Home Improvement

How to Smooth Walls Without Plastering

You’ve recently moved into a new property only to discover unsightly walls with holes, bumps and scuffs. While fixing the situation with plaster may be the first thing that comes to mind, it is not always the best. Although plaster can bring about a strong and long-lasting finish, its application can be tricky, messy and time-consuming. Luckily, there are plenty of options out there on how to smooth your walls without plastering and still achieve the desired finished look.

So, if you:

  • Are moving into a new property that needs renovation;
  • Want to know how to smooth rough walls without plastering;
  • Want to learn how to patch recently discovered wall holes, cracks and bumps;

Then, keep reading! You will discover the various ways of smoothing walls without plastering and depending on your situation, decide on the most suitable one. 

Option 1. Install plasterboard to smooth a wall

Suppose you have an extremely uneven wall with huge bumps or holes, or you’re dealing with a brick wall, then your only resolution, if you really want to avoid plastering, is to install studs and plasterboard. In fact, this option is preferred by many because plasterboard is affordable and relatively easy to install.

Before you start work, however, remember to set up your working space. This includes gathering all your tools, as well as covering the floor and furniture with dust sheets to protect them from dust, debris and possible splashes.

By following the steps below, you can find out how to install plasterboard over an uneven wall:

  1. Install the stud framework: Start by creating a steady framework of thin wood batons, by laying the beams so that their middle is where the plasterboard sheets would join. Fitting plasterboard on stud frames, instead of directly on the wall, allows for a smoother finish and more stability. 
  2. Fit the plasterboard sheets: Attach the plasterboard sheets to the framework you’ve built. Make sure the edges fall in the middle of the wooden beams. Use drywall screws to secure the plasterboard in place. 
  3. Fill the gaps: Seal the joints by applying filler in the gaps between the boards, as well as over the screw heads. An ordinary filler will do the work, but you can also go for a special joint compound.
  4. Sand the filler: Once the joints have been sealed, start sanding the filler. Be careful not to sand down the plasterboard, because this will damage the paper finish.
  5. Paint the wall: Finally, you can paint the plasterboard with a colour of your choosing. Begin with the application of an undercoat, then paint the first layer on. Apply a second coat for better coverage.
  6. Wallpaper the wall: If you prefer, you can skip step 5 and go for wallpaper to cover the newly installed plasterboard. You can choose from a range of patterns and designs on the market, including washable wallpaper.

Now that you know how to install plasterboard without having to use plastering, you can go ahead to try it and forget about the uneven wall.


Always remember to wear safety gear, such as a face mask, goggles and protective gloves, when doing construction work at home.

Option 2. How to smooth an existing wall without plastering

Now, if you already have an existing wall that is just a little bumpy or has a few holes and cracks here and there, you can easily smooth it for a more finished look by following the stages below.

1. Prepare your wall

Once you’ve made sure the room is ready, you have the needed equipment and you are wearing protective garments, you can proceed with the preparation of the wall surface. 

Here is what you have to do:

  1. Remove the existing trim work. This includes baseboards, quarter rounds and shoe mouldings.
  2. Clean the surface of dust and debris by using a clean cloth or vacuum cleaner.
  3. Carefully scrape loose pieces off, such as old wallpaper, adhesive residue or flaking paint, if there is any.

2. Fill holes, bumps and cracks

If you have discovered holes, cracks or bumpy areas in your wall, then you would want to patch them up before applying paint, otherwise, the result won’t be one of quality. 

There are various types of join compounds you can use to seal a wall hole or crack. Some of the options include powder or ready-mixed fillers, decorator caulk and foams. For concrete walls, there are also special pre-mixed concrete fillers.

Once you have chosen the right filler for your wall, proceed with the application process. Seal each hole or crack with the filler of your choice, using a wide putty knife or trowel. Then, smooth the applied filler with your putty knife and leave it to dry completely. 

Pro tip:

Note that when the filler dries, it will shrink back in the crack. So, if you are filling a rather large gap, make sure you apply multiple coats to ensure optimal results.

3. Sand the plaster

If your wall is already plastered, for example, you’ve recently removed an old wallpaper or you’ve moved into a new house to find bumpy plastering, you will have to sand the wall. This will help you get rid of the rough spots and achieve more long-lasting results later on when you apply paint or hang wallpaper.

Moreover, plaster is a very soft material, which can wear off quickly, so it is important that, when you are sanding it, you work slowly and gradually to avoid creating a bigger problem. 

That is why the most important thing, when sanding plaster, is to determine the right coarseness of the sandpaper. For large bumps, a medium to high-grit sandpaper will do the work, however, for smaller bumps, you should use a fine-grit one.

