Plasterers are always in demand in the UK, and becoming a self-employed plasterer can be a great way to work for yourself.
If you’re thinking about setting up your own plasterer business, our step-by-step guide will help you along the way. Find out what skills plasterers need, how to set yourself up for tax, and how to market your business.
- A guide to going self-employed in the UK
- The self-employeed guide to Self Assessment tax returns
- How to keep tools safe in a van
- What does business insurance cover?
What does a plasterer do?
Most plasterers work for a construction company, building contractor, or dedicated plastering company. Even as a self-employed plasterer, most of your work is likely to come from these sorts of organisations, although you might also find work directly with public clients.
Your work may vary on a day-to-day basis, but you’re likely to spend time on the following:
- adding wet finishes or protective layers to existing surfaces (known as solid plastering)
- using plaster to make ornamental fittings such as cornicing (known as fibrous plastering)
- setting up internal plasterboard, for example for partitions (known as dry lining)
How much do plasterers make?
Plasterers who work as employees can see their salary rise quite substantially as their career progresses. For starter plasterers, wages are around £14,000 to £18,000 per year, rising to up to £25,000 for experienced plasterers, and up to around £35,000 for those who are highly experienced.
As a self-employed plasterer, however, you’ll be setting your own rates. According to the Office for National Statistics, the average hourly rate for a plasterer is £12.10, roughly in line with that of a builder.
Just like all other self-employed workers, self-employed plasterers need to research and understand the market and the going rates, and negotiate their pay accordingly.
Step-by-step guide to becoming a plasterer
So now that you know what plasterers do and how much they earn, are you ready to take the leap? Read on for our step-by-step guide.
1. How do you become a qualified plasterer?
There is no set qualification for plasterers in the UK. However, you’ll need some on-the-job experience. Many plasterers get this by working as an assistant, or by doing an apprenticeship. There are also many plastering courses available at colleges throughout the country. For example, you might take a BTEC in a related field, or perhaps a Higher National Diploma (HND), which is equivalent to two years at university.
If you’re looking to work on construction sites, you’ll need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card. For more on this, read our guide on how to get a CSCS card.
2. What equipment do plasterers need?
As a self-employed plasterer, you’ll normally need to provide your own equipment. If you’re wondering how much it costs to become a plasterer, this is primarily where you’ll need to shell out up front. Commonly used equipment for plasterers include:
- Various trowels, including pointing, window, corner, and finishing trowels
- A hawk, also known as a hand-board
- Straight edges
- A plastering float
- Jointing knives
- Mixing paddles
- A scarifier, used to prepare the second coat
- A mixer drill
- Dry wall saws
- Spirit level
- Step ladders
3. Get the legal side sorted
There are legalities that every self-employed person needs to think about. The most important of these is registering as self-employed with HMRC. Remember that you need to do this within 30 days of going self-employed, or you may be subject to a fine.
While it’s likely that you’ll set up as a sole trader initially, you’ll want to give the legal structure of your business some thought as well. For instance, you could choose to set up a limited company – there are advantages and disadvantages to each, so be sure to research your options.
Once you’re registered, you’ll need to complete an annual Self Assessment tax return, and pay your tax bill on time. Read the ultimate guide to Self Assessment, and understand the relevant UK tax deadlines.
Don’t forget to budget for the payment on account, too. It’s perfectly possible to do all of this yourself, but many self-employed people go to an accountant to help them complete their paperwork.
4. Don’t forget insurance
Business insurance is crucial for plasterers. No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen – and a single mistake can be financially disastrous.
- Public liability insurance is a key cover for plasterers. It can protect you against claims arising from injury or loss suffered by a member of the public as a result of your work
- You might also consider tool insurance to protect the equipment you use every day
- Personal accident insurance can also be a good option, as it can cover medical costs and lost income if you suffer an injury that prevents you from working
- And if you end up employing anyone, it’s likely that you’re legally obliged to take out employers’ liability insurance
Simply Business offers tailored plasterers’ insurance. You can combine the covers you need into a single policy, with a single renewal date, and you can purchase your insurance in minutes. Compare plasterers’ insurance quotes today.
5. Start winning clients
Now that you’re all set up, it’s time to find work! First, you should make sure that your CV is up to scratch, including all of your relevant experience. You could consider building an online portfolio of your plastering work to send to potential clients. For help doing this, read our top tips for building a business website.
Next, it’s a case of looking in the right places. There’s a few dedicated plastering forums and jobs boards specific to the UK, such as the Plasterers’ Forum. Here, plasterers share tips and potential jobs based all over the country.
You might also look on more conventional job sites such as Indeed or Monster. However, many plasterers have luck by simply approaching local construction firms or specialist plastering companies. Remember, if you’re planning to work on a construction site, you’ll need your CSCS card.
Setting up your own plastering business? Let us know how you get on in the comments below.