Plasterboarding a brick wall is a job any DIYer can do, and when done right, it produces a nice smooth finish that you can decorate immediately.
There are three ways to fix plasterboard to a brick wall:
- Stick directly onto brick walls with adhesive (aka dot & dab).
- Nailing into timber battens attached to the wall (timber stud).
- Screwing into a metal frame attached to the wall (metal stud).
I’ll show you how to do #1 in this easy-to-follow DIY guide.
Don’t fancy doing this job yourself? Find top-rated plasterers in your area by clicking the button below:
Table of Contents
Dry Lining vs Wet Plastering
Dry lining (aka plasterboarding) doesn’t require any special skills like you need for wet plastering. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a simple job. Let’s look at the pros & cons of dry lining compared to wet plastering.
|Faster to install, especially when stuck to walls using adhesive (dot & dab method).||Boards may not support heavy items fixed to the wall.|
|No drying time, which saves you weeks of waiting.||Boards can be expensive and fragile.|
|No excess moisture and much less mess.|
|Much easier to produce a smooth finish, making decorating easy.|
Tools & Materials
Always wear safety goggles and a dust mask when carrying out this work. Also, remember to use gloves when handling plasterboard.
For Preparing and Fitting
- Tape measure and spirit level.
- Chalk, marker pen, marker spray and pencil.
- Knife with replaceable blades. I recommend using a specialist drywall knife as it produces a cleaner cut.
- Plasterboard rasp.
- Combination square.
- Jab saw (for difficult cuts).
- Bucket for mixing adhesive.
- Mixer (either a standalone mixer or an attachment for your power drill).
- Builder’s float and pointing hawk.
- Heavy batten to tap boards flat against the wall (use a long piece of 50x100mm timber).
- Board lifter.
- Step ladder.
- Plasterboard (see common sizes in step 2 below).
- Plasterboard adhesive.
- Masking tape.
For Taping and Jointing
- Bucket for mixing jointing compound.
- Taping knife.
- Decorators sponge.
- Filling knife.
- Internal and External corner trowel.
- Jointing compound.
- Jointing Tape.
- 220-grit sanding block.
- Paper-faced metal angle bead.
Storage and Handling
Most plasterboards come with a protective plastic coating which should be left on until you’re ready to work.
Store the boards in a dry environment and on a flat surface to prevent bowing. If the boards get damp, wait until they’ve completely dried before you start work.
Always carry boards on their edge to minimise the risk of damage. More importantly, use a second pair of hands, as even the most experienced plasterers can damage boards when working alone.
If you can’t get anybody to help, another option is to buy smaller boards that one person can handle. However, this costs more and takes longer.
You must first measure the walls to determine plasterboard size and quantity. Next, mark lines on the walls and ceiling to ensure proper board alignment.
Before you start, clean your wall to remove dust and dirt.
1. Measure Wall Width
- Measure the width of all four walls.
- Start by measuring away from a window opening. Place a board off-cut against the window reveal and measure the full width across (see Fig 1 above). Add an extra 10mm for adhesive. Repeat for the other side of the window reveal.
- Measure the other three walls. Remember to allow for the board thickness (12.5mm) and adhesive (10mm) where the ends butt up against each other.
2. Measure Ceiling Height
Measure your ceiling height and purchase boards that cover this height with one board. To avoid complicating the maths, we’re not factoring in obstacles such as windows and doors when measuring ceiling height. Measure and cut around these obstacles (see ‘Cutting Plasterboard‘ section) and use the offcuts in the window reveals, etc.
Typical plasterboard sizes are below. Other thicknesses are available (e.g. 9.5mm and 15mm), but we recommend 12.5mm.
|Thickness (mm)||Length (mm)||Width (mm)|
Note: Most UK ceilings are a standard height of 2.4m (2,400mm), so the first option should work for most homes. If not, there are plenty of other sizes to choose from. Another option is to fix the boards horizontally.
Using the measurements from Step 1 and Step 2, pick a board size that fits best (e.g. 2,400mm x 1,200mm) and buy enough to fill all four walls. Purchase a few extra boards as spares, but remember that cutting around obstacles will create offcuts, so don’t buy too many spare boards.
Example Calculation. If your wall is 4m x 2.4m, its area is 9.6 square metres (9.6m²). If you use 1,200mm x 2,400mm boards, each one has an area of 2.88 square metres (2.88m²). 9.6/2.88 = 3.33 boards, so 4 boards in total. Note that this calculation doesn’t factor in windows and doors.
