Monthly Archives: February 2017

Increase Your Build Speed with Spray Plaster from Knauf

When we say that plaster spray machines such as the EZE 24 Plus makes plaster work easier and faster, we’re not joking. EZE 24 plus plastering machine

According to Danilith, a Northamptonshire based house builder, who timed a two-man team to spray an incredible 60 square meters of ceiling, the team completed the task in less than 12 minutes. This isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned Knauf Airless Finish. Check out our review of it.

This house builder is known for their speed and they can get a bespoke home built in just 18 weeks. So the performance of Knauf Airless Finish suited them down to the ground, in terms of fast application.

What sets Knauf Airless Finish apart from the rest, is that it doesn’t need a bonding agent applied beforehand, which is true of other plasters. If you are using concrete panels, you don’t need that extra time consuming step, you can apply it straight to the concrete and it will be just fine.

Another benefit is that you won’t necessarily need to install any hop-ups when you apply it either. If your machine is good enough, then you can apply it from floor level. For example, our EZE 24 Plus can manage ceiling applications due to its powerful projection feature.

Knauf Airless Finish typically requires a two coat application of between 1 and 2 mm thickness. It will dry to leave a smooth and consistent white finish, so that the decorators have got less to do when they take over. It’s also a plaster that is easy to level and sand as it’s so lightweight.

We don’t’ know about you, but it’s this type of advanced materials that we believe is going to take plastering into the future. This is the type of product that not only makes it faster and easier to do our work, but will make savings that can be passed down to clients and that makes everybody happy.

First Aid on site – what you need to have and what you need to know

Accidents can happen even when all necessary precautions have been taken, a fact which red small case with white cross in center often comes as a surprise to people who get injured despite wearing high-vis; that incredible piece of PPE that protects the wearer from any misfortune just by virtue of the colour and reflective stripes.  There is certainly a staggering number of people out there who put far too much faith in the powers of a flimsy neon vest, believing that a hard-hat or steel toe caps are optional if they’re wearing the high-vis. As a plasterer, whether you are working on a construction site or in someone’s living room, here’s what you need to know.

Every site is required by law to have a first aid kit and a named person, who is responsible for keeping the first aid stocked; a person needs to have an up-to-date first aid at work certificate, if they are responsible for more than five people, and it is vital that this is renewed when it runs out (every three years).  The advice about what to do in certain situations can change from year to year, so it is vital that the first aider has the latest knowledge for the sake of safety, as well as for legal protection against the company.  There should be at least one person trained in construction site first aid for every 50 people working on site.

As a plasterer, if you contract casual labour it is important that you, as the employer and responsible person, are first aid trained and have a fully stocked first aid kit on site.  If you are self-employed and work alone you are still responsible for your own health and safety, but are not required to hold a valid first aid certificate.

A site first aid kit will contain plasters, sterile dressings, disposable gloves, compression bandages, triangular bandages, safety pins, antiseptic wipes and an eye bath kit.  The eye bath kit is of great importance for plasterers (as with any trade using materials that could end up in the eye and cause inflammation) and should be replaced as soon as it is used.  It is a good idea to keep two or three in the kit so there is always one available.

Even without formal first aid training there are some basic things every plasterer should know for their own safety;  Any cuts or lacerations should be treated with an absorbent dressing, an antibacterial wipe to clean away any dust, pressure and then elevation.  Sharp plastering trowels are the main culprits for cuts at work, so it is worth knowing how to treat them on the spot.  Anything that does not stop bleeding within five to ten minutes should be treated at hospital, as stitches or tissue glue may be needed to close the wound.

Sprains should be treated with elevation, compression and ice, and medical advice should also be sought as soon as possible.  Burns caused by mixing plaster should also be treated at hospital; any burn or scald larger than a postage stamp is considered to be a medical emergency.  Any falls, or knocks to the head, should also be attended to by medically trained personnel and the victim should never be moved after a fall.  The only exception to this rule is if there is more danger in leaving them where they are, than in moving them.

