Posts Tagged ‘skim-float’

Patching a Hole Around a Pipe

April 27, 2022
You’re looking at a water supply line underneath a pedestal sink in a powder room.
This hole is a little wide, and offers the wallpaper nothing to adhere to. In addition, there is no escutcheon (decorative plate) to hide the hole.
I took some special paper and cut a ” collar ” to fit around the pipe and also cover the hole.
I dipped the “collar” into Gardz . This is cool stuff. It soaks in to porous surfaces, adheres to surfaces, and dries hard.
Here is the patch in place. Once it’s dry, I’ll skim-float with joint compound (” mud “) and then sand smooth.
The finished product will be a smooth, intact surface for the wallpaper to adhere to, with only a tiny gap around the plumbing.

Stuff Doesn’t Wanna Stick To Slick

March 23, 2022
Tomorrow this breakfast area wall will get wallpaper. Today is prep day.
The wall has a very heavy texture, plus some issues with previous patches in areas, probably due to drywall cracks. I need to skim-float over all this to smooth the surface.
In addition, the current paint is quite glossy – and this can present a problem for the smoothing compound to adhere to it properly.
So I want to prime over this gloss paint before I skim-coat the walls. The primer has to both stick to the gloss paint and provide a base that the smoothing compound will adhere to.
Another issue is that I won’t be using this every day, so keeping it shaken up and useable was a consideration. I looked high and low for an appropriate primer. Finally I snapped that the Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977 that I use under my wallpaper jobs checks off all the boxes … It sticks to just about anything, and it dries nice and flat / matt so any topcoat (wallpaper or smoothing compound) can grab ahold and stick, I have it in my van all the time, and I use it frequently enough that it’s always mixed up and ready to use. To top it all off, it dries in less than an hour. Voilà!
This stuff can be tricky to find. Sherwin-Williams used to stock it for me, but became unreliable. Now Murphy Brothers on Bissonnet (Houston) gets it just for me.
Besides dropcloths on the floor, here I’ve tacked strips of thin paper dropcloth material along the wainscoting (I also do this along baseboards) to keep any drops or roller splatters from marring the homeowners’ floor and moldings.
Here it is applied. Since my goal is to cover and eliminate the glossy paint, and then provide a base for the smoothing compound, this coat doesn’t need to be opaque or cover the wall evenly.
Tomorrow we’ll see how the wallpaper turns out!
Fast-forward … I’ve floated the wall and sanded it smooth. Compare the smoothness to the “before” picture at the top.

This is What You Get When You Ask the Painters to Wrap 1/4″ of Paint onto the Wall to Be Papered

March 22, 2022
A quarter inch of new pink paint from the sidewalls underlapping onto the wall where I will be hanging a mural will ensure that none of the original tan wall paint will peek out of the corner. All it takes is 1/4″ , which is what I asked the painters to provide.
As you can see, someone has a little problem with his measurements and math. This swath is more like 2″-4″.
Not a biggie. It’s a matt finish paint, and won’t be difficult for either my smoothing compound or wallpaper paste to adhere to.
My first task in this room is to skim-float the wall to smooth over the orange peel texture. That task took a lot longer than hanging the wallpaper!

Starting to Smooth a Textured Wall

March 2, 2022
This is a typical wall texture provided by many builders of new tract homes in the suburbs of Houston.
Wallpaper doesn’t look good hung over this texture, because the bumps will show through. And the high-and-low ridges and dips interfere with good adhesion to the wall. So this accent wall will need to be skim-floated to smooth it before the wallpaper can go up.
In addition, this wall started out with a semi-gloss paint. I worry about my materials being able to stick to a glossy surface.
So, before applying the smoothing compound, I am priming the wall with something that will stick to the gloss paint, as well as provide a matt finish for the smoothing compound to adhere to.
I’ve discovered that my favorite wallpaper primer also works great for this purpose. It sticks to just about anything, and dries almost dead-flat. I like Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime.
I use a trowel (top) to spread on the smoothing compound. The 3″ stiff putty knife is used to knock off big-ish chunks on the wall, or bits of grit. I use the 1 1/2″ flexible putty knife to apply the smoothing compound in tight spots like around electrical outlets or between a door molding and a wall corner.
The smoothing compound I use is drywall joint compound, and I like the Sheetrock brand Plus 3 version. Search hear (upper right) to see previous posts with photos of this material.
Bottom of photo – trowel sticking to the wall shows you just how tacky this stuff is. Above that are blobs of the smoothing compound waiting to be spread around, and a little bit on the left initially smoothed onto the wall. At the top of the wall you see a section that I have already covered with the smoothing compound. This will dry overnight, and I will sand it smooth tomorrow.
Sometimes I can float a wall, get it to dry, sand it smooth, prime, and hang the paper all in one day. But this texture is so heavy that more time is required for it to dry, so it will need an overnight sit. Some fans, plus the home’s heat and/or air conditioning help to pull moisture out of the smoothing compound and hasten dry time.

