The plastering is getting close to the finish point (or at least phase 1 of the main house) and I am looking forward to a change of scenary and to do something different.
Back in the landscape days I didn't really do any plastering except for render on the occassional fish pond so it comes with a bit of a responsibility when it comes to the finished surface in your own house. After all our intention is to sell holidays so there may be a bit of passing traffic to run a thumb over it.
I have got to say though that I have impressed myself with how well I have taken to it but I must stress the material I am using, Lutece 2000 is excellent. It is widely available here in France and we buy it from the local Tout Faire Materiaux in Monflanquin (now Chausson) but I know it is available in the Leclerc Brico too.
It not only allows a skim of plaster over walls where you just need a thin coat but for deeper holes of up to 4" or more where say sockets have been cut into the stone without shrinkage or cracking whilst still maintaining the right finish.
Even over the old lintels it will cover and hold strong although in this case I have put in screws to give the plaster something to bite to and re-enforce it.
Allow plenty of time to use the material and do not try to do too much either. I manage about 10 square metres at a time but if you have to mix and clean yourself as well I would suggest doing half that because when it starts to go off it can be as hard as rock within 5 minutes leaving you with the dilemma of cleaning the equipment and making sure you work the material to a fine creamy finish.
I cannot explain exactly the consistency but between a clotted and double cream is the best working method. Thicker mixes or material that is near to being un-usable is best used for filling large holes or cracks on an area that you are still preparing.
Once applied roughly to all of the area you have chosen to do then trowel it out as best you can to iron out wrinkles and folds created in the application. Do not overwork it because you will not get any benefit until the Lutece starts to respond.
As the Lutece starts to firm and the liquidity reduces then press a little firmer with your trowel. Make sure that the trowel is kept clean and scraped regularly. I keep a bucket with fresh warm water in it for that purpose.
Start to use your plastering sponge now. The creamy fines are constantly rejuvenated at the surface and using a combination of a moist sponge and trowel you will start to get a good finish.
Don't overdo the sponge but feel the Lutece at its different stages of 'firming and practise moving and 'polishing' it.
I find that activation with a warm wet sponge even just before it goes too hard to trowel in small circular movements you can get a great finish.
My advice is practise a small area before a big wall and experiment with different consistencies and timings.
One other good point to remember. Do not try and save money by buying the plaster in the red sacks. This is a hard plaster which is mainly used as a filler or for cementing electrical sockets into place. It is pretty un-workable as far as getting a good finish is concerned.