7th Dec 2022 -

Once your plasterboard walls are secure with tape and edge beads, you can finally decorate them. If desired, you can add a base layer of plaster, however, this isn’t essential and often your finishing materials can be applied directly onto the plasterboard.

Skimming With Plaster on Plasterboard

For a professional, smooth finish to your plasterboard wall, there is the option to give it a skim coat of plaster before painting. This will ensure all joins are completely covered and provide a consistent texture across the surface.  

Before skimming, make sure that all joints between plasterboards are joined with scrim tape, jointing tape, or angle beads. Then, you can mix plaster with water and skim two coats of about 1mm each using a plasterer's trowel. This will cover your wall in a solid, smooth base layer. It will also hide the gaps between boards, and smooth over the angle beads on outside corners. 

There is a recurring argument within the plasterboarding community that one side of the plasterboard is better for plastering or decorating. While the ivory side is smoother, once skimmed and decorated there won’t be a clear difference between the two.

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Painting Your Plasterboard

Before you can paint your plasterboard you should apply either a mist coat or a sealant coat. This will ensure that any paint you use will bond to the wall and prevent flaking. A mist coat is made by watering down emulsion paint and should be added in two coats to the wall. Alternatively, you can buy a ready-mixed plasterboard sealer and use that instead. 

Before you paint your wall remember that you can always get samples of paints from retailers or websites. Using a small piece of plasterboard you can test out paints, both for their ease of application and their look within your room.

Household paints will be either water or oil based. Water-based paints are easy to apply, quick drying, and offer stable colour over time. Oil based paints are more difficult to install, due to the toxic fumes they emit and the difficulty of cleaning up as you paint. They offer an attractive gloss and a longer-lasting finish.

Different paint manufacturers offer finishes for their paint to give your wall a specific look. Matte is considered the standard finish for walls, offering deep colours and a low sheen level. Eggshell paints are durable, and suited for high-use environments like bathrooms and kitchens. Semi-gloss and gloss are the most reflective finishes available and are also very durable. The general rule of thumb is to apply two coats of paint to your wall, allowing time to dry between coats.

Wallpapering Your Plasterboard

Before hanging wallpaper it’s important to properly prime your plasterboard walls. A base coat of primer suited to plasterboard walls, such as acrylic, will make your walls ready to be wallpapered., and should be applied the day before. From here, wallpaper can be conventionally hung, using wallpaper paste and a smoother.

Tiling Your Plasterboard

For tiling it is better not to skim your plasterboard beforehand, as there is a maximum weight that your plasterboard can hold that skimming will contribute towards. A standard bare plasterboard can hold up to 32kg per square metre. This makes lighter ceramic tiles the preferable choice, and they can be applied to your wall with ready-mixed or powdered adhesive. A base coat of acrylic-based primer on your plasterboard is necessary, followed by a layer of tile adhesive, onto which your tiles must be placed, using tile spacers to maintain equal distance on the wall. Once dried, the tile spacers must be removed and grouting must be used in the gaps between tiles.

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Plaster Paint

An alternative to skimming and painting is to use ready-mixed plaster paint, which is designed to function as both plaster and paint. While unlikely to match the looks of a more specific finish, plaster paint could be used in garages or basements to quickly plaster and paint your plasterboard walls. 

Finishing Up

Once you have finished sealing your dry lining with scrim tape, jointing tape, or angle beads, you have a variety of options for decorating your new walls. While most of these options will require a skim coat, from there you will have a vast array of paint styles available to you, as well as wallpapering and tiling. Once you have your walls decorated, you can start to think about how they will be used within your home, and whether you will need to attach anything to them using fixings.

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