plaster types

Plaster – The Top 11 Types And How to Use Them

Bonding plaster, One Coat plaster or Tough Coat plaster? We all want that smooth, high-quality finish on our ceilings and walls, but where do you start?

Getting a good finish on your first attempt at plastering a wall is a difficult and is almost impossible to learn from videos (I know because I tried!). It’s a skill best learned from having a go. Trust me, practice makes perfect!


How To Choose The Right Plaster

There are many types of plasters available to use and I take a look at the most popular and versatile ones below, including which ones are best for what job and how to use them. You need to choose a plaster that suits your budget and your requirements.  

Each plaster is used under specific conditions, with different ones needed for various backgrounds and applied up to a specific thickness to get the best results. For example, bonding plaster is a perfect base for walls that don't have a key. It turns out not all plasters are created equal!


The Top 11 Plasters

Check out our list of top types of plasters so that you can get the best results in your home.

Bonding plaster

A Base Plaster For Use On Smooth Surfaces
thistle bonding coat

When To Use

This versatile base coat plaster can be applied to various surfaces. It is ideal for walls and ceilings that have a smooth finish, where other plasters would struggle to bond without a key, this one just sticks.

Also, bonding plaster is great for putting a base coat on surfaces such as concrete.

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Pro Tip: Scratch the surface with a nail to create a ”key” for the next layer to stick to.

One of the advantages of Bonding plaster is you can apply it relatively easily and you don’t need that absorbent surface to apply it.

The consistency of Bonding plaster allows you to spread it smoothly and get a good finish. 

How To Use

The video below demonstrates how to apply Bonding plaster. Make sure you keep the room highly ventilated when doing this kind of job.

Browning plaster

An Alternate Base Coat Plaster For More Absorbent Surfaces
thistle browning plaster

When To Use

Unlike Bonding plaster, Browning plaster needs a rougher surface to adhere to for the best finish. You would typically use it on brick walls.
When you mix any base plasters you’ll find it’s very much trial and error to get the right consistency.

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Pro Tip: Add the plaster to the water not the water to plaster!

How To Use

According to TopTradesPeople.com, you’ll get the best finish by applying Browning plaster in very thin layers and allowing to set in between.

Hardwall plaster

Similar To Browning Plaster, A High Impact Resistance Base Coat
thistle hardwall plaster

When To Use

Hardwall plaster has a high impact resistance. It is one of the quickest drying plasters which is great for most masonry surfaces.

Before application, you need to add water to Hardwall plaster. You don’t want to overmix this plaster as it can lose some of its qualities.

Apply to the wall pressing the plaster on with high pressure to get the best result.  You can also spray it which makes it easier to use. It tends to be a favourite plaster of many for this reason.

I personally like Hardwall plaster as it’s so hard wearing (around high traffic areas with children and pets it’s a must), it’s quite easy to use and it gives an amazing smoothness to surfaces.

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Pro Tip: Working on a damp (but not dripping) wall will help application. Use a large emulsion brush and a little water to dampen the wall before you start.

How To Use

Check out this video which has some great tips on how to mix Hardwall plaster

Tough Coat Plaster

Hardwall Plaster’s Tougher Brother
thistle tough coat plaster

When To Use

Tough Coat Plaster is even tougher than Hardwall plaster.

Another hard wearing base coat plaster, this particular type is fine for most masonry walls.

Unlike other plasters, the way you apply Tough Coat Plaster varies. You can either spray apply or apply by hand. Either way, you should get an amazing smooth look.

How To Use

Tough Coat Plaster is already mixed with aggregate. However before using it, you should mix with water. Make sure you mix it in a very clean tray, otherwise it can lose its power. If you spray it, spray in a circular motion for best results.

Tough Coat Plaster should be protected from long-term moisture, otherwise you might notice imperfections appearing, and persistent exposure to moisture can weaken it and affect adhesion.

Planning on repairing your wall or ceiling with patching plaster? Take a look at our step by step guide on How to repair Walls and Ceilings.

One Coat Plaster

A Base Coat And Finishing Plaster In One Which Is Ideal For Repairing Ceilings And Walls
thistle one coat plaster

When To Use

One Coat plaster, or patching plaster as it’s also called, is brilliant for repairing and filling in patches.

What makes it so good is that it’s both the base coat and the finishing plaster in one. Not only that, but you can apply it much thicker. Some manufacturers say you can apply up to 50mm! You might be best sticking with around 25mm for the best results.

According to diydoctor.com, one coat plaster is their go-to choice for the best finish over any other combo of base coats and finishing plasters.

How To Use

When you mix up this plaster, use a ratio of 25kg of One Coat plaster to 5-7 litres of water, then leave it for 3-5 minutes before applying.

ThistlePro DuraFinish

Do You Need A Plaster That Can Go The Distance In A Tough Environment?
thistlepro durafinish plaster

When To Use

ThistlePro DuraFinish is a whole 60% tougher than standard plaster according to British-Gypsum. It does well against chipping or scratching and it’s also really handy as it can be used for re-plastering and repair work, undercoating, as well as being used as a skim plaster.

DuraFinish plaster is great for high traffic areas that usually include corridors, stairwells or hallways. A great choice if you have a busy house like mine.

