You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a decent set of plastering tools together, but you do need to know what you’re looking for when buying. It’s easy to end up with a set of tools that look great but doesn’t work for you, so follow these handy tips when buying plastering tools and you’ll end up with kit that does the job first time, every time.

Getting the right hawk

These are the crucial tools you need when you’re plastering. The hawk holds the extra plaster and is the alternative to having to keep getting mix out of the bucket. Look for a hawk manufactured from stainless steel with an ergonomic handle. Stainless steel is robust and hardwearing and won’t rust, providing a decent edge for you to scrape the trowel on and keep it clean. If you choose an aluminium hawk, make sure it has plenty of rivets around the handle so it doesn’t twist or buckle in use.

An ergonomic handle is essential if you’re going to be plastering for several hours and don’t want to experience hand cramp and pins and needles. It also makes sense to match the size of your hawk to the size of your trowel for the most efficient use.

Choosing the perfect trowel

The trowel is what makes the magic happen, allowing you to transform a lump of plaster into an ultra smooth wall finish. You must buy a trowel made from a non-corrosive metal like stainless steel or aluminium, as rust will prevent you from getting that smooth finish. If your budget dictates that you can’t afford stainless steel, use a steel trowel and clean and dry it scrupulously after each job. A comfortable handle will also make the trowel a pleasure to use day after day.

Trowels come in a couple of different sizes. Generally for the novice a smaller trowel is both more manageable and easier to use. Invest in a ready to use trowel, with the corners pre-chamfered so you achieve the optimum finish. You’ll find a good range of trowels in all sizes at or similar online plastering supplies websites.

You’ll also want to invest in a bucket trowel so make sure you buy one that works ergonomically with the plasterer’s trowel and hawk, so you use the minimum of effort when scooping plaster from the bucket.

There are plenty of speciality trowels available for different jobs or for reaching into awkward places. There’s no need to buy them up front as part of your basic kit, just invest in them as necessary.

Take the hassle out of plaster mixing

To take the hassle out of mixing up plaster, you’ll at least need a paddle attachment for an electric drill. Not only does this make mixing plaster to the right consistency a breeze, saving time and effort, but it can be useful if you decide to mix your own coloured plaster, allowing you to precisely control the effect.

Get a decent tool belt

When you’re plastering, there are several small tools that are invaluable: a good knife, tin snips for cutting plaster bead, a measure and a pencil. These small tools can be carried in a belt so they’re available at all times, just remember to replace them in the belt after each use.

Grab a sturdy bucket

You’ll only need several buckets if you need to mix different colour plasters for a more ornate job. The basic bucket should be made from durable plastic and easy to clean after every use.

Invest in solid stepladders

The best set of steps for plastering are those where you can walk up and down each side without having to look at what you’re doing. Choose the right size steps for the job and make sure they’re solid and stable, with wide treads. You’ll be able to move around the room knowing that your stepladder won’t collapse and that means you’ll get the job done quicker.

Make prep work easy with a hammer and bolster

You may need to chip off old plaster before you can replaster a wall, and for this you’ll need a club hammer and bolster chisel. Never choose a club hammer that’s too heavy as you’ll strain your arm muscles, and always wear safety goggles that fit securely over your ears and provided adequate protection to your eyes.

The perfect finish with a level

The size of level you’ll need depends on the job, with a 600mm and 1800mm level being among the most popular sizes. Choose a lightweight aluminium level for ease of handling and check that it’s true by turning one way, then the other – if the bubble stays centred in the level, then its fit for purpose.