Average Labour Cost/Price to Plaster/Skim a Ceiling

To clarify the following prices it is recommended that you read the article in the INFORMATION box below the PRICES…

(These prices are based on a tradesman’s rate of £150.00 per day and a labourer if required at £100.00 per day. This includes the cost of buying and collecting any materials, dumping any waste if necessary and any incidental materials they will need. The minimum price will usually be for a half day)

How Much Does it Cost To Plaster a Ceiling?


ceiling plaster

Job 1
You have a 12’ x 15’ (3.6 x 4.5m), or similar, bedroom ceiling. All the ceiling is to come down, including the mouldings. You are clearing the room completely and organising it’s return.

This will take a plasterer and his mate a day to bring it down , clear up, get the new boards into the room and fix them. They will then take half a day to plaster, clear up and go to the tip.

If he has to remove wallpaper and make good the top of the walls all round, (which he will have to do, if a Victorian moulding has come down).

If you want him to clear the room and put it back

A carpet fitter will charge £40.00

To “run in” a fairly ordinary Victorian moulding
and fit central plaster ceiling rose.

To fit a “Gyproc” coving £275.00

To re fit your
central light, a sparks will charge £40.00

To collect and return the loft insulation ( DO WHAT!) £100.00

NOW you can start decorating!

Job 2
12’ x 12’ ceiling where plasterboard is being fitted to the underside of the existing ceiling. This is perfectly acceptable.

All the above extras may apply here as well but we will assume you are doing all the room clearing etc. He is fixing new plasterboard and plastering the ceiling only.

That’s one day for the 2 of them

Job 3
You have fitted the plasterboard, all he has to do is scrim out and plaster. £200.00

Material Information One bag of finish plaster £6: 5l tub of PVA £15

Standard Job: to plaster one 4m x 4m ceiling. Assumption - ceiling is sound, with loose plaster. 1/2 a day for a plasterer and labourer.
Labour and materials: £185.00 (one tub of PVA, one bag of plaster)

For your must-see guide to Tradesmen's Rates please click on the map…


General Plastering Information and Further Prices (And questions to ask a plasterer when quoting)

If your ceiling needs plastering then it must be very badly cracked or very uneven (which means it was cracked but someone has tried to fill and smooth over the cracks and failed), or water has ruined it. The first thing to do is find out why its cracked etc. When you’ve done this and rectified the problem then get it plastered. This may of course be easier said than done, (rectifying the problem that is).

If you don’t sort out the
reason for the cracking etc, there’s very little point in plastering because it will just crack again. But you knew that didn’t you? Of course you did!

There are two reasons why ceilings crack. One is movement, either “thermal” or “settlement”. This leaves thin cracks which get filled in every time you decorate and will only come back again irrespective of whether you plaster the ceiling or not.

Thermal movement, which is caused by different adjacent materials expanding (moving) at different rates relative to each other, in a plasterboard ceiling, causes cracks which are parallel, about 4’ (1200mm) apart and thin.

Settlement, which should not be confused with subsidence, occurs in most houses, continues very slowly for several years after building and then hopefully, eventually stops.

Subsidence also causes cracks, but these are usually ones you can waive to your neighbours through. If you have these, forget your ceiling, pack a bag and get out of the house… NOW!

The other reason is
too much weight in the loft, or the floor above. This is easily solved unless you live in a block of flats or your house is very old and the ceiling wasn’t made strong enough to support it’s own weight in the first place.

In these cases you need to be 6’ 6” (I find that helps when discussing fractious issues with neighbours, it sort of focuses them), or you need a
structural engineer. Either way you have our sympathy.

If it’s water damage you are repairing, consult your insurers first. They won’t pay for leaking roofs for instance (they will say that’s lack of maintenance) but they will shell out for sorting out the consequence of the leak.

Discounting the
timber joists which form the actual ceiling structure, (which may of course also be the floor for the room above), there are 2 ways to form the underside surface which we call the ceiling. If your house is Victorian this will be “lath and plaster”. This process required the poor devils to nail hundreds of thin timber strips, with ¼” gaps between them, to the underside of the joists. These were then spread liberally with one coat of thick plaster and one coat of thin finish plaster. This all ended up about 1” (25mm) thick.

The other way, which began around the 1930’s was to use newly invented plasterboard which came in 8’ x 4’ sheets. This was (and still is) nailed or screwed to the underside of the joists and given two coats of the thin finish plaster.

