When you are asked what field of work is right for you, not all people would reply with something along the lines of Plastering. Most would go with a more conventional job, such as being an architect or an accountant.
Despite this, plastering has come to be one of the most popular jobs in places where it is needed. Just ask any of your friends who have had their house done or work on new building sites on site sheds, they will tell you that how important plasterers are. It’s just that there aren’t many people who can do it well!
If you’re thinking about getting into the trade yourself then here are some tips to help start.
1. Get rid of the idea that it is an easy job.
Plastering is one of those careers in which training can help you to get ahead, but the experience will always count for something. The only way to develop your skill is by doing it. It may not be easy, but if you are looking for a permanent position then the best advice is to plaster anywhere that will have you. This might just mean working with friends or family until someone sees your potential and likes your work enough to offer you a job!
If this isn’t possible (and most people who start won’t be able to do this), make sure that you plaster anything and everything to get experience. Whether it’s inside or outside, it doesn’t matter. Even if you aren’t getting paid, the experience will help you to hone your skills and to get a feel for how things should be done.
2. You need plenty of patience.
Plastering is not an easy job; it can be messy and arduous work that frequently does not finish until late in the evening when everyone else wants to go home! This means that being able to stick with something until completion is essential. If you are someone who wants everything finished now then this isn’t the job for you! Similarly, if you are easily frustrated or have little attention span then plasterers might not be right for you either.
Again, this is one of those careers that can be learned, but it does take time and experience to master. If you are not prepared to do this then you should look for another career that might suit you better. The same goes for those who don’t have patience with other people!
3. You need a thick skin!
Plastering is a job where there won’t be many pats on the back – any good plasterer will know how important their work is and won’t need to be told about it by anyone. This isn’t to say though that they won’t make mistakes or find things difficult, rather it means they learn from these experiences, pick themselves up and carry on working knowing that no one’s perfect.
On the bright side, they are usually more laid back about criticism or mistakes which means you’ll have to be the same. If you let some little mistake get to you too badly then you will never make it.
4. You need a head for heights!
As with any job that involves working at height, an important part of being a plasterer is having good balance and spatial awareness. Being able to judge distances and move around safely and efficiently will help you no end when it comes to plastering ceilings and roofs. Your ability to do this will affect how quickly your team can operate as well as how safe everyone is; if you can’t read heights or aren’t steady your feet then this career isn’t for you.
5. You need to be strong!
Plasters require you to apply it to walls, ceilings or roofs that are uneven, which means that you will always be working on different angles and possibly difficult positions. For this reason alone the best plasterers are those who are physically fit; but there’s no need for any sort of special gym membership, simply make sure you stretch before every job (even if it’s only five minutes) and avoid sitting still wherever possible.
Also, as with anything involving lifting, the more work you can do yourself then the better. If your employer asks you to bring a friend along as an assistant because they think it is too heavy, don’t take it personally. One of the best things about this job is that it doesn’t matter how tall or skinny you are, weight isn’t an issue.
6. You need to be able to work in a team.
Any good plasterer will tell you they couldn’t do their job without their team; and for good reason – plastering is hard enough alone, but doing it with others makes everything so much easier and enjoyable! Working with others can also provide your career with some great opportunities; everyone needs help sometimes, especially when working at height, so having access to people who can lend a hand whenever you need them is invaluable.
This is why it’s not only to get on well with your team but also to be able to get on with other plasterers in the industry. Similarly, you need to know when to take orders and follow instructions; not because you can’t make your own choices or decisions about how things should be done, rather it means that others will feel comfortable giving you advice and guidance because they know that you can follow them.
As a plasterer, especially if this is your career and only career (and maybe even for some who do have other careers), people must trust your judgement and work ethic enough to let you go ahead with something without checking every stage of the process.
7. You need a good head for maths!
Speaking of which, before you even get started, be prepared to study for a few exams. The great thing about this career is that people do it for different reasons; some like the job because they like working with their hands, others because they want to start their own business and become an entrepreneur.
The bad thing about it is that these jobs require very different skill sets (and usually education) so it’s difficult to know which one will suit you until you’re actually in the industry. As such, most plasterers take exams so that they can work in either residential or industrial sectors – depending on your preference – but if you want to advise builders or architects then there are other tests for this too.
8. You need patience!
Although you might be tempted to take the lazy route and just apply coats of plaster to everything, always remember that a thin coat can sometimes turn out better than a thick one. Patience also means knowing when to stop; if you’re in control of your own pace then it is up to you how long you spend on any given job.
However, most plasterers are paid by the hour which means that if they’re working too slowly then someone will inevitably notice and ask them to speed up! When this happens it’s usually best not to complain or make excuses but simply do what needs doing. There are few things worse for clients than seeing their tradesman grumbling behind their back!
9. You need an eye for detail!
Although this may seem obvious, it’s important to be aware that a good plasterer will focus on the details as much as they do on the general appearance. For example, if you notice a minor crack in a wall then fill it before returning to put another coat of plaster over everything else.
You can easily tell when something has been done well due to attention from small defects being paid to larger areas which then makes them look worse by comparison. This is why patience and attention to detail go hand-in-hand; without one the other isn’t nearly as effective.
10. You need an eye for art!
When you’ve got all those other things down pat, plus a good eye for scale and aesthetics, then you’re on your way to becoming a truly great plasterer! That’s not to say that those with average abilities won’t be able to do the job satisfactorily, but some people can make even the drabbest of surfaces look great! This is why some companies prefer their plasterers to be artistic; it shows in small details like a smooth curve or a carefully-chosen colour.
Before you apply for any jobs as a plasterer, make sure that you know what type of work suits you best – e.g. industrial or residential – and remember all the skills which are mentioned in this article. If you put them into practice then hopefully you won’t just be a plasterer but an effective one too!