Basic first aid courses are available for a small cost nationwide, the St Johns Ambulance service are the leading provider of first aid training and can tailor their courses to site specific requirements.  Even if you do not need training for work purposes (for example if you work with a trained first aider on site), it is still very useful to know what to do in an emergency should anything happen at home or away from the workplace.

Despite what Tony may tell you, tiger stripes are not Gr-r-reat!

There’s nothing more annoying than getting to the end of a job only to find tiger stripes or original artwork tiger with dark stripes, isolated on beige background, and sepia color version, llustration. spots appearing in the final coat, which you have just spent time getting a smooth as possible.  They are not easy to decorate over, as they will even show through a couple of coats of paint in the right light, and wallpaper can fail to adhere well over these areas, potentially causing bubbling under the surface, if the papering is done too quickly and the plaster is still a little damp between the layers.

Tiger stripes in plaster are often the result of putting the second coat on too soon after the first coat has been laid down.  If the second coat is too thick this can also cause tiger stripes, but the main cause is a first coat that is still too wet to receive the second coat.  Other causes of stripes in setting plaster are a dirty trowel (as debris or dried plaster on the edges can drag into the plaster surface) and the scratching in, being done too deep.  If the hollows of the scratching are too deep for the second coat to fill, then the colour differences will appear as the plaster dries differently, without proper contact with the first coat.  The same effect happens when the trowel is dirty between coats; the scratch coat takes the brunt of the messy edge and you get more hollows than intended in that first coat.  Tiger stripes in plaster can also be caused by using too much water when laying in the second coat; a mix that is too wet will not take to the scratch coat well enough to dry evenly.

To avoid most of the potential causes of tiger stripes, make sure the trowel is cleaned well between coats or use a different trowel for each coat.  Also, ensure that the first coat is dry enough that it will bond well to the second coat, yet still wet enough to bond with the second coat.  Mixing up new plaster for the second coat is also a good way to ensure that the mix will be the right consistency; laying up stiffer plaster with a wetter trowel to make it workable is one of the other suspected causes of tiger stripes.

If the stripes are caused by hollows in the first coat, more pressure is needed on the second coat to flatten the two layers together and remove the stripes.  As they usually appear while the final coat goes off there can be time, if you are quick, to work the plaster a little more with a wet towel and even out the two layers.  Stripes can be made worse by applying too much pressure; some plasterers say that too much pressure when flattening out is what causes them in the first place; so do be careful when reworking a final coat that is drying in stripes, that you don’t make the problem worse.

If the stripes are caused by the second coat going on while the first is still too wet, you can try and remove them by working the surface again just as is goes off; sometimes adding more water to the surface can even out the stripes at the end stage.  If this doesn’t work you are probably stuck with them, and leaving the wall to dry fully, then lining is the best option (if you don’t want to hack the plaster right back and start again, that is).

Hopefully you will never see another tiger stripe in your plaster, and the only ones you’ll be familiar with are on your cereal box!

Energy food for the active plasterer

Inspired by a recent thread on everyone’s favourite plastering forum, we thought we’d putschool lunch with a sandwich, fresh fruits, crackers and juice together some quick and easy meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, second lunch and even the third lunch of the day, with some tips thrown in for good measure.

Everyone says breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  They say this for a reason, because it is the first hit of energy your body gets and after going all night (apart from the cheeky handful of biscuits just before bed) with no sustenance, it needs fuel.  Porridge (either instant or made the old-fashioned way) is a cheap filling breakfast that releases energy slowly throughout the morning, fuelling your plastering all the way through to lunch without any hunger pangs.  Porridge is very versatile as a breakfast food and it doesn’t take much to add in some fruit, seeds, honey or even bacon, if you feel so inclined.  Adding fruit to porridge gets one of your five-a-day in before you even leave the house.

