Last Updated on 29 May 2021
For many of us, plastering walls is a daunting task. It’s messy, difficult to apply and time-consuming. In fact, ‘wet’ plastering is a skilled job that takes plenty of practice. Thankfully, we’re are going to show you how to smooth walls without plastering or hiring a professional.
There are several options available for smooth, ready-to-decorate walls, depending on your wall’s condition. In this guide, we’ve provided five easy ways to achieve a perfectly smooth finish.
1. Fill Holes or Cracks
Before you do anything, fill any holes and cracks in your wall. If your wall is relatively smooth except for the odd spot (e.g. where pictures were hanging), this step might be all you need.
Fill holes with filler (e.g. Polyfilla), and once it’s dry, sand it back. By filling any holes in your walls and then sanding, you ensure an overall smooth finish. Polyfilla comes in a tube for targeted spots or holes, perfect for squirting in and then going over with a trowel.
If you’ve got more significant gaps or cracks that require lots of filler, use a trowel to get your filler onto the wall and skim it across the larger area.
Pro Tip: Filler shrinks as it dries, so you may need to repeat this process. Not a problem; just sand back any additional overspill filler.
If your old plaster is a bit lumpy and bumpy, sand it to smooth out any bumps. Be gentle when sanding plaster as it’s deceptively soft, and if you get carried away, it’s easy to create a bigger problem! So, work slowly and gradually smooth the plaster out until you reach an even finish.
Pro tip: For larger bumps, choose 100-grit sandpaper. Choose a higher grit for minor blemishes.
A word of warning around sanding plaster
Sanding is labour-intensive and time-consuming. For a lousy bit of plastered wall, you can spend days to achieve the perfect finish.
Also, different plasters have various textures and thicknesses. For example, some older buildings have a thin surface layer of plaster that gives way to very rough plaster. Therefore, if you sand too far, you will reveal more of this bumpy surface – the exact opposite of the finish you want!
3. Clean the Wall of Scuffs & Marks
Sometimes, what seems like an uneven, bumpy surface, is just muck and dust built up over the years.
Clean up any scuffs by applying warm, soapy water in circular motions with a cloth. If the scuff marks are particularly stubborn, use an all-purpose cleaner or sugar soap for removing tough spots and cutting through grime.
Now that you’ve filled any holes, cleared the wall of scuff marks, and finished all your sanding, wipe down your walls with a dry cloth. You can even vacuum the walls to ensure a super smooth and clean finish.
4. Hang Wallpaper
Remember, wallpaper restricts your style and decor choices more than paint does. Wallpaper also requires removing before any future redecorating projects, and removing wallpaper is our least favourite job!
5. Paint Your Walls
Similarly to hanging wallpaper, if your walls are in good condition, you can always paint them!
Finishes, such as eggshell or textured finish, reflect light from the walls, which helps hide any imperfections. Moreover, you have all of the decor options that paint offers!
Are you feeling lost on what type of paint to choose? Then take a look at our complete guide to the different types of paint.
If all else fails, you can always use plasterboard to achieve perfectly smooth walls without the mess. Plasterboard is particularly useful for older buildings with uneven walls.
Fitting plasterboard isn’t too difficult and is something anyone can achieve. However, there are many steps involved, especially if you have to build stud walls from scratch!
Note: Plasterboarding is often referred to as ‘dry lining’. This name is used to distinguish between traditional plastering (aka wet plastering) and plasterboarding (aka dry lining). I.e. The former is a ‘wet’ mixture while the latter is a ‘dry’ board.
If you want to go down this route, please check out our posts below, depending on your situation:
- If you’re plasterboarding brick walls – Plasterboarding a Brick Wall – The Complete UK DIY Guide.
- If you’re plasterboarding stud partition walls – Dry Lining Tips – How to Plasterboard Stud Partition Walls.
How to Smooth Walls Without Plastering – Final Thoughts
We all want to avoid big and messy plastering projects if we can. Hopefully, this guide has given you an idea of the different options for achieving smooth walls without plastering.
If you’ve found this guide helpful, please share it with your friends and family or bookmark it for later when you’re ready to tackle your next DIY project.