I live in France and have found it very difficult to find a person who does plastering. I have been back to England to buy the materials, as the man I found to do the work said he cannot work with the lime-based products available here.

The job is now finished and yet there is a very irregular feel to the wall, not as expected smooth and flat all over. The wall underneath was not flat before the work was done, so is this the problem? Can anything be done to make a wall good enough to paint or have I found a bad plasterer?
-Beverley Wedgwood

Dear Beverly,
It sounds like finding a plasterer is an international problem. To me, the answer to your question has a lot to do with expectations. Often, the plastering that was originally done in a home was not perfect. There were bulges and areas that were not truly plumb in the first place. The finish may also have had uneven spots. The question is this: What is the end result that you are looking for or expecting?

If you want a truly new wall, you have two options: Pull out the old plaster and start with new board and have the plastering done over that or; have it resurfaced, which sounds like what was done in your home.

With resurfacing, there are two options: to fill in and square up the old plaster with the new plaster that is being put on or; simply cover over the old and leave the "character marks"-the imperfections in place. Some people can live with this, some cannot. It's important that this be clearly communicated before the work is done. I don't think you found a bad plasterer. The problem was that the expectations of what you wanted at the end of the project was not clearly expressed, which has led to the present situation. I do hope things can be worked out.

For those who are reading this letter, it's an important lesson learned: Make sure you know what the homeowner expects before any plaster is mixed up! Until next time, "Plaster On!"
-The Plaster Man

If you read this article, please circle number 361.