Last Updated Jun 12, 2018 · Written by Rob Schneider
Most houses in Australia have plasterboard walls and because plasterboard comes in sheets, tape and plaster must be applied to the plasterboard to create a smooth finish. Cornices, too, are made from moulded plaster and decorative plaster products are also available. How much do plaster products cost to install and why can they be a home improvement?
Plasterboard is made from plaster and has paper applied to both sides to help hold it in place. It can be sawn to length and is applied with special nails with wide heads to hold it in place. The rate for supplying and installing plasterboard can be between $15 and $20 per square metre. Rates can vary in different states, though. In Victoria and Queensland, plasterers charge $45 per hour. In New South Wales plasterers charge $48 per hour and in South Australia and Western Australia, they charge $50 per hour, so they will be closer to the $20 per square metre rate.
Plasterboard generally comes in 2.4 X 1.2 metre sheets, which is about 2.88m2. A single sheet might cost between $43.20 (at $15m2) and $57.60 (at $20m2). Most walls require three or four sheets of plasterboard, so a single wall might cost between $129.60 and $172.80 for three sheets or $230.40 for four sheets. Multiply those costs by the number of walls that need covering and you'll come to an approximate cost of installing plasterboard. In general, applying plasterboard to three average sized rooms can cost around $15,000 including taping, plastering and smoothing the walls.
Ceilings cost about the same as plasterboard on walls, but the price can be higher if an ornate design is required. On average, ceilings cost $48 per square metre, but a more ornate ceiling might cost $55 per square metre or more.
Walls with windows will probably cost more than walls without windows. Plasterers will have to cut and fit sheets of plasterboard around windows and that will slow the process down.
The room isn't finished until the cornices are installed. In general, the cost of installing cornices is between $5.00 and $10.00 per metre to supply and install cornicing. The lower end of the scale is for a straightforward job and the higher end of the scale is for a more complex job or more expensive cornicing. Some other costs for cornicing may be (per linear metre):
Rates will vary depending on the supplier/installer and it's a good idea to get quotes from plasterers. Plasterers will install plasterboard and cornices and should give you separate charges for both jobs. Add the costs together and compare them with other quotes you receive. If one company charges a much higher rate for their services, they may be overcharging you. That's one of the reasons why it's a good idea to get three quotes from plasterers. However, don't choose a plasterer based on their prices alone. You want to hire a plasterer with years of experience behind them and one who has worked in your area for a long time. The length of time can be an important factor because it is an indication of their reliability and honesty.
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Decorative or ornamental plastering can take many forms:
Ornamental plaster products are available for many different types of homes. They are available for Victorian homes, Art Deco era homes and even modern homes. Their cost will vary and will be added to the installation cost. The prices listed above for colonial or Victorian plastering are an indication of the rates, but more elaborate ceiling or wall designs will cost more. If you want a fireplace surround that looks like a Victorian fireplace surround, it might cost around $1000.
You will have to get quotes from ornamental plastering services to find out how much your ornamental plastering project will cost. They will base their costs on the number of metres needed and the complexity of the job.
In some cases, plasterboard cannot be used. Hard plaster (or solid wall plaster) is used on curved surfaces and other applications where plasterboard can't be used. Hard plaster rates range from $30 to $70 per square metre depending on the complexity of the job. In most cases a first coat will be applied to fill in gaps. Then a second coat will be applied to smooth out the surface.
Wet plaster is used in many cases and the cost for wet plaster can be between $45 and $80 per square metre. It takes some time to dry and shouldn't be painted over until it's completely dry.
Most plastering services are good at what they do, but some services can provide ornamental or hard plastering services. You want to make sure you're hiring an expert, so if you need ornamental or hard plastering, mention it when you get online quotes from plasterers.
Plasterers do not have to be licensed in every state. To find out the regulations in your state, scroll down to your state in Licensed Trades: Plastering. If no licensing is required, make sure you hire a qualified plasterer with years of experience. Other things to look for include:
All of these things are important and if you want ornamental or hard plastering done, the plasterer should be able to show you examples of their previous work. Both ornamental and hard plastering are specialised skills and only someone with previous experience should do those jobs for you.
If you want a more simple job like plasterboard and cornice installation, the plasterer should be able to show you examples of their previous work. Look for smooth finishes and neat cornices and don't settle for a cheap quote if their work is not up to par. Any type of plastering should look good, even if it's a simple plastering job. You don't want to see bumps after you've painted the walls and a good plasterer can make a seamless finish on plasterboard.
Plasterboard and plaster products take up an enormous amount of space in any home. Choose a plasterer wisely and your home will look its best. Price alone should not be a consideration, but if you get a lower price from a plasterer who can show you examples of their previous work and you're impressed with their work, you can take the lower quote and be confident they will do a good job. Don't take chances with plasterboard, hard plaster or decorative plaster. Get the best service available and be happy with the results.
*Costs and prices in this article are indicative and should only be used as a guide. They also vary locally and are subject to market forces.
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