I think I really messed up.


Old 06-04-09, 10:52 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 5
Exclamation I think I really messed up.

I sure hope I can find some answers here.

I am a handy-man, and do everything from appliance repair to framing.

I got this job from a lady who wants her "great room" (interior) plastered.

I told her that I had never done it before, but "how hard could it be"?

After all, I've figured out how to do just about everything else!

She insisted that I try.

Here's what's happening so far:

1. Her walls are existent painted (flat-latex) drywall walls.
2. I primed the walls with water-diluted latex primer.
3. I mixed some Diamond Brand Veneer Finish Plaster up, and started applying it.
4. It was difficult at first, as I didn't have an appropriate trowel, but used a 8" taping knife to smooth it out when it reached a clay consistency. (surprisingly, it worked pretty good.)
5. The Plaster had to be worked and finished within 30 minutes. (I didn't have time to clean tools and bucket before I finished the wall, so it was already difficult.)
6. I finished half the wall and went home.
7. Next Day - mixed more plaster and started to apply it same as before, however, the places where the new/wet plaster overlapped the old cured/dry plaster seemed to dry INSTANTLY, making it impossible to smooth out.

This was the only plaster related product that Lowe's sold, but I imagine that I needed to get some different base-coat for the plaster, first.

But the problem is compounded with the fact that she wants a color cross-hatch (very smooth finish, bees-waxed/polished) finish.

I have the color additive, however, I'm afraid to use it, as I know that when I apply my finish/color coat over the non-colored base-coat of plaster, it will also dry immediately and make waste of most, if not all of my color-mixed plaster!

I'm afraid I really goofed up and may have ruined her wall!

I have a kid to feed, and have never come across a problem (even with something I have never attempted before) that has me "stuck".

Online information is so varying that I cannot get a consensus!

Can someone here please give me some good news?
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Old 06-05-09, 01:14 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: California
Posts: 1,722
Well, I had a nice long response telling you what to do and how to do it and I hit a wrong key and lost it all. That never happened before.

So you get the short version this time
Use a real bonding agent not paint
Put the bonding agent over what work you haven't finished and what you have finished.
Apply a tight coat of veneer plaster base coat like Imperial base by USG.
No, you won't find it at Lowes. In fact, I'm surprised you found Diamond there.

Let the plaster set.
Apply the Diamond as before but if you can't complete an area cut off the edge and leave a sharp edge where you leave off.

When you make the next area don't lap the new batch onto the old but keep the previously finished work clean. When done properly all you will see is a line where the color of the new plaster is a different color from the previous plaster. This line will all but disappear as the new batch sets and dries.

Now you can polish the Diamond to a finish as smooth as glass. You can see reflections in it. This is all about timing. If you trowel it too soon all you will do is move it around and leave lines. If you trowel it through it's set you can make it shine. Use enough clean water to keep your trowel lubricated. Don't waste the fat that the trowel picks up. Keep working that back into the imperfections in the wall.
When it has set you can still trowel the Diamond one more time and make it even shinier.

I don't know anything about the bees wax and so on. On a perfect wall even enamel paint will look perfect.

I think you are trying to get some kind of a Venetian plaster look with ordinary plaster. I can't help you there either.

I have told you how to get a good looking wall.

One other thing, no, make that two more things.
1. Get some proper plastering tools. A hawk and trowel and a fine finish brush that will hold a lot of water.

2. Smooth plastering takes years to learn.

Let us know what you do and how it goes.

Show us some photos of the before and after.
Old 06-05-09, 03:32 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 5

I got this after another day's work.

Thanks for your thoughtful response.

Long story short, I made it work (but will use your information as well)

I thought about it and thought about it - so much so, that I started to become the molecular structure of the plaster itself! (It's this weird Zen thing I got goin')

So, I knew not to apply plaster directly to the dry parts - instead, I got a squirt bottle and saturated the old finished plaster (which took a lot of water) and the surrounding areas (overcompensating).

