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What’s The Difference Between Skimming and Plastering?

You may have heard people saying that they want to get their ceilings or walls plastered. However, not many people know the term skimming when it comes to home renovations. Many people get confused about the two, and we’re here to ensure you know the difference between skimming and plastering.

If you’re interested in learning more about the difference between the two, take a look at our descriptions of each term below.

What is Plastering?

What many people don’t realise is that plastering is actually the term for the entire trade. This means that skimming is a branch of this trade and is a method that a professional plasterer will use. So, plastering and skimming aren’t actually two separate things.

Professional plasterers perform a wide range of different types of plastering, and plastering prices can vary depending on the method they use. A professional has the skills and knowledge needed to understand which method of plastering is best for a certain type of job. For example, some types of materials will need more coats of plaster than others, and various methods will result in a high-quality finish for each particular job.

There are different types of plaster that a plasterer may use. These include the following:

  • Cement plaster – This is a plaster made from cement, water, and sand. This plaster is generally used on walls where some masonry work has been done.
  • Lime plaster – This type of plaster is made up of water and lime.
  • Gypsum plaster – This is a type of plaster made from water and calcium sulphate

What is Skimming?

Skimming is the name given to a particular type of plastering. This is a method where the wall is plastered with a thin coat layer.

Skimming is usually done over the top of existing plaster. It is a method used to smooth out the surface area. Skimming is a very difficult job, and it’s not recommended that you attempt to do skimming as a DIY project as the wall or ceiling may end up looking even worse than it did before.

There is a white layer of lime that is used to rough cement, and this is known as a skim coat. A professional plasterer will use various methods to make the surface of the wall or ceiling smooth, and it may depend on the plasterer’s proficiency. Once the skimming job is complete, you can then paint the area to give it a more appealing appearance.


So, skimming is actually a subset of the plastering trade. Both skimming and plastering are used when decorating structures, and they can increase the durability of your walls and ceilings. However, skimming is completed when your old plastered walls are looking a bit tired. This method is often used on older buildings, whereas plastering is completed on a new wall or ceiling.

Finally, another difference between plastering and skimming is that the surface area of plaster tends to remain constantly rough, whereas a skimmed area is completely smooth.


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