Photo 1: The great room made for a profitable opportunity.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I have another one: Doing cheap work and cutting corners and then being shocked when the homeowner is unhappy. I must say that I have been called in to quite a few jobs that need to be done over or at least touched up in some way. Now instead of complaining, I will simply focus on the opportunity this type of work creates for those of us who strive to make quality the key element of our business.

Photo #1 is of a great room in a home. It is an example of a situation that created a profitable opportunity. This type of complaint is unfortunately becoming more common as time goes by. It involves the board seams showing through the plaster. This is a complaint that often happens in drywall finishing projects, and personally I feel it should never happen with plastering, but it does. Part of the problem here is created by hanging the board badly. Large gaps are left between the boards and when plaster is applied over these, often a bulge is created. However, this was not the case in this house. The problem here was that the crew simply tried to save money.

They used razor trowels (thin finishing trowels) and used a ton of pressure when doing the basecoat. The material was paper-thin and the pressure created bulging of the seams. A little more basecoat would have gone a long way and would have saved the plasterer thousands of dollars and a court date. That's because I was called in to fix these seams.

Photo 2: This room was quite high and not as easy to work in.


I say thousands of dollars because that's what it took to get these repairs done. Notice in photo #2 that these repairs were not done to a room with 8-foot ceilings. The ceiling started at 10 feet and went up from there. Of course, when the original plasterers were doing this work there was no carpet, furniture, windows, trim and whatever else to deal with-such as a chandelier in photo #3.

Photo 3: Working around chandeliers is not always fun.
The solution was not a difficult procedure. I bonded the areas with a latex bonder and then skimmed the areas about a foot wide. Then I followed up with a sand finish to match into the existing areas. One area in particular looked like the board hangers had run out of 1/2-inch board and opted to use a piece about 2 feet wide that was 5/8-inch board.

In this situation, the plasterer is going to have to correct this before the plastering is done. This crew tried to feather out the area. No way. It was in a highly visible spot and turned out to look like a giant's belt stretched across the ceiling. Unbelievable.

Photo 4: For any homeowner, this is tough luck when your ceiling comes crashing down.


The homeowners were nice people all the way, and they were patient for what they had gone through with the building of this new home. After I fixed these areas, which took in not only the great room, but also the master bedroom, kitchen ceiling, all the kids' rooms and bathrooms, the homeowner became more and more sensitive to the seams. I mean, the lady who lived there had pointed out the obvious seams at the start. I did these. And then when I'd return the next day, she had found more. You can see that bad work has a terrible effect on people-it makes them more and more conscious of their surroundings and they become almost impossible to please. For me it was just fine.

I profited from every repair. But that was not the case for the plasterer who did this job. They have every intention of bringing him to court to get the money they paid me. I couldn't help but think about how foolish it was to try and 'save' money during the plastering. How much did they save-$100, $200 at the most?


Photo #4 is one I wanted to include to give an example of a recent full-coat plaster job I came upon. The lady was peeling carrots in the kitchen one evening when she heard a tremendous crash in the living room. Her dog Mitsy came running out of there (the size of a small guinea pig) but she didn't think the dog could have produced that big a mess. She was right. This whole chunk came down at once and took out some prized furniture of hers. Whatever gets done to this ceiling, it must be done right. There is a tremendous amount of weight hanging there above, as you can see in the photo. If part of this stays it's going to have to be secured properly.

Some would opt in taking the whole ceiling down-seams showing is one thing. Having more of this ceiling come down later on is quite another.


Next year, I am planning on more products to give away through the column. Many companies have been kind enough to say they'd supply some neat prizes. I am also going to be focusing more on the profit side of the trade.

With this in mind, I will be re-formatting the column. From January forward I am going to be breaking the projects down into sections, showing the project, what it took to put it together, the time involved and what I charged to do the work. I'm doing this to match the seminars I will be putting on in 2006.

I'd like to say "thank you" to all of those who came on the Plaster Man Cruise. It turned out great and gave everyone a chance to meet some awesome plasterers up close. The knowledge that was shared could not have been bought at any price. One person in particular that I really enjoyed talking with was Rory Brennan, one of the foremost historic plaster and traditional materials consultants in the country. We've corresponded by e-mail for many years but this gave the chance to meet face-to-face. I think the cruise was a sensational way to get away for a few days and just have time to talk shop. And Rory and I did just that. If you want to see a neat site, check his out at

Things went so well that I'm thinking of another cruise for next year or perhaps a plaster convention of sorts on land. I have yet to pick a location for it, so if you have any ideas let me know. You can reach me at or write me in care of this magazine.

Congratulations go out to Mark Zevotek of San Clemente, Calif., the winner of this months Walls & Ceilings/Plaster Man T-shirt. And the Bosch RotoZip Winner is a long-time reader of the column, Mark Rich of Altadena, Calif.

Until next time, Plaster On!