In certain circumstances it may
not be necessary to pull your old damaged ceiling down. In fact this is one of the filthiest, choking, lung heaving jobs, a builder ever does, particularly if the ceiling is a Victorian bedroom one, (SOOT). By the way, no matter how well the room is sealed off, you will be finding soot at the bottom of the furthest drawer, in the furthest cupboard, of the furthest room from the work, for a decade to come!

It is quite acceptable to fix the new plasterboard directly on top of (which in this case of course means directly
underneath) the existing damaged ceiling surface. If this is done the new boards must be staggered relative to any existing cracked ones and the screws must be at least 2 ½ ” (65mm) long, particularly if the original ceiling is lath and plaster.

The newly fixed boards can then be plastered over. However, if the ceiling joists are badly distorted it may be necessary to apply a layer of thick plaster first (bonding plaster), just like the Victorians had to, in order to remove any anomalies. When plastering plasterboard, each joint between the sheets must be taped over with “scrim”, which is a loose weave “cloth” about 2” (50mm) wide. This used to be kept on by the plaster itself but is now self adhesive. If it’s not used, each joint will show as a crack when the plaster dries.

All this of course reduces the ceiling height by at least ½” (12mm) but most rooms can take that.

Quite a lot of Victorian ceilings have beautiful
plaster covings around the edges. These may not be affected at all by the problem occurring in the ceiling itself so for goodness sake don’t destroy them, just remove the ceiling right up to them, leaving them in position, then plasterboard out and plaster. This is particularly relevant where the covings are very elaborate, the labourers of the gentlemen who specialise in hand drawing (or re moulding) new filigree plasterwork mouldings, all drive Ferraris!

If you do remove the Victorian moulding then you will encounter a problem where the new ceiling meets the wall. There will be a ½” (12mm) gap here because the new ceiling is thinner than the old one. If you are putting a moulding back, then no problem. If not, then shame on you and you will have to plaster the top bit all round the wall and that can’t be done with the wallpaper still on.
In fact it’s very likely that your
wallpaper will get damaged as any of the above work proceeds, so you better get used to the idea that you will have to decorate the whole room. It just goes on and on doesn’t it!

If you are trying to cover a horrible contoured ceiling which some DIY maniac did back in the 60’s (just after he took out the cast iron fireplaces and all the mouldings), then don’t be persuaded by a bloke who tells you that he will just knock all the peaks off, PVA the rest and plaster over it. I had two friends who had this done and (this is gospel), a week later they were having a monster row, she stormed out, slammed the door and the whole lot just fell off the ceiling onto the floor! (She was right by the way, that swine never really loved her)! Knock the peaks off by all means but then fix plasterboard underneath, then plaster it.

Plastering is a messy job. You have to cover everything in the room and the carpet especially. Most blokes when plastering a ceiling just move a small set of steps around with their foot climbing up and down as they go. (Their hands are otherwise engaged). If the carpet has cloths all over it, this is impossible. Really the room needs to be completely cleared and the carpet needs to be taken up, particularly if the ceiling is being brought down as well.

There is also the problem of where the plaster is mixed. As we stated in our other article on plastering walls, given carte blanch, the labourer, will take his water from your bath taps, “knock up” the mix in a bucket on the landing with not a dust sheet in sight! Sort all this out before you accept the quote.

Questions to ask the plasterer during his quotation visit.

Who will clear the room, take up the carpet, then lay the carpet and put it all back again?
Where will it all be stored?

Does the ceiling need to come down, can’t you just plasterboard underneath?
If it’s coming down how will he seal the room, then get the dozen bags of dusty plaster out of your house? (The window is a good route out).
If it’s a bedroom ceiling, what’s stored in the loft? Where will all that go? Is there insulation? Is it all going to be saved and put back?

Can you sort out the central light or will an electrician have to be called in?

Can you save the mouldings?
If these are just plasterboard mouldings, they don’t matter, he can fit new ones on completion.

Will you fit new “Gyproc” type plasterboard mouldings on completion and fill in all the gaps (there will be gaps)! ready for decoration?

Can you run new proper plaster mouldings for us and fix a new ceiling rose?
Not a lot of plasterers can do this, (it’s quite complicated), the ones who can are the the ones who can only afford BMW’s.

Where will you be mixing your plaster (“knocking up” in builders parlance) and getting the water from?
Will he be completely covering the route from that spot to the room in question and be cleaning up on completion?

A-Z of Job Pricing

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