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
Third Plastering Day by Brett and Sue Coulstock / CC BY 2.0 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 plaster||Pros||Cons||Cost|
||Takes more time to accomplish||$2 to $10 per square foot|
||$10 per square foot or more|
Types of Plaster
Makeover 8 by Robert Wallace / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 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.
There are different varieties of plaster available, and they all come with different disadvantages and advantages. The style, durability, ideal environments, and cost all factor in, and it makes it difficult to understand each one. Another factor that plays in is the project’s complexity, and some plasters may require that the contractor has special training and more experience to install them correctly. The following will outline the benefits, drawbacks, and average price of each type of plaster.
Acoustic Plaster Price
Acoustic plaster will cost between $13.00 and $14.00 a square foot. This plaster comes mixed with cotton fibers in it, and this helps it to be more soundproof. Additionally, it’s relatively easy to install, and you get a very pretty finish that can mimic the look of stone, marble, or cement. This makes it easy to tie into your marble countertops. It works wonderfully as long as your average humidity index doesn’t exceed 70%, and it doesn’t react well to leaks or water. You’ll typically see this installed in commercial buildings where they require soundproofing, but it’s also popular for a theatre or music room in the house.
Cement Plaster Price
Cement plaster will cost you between $11.00 and $12.00 a square foot. Cement plaster is very easy to work with and strong. It does well with damp conditions, but it isn’t flexible. So, if your home is settling or older, this plaster won’t do as well, and it can develop cracks. It uses water, cement, sand, and plaster in the makeup, so it can last a decent while.
Gypsum Plaster Price
You’ll pay between $10.00 and $11.00 a square foot for Gypsum plaster. It’s a fantastic choice because it doesn’t require an extra finish, is easy to install, and it gives you excellent insulation. It’s stylish while deterring fire spread if you were to have one. However, it won’t recover well from any water damage, it’s prone to rust because of steel corrosion, and it’s less mechanically robust than other options.
Lime Plaster Price
This plaster runs between $9.00 and $11.00 a square foot. It’s one of the best choices for plaster available on the current market, and it’s flexible, lightweight, and resistant to cracks. It uses a mixture of water, sand, and lime in the makeup, but applying it requires an experienced, talented plaster contractor. It’s common in older homes because it’s flexible, and white lime plaster is breathable. Don’t put it up in very damp environments because it won’t last well.
Tadelakt is a more expensive option at $15.00 to $16.00 a square foot for materials and labor. It originated from Moroccan architecture, and this is a lime-based plaster that gets mixed with black soap that comes from olives. The soap works to make it water-resistant and waterproof, and this makes this unique plaster a great choice for your kitchen or bathroom. Even though it’s very durable, one major drawback is that it’s very difficult to repair. If you damage it, you’ll most likely have to replace the whole piece instead of patching it.
Veneer Plaster Cost
Veneer plaster will run between $5.00 and $10.00 a square foot. You put it up by applying very thin veneer plaster over a thicker substrate. The substrate is usually blue board or gypsum. This type of plaster is harder than traditional drywall, so it gets rid of the problems with dings and dents. It also doesn’t show joints to give you a great surface for any paint you apply to go on smoothly and evenly. It does have to be installed correctly for it to last longer, so you will need a professional.
Venetian Plaster Cost
This plaster starts at $5.00 and goes up to $15.00 a square foot. It is made using fired lime plaster, and it was very popular for the Tuscan movement in the 1990s. However, it has been improved upon in recent years to make it very popular for the minimalist design style. There are no aggregates mixed in, and this sets it apart from other plaster. Traditional plaster in this style comes with a shiny surface, but the Marmorino plaster gives a matte finish. It’s low-maintenance, durable, and extremely forgiving. However, applying this plaster is very complicated, and you need an experienced contractor to come in and do it for you.
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.
Big Areas by Gnomedude / CC BY 2.0 You will have to work slower when you work with plaster, and this can cause your project to drag out for several days while influencing your labor costs.
Cost to Plaster a Wall by Surface Type
If you want to add plaster over an existing wall, it has several advantages. Plastering has become immensely popular over paint, exposed brick, or wallpaper today. Many contactors will advise against applying plaster over wallpaper, but other surfaces form a solid platform for your plaster. It gives you interest and texture to your space.
On the other hand, exposed brick is a more industrial design. So, those who want a chic and minimalist style to match their modern bathrooms or decor can use smoothed plaster to pull it all together. Painting it gives it a very airy and light look, but this can be problematic in any high traffic areas. So, plaster is a go-to.
