When it comes to home improvement tasks, knowing the difference between plastering and skimming can help ensure the job is done suitably. Plastering and skimming are surface preparation methods, but they involve different techniques. Both approaches have advantages, so it is essential to understand their differences before selecting a way to use them.

At Northampton Plastering Pros, our skilled craftsmen are trained in both techniques and can help you determine which approach will work best for your project. So whether you need to repair damaged walls or want to give your home’s interior an updated look, we can provide the expertise and quality craftsmanship necessary to achieve beautiful results that will stand the test of time.

Plastering vs Skimming

Plastering and skimming are two standard methods of improving the aesthetics and functionality of walls. Plastering involves applying a thick layer of plaster to create a smooth, even surface on rough or damaged partitions. This process is ideal for surfaces needing significant repair before being painted or wallpapered.

On the other hand, skimming involves applying a thin coat of finishing plaster to an existing wall surface. The primary purpose of skimming is to create a smooth and level surface ready for painting or wallpapering. Skimming can also cover up minor imperfections such as cracks, bumps, or dents without removing the old plaster entirely.

Materials & Tools Required

Specific materials and tools are required for each job for plastering and skimming. For plastering, you will need a trowel, hawk, plaster mixing bucket or drill attachment, water supply, sandpaper or a smoothing tool and, of course, the plaster itself. The type of plaster used depends on the surface being worked on and the desired result. For instance, bonding plaster creates a base layer on uneven surfaces, while finishing plasters give a smooth finish.

On the other hand, skimming requires less equipment than plastering but still requires specific tools. A trowel is essential for spreading skim coat evenly over a surface. A good quality brush allows you to apply PVA glue before applying the skim coat, which helps improve adhesion between layers. Lastly, sandpaper and a scraper are handy when levelling any bumps after applying the skim coat.

Overall both jobs require attention to detail to achieve great results, so all necessary materials must be prepared beforehand for work to be done more efficiently.

Process for Each Job

There are some significant differences between the two methods regarding plastering and skimming. The process for each job is unique and requires different techniques, tools, and expertise. For instance, plastering involves creating a base layer of plaster on walls or ceilings before applying a final coat. This process typically takes longer than skimming due to the need for multiple layers.

On the other hand, skimming is a technique used to create a smooth surface on top of an existing wall or ceiling. It involves applying a thin layer of finishing plaster over an old surface using specialized tools such as trowels. Skimming can be done relatively quickly compared to plastering since it only requires one layer instead of multiple ones.


Whether you choose plastering or skimming will depend on your specific needs and budget. Plastering may be the way to go if you’re looking for a long-lasting solution that will stand up well over time. But if you’re looking for a quick and inexpensive way to improve the look of your walls or ceilings, skimming may be the better choice.