What is the best size and type of trowel to use for Skimming on Plasterboard ?

Selecting the right tool for the job is personal preference but without a doubt there are certain size trowels that are better for a certain job.


  • Skimming on plasterboard
    • I prefer a 14 x 4 3/4”  marshal town for applying a skim coat to plasterboard but not the permashape ones you get these days, I prefer the more rigid version but a well broken in one.  You can get good coverage with this size of trowel and it should be considered that you dont want to mix the plaster too wet for skimming to plasterboard and when its a bit of a thicker mix you dont want to be using a 16” or 18” trowel for putting it on the wall or you might end up with a knackered elbow.  So with the 14” you get good coverage and it s a good all round size so you can use it from start to finish if you like.
    • For the first flatten when the plasters still wet you just need to give the area a quick flatten really and a large trowel is ideal for this.  I like to use an 18” trowel or spatula for this because you can gat over the area quickly and get it flatter form the start which makes the whole operation easier.  TIP:  Make sure you always use a broken in trowel for the first flatten, if you use a brand new trowel the edge won’t be sharp enough and it will bring too much water to the surface when you trowel the wall.  When this happens it looks okay at first and feels good to trowel up but you will find that because the water is on the surface the plaster will dry all of a sudden from the inside and you may end up struggling to get it down and get striping, blisters and tearing.  So use a well broken in trowel and keep the edge as flat as possible with decent pressure as opposed to scraping the surface with the edge of the blade which will defiantly bring the water to the surface even if you use a broke in trowel.

A steel or a stainless steel trowel are both fine, I used to prefer the old type steel trowel with the wood handle.  If you wrap the blade in an oily rag the blade just feels better, stays sharper and just feels better to use all round.

For the final polish I used to have an 11” Tyzak steel finishing trowel, it had a wood handle and brass rivets.  It was like an event pulling out of the tool kit for the final polish and the sharpness of it was like a knife and the finish it got was just faultless.

Finding new and better tools seeing better results is one of the enjoyments of plastering.  One of my other favourite tools is the spatula but not for finishing because you can get more pressure on the wall with a trowel, which is better every time.  I had a really well broken in spatula fixed to a wooden pole and with it I could put large areas of ceilings on by myself because one you get the plaster on the ceilings you can just walk up and down it from the floor and give it the first two flattens with the spatula on the pole, no need to keep jumping up and down the hop up.  I did have the stilts for the ceilings but sometimes I just preferred the spatula for the first and second flatten at least.

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