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DIY Wall skimming: plastering for DIYers 

Get super smooth walls in no time with a DIY skim-coat

I’m going to get straight to the point here, many people have crappy walls in their houses that they end up living with as they can’t afford to get a plasterer in and they don’t realise that skimming walls is a DIY solution, or they worry that they are going to mess it up. Before we get into the detail of the DIY option for skimming walls, I should note that if you aren't a keen DIYer, don’t have good attention to detail or enjoy laborious tasks, then DIY wall skimming might not be the project for you, but if you fall into all of these categories, then I have good news - you can totally fix up your dodgy or damaged walls yourself, saving a packet and benefitting from a huge sense of achievement at the same time.

What is DIY  skimming?

Skimming, aka applying a skim coat, refers to the process of spreading a couple of thin layers of finishing plaster over a wall to create a super smooth surface that you can then decorate by painting. DIY wall skimming is usually done to old walls or over plasterboard. Professional plasterers often use a hawk board and trowel to skim a wall but I will show you in a minute the tools I find easier to use as a DIYer.

Can you use ready-mixed plaster for skimming?

 Ready-mixed plaster is definitely more expensive than a bag or dry plaster mix that you have to knock up yourself, but for DIYers, especially those skimming a smaller area, ready-mixed plaster can be a real help. It is quick and easy to use, I actually recommend diluting it a little to get the best creamy consistency, but that’s all you have to do before getting stuck in, which definitely saves you time and mess on your DIY wall skimming project compared to making it from scratch.

Should I prime before DIY skimming?

Yes, priming is required before DIY wall skimming and is super simple to do with diluted PVA or a specialist bonding agent like Blue Grit (available from DIY stores). If using PVA, then you should apply two coats; the first should dry (can take hours) whereas the second coat should only be left to go tacky, which happens after approx 30 minutes. Shake up 1 part PVA with three parts water for a guaranteed lump-free solution ready for priming before you skim. If you have any PVA left, keep it in the jar and label it ready for next time. Oh, there will definitely be a next time, as once you start, you’ll want to skim everywhere!

Can you skim over a damaged wall?

You’ll need to repair any damage before applying a DIY skim coat, but using a putty knife and some filler for minor repairs is easy. If you have more substantial repairs to make to plasterboard, then pop over to read my top tips here… Self-adhesive mesh tape is super helpful for repairing holes and you can also cut out the shape in another piece of plasterboard drywall) and insert it into the hole you are filling.

Product links...

DIY sponge for cleaning walls and ceilings
Plastering pan for DIYers
Taping knife for DIY plastering and skimming walls
Tub of ready-mixed plaster
PVA glue for priming wall
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