To help you handle the task like a professional, below you can find the steps on how to sand plaster. 

And don’t forget to put your face mask on to protect your lungs from the fine dust created during the sanding process!

  1. Inspect the wall surface and determine what sandpaper grit you should use.
  2. Begin sanding carefully with 60-grit sandpaper, if your wall seems rough and has large bumps.
  3. Move on to using 80-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface. Again, use the sand block gently.
  4. Finish with a fine 120-grit sandpaper. This will help you get rid of even the smallest bumps and imperfections.
  5. Wash the wall with soap and a wet sponge to get rid of markings and plaster dust, using small circular movements. Make sure the wall is completely dry and clean before proceeding to the next stages.

When it comes to sanding plaster, you will see that it can be a very labour intensive and time-consuming task. For example, the plaster layer in older houses can be thinner and once you get through the first layer, you can discover even more bumps underneath. So, it will be good to arm yourself with some patience. 

Pro tip: If your project is on a large scale, you can consider borrowing an electrical sander, if you know how to use it.

You may also like:
Cleaning Guides
How to Clean Plaster Dust from Your Home

4. Apply textured paint 

Even if you’ve already tried filling cracks and bumps or sanding the wall to achieve a smooth finish, with some surfaces it can be harder to get rid of all imperfections. In such instances, textured paint is the answer! 

The great thing about textured paint is that it can create a unique look, add dimension to the room and cover wall imperfections, which ordinary paint won’t be able to!

Two methods exist for applying textured paint. You can either use a paint sprayer or opt for the manual approach. Whichever option you choose, here is how to apply textured paint:

  1. Choose the type of your paint: There are various kinds of textured paint and depending on the final look you want to achieve, you can choose the type that will suit your needs and expectations.
  2. Prepare the wall: If you haven’t already gone through the steps from the previous sections, now will be the time to clean the surface, remove old paint and sand the wall.
  3. Gather your tools: If you’ve decided to go for the manual approach, you will need to prepare a paintbrush, roller, extension pole, sponge and mixing bucket.
  4. Mix the paint: For some paints, you will need to do the mixing yourself, following your manufacturer’s instructions. You can also purchase one with premixed compounds.
  5. Apply the textured paint: Finally, you can start painting your wall. Once you’re done, leave it to dry fully. Then, apply a second coat.

Pro tip:

Before you start applying the paint on your wall, test it on a small, hidden section or a spare plasterboard sheet to see how the texture looks.

5. Hang wallpaper

Your last resort, if your wall still looks a bit bumpy after applying filler and sanding, and you’re not a huge fan of the textured paint, is to hang lining paper and wallpaper. 

While sometimes lining paper can be avoided, when you are covering an old, uneven wall, it is recommended you go through this step. That is because lining paper will not only secure better coverage but also create a good solid surface on which to put wallpaper.

So, here are the key steps on how to cover a bumpy wall with wallpaper:

  1. Decide on the layout: Since wallpaper is usually hung vertically, it will be best to lay the lining paper horizontally. That way, you will prevent the edges of both from coinciding.
  2. Mix the adhesive: Mix the wallpaper paste, following the given instruction and using a pasting brush, apply a good amount of it on the back of the lining paper. 
  3. Put the lining paper: Start hanging the lining paper, using a wallpaper smoother along the way to remove bubbles and creases, then a seam roller to ensure the edges are firmly stuck. Wait 24 hours for the lining paper to fully dry out.
  4. Hang the wallpaper: Similarly to the lining paper, apply adhesive on the back of the wallpaper sheet. Then, pick up the first sheep and position it on the wall, making sure it’s perfectly vertical. Again use a wallpaper smoother and seam roller to ensure there are no creases. Following this pattern, hang the rest of the wallpaper.

Hire professionals

If you don’t have the time, skills or tools to attempt smoothing your walls, you can always resort to plastering services by Fantastic Services. All the trades people we work with are fully equipped with the knows and experience to carry out not only plastering, but skimming, wall boarding and rendering. You will, save time and enjoy the well-done job!


  • Several methods exist to smooth an old, unsightly wall without plastering.
  • One option, used mainly for brick walls or those in a really bad condition, is to install plasterboard. It is an easy and affordable solution, and most importantly, the plasterboard can be just painted or wallpapered without plastering it first.
  • For existing walls, which need just a bit of patching up, sealing gaps with filler, applying textured paint or hanging wallpaper will be enough.
  • However, should you lack time or tools, you can always consider contacting a professional for the perfect wall finishing look.


Do you know any more tricks on how to smooth a wall without plastering? If yes, then let us know in the comments below! We would love to hear from you!

Image source: Shutterstock / GCapture

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