3. Mark Vertical Plumb Line
A few inches away from one corner of the room, mark a vertical plumb line from floor to ceiling using a laser spirit level or plumb bob. Extend the marks onto the ceiling and floor.
4. Draw Vertical Chalk Lines
Draw a vertical chalk line down the marked plumb line. This line acts as a vertical guide for the first board.
Find a spare pair of hands and follow the steps below:
- Place the first board against the corner of the wall, ensuring it’s lined up vertically with the plumb line.
- Draw a line on the wall using the board’s edge as a guide.
- From this line, measure a full board’s width across (e.g. 1,200mm) and draw another line. Keep going until you reach the end of the wall. These lines show where each board will fit along the wall, and each should be an equal distance apart (e.g. 1,200mm).
As you reach the other corner of the wall, it’s unlikely that a full-size board will fit perfectly in the remaining space. In this case, you must cut the board to fit (see ‘Cutting Plasterboard‘ section).
5. Mark Horizontal Line Across Ceiling
Mark a line across the ceiling which is 22.5mm out from the wall. We use 22.5mm because this factors in 12.5mm for board thickness and another 10mm for adhesive. As you start sticking boards to the wall, this line helps keep the board faces level.
Repeat steps 3 to 5 for the other three walls.
Assuming you’ve purchased the right size boards for your brick walls (see ‘Preparation‘ section), most of the boards will fit full size. However, there will be spots (e.g. windows) where a full-size board won’t fit. In these cases, you must cut the boards to size.
For simple straight cuts, follow the four steps below. For more complicated cuts (e.g. around windowsills), follow the steps in the ‘How To Make Difficult Cuts‘ section.
How To Make Simple Cuts
Follow the steps below when making simple straight cuts.
1. Measure and Mark
As mentioned in the ‘Draw Vertical Chalk Lines‘ step, it’s unlikely that the last board will fit perfectly, so it needs cutting.
- Measure the remaining space in which a full-size board won’t fit.
- Lay a board flat on the floor.
- Mark your measurements on the board.
2. Cut Through the Outer Paper Layer
Cut through the top paper layer with a knife against a straightedge (e.g. steel ruler or spirit level), but no deeper.
You may have to run the knife over the cut line two or three times to achieve this, so don’t try to force it on the first attempt.
3. Break Cleanly Along Cut Line
Lift the board off the floor and firmly push one side of the cut. It should snap cleanly along the cut line.
4. Cut Through the Paper Layer On the Other Side
Use the knife again to cut through the paper layer on the other side. If necessary, use a plasterboard rasp to smooth any rough edges.
How To Make Difficult Cuts
For a professional finish, you must make some tricky cuts around obstacles such as windows sills and sockets.
A jab saw is ideal for these tricky cuts, as its pointed narrow blade bends around awkward shapes, and its coarse teeth slice through boards.
Here’s how to cut a slit to fit around a windowsill.
1. Measure Board Overlap
Mark on the wall where the board width ends (red mark in Fig 9).
Measure from this mark to the windowsill edge using a combination square and tape measure. This is the board overlap measurement.
2. Mark Windowsill Height and Overlap
Stand the board next to the windowsill and measure the slit height.
Mark the board with the two measurements above (board overlap and slit height). Add a little bit extra to give you room to play with — you can fill any excess space after the board is fitted.
3. Cut Windowsill Slit
Using a jab saw, cut out the windowsill slit.
Here are some top tips for cutting around sockets.
- Run red lipstick around the mounting box perimeter.
- Hold and push the plasterboard against the box to leave a clear red outline.
- Create a pilot hole in each corner of the outline.
- Turn the board around and join up the holes with a pencil.
- Cut the square with a jab saw.
The steps below show you how to stick plasterboard directly onto a brick wall using adhesive. Remember, plasterboard adhesive sets quickly, so only do one wall at a time.
Pro Tip: If your wall is uneven, attach timber battens to the walls and nail the plasterboard to the studs.
1. Mark the Position of Adhesive Dabs
Use marker spray and a long straight plank* to mark the position of the adhesive dabs 400mm apart (or whatever the adhesive instructions advise).
Create two lines of marks per board, running from top to bottom. Avoid marking where two boards join, so keep them away from where the board edges will sit. Use the vertical chalk lines as a guide.
*Note: The plank helps keep the marker lines straight.
2. Mix Adhesive
Mix the adhesive according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It dries fast, so only mix enough for one wall.