Plastering Over a Painted Wall
To apply plaster over a painted wall, you’ll pay between $3.50 and $6.00 a square foot. Generally speaking, as long as your paint isn’t in bad conditions, peeling, or cracked, you can apply plaster directly over it without a problem. Before you do this, you want to ensure that the paint has absolutely no dirt, dust, or grease buildup on it so the plaster adheres to the surface correctly. The walls should also be 100% dry. If there are issues with the paint, you will want to strip it before applying the plaster to ensure a smooth finished product.
Plastering on a Brick Wall
You‘ll pay between $3.50 and $6.00 a square foot to apply plaster to a brick wall. Applying plaster over brick is fairly straightforward and simple, it does involve extra preparation. You want the plaster to stick easily to your brick surface, and it will, unless the brick has damage on it. You want to dust your brick with a brush to get rid of any dirt or dust before you start, and you should dampen it thoroughly to help the plaster adhere better.
Plastering over Concrete
Per square foot, the cost to create an interior concrete wall out of plaster will range from $3.50 to $6.00. Concrete is an ideal surface for plaster, just like brick is. You’ll need to make sure your concrete is free of dust and grime before you apply the plaster, and it should also be undamaged in any way. You should apply water to the concrete to dampen it before applying the plaster so it sticks better.
Plastering Over Wood
Plastering over wood is more expensive at $5.00 to $12.00 a square foot. The biggest concern with this project is the moisture levels. You can’t have any water damage at all in the wood because this can allow mildew or mold to grow under the plaster. You want to clean, sanitize, and completely dry any wooden walls before you apply the plaster. You should also add a waterproof sealant to protect the wood from the plaster’s moisture. Some contractors will try to talk you out of applying your plaster over wood.
Plastering a Breeze Block Wall
Plastering over a breeze block wall starts at $6.00 a square foot and goes up to $8.00 per square foot. You’ll typically see a breeze block wall in warmer climates, and they usually feature open-style concrete blocks. This design gives you more of a breeze between two buildings or in a carport area. The bricks are usually hollowed out, so you’ll need to add a bonding plaster to the hollowed out area before adding a finishing layer.
Routine Plaster Maintenance and Cleaning Costs
Cleaning your plaster is important for maintaining them. The plaster will look much better and last longer if you get rid of dust, dirt, and stains regularly. It can be challenging to clean textured plaster walls. So, even though this may seem like a project you can DIY, you should consider hiring a professional to take it on for you. Some cleaning agents can have chemicals in them that can damage the plaster, and a cleaning expert will know which things you can use. Only professionals will be able to get special non-toxic but very effective cleaning product brands. For the whole house, you’ll typically pay between $300 and $400 to clean the plaster.
You should only use soap and water to clean any water-based plaster types like Tadelakt. You won’t have to worry about maintaining each-based plasters except to repair holes or cracks as you see them. You can fill in these areas with joint compound, and it’ll blend nicely into the plaster. Per square foot, simple maintenance and repairs cost between $50.00 and $120.
Plaster Removal Cost
080700_082550 by Remixing Çatalhöyük / CC BY-NC 2.0 Removing plaster can be a very labor-intensive and time-consuming process to take on. However, it’s critical that you call in a professional in case you have asbestos hiding behind the wall.
You may have to remove plaster ceilings or walls in older homes. The biggest issue with removing older plaster is that there could be asbestos behind it. THis is a very dangerous material that was used for insulation through the 1980s. It’s a natural mineral, but it’s also a carcinogen, and it can cause a deadly cancer called mesothelioma. This is why only people who have the experience and training should attempt to remove plaster from your home. Also, this is a messy project that can create a lot of dust and make it very easy to accidentally inhale asbestos.
If the contractor finds asbestos in your home when they’re removing the plaster, it can be very challenging to remove. The average removal cost for asbestos starts at $400 to $500, but the cost can quickly exceed $10,000 if it’s more complicated and dangerous.
Plaster can crack, obtain water damage, bulg, buckle, or become unusable. However, you want to remember that you can typically repair your plaster, and this is usually the best option. Plaster gives you a natural acoustic barrier since it’s thicker than other wall types. Plaster is also a big factor in ranking a home’s authenticity. To remove plaster from your walls, you’ll pay between $2.10 and $3.20 a square foot.
If you want to remove a plaster ceiling, this is more expensive because it’s more complicated. The contactor will have to stand on scaffolding or a ladder with their arms up for hours at a time. So, you can expect to pay between $3.50 and $7.00 a square foot for this project.
Comparing the Prices of Plaster vs Drywall
Drywall is typically the preferred material people go with for their new homes because it’s easier and quicker for the building teams to install. Plaster requires a more specialized technique and it’s more labor-intensive. So, finding a contractor for plaster can be more expensive. However, drywall doesn’t work well on curved walls, so this is where you’d want plaster. Plaster can also be much more aesthetically-pleasing, and it can give you specific finishes and textures that you can’t get with drywall.