If you hate porridge there are a whole host of microwaveable mug breakfast ideas based on the humble omelette, that take a few minutes to throw together and cook.  Simply whisk an egg or two in a mug, add cheese or chopped vegetables and microwave for two minutes, mixing halfway through.  You can even have your micro-creation on toast, for more morning fuel.  Both porridge and micro-mug-omelettes can be made in the time it takes to boil a kettle.

Food flasks are an easy way of having a hot meal at lunchtime; you can heat up last night’s leftovers in the morning, pop them into the flask and enjoy a hot lunch with zero effort.  Similarly, buying a plug in crockpot and taking that with you, means you can have your food cooking away while you work.  Simple stews are easy in one of those, and there are a whole host of recipes designed specifically for cooking in a slow cooker – even curries and pasta dishes.  The only downside to this is that if your cooking is too good, you’ll end up feeding half the plasterers on site, so stick to a small model if you don’t want that hassle.

A camping stove is also worth considering, as you can heat up a tin of soup or beans very quickly or, even go the whole hog and get a fry up on for a treat.  It might not work every day, as cooking from scratch takes a lot of time out of your lunch break, but if time is not a problem then you can eat really well with a single burner, even better with a double.  Toasting attachments are available for camping stoves, so you can even do beans on toast while waiting for some plaster to go off.

Keeping a stash of non-perishable food in the van is a good idea for those days when you forget lunch or simply have so much to do that you get hungry again quickly.  Tinned fish is healthy and lasts for ever, and snack packs of dried fruit and nuts are readily available at supermarkets and provide a healthy energy source.  Crisps are good for a treat as well, but they’ll never last as long in the van once another plasterer notices them there.

One thing to avoid is turning to sugary snacks when energy levels dip; although it will boost your energy quickly, after half an hour your blood sugar levels will crash through the floor, leaving you feeling worse than before you snacked and making finishing that plastering job even harder than it needs to be.  Stick to cereal/breakfast bars and fruit for snacks instead, as the inevitable hunger pangs that strike around 3pm are terrible for making people overeat and binge on unhealthy food, ruining your appetite for dinner once you get home after a long day of plastering.

Fun things to do with leftover plaster – Part 2

Welcome back to part two of our look at creative things to do with leftover plaster. fresh plaster of paris poured onto a small rectangular mold

Rubber washing up gloves are a creative way of casting plaster – mix the plaster and pour into the glove, then tie it at the top to stop it leaking out.  Keep the glove palm up while it is setting if you want a flat base at the bottom, or hang it up for a more natural finish.  You can manipulate the fingers of the glove to create a shallow bowl shape in the palm of the glove, which can then be filled with soil and grit to plant a succulent or an air plant in.  These make nice presents for plant lovers and are a nice decorative feature on a windowsill.  If the hand mould is going to be kept outside it’s a good idea to waterproof the surface against rain.

If you hang the glove up, fingers pointing down, you can make a unique jewellery holder from the resulting hand model.  Metallic spray paints will give it a nice finish, and the bottom of the wrist part can be chipped down to a level base, so the hand will stand up on its own.  Again, these make nice presents and will keep children entertained for a whole afternoon, while they wait for the plaster to set and decide what to decorate it with.

For a more realistic hand model, you can even cast your own hands in plaster.  It is important that you don’t put your hands (or any body part for that matter) directly into the plaster, as the exothermic reaction of plaster mixing and setting can cause serious burns.  You will need alginate powder (available online and from large cookware stores), a container (a bucket will do) and plaster.  Mix the alginate powder as per the instructions and pour it into the container.  Put your hand into the mixture and hold it still for 3-5 minutes, until the alginate has set.  It is quite a rubbery feeling material, and once set will hold the shape within the container for 48 hours, until the alginate goes hard.  Once it is hard it cannot be used as a mould anymore, so if you want multiple models of the same thing make sure you have enough time to cast as many as you need.

