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Plastering is one of the world’s oldest finishing techniques. In ancient times, mud plaster was applied to interior and exterior walls and the ancient Egyptians used a gypsum based plaster very similar to plasters used today. Our smooth walls and decorative cornice and other mouldings are testament to the skills of plasterers, who use a variety of tools and techniques in their trade.

Plastering can be divided into two basic skill sets:

  1. Wet plastering (also called Solid plastering) is the application of plaster mixtures when they are wet or “plastic.” Generally, wet plaster is applied with a trowel, but other tools are used as well.
  2. Dry plastering is the installation of solid plaster sheets, mouldings and other solid plaster products.

Most plasterers are skilled at both wet and dry plastering.

Licensing of Plasterers

Because wet and dry plastering require different skill sets, some states have separate licensing requirements for each, whilst other licensing authorities consider both wet and dry plastering part of the same general trade. Although an essential part of building, plastering is not a structural component of a building and plasterers do not always require builders’ licences.

See our state-by-state entries below for licensing requirements for plasterers in your state or territory.

Types of Plastering Jobs

Plaster is such a versatile material; it is used in a variety of ways:

  • Plasterboard sheets are applied to interior walls. Wet plaster is used to fill the gaps between the sheets for a smooth finish ready for painting.
  • Decorative plasterboard products include cornice, arches, ceiling domes, fireplace surrounds and dozens of other products. They are available in a wide variety of period and modern styles.

Outdoors, sand and cement mixtures are used to render walls. This can be part of a plasterer’s job, but is often considered a separate trade by licensing authorities. Read our Rendering category entries for more information about exterior rendering.

Plastering – NSW

Fair Trading issues trade licences to qualified building practitioners in New South Wales. Two types of plastering licences are issued by NSW Fair Trading:

  1. Wet plastering is defined as the application of a “mixture of lime, cement or gypsum plaster and/or sand and water (or other materials to achieve a similar result) for the covering of internal or external walls and ceilings.”
  2. Dry plastering is defined as the “internal installation of rigid building sheeting/boards made of a core of gypsum plaster set between and bonded to outer covers of cardboard” and also includes the installation of cornices, suspended ceilings and other non-structural solid plaster products.

In order to qualify for a Wet Plastering licence, the applicant must satisfactorily complete Certificate III training in Solid Plastering. To qualify for a Dry Plastering licence, the applicant must complete Certificate III training in Wall and Ceiling Lining, Plastering/Fibrous and Plasterboard, General Construction (Wall and Ceiling Lining) and/or similar courses from a registered training organisation (RTO).

Most plastering contractors have Dry Plastering licences. Their licence does not entitle them to carry out external cladding work, which Fair Trading considers part of carpentry and joinery.

All building and renovation works valued at $1,000 or more must be carried out by licensed building practitioners in New South Wales.

Plastering – Victoria

In Victoria, all building practitioners must be registered by the Victorian Building Practitioners Board. Renovations and building projects that cost $5,000 or more (labour and materials) must be carried out by registered building practitioners.

The Building Practitioners Board divides practitioners into classes and subcategories. Plastering professionals usually hold “Domestic Builder – Limited” (DB-L) registration cards. In addition, their registration may be limited to “Sundry” (“Q”) works, which includes two or more trades (such as wet and dry plastering), which, if carried out singly, would be exempt from registration requirements. A plasterer with a DB-L Q registration card is authorised to do both “hard” (dry) and “rendering” (wet) plastering.

Plastering – Queensland

In Queensland, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) governs the building and construction industry. Building licences are issued by the QBCC and all building work exceeding $3,300 in value (labour and materials) must be carried out by a licensed builder. This includes both structural and non-structural work. For specialised services, such as plastering, the QBCC issues Builder Restricted Licences.

Dry plastering is classified as “Plastering Drywall” in Queensland and the licence is restricted to:

  • Construction and installation of non-load bearing partition wall or ceiling frames, including plasterboard and similar materials and wet plastering of “finishing joints”
  • Construction and installation of non-loading fire-rating walls and ceilings
  • Installation of suspended ceilings
  • Application or installation of waterproofing and damp-proofing for plasterboard walls.

The person or company you enter into a contract with for plastering work must hold a Contractor’s licence. Anyone who supervises the work of others on your site must hold a Supervisor’s licence.