Keeping Dust to a Minimum

February 5, 2022
Most homes in the Houston area have textured walls. These bumps are unsightly under wallpaper, and also interfere with consistent adhesion. So I like to skim-float the walls with drywall joint compound (I use the Plus 3 version) and then sand them smooth.
Sanding this stuff creates lightweight, powdery dust that sifts through the air and gets over everything. Homeowners tend to hate that. 🙂
So here I’ve created a ” tent ” out of painter’s plastic along the walls where I will be sanding. This creates a pretty darned effective barrier that prevents dust from getting into the rest of the room.
Here’s the dust created by smoothing just the top 5′ of wall area. And my ShopVac to clean it all up.
I find it easiest to let the dust fall onto the floor and even the carpet. It’s easy to vacuum dust up off these surfaces. Dropcloths and plastic tend to get sucked up into the vacuum hose, and the dust doesn’t come with it. I once tried protective self-adhesive plastic that’s made to cover carpet … but it was extremely difficult to unroll, plus, it was even more difficult to get back off the floor. I truly feared it would pull off the surface finish of the floor along with it.
The vacuum gets most of the dust. But there is still a fine, invisible layer left on surfaces. So you need to take a damp rag and wipe the floor.
I also vacuum the walls. After the visible dust is gone, it’s imperative that you take a damp sponge and wipe residual dust off the walls. You have to rinse the sponge frequently to get all the dust. If not, it’s like, as I like to say, it’s like flouring a cake pan – the wallpaper will kinda stick – but not really stick.
Once the walls are perfectly dust-free and dry, follow up with a wallpaper primer.
Then go and hang your wallpaper!

Soft Jungle Mural for New Baby’s Accent Wall

November 19, 2021
The first installer was inexperienced, and left gaps at the seams, wrinkles, creases, mis-matched pattern, and even tears. The homeowners had their painter strip off the wallpaper, patch the torn areas of the wall, prime, … and then they had to purchase a whole new mural. Oh, and next they called me! 🙂 The painter was unschooled on wallpaper, too, so he just grabbed something off the shelf at Sherwin-Williams that had “wallpaper” on the label, and rolled it on. That particular primer, Pro 935, is meant to be used in different sorts of situations, and was too glossy and too tacky. I covered it with my preferred Pro 977 Ultra Prime by Roman.
Putting latex / water based paint over torn drywall will often cause the moisture from the paint to soak into the drywall paper and cause it to expand, which creates bubbles. These look bad under the new wallpaper. Here I have cut around one such bubble and removed the top layer. I will skim-float over this area, let it dry, sand it smooth, and then prime over it.
A whole wall’s worth of mural fun rolled up into one cylinder. They provided powdered paste – which I did not use, mostly because these tend to be too wet and can lead to staining on these non-woven materials. I did, however, take the paste home with me, because every now and then you run into a delicate wallpaper that requires this stuff – which can be hard to source.
I started hanging in the middle of the wall. Mostly because whoever measured forgot to add FOUR INCHES to both the height and the width. Instead, the manufacturer added only one scant inch at each side. This didn’t give much play at all, to accommodate trimming at the ceiling and floor, and walls / ceiling that went off plumb / level. This means that if the ceiling wasn’t level, it could start sloping either up or down, and that means the mural would start getting either cut off, or some white space might show at the top. By starting in the middle, I could split the difference between any irregularities, and, hopefully, over the 12′ width of the wall, now divided into two 6′ sections, any off-level sloping would be minimal enough that it wouldn’t visually impact the top or bottom of the design. I know that doesn’t make sense to a lot of you reading this, but I do have a number of paperhangers who follow my blog, and they do “get it” and hopefully will learn some new tricks.
monkey, giraffe, flamingo, cockatiel
Finished and ready for furniture – and a baby!
For this non-woven product, I used the recommended paste-the-wall installation method. I can see why the other guy had difficulty. This was a very thin, but stiff, material. I got wrinkles, too. It took some time and some finesse to urge them out of the paper. This is another reason why I started in the center of the wall. If wallpaper starts warping or wrinkling, it usually will cause the outer edge (the edge not butted up against the previous strip) to expand and twist. As each subsequent strip goes up, the twisting and distortion becomes magnified. You can’t butt a straight edge of a new strip up against a strip that is bowed out of shape on the wall. Thus, by starting in the middle, I can minimize the number of bowed edges. Instead of four, there will be only two. And the amount of distortion will be less per panel. I will note that this usually does not happen with non-woven materials.

