Hawks: Plastic or Metal?

Hawks, also known as hand boards, are an essential plastering tool that every plasterer needs in their toolbox. 


They are straightforward in terms of outline, and to someone who isn't familiar with the plastering business, plasters made of plastic and metal might seem identical. In truth, there are huge differences between the two that could change the finished product and even how it feels to apply plaster on walls and such. 


In short, not all hawks are built the same. 


But which is better? 

Keep reading this article to know more about the difference between plastic and metal hawks to determine which is best for you. 


Are you looking for sturdy, dependable hawks of various makes and materials? Visit Amaroc today for a selection of the best hawks a plasterer could ever want. 


What are hawks? 

Before jumping into the different types of hawks, we must first understand what hawks are in the first place. 


Traditionally, hawks are made of square-shaped wood slabs with a wooden handle to go along with them. Today, plastic hawks are made from polyurethane foam, which is both rigid and lightweight. Meanwhile, metal hawks are composed of a metal plate made of aluminium alloy and a comfortable handle. Metal hawks used to be heavier, but thanks to technology, they are now lighter, relative to the previous models made.

wet cement

What's the main difference between metal and plastic hawks? 

There are a few differences between plastic and metal hawks that you might notice when using them for long periods. Here are some main differences you might encounter when using a plastic or metal hawk. 


How they feel

Metal hawks feel sturdier and more robust in hand compared to their plastic counterparts. But with the strength comes the weight, making metal hawks more challenging to use for long periods of time.


On the other hand, plastic hawks are easier to carry for a long time and are less demanding on the hand and wrist. 


They are particularly great for plasterers who are just starting out, since they are easier to manipulate and allow newcomers to practice how to angle their hawks to get the desired finish. This is because plastic hawks help hold the plaster on the surface even without a specific angle to work with. And since getting used to an angle takes time and practice, a plastic hawk can help save on valuable plaster. 


They both form the portable surface upon which plaster or mortar is held, making it easier to place plaster onto the plastering trowel before applying it to the wall.


How much do they cost?

An apparent difference between a metal and a plastic hawk is that the plastic one is cheaper to purchase and replace if lost or damaged.


In the event that your hawk gets lost (which happens surprisingly often), it’s cheaper price point makes it much less painful to replace.  Most stores also carry plastic hawks for DIY-ers, making it even easier to purchase them. 


How they sound

Call it minor, but when you’re plastering all day, it’s irritating to hear the constant sound of mental hawks scraping against the wall or clanging on other metal tools. Plastic hawks offer a more subtle approach to plastering with little to no sound produced. 


Many newbie plasterers prefer plastic hawks to practice without disturbing their environments and keeping a low profile while in training. 


How well they perform

Metal hawks typically outlast plastic hawks by many months and years (assuming they don’t get lost!).  Metal hawks are tougher and have furrowed surfaces to aid plasterers not lose their mixtures. And since metal hawks have been the product of choice of veteran professional plasterers, many shops offer various sizes, styles, and even weights to meet the demand. 


So if you are a professional plasterer or have a large job to complete, it is definitely worth investing in a more durable metal hawk. 


Which is better for wet cement? 

Plastic hawks have a more textured blade than metal examples, so the plaster is less likely to slip off, even if they are held at jaunty angles. Plastic hawks are generally mould-made in one piece, including the handle, whereas the metal ones are made of hard-rolled aluminium alloy with handles attached separately. 


The handles can be wooden, plastic, or foam that slowly moulds to the hand, making it comfortable to hold. These will also generally include a callous foam protector between the blade and the handle. Which handle material is better is down to personal preference. 


More experienced plasterers will find comfort in metal hawks, even when working with wet cement. 

Which hawk should I choose - plastic or metal?

All hawks generally do the same job, so going with any will be great for you. 


But if you are a new plasterer, or plan to use the hawk only occasionally, it might be better to invest less and purchase a plastic hawk. If your job and business revolve around plastering, though, investing in a sturdy, metal hawk is likely to be better. 

Plastic and metal hawks with Amaroc

Are you a DIY connoisseur and are looking for a cheap plastic hawk to practice your skills with? Or maybe you are an experienced professional looking for a good selection of metal hawks? 


In any case, visit Amaroc and browse our wide selection of hawks! 


Here at Amaroc, we offer plastic and aluminium hawks in three sizes to suit your plastering requirements. 


If you are looking for advice or information about plastering tools, materials, and methods, visit our website or get in touch with us to learn more about plastering and how you can elevate your plastering projects. 

September 11, 2019 — Amaroc Collaborator