There is no separate licence class for wet plastering, but depending on the scope of work carried out by your licensed building practitioner in Queensland, wet plastering may be included in their “Building Restricted to Non-Structural Renovations” licence.

Plastering – SA

Consumer and Business Services (CBS) is the statutory body in charge of licensing tradespersons and businesses in South Australia. All persons who work in the building industry in South Australia must be or work for an individual, partnership or company that holds a valid Building Contractor’s licence issued by CBS. In addition, a Building Contractor must hold a Building Supervisor licence or employ a licensed Building Supervisor to carry out building and renovation works.

Most plasterers have completed Certificate III training in Solid Plastering (wet plastering) and/or General Construction (Wall and Ceiling Lining) at a recognised training organisation such as TAFE. Their training qualifies them to obtain a Building Supervisor licence restricted to the “scope of work” they are registered to carry out. Plasterers may have a licence limited to all types of solid plastering, solid plastering limited to specific activities or a general Renovations licence that entitles them to carry out a range of non-structural renovation works.

Because plastering often involves working at unsafe heights, many plasterers in South Australia hold a Licence to Perform High Risk Work issued by WorkSafe SA. In addition, workers in the construction industry hold Construction Induction Cards (CIC). Also known as a “White Card,” the CIC is issued following safety induction training.

Plastering – WA

Under the Builders’ Registration Act 2011, individuals, partnerships and companies that undertake building work valued over $20,000 or work that requires a building permit must have one or both of two types of licences issued by the Building Services Board of Western Australia:

While most plastering jobs cost less than $20,000, plastering involves working at heights and plasterers in WA are required to hold licences to Perform High Risk Work and a construction worker in WA must hold Construction Induction Card (White Card) that certifies they have undertaken safety induction training.

Most plastering professionals in WA are members of professional associations such as the Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries (AWCI), the Housing Industry Association (HIA) or the Master Builders Association (MBA). A reputable plastering professional will always:

  • Offer a detailed written quote
  • Carry insurance
  • Provide you with a written contract for a major job

Plastering – Tasmania

The construction industry in Tasmania is governed by the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice has established an accreditation scheme that is similar to the licensing schemes in other states.

Because plastering often involves working at unsafe heights, most plasterers in Tasmania carry a Licence to Perform High Risk Work issued by WorkSafe Tasmania. A worker in the construction industry will also hold a Construction Induction Card (CIC) or “White Card” which is issued following safety induction training.

While no specific trade accreditation is required for plasterers in Tasmania, all plastering professionals must adhere to nationally recognised BCA standards. Most reputable plastering companies also belong to one or more trade associations such as:

  • Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries (AWCI)
  • The Housing Industry Association (HIA)
  • The Master Builders Association (MBA).

Plastering – ACT

In the ACT, building and construction professionals are licensed through the ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA). ACTPLA issues four classes of builders’ licences. A Class D licence authorises the holder to carry out non-structural building work and may be further limited to their area of expertise. Their licence will list the activities they are “endorsed” or qualified to carry out.

In order to obtain a Class D licence and endorsement for plastering, the applicant must successfully complete a Certificate III training course in Solid Plastering and/or Wall and Ceiling Lining. Most plasterers will have undertaken both courses and have experience in both wet and dry plastering.

Plasterers in the ACT will usually also have licences to Perform High Risk Work issued by WorkSafe and all workers in the construction industry must have “White Cards” (Construction Induction Cards) that are issued after they receive safety induction training.

Plastering - Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, the Building Practitioners Board is responsible for registering building practitioners. In the NT, a builder’s licence is not required for renovations that do not increase the interior floor space of a building. However, in some parts of the Northern Territory, local councils may require your plastering service to have a Home Improvements Licence if the cost of the job exceeds $3,000.

As is true in other states and territories, plasterers in the Northern Territory usually hold:

  • “Perform High Risk Work” licences issued by WorkSafe NT and
  • “White Cards” (Construction Induction Cards)

These ensure the workers are trained to work at heights and in general construction safety standards.

Many building-related trades in the NT are self-regulated through Contractor Accreditation Ltd (CAL), a non-profit organisation established by the Northern Territory Chamber of Commerce, the Master Builders Association NT and the NT Small Business Association.

When hiring a plastering service in the Northern Territory, ask if they have CAL accreditation in plastering and/or related trades. A CAL accredited tradesperson must have qualifications similar to those required for a trade licence, so their accreditation is your assurance they have the skill and professional attitude of a licensed trade practitioner.

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