I then mixed about a quart and a half of Diamond plaster, and since the walls weren't burnished, I felt like it would stick.

It did, and I figured out how to use the "fat" to fill in low areas quite nicely with a cross-hatching method and an increase in pressure.

I started to notice a wet, burnishing effect occurring and couldn't resist completely burnishing about a square meter of space (not dry), so I could show the homeowner what she could expect.

It turned out beautifully - even wet, it burnished to a very high polish! I am doing all this myself, so I had to figure out how to mix, apply, smooth and clean tools within a thirty-minute time-frame.

I am getting it, my confidence is building, and I absolutely love the way it works and can see the potentiality of the product, which was a further motivating factor.

I live in New Mexico, so the thirty-minute timing is generous.

Also, there are NO plaster supplies here! The ones I found were scarce and too expensive, so I remain (right now) with a home-made table with a plastic, fluorescent light fixture cover to empty the mud-bucket onto, an 8" taping knife for smoothing, a standard (non-stainless steel) cement trowel (which I sanded down the edges), and an aluminum hawk.

The only thing I am concerned about at this point is the coloring. She wants peach and cream (I already have the mix), but it was designed for a five-gallon application (which will be impossible), so I will have to re-work the mix measurements.

I am thinking that I need to mix the peach and the cream at once, in small portions (the cream will be the dominant color) and apply them all at once, working carefully with the color mix - BUT

I am wondering if it would be better to apply the peach first, and then (using the famous water-spray technique) apply the cream, but I am worried about the "mixing" effect, as there will be some overlay of material.

It would be NO problem if I could keep the walls from drying from start to finish, but since I cannot do that, I was hoping you could offer a recommendation.

AND while that last coat is drying, I need to work it (burnish it) to a polished effect.

After it cures 24 hours, I will apply the beeswax (great, because of the zero VOC) - this is applied with a sponge (like car wax), wiped smooth, let to dry (about a four hour window) and then I'll take a standard car polisher ($19.95 from Wal-Mart) and shine it up!

I have seen samples and this shine is brilliant, as well as the beeswax offering increased protection and waterproofing AND a double-reflection quality (the burnished plaster and the wax) producing a "depth of sheen" similar to the finish provided by "French" finishing on fine furniture, and/or what would happen if you put multiple fine-sanded polyurethane layers on a stained piece of furniture.

Like you could sink your hand right into the wall!

My fingers are crossed and my confidence has increased ten-fold, since figuring out what I did today and your kind response.

Please let me know if I have missed any variables in my own projected processes - I would be indebted.

Old 06-05-09, 08:26 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: California
Posts: 1,722
For the color are you talking about putting color in the Diamond and putting it on the already applied, set and smooth Diamond?

If so, I'm a little worried that you will have bond problems. I think it will be hard to put the color coat on the smooth diamond. It will want to check if you put it on thin and flake off if you put it on heavier.

Now about mixing partial batches: Diamond is in 50# bags. To co small batches you can weigh it out to see how much 5# or 10# will be. That is what is the volume of a certain weight that you can manage. Divide the color in proportionate parts. Is this paint color? You can do this by dilution if you must. Put all the color in some small amount of water. Make sure it is completely mixed then take out a proportionate fraction of this mixture and use that as part your initial mixing water. Every time you take out another fraction make sure it is mixed before you do this.

Since you are using two colors you have a little forgiveness in color variation between batches. But if you measure each component carefully including your water and mix it consistently you can get away with mixing partial batches.

So tell me more about this color and if I have any ideas I will pass them along.

I went back and read your last post.
If you are putting color in Diamond and if it works then yes you can put on both colors at once. In fact you should. But as to which one first I guess you will have to experiment and decide which works best and looks best.

Let us know. In fact put up some pictures.
Old 06-06-09, 12:41 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 5
Thanks - really.

I will post pictures on this BLOG.

(Click on the pictures to get full screen viewing.)

