The latest guest on the Building Better with CSR podcast is someone described as The Block’s favourite plasterer, Sam Badenhop, of Getting You Plastered.

Sam and his team have been working with Channel Nine for eight years and have done six seasons of The Block, he says. They started doing all the plastering for skylights for Velux, which is something they continue to do, as well as working for the contestants.

“We also do a bit of the behind-the-scenes work,” he adds. “We do a lot of the defect work afterwards – fixing and finishing things that the contestants never finished.” In the 2022 season, Sam’s team did the plastering for the charity house as well as Scott Cam’s house.

The name Getting You Plastered was Sam’s own idea, and not only makes people smile, it is often abbreviated to GYP, which is also an abbreviation of gypsum, the main ingredient in plasterboard.

“It does get mixed responses,” he says. “Some people love it; some people hate it. But one thing’s for sure, everyone remembers it.”

Sam says that working on Scott Cam’s house was great because it didn’t involve dealing with the contestants, or the cameras. “We had a bit of free rein as well, because it wasn’t necessarily part of the competition,” he says. “We were doing the same room reveals each week as the contestants, but we were able to sneak ahead a little bit as well. It was just less chaos; it was great.”

Being a plasterer on The Block involves a lot of waiting, says Sam.

“We wait for the frame inspections, the sparkie to finish and the insulation,” he says. “Then they inspect the insulation, and the plumbers do their work. And then sometimes there’s no floor in there so we’re waiting for a floor. And then, all of a sudden, it might be six o’clock at night and they’re ready to go. You have to get in and work then.”

The Block: Tree Change

Things were different this year, he says, because working on Scott Cam’s home didn’t have the same time constraints. “We were working from seven to six most nights, and we did do a couple of late nights, but the pressure wasn’t as bad as when you work for a contestant,” Sam says. “They’ve just got to finish to get the waterproofers in the next day or they’ve got to get it painted that night. The pressure’s on and there are late, late nights.”

However, Sam says he still returns to The Block every year. “After the first season I wasn’t sure,” he says. “But I just keep coming back. It’s organised chaos every year – it’s chaos, but it is it is quite organised. Things do run quite systematically, and it’s great for our business. We get a lot of work outside of The Block from it.”

Sam just completed work on Block judge Shaynna Blaze’s new country home in nearby Kyneton, which was also filmed by Channel 9 and will screen weekly from November 16. He said it was a great project because it included a lot of what he calls architectural plastering, including a special ceiling.

As a seasoned plasterer, Sam is well aware of the benefits of all the Gyprock products, but he singles out the Plaster Accelerator product as being a key element of his Block toolkit.

“Probably the most common or popular product when you’re on the block is the Accelerator because you need things to go up quick.,” he says. “You need to add the accelerator to get things done.”

Spence Thomson

Testing out Gyprock Gold

This season Sam was able to test out a new Gyprock product, the Gold topping compound.

“The Gold will be great for insurance jobs because it creates 50% less airborne dust,” he says. “The dust seems to settle rather than float through the air and coat everything. So, when you’re working in people’s houses, that product is going to be a game changer.”

“We have to sand – it’s a messy job, plastering – but if you can cut that dust down by 50%, that’s really going to change things. It’s a great product.”

Like most building trades at the moment, Sam and the Getting You Plastered team are really busy, with a lot of jobs, and less workers on tap.

“We’re really busy, but when the Block call comes, you’ve just got to make an exception and get there,” he says. “If you commit and want to be a part of it, that’s what you have to do. Sometimes it’s frustrating for my other clients, but I’ve got a fairly big team ­– I’ve normally got around 20 staff. I keep five to eight at The Block full time, and the rest on my other jobs.”

Curves are back

Sam says he’s seeing curves making a comeback in terms of wall shapes and architectural details. “I spent probably the first 20 years of my work life, smashing out curves and squaring them up and now we’re putting them back in a big way,” he says.

He uses Gyprock Flexible for curved shapes, which is a 6.5mm thick plasterboard sheet with an enhanced gypsum core, designed to bend for small radius curves. “There’s a lot of spiral staircases that are getting wrapped in plaster, too,” he says. “You couldn’t do it with normal board unless you did it in 1000 little strips.”

“A lot of plans I’m getting sent have a curved wall here and there. They’re throwing in archways and curved ceilings too. It’s good to do something different. It gives you a better job satisfaction when you can do something and stand back and look at it and be proud.”

Sam also says that ornamental plaster is having a resurgence.

“People are spending money on labour again,” he says. “All the houses used to be just square boxes, and plain, either code corners and scotia or square set. But now people are getting back into the ornamental details with the traditional styles of plaster, which is nice.”

The Block as trendsetter

Sam says he thinks that The Block has a big influence on new homeowners and many of the materials featured appear in new builds the following year.

“Whatever tiles are on The Block this season, that’s what everyone will want next season,” he says. “And as soon as they see things that we’ve done on The Block plaster-wise, we get a lot of calls about that as well. Like we did round skylights, the first ones in Luke and Jasmine’s house and then again in Tanya and Vito’s house last season. I’ve done a bunch for other clients since then. That certainly put the idea in people’s heads of having a round skylight.”

This season the Getting You Plastered team has gone further, creating star-shaped skylights for the shed on Scotty Cam’s home, in the pattern of the Southern Cross.

Sam’s renovation tips

The key to a good renovation is to keep budgets top of mind, says Sam. “A great idea is to order and pay even if it’s just a deposit for your materials in advance – as early as you can. Availabilities have been difficult in the last couple of years during COVID. And even now, it’s really hard to get quite a few different products.”

This approach also means you secure the price, he adds. “The prices just keep going up at the moment so it’s hard to keep on top of things. So that would be the biggest hint that I could give.

There is a big demand for plasterers at the moment, and Sam says he considers himself lucky to have such a great team. “It’s taken me a long time to get them,” he says. “And I’m just holding on to them because there’s not too many more walking through the door. Everyone’s busy. Everyone’s working. So it’s definitely getting harder and harder to come across good trades.”

Inspired by The Block?

Take a look at all the CSR products used on The Block, room by room and start planning your own renovation or new home.

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