Back in Australia I worked with some plasterers. The process involved hanging plaster boards to the frame and then stopping. Stopping involved appling a compound (setting base coat and drying top coat) and joining tape along all of the joints and over the screw holes followed by sanding for a perfectly smooth and level finish.

Since arriving in the UK I have noticed that often people prefer to skim the entire wall after hanging sheets of plaster to it.

Having seen both finished products, there look equally good to me.

Why do people do this and not just stop over the joins and screw holes? Is the process of skimming stem from older methods of plastering? or is there some other advantage that I am missing.

  • Was it plaster board or drywall? Drywall is typically just mudded over the joints and holes, where as plasterboard is generally skimmed over completely. You can also completely skim over drywall to have the same appear of plaster.
    – Zach
    Dec 9, 2011 at 18:31
  • what exactly is "drywall" ... coming from oz all our walls are plaster attached to a stud frame with a single brick wall on the outside ... so nfi about drywall... Dec 10, 2011 at 16:37
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drywall It's gypsum stuck between two sheets of paper. You can apply plaster over the top, basically using it as a replacement for the base coats of plaster and lathe, or you can just smooth the seams and holes over with drywall mud and paint it. They have different types, with certain ones being made specifically for plaster base and others made for wet environments and what not.
    – Zach
    Dec 23, 2011 at 14:39
  • oh you mean plaster board ...... thanks for clarifying :) never used the term drywall before only ever called it plaster board in australia... Jan 2, 2012 at 9:00

2 Answers 2


Skimming probably does come from before plaster board became ubiquitous. Previously you'd apply a coat of undercoat plaster to the wall or laths and then a top coat to finish. You'd also skim a new coat of topcoat if the wall had been damaged beyond simple filling. A good plasterer would be able to get a glass like finish on this topcoat with no sanding required.

Skimming over plasterboard gives you the same options. You can get a good finish without sanding - which is a messy job.

  • so skimming does not require sanding after? Nov 7, 2011 at 23:25
  • 1
    @smashtastic - not if you do it right :) Something I've yet to master.
    – ChrisF
    Nov 7, 2011 at 23:26
  • I guess that is one reason to skim instead of stop .... cos you are right about sanding it is messy - dust throughout whole house ..... Nov 7, 2011 at 23:47
  • You can stop the dust throughout the whole house by 1) closing all the doors. 2) using a zip-wall. 3) a fan exhausting the plaster dust outside - it creates a negative pressure preventing the dust from going back into the house.
    – hookenz
    Jul 12, 2013 at 1:32
  • I've never been good enough with a trowel to get away without sanding. But I've seen professionals do it and end up with a perfect finish. Jul 11, 2014 at 15:40

After installing new plasterboard/drywall: for wallpapers You just need to do the joints with joint compound and paper tape, fill the screwholes, and paint the wall with primer. Skimming is needed for a really absolutely perfect paintjob. Lots of excellent videos about both methods in Youtube.

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