The good thing about alginate is that it forms well round detailed objects, so you can hold items in your hand within the mixture and the resulting mould will show these objects in detail.  The other advantage to this method of casting is that it will naturally result in a flat base.  Once the mould is set, you can remove your hand and start mixing the plaster.  Pour the plaster into the mould and wait for it to set.  Remove the entire mould from the container and cut it in half with a craft knife.  The alginate should come away from the plaster very easily.  If you want to do another casting, tape the two halves of the mould back together and replace in the container to keep it together.  The hand mould can then be decorated in the same way as any plaster cast.  These personal hand moulds are a nice gift from children to parents, if you can get the child to keep their hand still for five minutes that is!

Facts about Plastering

For those of you who read this blog regularly, we thought we’d give you a break from the A picture of Frank Sinatra wearing a hat with his arms folded across his body.usual product reviews, safety concerns, recommendations and other fascinating but serious pieces that we post up each week. Instead, we’re going to share with you today something a little lighter, in the form of a few amazing facts from the plastering and construction industry.

Here you go:

  • Nancy Sinatra was the daughter of a plasterer. Before Frank hit it big, he was plastering away like the rest of us.
  • One of the best James Bonds ever was once a plasterer. Yes, that’s the smooth Scottish man of super-star quality, Sir Sean Connery.
  • There have been several British entertainers in the plastering game – such as comedians Ricky Tomlinson and Paul Whitehouse and of course, British actor Brian Blessed.
  • International boxing had its own plasterers; Sir Henry Cooper started out as a plasterer and so did Alan Minter.
  • Another sportsperson who hit it big after their time in the plastering world is Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards, the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games ski jumper.
  • Finally, the singer of that Australian oldie but goodie – Waltzing Matilda, Slim Dusty was also a plasterer.
  • To top it off, the word ‘fabulous’ is meant to have come from Roman plasterer, Fabuloso

Let’s move onto something a little bit different now; the topic of ceilings. Every plasterer loves a good ceiling and they feature heavily in our working lives.

  • Did you know that the well-installed ceiling can stay in situ for up to and over 100 years without a sag in sight?
  • Have a think for a moment. Which ceiling do you think is the most famous in the world? (Answer at the bottom).
  • Although the cathedral, tray, shed and vaulted are all popular types of ceiling, the most popular are suspended and conventional.
  • The word ‘ceiling’ derives from the Old French language and meant ‘to cover with panelling’.
  • Almost every structure on the planet has a ceiling, whether it’s commercial or residential.
  • The word ‘ceiling’ has been used in plenty of pop songs including:
    • Dancing on the Ceiling by Lionel Ritchie (1986)
    • Hotel Ceiling by Ed Sheeran (2014)
    • The Ceiling Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore (2012)
    • Living on the Ceiling by Blancmange (1982)
  • The word ‘ceiling’ has been used in the titles of at least four movies:
    • Ceiling Zero (1936)
    • The Neon Ceiling (1971)
    • Cracks in the Ceiling (2001)
    • Popcorn Ceiling (2015)

Now that we’ve hit the ceiling on the ceiling related facts, let’s head over to some facts about plastering in history:

  • It was the Egyptian Pharaohs who first used plaster inside their pyramids and palaces, over 4000 years ago. There are examples of this incredibly hard plasterwork held in the British Museum, it is reputed to be harder than the stonework beneath.
  • The plastering tools that the Egyptians used were practically the same as those that are in use today. They used hair to strengthen it, reeds to lace it together as the lath is used now and the plaster itself was made from gypsum.
  • It was brought over to this country by the Romans, who used it to create reliefs that were used as décor; some of these are still in existence.
  • Both the Normans and the Anglo-Saxons plastered their buildings, using lime plastering. It was necessary for structure in addition to being enjoyed for its aesthetic qualities.
  • Over the years, the craft of plastering became increasingly important; it was granted a charter by King Henry VII in 1501.
  • Those who did not complete a 7-year apprenticeship of the craft were forbade to trade it.

The answer to the 2nd question in the 2nd part is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, in Rome.