"Now the need is for drywall and acrylics," says Richard Wassill.
He is the financial secretary of Local 222 of the Operative Plasterers' and
Cement Masons' International Association of the U.S. and Canada.
"The pastel color that you see so often on strip malls and fast food
outlets is an acrylic surface that plasterers apply, and which doesn't require
painting. There is also quite a lot of industrial plastering being done."
Plasterers apply various types of plasters to interior and exterior surfaces.
When working indoors, plasterers apply plaster to ceilings and walls to help
make the surface fire resistant and to increase soundproofing.
Sometimes they apply plaster veneer over drywall to create a textured or
durable surface. Much of the work done by plasterers is indoor work. But they
sometimes apply durable plasters to exterior walls and roofs for insulation,
durability or decoration.
Some plasterers cast ornamental designs in plaster. Others work with acrylic
The process differs according to the type of surface that is being covered.
For example, if covering concrete, the plasterer will apply a base coat of
gypsum plaster, then add a finish coat of lime-based plaster.
When they are plastering over wire mesh foundations, they use a trowel
to apply a preparatory coat. Then they use a tool to scratch the surface so
the final coat will bond properly.
Other surfaces require different skills and techniques -- including creating
decorative effects by embedding marble chips into the finish coat. Or they
might follow an architect's blueprint to create special designs.
When plasterers are working outside, they might have to apply heat to prevent
the plaster from freezing in cold weather. They might also be required to
work on scaffolds and ladders to reach high walls.
Plasterers must have physical stamina. Much of the work involves standing,
moving, bending and lifting. Plaster dust can soil clothing and irritate eyes.
Plasterers must know how to mix the various types of plasters. They have
to be able to estimate costs and amounts needed. They must also be proficient
with a variety of hand and power tools. Plus, they need all the skills necessary
to run a business.
Plastering may be a seasonal occupation. It depends on location, weather
and the general health of the construction industry.