How To Use

Different brands of plaster will each recommend a specific thickness to get the best result. According to British-Gypsum ThistlePro DuraFinish should be applied to a thickness of 2mm to get the best results.

Board Finish Plaster 

Looking For A Top Finish For Your Plasterboard Wall?
thistle board finish plaster

When To Use

Board Finish plaster does what it says on the tin, well bag at least! If you want a top-quality finish over the top of plasterboard this is the plaster you need.

How To Use

Simply add clean water, mix and apply. You should bear in mind that this plaster may lose its strength if it is contaminated by the previous mixes, so make sure you clean all your equipment that you use to mix it. You can also mix it with your hands or use mechanical mixing, which can be a little easier to do.

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Pro Tip: Whilst you can skim an MR grade board with Board Finish Plaster, according to British-Gypsum, it’s better to prime the board with a product like ThistleBond-It.

For a long lasting finish, you should protect your plasterwork from damp because persistent exposure to a moist environment can weaken its adhesion and it might come away from the wall.

Thistle Bonding 60

Fewer Worries About Cracking And Shrinkage
thistle bonding 60

When To Use

Thistle Bonding 60 gives you a quick solution to repair damaged walls, with a minimum risk of shrinkage and cracking.

You should find it sets in under 60 minutes, making it ideal for quick repairs and patching at speed. It’s for this reason many use Thistle Bonding 60 rather than Bonding plaster.

For best results use this plaster with backgrounds that have a medium to low suction level.

Read more here for tips on how to use patching plaster.

How To Use

To prepare Thistle Bonding 60, all you need to do is add clean water. Make sure you mix it in a clean bucket because mixing it in a contaminated utensil may weaken its strength. You should never mix this plaster mechanically.

You should apply this plaster to walls and ceilings with firm pressure and make sure you get the thickness right, as putting it on too thick can cause issues.

According to British Gypsum, Thistle Bonding 60 performs best in dry conditions, therefore exposure to moisture should be avoided as it may cause loss of adhesion.

Multi-Finish Plaster

Got A Variety Of Surfaces To Plaster? Multi-Finish Will Do The Job
thistle multi-finish plaster

When To Use

Multi-Finish Plaster is perfect when you have a variety of backing surfaces to cover and it works best for low to medium suction backgrounds.

The setting time for the Multi-Finish Plaster is a speedy 90 minutes.

You’ll get a high quality and smooth look with this plaster. It can even provide a viable base if you are feeling brave and fancy applying some decorative finishes.

How To Use

For best results, make sure you apply it with firm pressure.

Watch this video to see the techniques used to apply Multi-Finish plaster.

Want to know how to paint your newly plastered wall? See our handy tips!

Dri-Coat plaster

You Need This After Your Damp Proof Course
thistle dri-coat plaster

When To Use

Dri-Coat plaster is designed for plastering over a damp-proof course. It’s ideal because it doesn’t have as much moisture in it and doesn’t cause issues withyour new damp-proof course.

You want to apply your Dri-Coat plaster at around a thickness of 2mm.

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Pro Tip: You should bear in mind that the shelf life of Dri-Coat plaster is 6 months. Make a note of the use by date and don’t use past this point.

How To Use

Before you apply the Dri-Coat plaster to the wall or ceiling, make sure the background is properly dried out or you might find it creates damp problems.

Another tip is to remove any of the salt that is used during drying otherwise that might create continual damp problems.

ThistlePro Magnetic

Magnetic By Name, Magnetic By Nature
thistlepro magnetic plaster

When To Use

Forget which plaster is ideal for what job and which surface, ThistlePro Magnetic wins hands down for me as it has a special ability to create interactive walls due to the presence of magnets in the plaster.

To my children, this is essentially a magic wall!  To make sure you enable the magnetic attraction, the plaster should be applied to a thickness of 3-5mm.

What’s even better is that although it is magnetic it doesn’t interfere with any of electrical items or wifi.

Check out some fab uses of magnetic plaster in this video from British Gypsum:

How To Use

ThistlePro Magnetic works best on both low to medium suction level backgrounds.

Like all other plasters mentioned above, it should be mixed with clean water before use to get the best results.

It can be mixed by hand or you can do a slow and steady mixing mechanically.

Over mixing may result in distortion of its characteristics, therefore, you should avoid over mixing.

There are several mixers available in the market. My advice is to see what fits your budget and preference. Personally I like Screwfix for this kind of tool.

When storing Thistle Pro Magnetic, make sure you store it in a dry place because if it gets exposed to moisture it may lose it’s strength.

Make sure you note down the use by date as it has a shelf life of six months.

What's Your Go-To Plaster?

Above is my round up of my go-to plasters. I particularly like Thistle because they are a pro-brand and they have a plaster for literally every use imaginable, even for magnets!

It’s so important to get your plasterwork right for that professional finish. A bad job is going to ruin the look of your room and come back to bite you when you have to make repairs down the line.

Do you think there is any other plaster that I missed in this list? If so, please mention in the comments section below so that I can add it. If you think this could help others as well, please give it a share.

About the Author Hannah

I live in Manchester, UK with my young family, 2 cats and a crazy dog. I’m passionate about Victorian houses, Pinterest, Kevin McCloud and creating a home that’s beautiful yet practical for our family!