top of page

As featured in...

As featured.jpg

Welcome!

 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

A DIYer's guide to applying a skim coat to walls and ceilings

Updated: Feb 17

Plastering: Top Tips for a DIY skim coat (even over artex)


Applying a skim coat DIY

Over the past year or two, I've spent a lot of time perfecting my DIY skimming skills. Some of this was due to the walls in our house needing a bit of TLC and some was down to needing to tackle the artex ceilings and in truth, a bit of it was because I've added and removed wall panelling, shelves and other decor features as part of my never-ending obsession with styling home interiors so had some making good to do!

DIY skimming resources

Plastering Projects: Tips for skimming success

  • Practice on a wall first - it’s much easier to work on a surface in front of you than overhead so spend some time honing your skills to save you stress at the top of a ladder with a stiff neck.

  • Make sure you always start with clean tools, even the smallest lumps of dried plaster on your spreader will leave tracks in the newly applied product.

  • Water is your friend, dilute the ready-mixed plaster (if that’s what you plump for) initially and then continue to moisten the surface while you are smoothing, you can use a mist spray directly onto the applied plaster then smooth with your tools or even a damp sponge afterwards to smooth out imperfections.

Can I skim over artex?



What about the risk of asbestos?


Ideally, before starting work on an Artex ceiling, you should have it tested for asbestos, because for decades, white asbestos (chrysotile) was added to Artex until it was finally banned in the UK in 1999.

Asbestos is not harmful if left intact and undisturbed, it is only when the fibres are released in fine-dust form into the air (a consequence of sanding, drilling or scraping) that they can be breathed in or swallowed. Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause cancer and other life-threatening illnesses so really isn’t worth taking any risks with. If you choose not to have your ceiling tested, you should take the same precautions as you would for a positive result and be certain not to disturb the artex when you skim over it. Be sure to notify the new owners of the work completed if you come to sell your house.

Which plaster for skimming walls and ceilings?


For patching jobs or small areas like a single wall or ceiling, I recommend this magic stuff...


interior smoother from B&Q

It's ready mixed, so you literally just need to take the lid off, and you're good to go. However, for even smoother skimming, I recommend adding a little water for a lower viscosity and easier application.




Which tools should I use for skimming walls and ceilings?

The answer will be different for different people and depends on factors such as previous experience and hand size. A DIY plastering tool set costs around £20 so experiment with different combinations. The aim is to develop a system that you can repeat quickly and effectively, this might be with a trowel and hawk board, a taping knife and plastering pan or my current method involves sitting the tub of plaster on the top step of the ladder, scooping out plaster onto a taping knife (similarly to a hawk board) and loading just the right amount each time onto my trusty ConcreteLab.co.uk skimming spreader.


How thick should each skim coat of the plaster be?

After smoothing, each skim coat should be 1-2mm, meaning a total thickness after two coats of approx 3mm. If your ceiling is very uneven you might have patches that are slightly thicker, apply a third coat rather than applying too thickly in these areas to prevent cracking.


Do you skim coat the whole wall or just the section you are repairing?

You can either just patch up localised repairs or skim coat a section or skim the whole wall. (after you've patched the repairs). It depends on the state (&size) of the walls as once you get going it's not a lot of extra work to skim the whole thing which will give you a far superior finish, but if your wall is in great shape & you only have patches of damage there's no point skimming the whole thing.


In the example below, I had recently skimmed the top part of the wall for a 'how to' piece so only needed to patch the damage from where I had removed the wall panelling and then skimmed the bottom half of the wall and feathered the join before painting the whole thing and you can't see the sections at all.


A skim coat applied to an internal wall

Thanks for reading. I'd love to keep you up to date with future DIY, decorating, interior styling, and upcycling projects, if you would like to receive my (not more than weekly & no spamming I promise) emails then please subscribe (scroll down to the box at the bottom of the page).


Some recent posts you might be interested in...



Comments