Working at height for a long time can be a challenge in any trade, and many decorators use a work platform or trestle to provide a large working area to stand on, with easy access to the wall surface and no need to keep moving a stepladder or a small hop up every few minutes. For plasterers, there is a much bigger requirement to be at the wall-face for long periods of time, usually two or three times over for all the preparation and coats of plaster on each wall. Plastering ceilings is also much easier with stilts, as you can get close to the ceiling without having to keep moving work platforms and can move around very easily with no fear of slipping off a tall trestle.
It is this need to be close to the wall but still mobile, to gather more plaster to work with, that led to the development of plasterers’ stilts. These allow you to work safely at height and still move around, give you easy access to the mix when needed. Better still, there is no need to be moving a trestle or work platform at all, and the stilts will take up less room in the van, being a lot easier to pack in to tight spaces than a trestle. There is also the added bonus of seasonal work as a circus performer, if the plastering work dries up!
Putz manufacture a great line of stilts, which have been tried and tested by plasterers for many years with excellent results. There are cheaper models out there, but they don’t have the same build quality or comfort as the Putz Profi-Line, and can cause back problems due to exacerbating poor posture. The Profi-Line are available in three sizes, relating to the height available from the stilts rather than shoe size – all the Putz Profi-Line plasterers’ stilts can be worn by any shoe size.
The medium height stilts offer five height adjustments between 38 and 58 cm and weigh 5.8 kilos each, while the large ones give heights between 45 and 75 cm through 7 steps at a weight of 6.2 kilos each. The extra-large plasterers’ stilts go from 60 cm to 1 metre, in 9 increments and weigh in at 7 kilos each. The choice of model depends entirely on the amount of extra height you need – very tall people may find that they can achieve a good range of heights with the medium size stilts while shorter people may need the extra large. All the Putz Profi-Line stilts have rubber non-slip feet and fasten round the foot and calf for excellent stability. They are also spring loaded, to make them comfortable to walk in, so you are not dragging around that extra weight and it feels like walking naturally. Priced between £165 and £215 they are not cheap, but are great value compared to the more expensive models.
It can take a while to get used to working in and walking on stilts, but the benefit of not having to set up trestles and reducing the fall risk outweighs the short teething period you’ll need to get used to wearing stilts. Just remember to watch out for heavy light fittings and doorways when you are on them, as there is obviously a small risk of banging your head on these. Aside from the risk of knocking your head on a door frame plasterers’ stilts are much safer than using trestles and ladders and therefore are a good choice for health and safety or risk assessments.