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Professional Plasterer or DIY?

We all have one of those mates who seem to be able to turn their hand to any task, a ‘Jack of all trades’, who is proficient with plumbing problems, can wallpaper a wall in minutes, or fix a flat tyre in under forty seconds. But knowing when to call ‘Jack’, and more importantly, when to use a professional can be a difficult decision.

The popularity of YouTube, online forums, and DIY ‘how to…’ blogs have increased the prospect of success for DIY fans worldwide. They can give useful advice on plastering, patching, coving, renovating and so on, and they’re certainly beneficial for those of us who like to ‘have a go’ first.

However, professional, quality plastering is a skill that takes time to learn. Often plasterers have completed a few years at college, with more training and skills learnt on the job. They have certifications from accredited companies such as, City & Guilds, or Silver Trowel and can have years of experience that helps when dealing with any problems.

So, how do you decide if you need a professional plastering company? Or, if you’re up to the task yourself?

The following guidelines will help you decide when it’s time to call in the experts:

1. Small job? – is it a little patch that needs attention or a whole wall? If it is a small patch, in a fairly inconspicuous place, then by all means have a go yourself. After all, the worse that can happen is that it all falls off and you need to summon professional plasterers!

2. What has caused the initial defect? – do you have damp areas that are causing the plaster to crumble? Or is it age that made the plaster deteriorate? If you know what has caused the problem in the first place, and are confident you can stop it recurring, then that’s fine. However, if you’re unsure what’s causing the problem you might want to consider getting a professional plasterer to take a look and give you a quote.

3. Do you have the tools for the job? – There are many tools of the trade that plasterers use daily to make their work go smoothly (pun intended!). These tools can be expensive and costly if you aren’t planning on using them frequently. Investigate the cost of tools (drills, floats, feather edge, trowels, and more), consumables (plaster, render, coving etc), and equipment (mixing baths, ladders, and so on). These items can be expensive and add to the cost of any DIY project. If you are only use them infrequently, they are unlikely to give you value for money.

4. Is the job in a conspicuous area/high visibility place? – if the plaster repair is in an area that you can see clearly, and daily, for instance, a living room wall, hallway passage, or bedroom ceiling, then you should probably consider using a professional plastering company as any defect in finish will be highly visible. If it is in the cupboard under the stairs, under the eaves, or will be covered by tiling, then it is likely to be harmless for you to give it a go first.

5. Limited budget? – If your budget is very limited then you may want to consider trying your hand at plastering first. Be aware though that it may be more costly to put any mistakes right if you need a specialist plasterer to correct your work. Professional plasterers should always provide a written quote before starting any job, so you can factor this into your budget.

Being a ‘jack of all trades’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘master of none’ but, if you think your job requires professional plasterers, then shop around; ask for recommendations from friends, or check trade sites for endorsements. Always get a quote in advance of work, and ask to see evidence of previous work where possible.

Master plasterers don’t have to cost the earth, but they should come highly recommended, be conscientious, clean and tidy in their work, and be fully insured.

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