The Plaster Man answers readers' questions.

I am doing some renovations and have taken the wallpaper off of the walls. It appears that the walls are not in very good condition and I have been instructed by a plasterer to use blueboard and plaster to make the walls smooth and good enough to paint over. What is the difference between using blueboard vs. wallboard? Is one better than the other? The cost of the blueboard and plaster for 800 square feet of living space, which doesn't even include the bathroom because that room doesn't need it was $5,500 for blueboard and plastering? Is this a fair price?


Dear Harriet,
Hanging board over the existing plaster is one option. Personally, I prefer resurfacing if the plaster is solid and in fair condition. But if you choose to go with board, there are a few differences between the two. Plasterboard is meant for plaster. The paper chemically reacts to the plaster that is applied over it, forming an excellent bond. This type of board also is very absorbent and draws moisture out of the plaster as it sets.

Drywall has a slicker, shinier surface and is meant to have joint compound applied to it. Joint compound does not chemically set. It is an air-dry product. So, this type of board works well since it draws very little moisture out of the compound. I've personally seen plaster done over both types of board. I would suggest you leave that decision more up to the plasterer doing the work.

As far as costs, there is going to be quite a difference between new and renovation work. In the Midwest, plaster is being applied at about $1 to $1.25 per square foot, maybe a little less in some areas. That includes the plaster and labor (not the board). That's for new work.

Keep in mind that renovation work, which I would say your project is, would no doubt be higher in price. One I recently looked at was done for about $2.50 per square foot. Pricing can go higher than that of course, and if it includes repair work, that must be taken into consideration, as well.

I wish you success in your project.