How to smooth a wall without plastering?

UK Home Improvement

How To Smooth a Wall Without Plastering?

Whether you’re redecorating one room in your house or planning on an entire home renovation, plastering is one of those tasks that everyone hates. Even the most experienced DIYers and professional decorators don’t enjoy the task.

One of the main reasons why people dislike plastering so much is because it’s extremely tricky to do well. In many cases, plastering will simply leave people with unsightly, bumpy walls which will more than likely need to be redone.

In fact, these errors are so common that many people simply opt for professional help rather than attempting it themselves. But this will cost you more money when, in reality, plastering may not even be required at all.

Just because your wall is bumpy and needs to be smoothed out does not necessarily mean that plastering is required.

There are actually a number of other ways you can smooth a wall. In this blog, we’ll take a look at how to smooth a wall without plastering.

What Is The Difference Between Plastering And Skimming? 

One of the most common ways to smooth a wall is plastering. However, often when people talk about plastering their wall, what they’re really referring to is skimming. 

Skimming is a plastering technique that uses a thin layer of new plaster over an existing layer of old plaster. The purpose of this is to make the wall smoother and prepare it for further decorating. Skimming will be used to smooth a wall that needs renovating but will not be completely replaced.

In contrast, plastering is necessary when the old plaster has blown or the damage has become too deep. In these cases, brand-new plaster will be required in order to restore the wall’s integrity. This is most widely seen in older properties when plaster has been applied to brickwork. 

If the walls you’re looking to smooth are drywall, in most cases, skimming is all that will be needed.        

What To Use To Smooth Out Walls

If you’re thinking about smoothing out your walls, there is a range of equipment you’ll require.

This includes:

  • Sandpaper
  • Scraper 
  • Trowel
  • Putty knife
  • Joint compound 
  • Filler
  • Dust mask
  • Safety glasses 
  • A water bucker or bowel
  • Lining paper 
  • Adhesive 

The method you choose will determine what equipment you need. You will not require everything on this list, but all of these items will help you to smooth a wall. 

How To Smooth Walls Without Plastering 

There are a whole host of ways you can smooth a wall without plastering. In the following sections, we’ll outline some of the most effective techniques you can try to give your room a smooth wall that you can work with during your decorating efforts.


One of the most straightforward things you can try is sandpaper. Sand over the entire wall you’re looking to smooth, making sure to take extra care on areas where bumps or lumps are prominent. Use a face mask and safety glasses to make sure you don’t breathe in any debris from the wall, and to prevent it from going into your eyes.   

Be warned though, this method can be time-consuming and tedious. Plus, it’s only really effective for minor bumps and imperfections on your wall. If it has major issues, a different method will be required. 

Use A Joint Compound

A joint compound is a great alternative to plastering. You can purchase a suitable joint compound online or at your local DIY store and apply it to your wall using a trowel or putty knife. 

This compound is much thinner than plaster, making it easier to work with and it’s less likely that you will make a mistake. Spread the compound evenly across the wall, allow it to dry and then go over the area with sandpaper. If needed, you can repeat these steps until you’re left with a smooth wall.   

Dot and Dab

Many people opt for the dot and dab technique when attempting to smooth a wall without plastering. This method neglects the need for having to treat the entire wall, instead focusing on areas which are damaged and need the most attention. 

Simply dab a small amount of plaster in a thin layer wherever it’s needed and smooth it over with a putty knife. 

This method is far from perfect, however, and is only recommended to cover small holes rather than a full wall that needs work.  

Fill Bumps and Cracks 

Similar to the joint compound technique, using filler is another good way to smooth a wall without using plaster. 

Use the filler to fill in any bumps or cracks that are preventing the wall from being smooth. This is a great opiton if you have a few rough areas you want to even out. All you need to do is apply the filler to the areas where it’s required, and smooth it over with a trowel. 

For larger gaps on the wall, you may experience shrinking. This is where the filler shrinks into the crack or bump, not completely filling it. If this happens, simply wait for the filler to dry and reapply where necessary. 

It’s worth noting that this method is only suitable for a few areas of the wall, if the entire wall requires attention you should try an alternative.   

Hang Lining Paper 

If you’re not comfortable skimming or plastering your walls and don’t want to apply any solutions to them, then hanging lining paper might be the way to go.

Lining paper, also known as insulation paper, is a type of paper that is typically placed on a wall prior to applying your chosen wallpaper or paint. 

You’ll need to place some adhesive onto the surface of the paper itself before sticking it on the wall. 

The paper will mask any lumps, bumps or imperfections and you can then move on to painting, wallpapering or decorating the wall in whichever way you see fit. 

Clean The Walls With Soapy Water 

You can also smooth a wall just by using warm, soapy water. Fill up a bucket or a bowl with water that has been mixed with some household detergent. 

Then, use a cloth to simply wipe the solution over the entire wall. For any areas that need specific attention, be a bit more rigorous with the force you’re using to wipe the bumps. 

Make sure the wall is fully dry before applying any paint or other solutions later on.


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