Posts Tagged ‘skim-coat’

Getting Smoothing Compound To Dry

June 13, 2019


The walls in this powder room were textured. (see top photo) To ensure that the new wallpaper looks good, and that it has a solid surface to cling to, the walls need to be smoothed. This is called floating, or skim coating, and I do a lot of it here in Houston. To do that, I trowel on a plaster-like substance, let it dry, then sand it, vacuum up the dust, wipe residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge, and then prime.

What takes the most time is waiting for the smoothing compound (drywall joint compound, which we also call “mud”) to dry. If the texture is heavy, often it has to dry overnight. The downside of this is that it adds an extra day of labor and expense. But when the texture is lighter, the drying can be speeded along.

In the second photo, you see some of the ways I get mud to dry more quickly. On the counter* you see two box fans, and on the floor is a much stronger fan. On the counter is also a space heater. Hot air in the room absorbs moisture, sucking it out of the wet smoothing compound. I let the room heat up, and then I have to open the door and let the moist air out – over and over again.

The yellow objet on the floor is a heat gun. A heat gun acts like a hair dryer on steroids, and can get small stubborn areas to dry pretty quickly.

A few other things help speed drying … Walls coated with flat paint will dry more quickly than with glossy paint. And having the air conditioning and / or heat cranking away will help, because, while regulating the temperature, these climate-control systems also pull humidity out of the air. I also like to turn the HVAC system’s fan from “Auto” to “On,” so that air is circulating continuously, which also pulls humidity out of the air and helps the walls to dry.

*I normally keep a dropcloth on the vanity counter. But the vibrating fans can cause the dropcloths to slip, and you don’t want anything crashing down on the homeowner’s countertop. I do have lengths of self-grip shelf liner that help keep the fans from moving around too much.

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Smoothing a Textured Wall

June 16, 2017

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The bumps on textured walls (see top photo) will show under wallpaper and look horrible, and the texture also impedes good adhesion. So I “skim-coat” the walls with joint compound (“mud”), which is much like plaster, let dry, and then sand smooth (see middle photo).

The walls need to be sealed before wallpaper can go up, and for this, I like Gardz, a penetrating sealer that soaks into the surface, binds everything together, and dries hard. It’s also a wonderful primer to hanging wallpaper on.

Prepping Heavily Textured Walls for Wallpaper

February 15, 2017
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Wow. Some DIY remodeler / house flipper loved this textured wall finish, and sprayed it on EVERY WALL AND CEILING in this otherwise-beautifully-updated home near Gessner & Kempwood. The young couple who bought the home want wallpaper in their two daughters’ rooms and in a front room study, plus they want chalkboard paint on one wall in the kitchen.

Wallpaper looks best and sticks best to smooth walls, and the chalkboard wall needs to be perfectly smooth, so I am spending two days smoothing these surfaces. The wallpaper will go up later.

Today I skim-floated the walls with joint compound. (It’s kind of like plaster, and is applied with a trowel.) I went through nearly FIVE boxes of the stuff (see photo). Each box is 44 lbs. Need I say that my arms and shoulders are tired and sore? 🙂

Applying it thickly enough to cover the 1/4″ – 1/2″ bumps means that it will take a looong time to dry, so I have turned on the heat in the house (to help draw moisture out of the smoothing compound) as well as the house fan (to circulate air), set several fans up blowing against the walls, and left it to dry overnight. Tomorrow, I will sand the walls.

Because the skim coat was so thick, even when it is sanded, the surface will not be perfectly smooth, and will also have many holes caused by air bubbles. So I will trowel on a second, much lighter coat, to cover these irregularities. With the heat cranking, and the fans blowing, this second skim coat should dry fairly quickly.

Then I will sand one final time, vacuum up the dust, wipe the walls free of dust with a damp sponge, and finally roll on a sealing primer called Gardz.

The painters can then apply the chalkboard paint to the kitchen wall. And when I come back to hang wallpaper in a month or so, the messy part of the job will be over and done with, so no more dust or mess or smells in the clients’ home – just new, pretty wallpaper for the little girls’s rooms and for Mom’s study.

Waiting for Hubby – It’s Good to Have a Back-Up Plan

April 1, 2015

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A few days before the install date, I usually send my clients a “what to expect and how to prepare for your wallpaper installation” e-mail. I must have forgotten this time, because the homeowers were not aware that I need 18″-24″ of space around the wall for my ladder, and that 5’3″, 100 lb me is unable to move that large and heavy bedroom set.

My task for today was to “skim coat” or “float” the textured wall, with a plaster-like substance, which will dry and then be sanded, leaving a perfectly smooth wall, ready for the new wallpaper. Since I couldn’t get over or behind the bed, I smoothed the areas I could reach from my ladder.

When the husband gets home tonight, he will pull the bed away from the wall, so I can reach the entire space. Tomorrow, I will finish floating the wall, get some fans blowing on it to quicken the drying time, sand it, and then prime it.

This back-up plan is going to add at least two hours to my work day tomorrow. But it’s a good option, and it’s a way to get as much done as possible today, lessening the amount of work that’s needed to be done tomorrow.

Bye-Bye Drab and Funky

July 6, 2014

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Digital ImageDigital ImageNot too long ago, I blogged about “wallpaper the color of mud,” which I thought was really pretty. Today I’m working in a powder room which has walls painted the color of army-green mud. The color itself is beautiful, but in this small, windowless room, it just makes the whole space feel cramped and dingy. The rather heavy and uneven texture on the walls is not helping, either.

The first photo shows the original paint color and texture, and a little bit of my “skim coat” of “mud” (joint compound) that I’m using to smooth the wall. It’s troweled on, left to dry, then sanded smooth, vacuumed, wiped with a damp sponge to remove residual dust, and then primed.

In the second shot, you see the fully prepped wall, ready for wallpaper tomorrow. And in the last shot, one day later, the finished look! The homeowner kept asking, “Do you have an extra light on in here? (I did not.) It’s so much brighter!”

The lighter colored walls and simple pattern greatly brightened the room, and visually enlarged it.