a summary of the prices, pros, and cons of different plaster materials:

MaterialProsConsPrices
Gypsum
  • Has a high decorative value
  • Deters spread of fire
  • Good thermal insulation
  • No extra finish required
  • Prone to rust from steel corrosion
  • Not resistant to water damage
  • Less mechanically robust
$2 to $5 per square foot
Lime
  • Lighter than cement
  • Walls don’t crack
  • Flexible
  • Allows moisture to pass through
  • High expertise required to install
  • Can’t be used in moist areas
  • Not recommended for exterior plasters
$5 to $6 per square foot
Cement
  • Easy to work with
  • A high rate of strength development
  • Hard to spread on walls or lath
  • Possesses internal stresses that develop cracks
$4 to $5 per square foot

Labor

The plaster application is done by plaster professionals. DIY of a plaster project is not recommended.

The plasterer will start by taping any joints on the drywall. They will follow by giving these joints a skim coat of plaster. The purpose of a skim coat is to offer a flush surface to work on.

Plaster dries quickly. The plasterer will trowel the plaster onto the walls quickly using even, smooth strokes.

A typical wall cures within an hour. During this time, plaster needs to be applied, smooth out to an even, flat finish without blemishes, and cut into the edges. The majority of plasters charge a rate of $2 to $10 for each square foot.

Cleaning

There are precautions required when clearing waste from lath or plaster that has been removed. To cut project costs, a homeowner can remove the waste on their own.

Professionals are recommended especially when toxic compounds such as asbestos aggregates are in the plaster. You will need professionals if the plaster was coated with lead paint. Professional plaster waste removal services can set you back 3% to 5% of the total project cost.

You should sheet with plastic boards to cover all openings. This move will prevent the spread of dust to other rooms. Any debris needs to be lightly sprayed with water to make sure dust doesn’t rise.

Improvement and Enhancement Costs

Paint

Once the casing or plastered wall is dry, you may want to paint it. Painters usually charge $20 to $35 an hour. It takes one painter approximately 2 hours to paint 100 square feet of wall. This means the total cost for every 100 square feet should not exceed $70.

Finishes

Finish work may increase the cost of plastering a room. Various styles and textures can be used to finish a plastered surface. Examples include fine sand, two-tone, lace, and dash. Finishing usually costs between $1 and $3 per square foot.

Additional Costs and Considerations

Location

The cost of plastering may be affected by the location of the area you want to be plastered. External areas are more expensive than interior walls.

One of the reasons for higher costs is workers do not have to struggle with complications such as unpredictable weather. Expect to pay 5% to 8% more for outdoor plastering.

High Walls

Plastering a high wall includes the installation of scaffolding and extra labor. The rate of work is also slower. This results in a higher cost or quote than work on low-level walls. The cost of plastering walls that require scaffolding is about 20% higher than normal walls.

Removing Old Plaster

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A plasterer removing tiles and old plaster form a wall

Normally, additional costs for removing unwanted and old plaster are included in the project. The average cost is $2 to $3 per square foot.

Unfinished Rooms

The final surface of an unfinished room needs to be finished before plastering can begin. It requires an extra labor cost of 10% for the extra time spent on unfinished rooms.

Rooms Currently in Use

Extra costs are to be expected when you plaster a room already in use. This is because the plasterer will need to move around furniture and other objects in the room.

The owner can reduce the cost by moving objects and furniture by herself/himself. Alternatively, they can pay an additional 2% to 5% to the plasterer to do the work.

Conclusion

Plastering a room is not a small project. Make sure you consider all these factors before you start. This way, you can avoid spending more than you can afford.

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