I am very particular when it comes to most things in life; I like everything to be square, level, straight and just perfect. I go to the pub, and I will adjust pictures on the wall if they are not on straight as it annoys me. My friends laugh at me but whatever it is the way I am.
When I was on the tools full time I would make sure my beads meet just right and that they are perfectly level and square and the results are great, but the question I have is how accurate can plasterers be?
Is Near Enough Good Enough?
Engineering is a subject that fascinates me, I love how things go together and how they just fit perfectly. I have built a couple of kit cars in the past, and I try to work to close tolerances and build chassis square in my workshop. However, in my workshop, I would never dream of using a tape measure for anything that needs to be measured accurately I would get out a ruler and preferably a metal ruler or a vernier gauge to get the measurements accurate. Don’t get me wrong I have a lot to learn when it comes to building Kit Cars, but you get the idea.
How Accurate are Tape Measures?
Tape measures are OK for getting the general idea for a measurement but that jiggly hook bit at the end moves around, and the theory is that it gives and accurate measurement. Whether it measures the inside of something or if it is hooked over the edge measuring the outside edge, but in reality it is not accurate enough, maybe when the tape measure is brand new, it is good, but after a few weeks of use and miss treatment, it loses that accuracy.
Some of you are probably thinking that I am nuts and looking far too much into this and there will be arguments as to whether I am right or wrong or whether we need to go to these lengths to do our work to a high standard.
Don’t get me wrong I am not expecting you to go out and buy 3m long tape measures but just trying to highlight that it is important to be aware.
However, after a trip to a World Skills training day at Chichester College, I was pleased to see the students using rulers when they were cutting plasterboard and measuring. I questioned this, and the organisers said that it was something they stole from the Germans at the competitions.
Can we be accurate in plastering?
Plastering is a wet trade, and I appreciate that so I get there needs to be tolerances and that is fine, we are dealing with a natural product like gypsum that it is very hard to avoid, but I have seen some of the most horrific beading and dry lining in my time. On a wall, a 5mm tolerance over a 2-meter straight edge is deemed as acceptable. The tolerance for a wall to be plumb is 8mm out of plumb on a storey height of 2.5meters and a maximum of 12mm out of plumb for a continuous wall with a height greater than 2.5 meters.
Getting your beads on accurately is the key to a great finish, and it sounds obvious, but some so-called plasterers can’t do it for the life of them.
I worked with a chap on site who would bash the beads on and where they went is where they stayed. One bead was so far out of plumb it was embarrassing, I asked him why he did not plumb it up, and he said he would fix it later. He floated the wall then skimmed it with it still not straight. At the end of the day, I said it still looks pissed to me…. he pulled out a hammer and smacked the bead, he turned round to me and said it’s not plumb because it has been hit.
Attention to detail is the key
Yes, it may slow you down getting things just right at first, but you get quicker at it over time. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, and a little more attention to detail will give you the edge in getting things right.
Prices MAY have dropped in plastering, and everybody is competing hard for jobs, but as long as you are doing the best possible work you can then you will always be able to command a much higher rate than Joe Bloggs Plastering who is cheap and lashes it on.
The cream always rises to the top, but you need to make sure you are the cream.
When people look for a plasterer, they want a good finish, and yes the price is a factor. However, if you have a proven track record for being a perfectionist, you will be able to command a better price, and you will be able to pick and choose your jobs.