Both drywall and plaster will give you good insulation from the cold or heat, especially because you can now get drywall in various thicknesses. Older homes that have plaster might not have good enough insulation, and retrofitting these walls is an expensive process. Both products give you a very durable and long-lasting finish. The cost difference comes down to installation. Drywall typically ranges from $1.50 to $3.50 per square foot where plaster is between $5.00 and $10.00 per square foot. These costs include both labor and materials.
Comparing the Prices of Spackle vs Plaster
You’ll typically use spackle to plaster walls and repair drywall. You’ll only use plaster on plaster walls. Spackle tends to dry much quicker than plaster, and you can spread it out into an extremely thin layer. Plaster needs more drying time, multiple layers, a thicker application, and time to dry between each layer. Spackling will cost between $50.00 to $80.00 a square foot, and plaster is between $50.00 and $120 a square foot.
Improvement and Enhancement Costs
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
You should seal your plaster before you paint it. The sealant will help to make the plaster less absorbent so that the paint sticks better. You should try to use a watered-down emulsion product when you paint, but this can be very messy unless you’ve done it before. If you use a white topcoat, you could end up with darker patches that you’ll have to use a stain block to fade. There are paints that you can use specifically for plaster, but they are expensive so the costs can add up very fast. Per square foot, you’ll pay around $1.00 to apply sealant.
Ornamental or decorative plastering is a specialty term. The contractor will use a mold to apply your chosen design to the wall. You could have seen this done on arches, cornices, fireplace surrounds, or on ceiling domes. The decorative plaster ceiling molds include rosettes, medallions, and roses, and they’re very unique additions that can boost your decor.
The average cost will vary with a large fluctuation depending on how intricate your design is, and how large it is. If you wanted a very finely detailed cornice in your home, you’d pay around $1.50 a square foot.
Cheat Sheet for Remodeling Terms
When you talk about plastering a room, there are a few terms you should know to help avoid confusion. They include:
- Asbestos – This is a fire-resistant silicate mineral that you can find in older construction materials, including paint. When this product starts to deteriorate due to old age or damage, it can release particles out into the air. This is a carcinogen, and it’s very bad for your health.
- Crown Molding – This is a decorative finish that gives you visual interest in your room, and you’ll see it where the top of the wall meets the ceiling. It can also outline where the window meets the wall.
- Drywall – Drywall is a type of plasterboard, and it’s a very common material used to make ceilings and walls. It uses gypsum that gets layered between several sheets of heavy paper.
- Joint Compound – Joint compound is a material that you will use to fill and smooth over any gaps between your drywall sheets to give you a flat, even finish. It is made of clay, gypsum, and latex resin that you mix with water.
- Plasterers – This is a paste featuring water, sand, and either cement, gypsum, or lime. It forms a hard and smooth surface on your ceilings, walls, or other structures.
- Scaffolding – This is a temporary structure that you’ll use during maintenance, construction, or painting projects to support and raise workers, equipment, and materials.
- Stucco – Stucco is a durable plaster finish that has a binder, aggregates, and water. You’ll find it used in walls, masonry, ceilings, and a host of decorative moldings.
- Veneer – It’s a very thin layer of a decorative finish that you apply to more coarse construction materials.
Frequently Asked Questions
Painting the House by Bill Barber / CC BY-NC 2.0 It’s very common to have questions if you’ve never had to plaster a room before. Asking questions will ensure that you do the project correctly, and the biggest questions to ask include:
1. Does using plaster come with any disadvantages?
The time it takes and the cost are the two biggest disadvantages of using plaster in your home. Applying plaster is also a messy process from start to finish. Your plaster walls can easily block your Wi-Fi signals, and it’s more difficult to decorate and hang up decor or pictures because the surface is very hard.
2. Is it expensive to put up plaster walls?
When you compare it to drywall, plaster is more expensive. Plaster can easily range from $5.00 to $10.00 a square foot, any drywall typically falls between $1.50 adn $3.50 a square foot for materials and installation.
3. How do you treat mold on plaster walls?
If you have mold on your plaster walls, you want to carefully clean them with a non-ammonia based soap and water. You should then clean them a second time with a gallon of water and one cup of bleach mixture.
4. Will plaster crack as it ages?
It’s normal for plaster to develop hairline cracks. If you start to see several cracks that include discoloration, bulging, or bubbling, or the cracks all converge in one direction, you should start to worry. This all points to your house settling.
5. What is the average cost to plaster a ceiling?
To plaster a ceiling, you’ll pay a little more than you would a wall at $300 to $800. The actual price will depend on the height and size of the room.
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.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.