TOOLS FOR PLASTER AND LIME PAINT
EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR YOUR PROJECT
The cost of plaster tools is extremely minimal compared to almost any other construction trade. You can purchase any of these items at most large hardware stores. We carry mostly the same products as they do. Here is a list with descriptions:
Trowels: These are recommended for Marmorino, Veneziano and Stucco. Trowels come in a variety of sizes. A good hardware store should carry four or five sizes of trowels. They should be stainless steel to prevent rust from getting into or on your walls, and the corners should be rounded, which prevents lines in the plaster. For a cheap way to go, you can buy a stainless steel trowel and sand the corners. It takes an electric grinder to round out the corners. You can also use sandpaper. Most special Venetian Plaster trowels sold are 4" to 6". This is a fine size for 'time and material' jobs or very small sections. Ideally you want at least a 10" trowel if not 16". A 16" trowel is the right size for large jobs. That size of trowel is sometimes too cumbersome, and women often prefer a 10"-14" trowel. Remember, if you're not used to troweling, you might get a little sore or 'feel the burn' after the first day. You'll be fine after a day of doing it; don't give up.
Lime Wash brushes: These are large soft bristled brushes made from either animal hair or synthetic fibers. With Lime Paint, two brushed should be used: one for applying the wet paint, and the other as a dry brush, to soften the brush strokes of the wet brush. You don't want cheap brushes that will leave a trail of hairs in your work. Nor do you want hard bristled brushes that will leave prominent brush marks. Brushes used in Lime Wash should be 4" to 6" wide.
Hawk: This is a square foot of metal with a handle attached to the bottom. There are two sizes available. The larger ones are harder to find. Hawks are used for holding the plaster while working, and are available at any large hardware store. Although hawks are ideal for plastering, if overloaded, they can become a burden to hold after a while. Start off slow the first time. Hawks are excellent when working in more than one color. Use it like a palette. Use an empty bucket for putting down a hawk. (The handle won't be in the way). They don't rust, but when taking a break, you can put a wet cloth on top of the plaster on a hawk, instead dumping the plaster back into the bucket.
Mud pans: These are elongated metal containers used to hold plaster. Mud pans are only good if you are using a spatula and are plastering Veneziano. These are also available at any decent hardware store. Mud pans are convenient for containment of plaster. You can close them or put plastic on them when out to lunch. You can also set them anywhere. Be sure to clean your pan after each day. Otherwise, most mud pans can easily rust. Mud pans make it difficult to plaster more than one color at a time. Hawks and trowels are a great way to go, but many people prefer mud pans and spatulas.
Gloves: Always wear latex gloves when working with plasters, lime paint or sealers. Lime based products are caustic and will dry and irritate your hands if left exposed. The lime won't burn your hand, but it can be pretty uncomfortable. The best gloves are latex 'surgical' gloves. These are available at most paint and hardware stores. Keep a box of them with as you work. They break easily. With plaster, you'll have to get 'hands-on' when working in tight areas or smoothing bull nosed corners and hard to reach spots.
Respirator: This is a breathing mask apparatus. Use it for mixing lime dust or chemicals. You need to wear a respirator, not a dust mask, when sanding plaster. Lime dust can irritate the lungs. We recommend using this whenever sanding, applying strong waxes, applying stain blocking primers, etc. They are available at any hardware or paint store.
Goggles: We suggest wearing goggles or painter's glasses, especially working with lime.
Electric sander: This will save a lot of time when used to sand/polish walls.
Ladders: You should have a small 3' stepladder, a 6' stepladder and a 10' ladder that extends to 20'. Scaffolding and larger ladders can be rented for reasonable rates.
Mixers/drills: If you are mixing your own colors in larger quantities, we recommend using an electric hand held mixer. For one-gallon containers of plaster or paint, you don't need much more than a hand drill with a small mixing extension. For larger drills, we recommend the Milwaukee Hole Hog mixing drill. New, they run almost $300. Used, they cost as little as $125. We always strongly recommend professional applicators to mix their own colors. It gives you more control over colors and costs much less if you purchase untinted plaster.
Painting tools: Have a small variety of painting tools; mostly to prime walls. This includes a brush, a roller and a pan.
Razor knives: To cut paper, tape, make a neat masking job, etc.
Masking supplies: Drop cloths, plastic sheets (Painters Plastic), large rolls of paper to mask floors.
Specialty trowels, etc.: There are all sorts of other tools you will find available; special little trowels and spatulas for tiny areas, tools for rounding out bull noses on walls, and many other tools to help with corners for those awkward rooms.
Small buckets and containers: Places to mix small highlight colors, mix your main colors, make samples from, etc.