Veneer Plaster Walls
our lower level we decided to put up a veneer plaster system instead of conventional
drywall. Veneer plaster is a higher quality product because it's stronger, more
durable, and richer-looking than drywall. And you won't see seams or get nail
pops like you sometimes get with drywall.
Plaster walls like this will probably never surpass drywall in popularity, but
it is making a comeback as an upgrade to drywall. The labor and materials for
our job was about 50% more than a regular drywall installation, but this figure
varies depending on where you live in and how common it is in your area.
Watch Video: Modern Veneer Plaster
The gypsum board that's used for the plaster system is very similar to conventional
drywall, so the hanging techniques are about the same. (For step-by-step instructions
on how to hang and mud drywall, check out our Drywall
People sometimes call this gypsum board "blueboard" (different than greenboard),
because the paper on the surface is a blueish-gray color. This paper is designed
to absorb moisture better than regular drywall, so when the plaster is applied,
it'll stick to the surface better.
Over the joints of the gypsum board they put a special fiberglass tape.
It has an adhesive back that makes it stick to the blueboard. On the outside corners,
a wire mesh corner bead is used. It grips the plaster a little better than
drywall corner bead.
This type of system can be installed as either a one-coat system or a two-coat
system. Ours was a two-coat system.
Unlike drywall, the entire surface of the gypsum board is covered. The
plaster ends up only about 1/16" thick; just enough to cover the walls evenly.
This first pass is a little coarse, but the plasterers aren't as concerned about
getting an absolutely smooth surface yet.
The second plaster coat goes on about the same thickness as the first coat --
but this plaster has a finer texture to achieve a very smooth finish.
This coat takes a lot longer to apply than the first coat because it involves
a three-step process. First, two more layers of plaster are put on and allowed
to set up a bit. This coat is called the scratch coat.
Next, the wall is ""water troweled." That involves flicking water from
a brush onto the wall. This raises the "cream" of the plaster and keeps it workable.
Then the surface is troweled over again to smooth it out. This is when any blemishes
or trowel marks on the wall are removed.
The plaster sets a bit, then is ready for the third and final pass called the
"hard trowel." At this point the plaster is getting fairly dry so it's
troweled with quite a bit of pressure to polish it up.
Although we opted for a smooth finish, there are other textures that you can apply
to the surface. You can go with a wavelike swirl trowel, a skip trowel, a sand-aggregated
float finish or a Spanish texture.
Priming over this type of plaster is a little different, too. We first sprayed the
walls, then had to go back and "back roll" the paint. This is because the surface
is so smooth. If we had just sprayed on paint, the spray marks would show. The
roller we used had a 1/2" nap which gave us just enough to make it look uniform
without hiding the hard, smooth plaster surface.