Figure 5-1: (C) J Wiley, S BlissBest Practices Guide to Installing Interior Plaster Veneer Surfaces

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Plastering techniques for buildings: this article series discusses and provides a best construction practices guide to the selection and installation of building interior surface materials, carpeting, doors, drywall, trim, flooring, lighting, plaster, materials, finishes, and sound control materials.

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Specifications & Installation Guide for Interior Veneer Plaster Ceilings & Walls

Also see INTERIORS of BUILDINGS, our home page for information about all topics relating to building interiors.

As described in the book, Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction Chapter 5, Interior Finish:

Interior finishes are the most visible and, on a square-foot basis, often the most expensive components in a house. However, since many of these products and materials are marketed directly to consumers, they are often not well understood by builders and designers. Making good decisions on such finish materials as flooring, carpeting, and lighting fixtures can make a critical difference to homeowner satisfaction. The builder or designer can play a key role in helping the homeowner choose finishes that are well-suited to the intended use, as well as providing the structural support and prep work the materials require for good performance.

Veneer or skim-coat plaster has, for the most part, replaced traditional three-coat plaster in residential work. It consists of a single coat of plaster 1 /1 6 to 1 /8- inch thick over a special type of gypsum board, commonly called blueboard, which is treated to bond well to plaster. Although the finished job costs 30 to 50% more than standard drywall, veneer plaster has a number of advantages over drywall:

  • A pleasing, smooth texture that is very similar to traditional three-coat plaster.
  • A harder, brighter surface that resists dents and nail pops.
  • No raised seams, tape bubbles, or other imperfections associated with drywall.
  • Greater mass reduces sound transmission.
  • Quicker installation: about two days for a typical house, and it can be painted 24 hours later.
  • Requires no sanding, making it particularly good for remodeling.

Surface Preparation for Interior Veneer Plaster Ceilings & Walls

Skim coat prep work is similar to drywall with a few exceptions. Because the finish coating is less than 1/8 inch thick, the boards must lie flat in a plane. Other than that, the board can be hung pretty quickly with few concerns. The screws can be left flush with the surface, and butt joints can fall anywhere. Expanded metal corner bead goes on all outside corners and self-sticking mesh tape goes over all seams.

Some plasterers prefer to apply the finish with baseboards and door and window casings already in place, protected with masking tape, so the plaster can fill in any waviness in the board behind the trim. Otherwise, install 1/8 -inch plaster grounds at the baseboard and around all door and window openings to guide the trowel and produce an even finish.

Application Procedures for Interior Veneer Plaster Ceilings & Walls

Using a 12- to 16-inch plaster trowel, a first scratch coat goes over all flat seams and then the finish coat is applied right away. If the seams are allowed to dry overnight, they will need to be wetted first or the dried plaster will suck too much moisture out of the finish coat, leaving a weak joint. The same is true of cold joints along a wall. If a wet edge is allowed to dry out, it should be rewetted. Otherwise it will be difficult to blend the new plaster into the cold joint.

Different brands and types of veneer plaster get slightly different treatments, but in general, the finish coat is troweled on in one or two passes and troweled smooth. Once dried, small imperfections or voids can be misted with water and fixed with standard joint compound.

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.

Resources: Manufacturers, Industry Associations, & Sources of Indoor Wall Materials, Flooring, Carpeting, Lighting, Sound Control Materials

Drywall Trims and Accessories

Clinch-On Products, A Deitrich Metal Framing Company Nail-on and clinch-on galvanized metal corner beads

Con-Form International/Strait Flex Strait-Flex fiber-composite mud-on corner bead for inside and outside off-90 degree angles

Drywall Systems International No-Coat prefinished drywall tapes for inside and outside corners, off angles and bullnose trims

Flex-Ability Concepts Curved metal top and bottom plates for curved wood or metal stud walls

Grabber Construction Products Drywall screws, corner clips, and fiberglass mesh tapes

Insta Arch Corp. Galvanized steel preformed and custom arches for drywall

National Gypsum Co. ProForm tapes and finishing compounds

Pla-Cor ABS corner trims, bullnose, 3-way corner caps, and flexible arches

Phillips Manufacturing Co. Metal and vinyl corner beads, bullnose trim, and flexible bullnose and angled arch trim

Trim-Tex Vinyl drywall beads, flexible arch beads, and finishing accessories

U.S. Gypsum Beadex and Sheetrock-brand tape-on metal corner beads and trims. Complete line of drywall finishing compounds

Vinyl Corp., A Deitrich Metal Framing Company Full line of vinyl beads and trim

Industry & Trade Associations for Carpeting, Lighting, Finishes, Wood Products, Flooring, Painting & Decorating

American Lighting Association

Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industries

Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI)

Drywall Finishing Council

Forest Stewardship Program


The Gypsum Association

National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association (NOFMA)

National Wood Flooring Association

Painting and Decorating Contractors of America Smartwood/Rainforest Alliance

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.

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