Spread The Word: Airless Plaster Is The Smarter, Speedier Alternative

Compared to traditional methods, airless plaster not only provides an easier, quicker, cleaner installation to internal walls, it offers a smoother, high-end finish that compares favourably to hand-and-trowel application.

Recently introduced to the UK market, Baumit’s SX Airless Plaster range is 30% more rapid to install than alternative, widely-used processes. It’s applied via a spray gun attached to an airless spray machine and once administered, the plaster requires just six hours setting time to ensure it’s ready for sanding. 

Simple, smart alternative 

Everything about the airless plastering method is quicker than hand-to-trowel. In the first instance, unlike the traditional mixing process which creates dust and is generally messy, SX Airless Plaster comes ready-mixed in a bag. The simple methodology is continued by the plaster being placed into the airless spray machine, which rolls it out in preparation for its application.  

Airless plaster is atomised by air; it’s not mechanically dispersed. This innovation offers the user total control, resulting in an exceptionally clean and tidy finish. There is no overspray, and cutting-in couldn’t be easier when using a spray gun rather than a trowel - one bag of SX Airless Plaster covers a hugely impressive 16m2 area. The finished surface will look every bit as impressive as a traditional application, but fewer hours will have been spent on its completion.

Repetitive strain injury is an unfortunate fact of life for many experienced plasterers, due to the stresses and strains the hand-and-trowel method inflicts on upper body joints over time. With airless plaster, however, the machine bears much of the application exertion. Therefore, as this process becomes more widely-used, we could well see fewer plasterers having to take time off or in more severe cases, retire early due to long-term workplace injury.

Change for the better

Generally, the construction industry is resistant to change in terms of adopting new practices and ways of working. The traditional view seems to be, ‘If it isn’t broke, don’t try and fix it’. However, there is an unquestionable need for products that enable us to build speedier, smarter and more sustainably. Baumit SX Airless plaster ticks all three of these boxes.  

Having swapped his trowel for the airless plaster application, James Marklew, owner of Marklew Plasterers, said he would not be going back to his old routine any time soon.

He said: “I’m a bit reluctant to change, but since giving Baumit SX Airless plaster a chance to show what it could do, I haven’t looked back. With airless plaster you get a far better finish more quickly. The work itself is a lot neater and tidier. There’s no dust or pre-mixing involved, which can leave the site covered in water. Unlike other airless plasters we’ve used, which have been a bit erratic in terms of drying times, Baumit’s SX Airless option is totally reliable. I particularly like the way it travels through the machine with ease. Most importantly, the finish it supplies is superior to anything we could achieve with a hand-applied product.”

Good preparation remains key to a neat and tidy airless plaster installation. This means taping and jointing areas around windows and the like, as well as setting beads. The first application should be allowed to dry for between 12 and 24 hours depending on indoor and outdoor temperature. The second coat will generally provide the finish. Once sanded, it gives a superbly-uniform flat-matte finish which is superior to hand-to-trowel application.

Tom Strawson, Managing Director at Qudos Homes, was advised to use Baumit SX Airless plaster as an interior application throughout his company’s 18-property development which is in the process of built in Scawby, North Lincolnshire. The executive three and four-bedroom bespoke-built homes are a mix of terraced cottages and detached houses. Tom said he needed a ‘quality plaster’ that supplied the properties with a rapid, top-end finish.

“If we’re offering quality throughout the properties then it made sense to obtain a quality plaster and rendering finish as well. Baumit’s SX Airless plaster offered a number of advantages including speed of application and latterly, a smoother, easier finish for painters. It also got us out of a mess during the Covid crisis. There was a lack of plaster throughout the country, a problem which Baumit was able to fix thanks to their ready ‘SX Airless’ supply. The system has worked incredibly well – we’ve no intention of changing it.”

Reputation counts for a lot, particularly in the building trade. Therefore, as word spreads of airless plasters’ many benefits, I’m convinced even the hardest-to-convince traditionalists will find themselves swapping the trowel for the airless machine method. In more ways than one, this would represent a very smart move on their part.