3. Dab Adhesive on Walls
Use a builder’s float and pointing hawk to dab adhesive on the marker lines. The dabs should be roughly 250mm x 50mm and no thicker than 25mm.
4. Lift First Board Into Place
Lift the first board into place and align it with the chalk lines on the wall and ceiling.
5. Tap Board Flat Against Wall
Tap the board flat against the wall using a heavy timber batten (50mm x 100mm is perfect).
6. Check Board is Level
Check the board is level with a spirit level. If not, adjust the board’s position before the adhesive dries.
7. Fit Board Tight Against Ceiling
Ensure the board fits tight against your ceiling. If not, lift it with a board lifter.
Repeat for the other boards.
Walls and corners are rarely straight, so you must cut boards to match the wall shape.
1. Measure Gap
Measure the gap between the wall’s top corner and the closest board. Make a small off-cut to match this measurement.
2. Trace Corner Shape
- Position a board half the length of the off-cut away from the wall’s top corner. For example, if the off-cut is 500mm, place the board 250mm from the top corner.
- Place one end of the off-cut against the wall’s top corner and the other end overlapping the board. In the example above, 250mm of the off-cut should overlap the board.
- Slowly move the off-cut down to the floor while tracing a line on the board while you go (see Fig 20).
3. Cut Along Trace Line
- Cut along the traced line.
- One side of the board should now match the wall’s shape. Use a plasterboard rasp to neaten the edge.
Fitting Window Recesses
Cut pieces of plasterboard to fit around reveals for a neat finish around windows.
1. Cover Window Reveals
- Measure the height and depth of the window reveal.
- Cut boards to size and stick them in place with adhesive.
- Use masking tape to hold the boards in position while the adhesive dries.
2. Cover Lintel
- Measure the width and depth of the lintel.
- Cut a board to size and stick it in place with adhesive.
- Use timber supports between the board and windowsill to hold it in place while the adhesive dries.
Taping and Jointing
Tape and joint the plasterboard joints for a smooth finish.
1. Mix and Apply Jointing Compound
Mix the jointing compound in a bucket and smooth it along the joint with a taping knife.
2. Apply Jointing Tape
Cut a piece of jointing tape the same length as the joint and press it in place.
3. Cover Tape with Jointing Compound
- Spread and press the jointing compound along the taped joint until its flush with the surface. The tape should be encapsulated in the jointing compound.
- Quickly smooth the surface with a clean and slightly damp decorating sponge.
Pro Tip: Keep rinsing the sponge and wringing it thoroughly, as too much moisture will weaken the joint.
4. Smooth Joint
- Leave the compound to dry.
- Lightly sand any bumps with a 220-grit sanding block.
For more information on how to tape and joint, here’s a great video from Silver at Siniat:
Finishing Internal Corners
Use paper-faced metal angle bead stuck in place with jointing compound for a neat finish along internal corners.
1. Measure and Cut Angle Bead
- Measure the wall’s height.
- Cut angle bead 12.5mm less than the wall’s height.
2. Mix and Apply Jointing Compound to Internal Corner
- Mix jointing compound in a bucket.
- Spread the jointing compound along the corner with a filling knife, covering just beyond where the angle bead will fit.
3. Press the Angle Bead Into the Internal Corner
4. Cover the Internal Angle Bead with Jointing Compound
- Cover the angle bead with jointing compound and smooth it with an internal corner trowel.
Finish Wall-Ceiling Joint
Using a stepladder, finish the joints between your walls and ceiling using the same method for internal corners.
Finishing External Corners
Use paper-faced metal angle bead stuck in place with jointing compound for a neat finish along external corners.
1. Apply an Angle Bead to the External Corner
- Measure the external corner’s height.
- Cut angle bead to fit.
- Apply jointing compound to the external corner and press the bead in place.
2. Cover the External Angle Bead with Jointing Compound
- Cover angle bead with jointing compound.
- Smooth jointing compound with an external corner trowel.
Don’t fancy doing this job yourself? Find top-rated plasterers in your area by clicking the button below:
Sticking plasterboard onto brick walls involves many steps, but the process is easy if you carefully follow the instructions above. And once it’s finished, you have a smooth blank canvas to decorate.
Remember, sticking boards to brick walls is not the only game in town. You can attach the boards via metal or timber studs, depending on your situation and skill level.
Pro Tip: For more info on using plasterboard, check out our guide to plasterboarding a ceiling.