It has some artwork and a lot of before and after pictures of my renovation work.

I'm a sign painter and I restore old Jap-bikes and will put those pictures on there as well, but right now, the blog is just a long line of random pictures.

I would assume that the pigment is a standard paint-type pigment (as it came in liquid form), which means that it has a drying property different than the plaster. I think that this should slow the lime-drying chemical reaction of the plaster just a little.

I'll have to break the 5 gallon formula into quarts and then divide the total pigment volume by 20, adding it respectively.

So, I'll have a quart of "peach" plaster and a quart of "cream" plaster to work with simultaneously. The cured "base" plaster will be bone white, and I know that it will look differently, color-wise if I use the simultaneous application rather than the 2 step method.

Plus, this will produce a different type of blending, as the peach will blend with the cream to produce a third color, whereas, if I used the 2 step application, the blending will specifically be relegated to the transparency of the thin areas of the "cream" plaster, but I can pretty much bet that the 2d "cream" coat will inevitably produce a "raised effect" which will give me an undesired texture.

I'm a little nervous about the simultaneous application (which I will most likely use), as it will require me to really be on the ball!

I will rough sand the final base coat, so that it has at least a marginal "gripping" texture, before applying the color-coat.

So far, the Diamond Veneer plaster has been tough as nails - while I was cleaning, a feather-lite skim of cured plaster fell to the tile floor and bounced on it's edge and sounded like glass. It didn't break. Plus, the lime reaction with the "like" substrate seems to provide a seamless bond - I have had zero chipping and have accidentally shoved the knife-edge into the plaster with nothing more than a small scratch.

So far, so good - I may use your idea about the mixing water. That was a good call. I'll find out about the dilutive properties of the pigment binder first. But surely, that would be a lot easier than trying to divide those small portions into units of 20!

Thanks a lot, and I'll keep you "posted"!

ps, I re-read this post, and the "quart" portions sounded ridiculously minimal, so I'll change it to "half-gallon".
Old 06-06-09, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by tanner137 View Post
I am a handy-man, and do everything from appliance repair to framing.
.............I told her that I had never done it before, but "how hard could it be"?

After all, I've figured out how to do just about everything else!

I'm afraid I really goofed up and may have ruined her wall!
Doing any job that requires skill, you place yourself at risk for screwing up once in a while.

It is hard to screw up jobs where say you bolt in replacement heater elements and such things. Either you 'got it', or you didn't.

But pouring concrete so you do not see waves and ripples, or inconsistant textures, or never have it set off on you before you are ready - or painting so that you do not see old repair work under it - or doing hardwood floors where someone does not complain that the wrong color grain board was used in the mix, or that they can see drum sander ripple marks in the light - or that sheetrock tape joints have humps, etc. - these kinds of jobs all require skill, and often years of experience. And even then.............................
Old 06-06-09, 05:16 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 5

The mismatched wood-grain scenario would be a nightmare - especially on a finished floor!

I'm lucky in that I'm usually more exacting than my clients - which makes me a little slower than my competition sometimes, but in the long-run, gives me an excellent reference list!
Old 06-07-09, 02:49 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: California
Posts: 1,722
I have a publication or two from USG on Decorative Interior Finish Systems. It uses Diamond with color in the mix. I did a cursory search on their web site and did not find the pdf of those publications.

As I recall it is applied over a bonding agent to any of several suitable substrates. There is even a color chart with the formulas for several colors using Universal Colorants.

So let us know.
Old 07-03-09, 08:03 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 5
Thanks for all your help, guys.

I finally finished the nightmare plaster job. It took me ten days (by myself) to finish!

But the owner is so happy that she's throwing a party for me, so she can "show off her new house".

What a learning curve! I spent half my time cleaning up!

Regardless, here are the pictures:
Old 07-04-09, 02:27 PM
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You must have done a nice job. And she also must have been satisfied with what you charged her. Hopefully you did not have to 'eat' too much of your time, spent learning.

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