Feather edges are used to ensure floors and walls are even and smooth, ready for the decorative finish.
They are mainly considered a plasterer’s tool, but can be used by many other trades including screeders and renderers. Screeding is a floor laying process and rendering is the external version of plastering.
The purpose of a feather edge is to smooth or tamp wall or floor coatings.
What is tamping?
Tamping is where a substance is compacted into a space by force. This is done by repeated blows to the substance.
What is wet plastering?
Feather edges are mainly used in plastering, particularly wet plastering. Wet plastering has been somewhat replaced by the introduction of gypsum plasterboard in the 1940s, which led to drywall plastering becoming more common. This means wet plastering, and consequently the feather edge, are a speciality technique used mainly in restoration and repairs.
Wet plastering consists of layers of plaster whereas drywall is plasterboard with a skim coating (very thin layer) of plaster.
As well as screeding, wet and drywall plastering and its external counterpart, rendering, a feather edge can be used when decorative finishes, such as wallpapering and tiling, are being carried out: the feather edge may be handy for measuring, ruling and scoring.
Other applications, such as measuring and marking, which the feather edge can assist with, are really just a bonus of its design. Feather edges are not the first choice of tool for these jobs. However they are useful if at hand when these tasks present themselves.