A Guide to Skim Coating Plaster Walls

After many years, plaster walls can become uneven and pitted.

A drywall trowel is used to skim coat a plaster wall.A drywall trowel is used to skim coat a plaster wall.
The solution to worn plaster walls is a process called skim coating. Skim coating is the act of smoothing joint compound over the entire surface of the plaster wall. This is essentially putting a new layer of plaster on the wall. Skim coating involves using a drywall trowel to smooth the joint compound on the wall. The process of skim coating an average size room may require five or six hours.

Lay plastic drop cloths on the floor to protect it from any drips or splatters of joint compound. Cover any furniture in the room that may be subject to damage.

Pour a cup of water into a 5-gallon bucket of joint compound. Mix the joint compound with an electric drill with a mixing bit installed.

Place joint compound on the palette, but do not cover the entire palette.

Scrape some joint compound onto the edge of the trowel off the palette. Start at the top of a wall in the corner and work you way across the wall and down. Work a small section at a time, about 4 to 5 feet wide and the height of the wall. Reload the trowel with joint compound frequently. Use the trowel to smooth the joint compound over the plaster and cover the surface completely. Work the trowel across and down to get the joint compound as smooth as possible.

Let the joint compound dry for at least 24 hours before painting.

Things You Will Need

  • Joint compound
  • Electric drill
  • Mixing bit
  • Drywall trowel
  • Drywall palette
  • Plastic drop cloths

About the Author

Damon Koch has years of writing experience ranging from software manuals to song lyrics. His writing has appeared in software manuals for Human Arc and on the CDs "Small Craft Advisory" and "Impersonating Jesus." He also has worked in building maintenance since 2004. He has attended Lorain County Community College as well as Cleveland State University.