How To Hire A Plastering Contractor

How To Hire A Plastering Contractor

Find a home improvement professional who specializes in working with plaster

By Stevie Donald

Contractor Plastering
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Building and repairing plaster walls and ceilings is one of those old-time skills that many modern drywall contractors have little experience with. It's best to hire a plaster contractor who is experienced in your type of project, be it renovating a historically significant building or applying Venetian plaster to a new home. The original method of building plaster walls is becoming a lost art, but there are new plaster systems and materials that are both beautiful and durable.

  • What You Need to Know
  • Understand what you need before you begin your search. Plaster work is a varied field; don't assume that a plaster contractor who specializes in decorative plaster finishes is the best person to work on a Victorian renovation. The more you understand about the scope of your plaster project, the better you will be able to evaluate contractors.
Hiring a Plaster Specialist

Step 1:

Ask people you know and trust for recommendations -- it's always best to find someone who has done work for people you know, if possible. If you get a recommendation, go look at the job. Ask how clean and organized the plaster contractor was, and if they are happy with his or her work.

Step 2:

Get at least three written estimates, recommends the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.) Ask them to list the materials they will be using on the job, and to write out each phase of the job, from preparation to clean up.

Step 3:

Ask each plaster contractor questions about how he or she would approach the job. There may be more than one way to complete the project -- a professional should be able to give you a recommendation based on previous work experience. Take notes, to help you make a decision later.

Step 4:

Discuss payment schedules. For small jobs taking just a day or two, it's customary to simply make one payment when the job is completed, or at most to give the contractor a small down payment for materials before he or she starts. Agree on some sort of payment schedule for large projects, with payments made commensurate with work completed. Be wary of any contractor who asks for more than 50 percent before starting work, or who asks to be paid in cash.

Step 5:

Make sure the contractor has liability insurance. A small misstep, such as plaster allowed to set up in your drain instead of being properly disposed of, can result in a large repair bill.

Step 6:

Don't select a plaster contractor on price alone -- a bid price that is much lower than the others may indicate a contractor who is planning to cut corners on your project; however, it could also simply mean that the contractor is in need of work, and will do a fine job. Question cost discrepancies, and hire the contractor not simply on price, but how well you get along, reputation, and what you have seen of his or her work.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • If your plaster job is in an old building, call a local historical society and ask if they can recommend someone. You might also contact builders and companies who specialize in renovating old buildings and ask who they use for their plaster work. Interior designers may be able to steer you toward someone who does decorative and Venetian plaster.
  • Make sure the plaster contractor working on your pre-1978 building is working in compliance with the new rules governing lead-safe work standards enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in April, 2010. Some renovation contractors will be required to be certified and use "lead-safe work practices."
  • If your job involves significant tear-out of old plaster, determine ahead of time who will be responsible for clean up and disposal of the waste.

About the Author

Stevie Donald is a regular contributor to DexKnows. She has been a painting contractor since 1979.

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