A big chunk of mural was cut off by the door and lost to the trash pile. As the mural worked its way across the top of the door and down the right side, a different set of leaves, and a lot of blank area, was going to end up in that 6″ wide space between the door and the wall. I thought it would look cooler if the design of the foliage to the left of the door continued on to the right side of the door. So I saved the strip that got cut off by the door and then did some tweaking in various ways, and got that narrow strip placed to the right of the door. When you look at it, it appears that the leaves and fronds are passing from left to right uninterrupted through the doorway.

The home is in Bellaire, in Houston.

Covering Up an Uneven Edge

October 31, 2021
Someone painted over the wallpaper in this powder room. At this point, removing the paper would be a huge, messy undertaking, so I’m going to leave it in place and prime over it. There was a scroll-edged border at the top of the wall and below the crown molding. Here you can see the edge of that border visible under the paint. This will show under the new wallpaper.
To prevent the edge from ” telegraphing ” through the new wallpaper, I have skim-floated over it with joint compound (” mud “). Once it’s dry (I used my heat gun to speed things up!), I will sand it smooth, wipe off the dust, and then prime the entire wall surface. No no one will be able to detect it under the new paper.

Sanding Dust from Smoothing a Textured Wall

October 26, 2021
Bumps from textured walls look bad under wallpaper, and they interfere with good adhesion. To smooth a textured wall, I skim-float with joint compound (a plaster-like drywall material). Once it’s dry, I sand it smooth. This makes dust. In the photo above, the wall only needed a light skim-coat, so the sanding was minimal. Yet, you can see how much dust was generated. On the right is the “tent” of plastic I ran across the wall to prevent dust from getting to other parts of the room.
Here’s a closer look at the powder that has fallen to the floor. And also the sanding sponge I like. The 90 degree corners tend to be too sharp and can gouge the surface, so I take a scissors and trim that off. That’s the exposed red area you see along the edge there.

The next step is to vacuum up all this dust. Then residual powder must be wiped off the wall with a damp sponge, and you have to rinse the sponge frequently. The next step is applying a wallpaper primer. Once that’s dry, the wall is ready for wallpaper.

Crumbly / Unstable Wall Issues

June 2, 2021
Starting to strip wallpaper. You see the top, inked layer, the tan backing layer, and the white skim-floated wall beneath.
Wall surfaces delaminating at seams
Gardz, a penetrating sealer that binds surfaces together and dries hard.
My first idea was to just Gardz the lifted areas. The sealer is newly applied and still wet in this photo.
Gardz’ing the whole wall created a more stable surface. This doesn’t look much different from the photo above. But in actuality, the the Gardz has sealed and “locked down” the surface, as well as soaked into the material and sealed the inner layers as well.
Applying a skim-coat to even out the surface levels.
Once this skim-coat is dry, it will be sanded smooth.

The installer of the original paper did a good job of skim-floating the wall and creating a smooth surface. But he didn’t apply a sealer or primer. Thus, when I used water to strip off the old wallpaper, the moisture soaked into his skim-coat (drywall joint compound, a plaster-like substance, which we also refer to as “mud”). Some of the skim-coat came away from the wall,,, particularly in areas of stress, such as where the wallpaper seams had lain.

In fact, long (years) before I began stripping the wallpaper, many of the seams had started to pull away from the wall, taking inner layers of the wall along with them. This is because wallpaper shrinks as it dries, and that creates tension on the wall. If the wall surface is unstable, these layers can delaminate (come apart), and the result is an open seam with chunks of wall material stuck to it.

This can also happen over time, as temperature and humidity changes can cause the wallpaper and / or wall surface to absorb and then let go of moisture. All this puts stress on those wallpaper seams and on the layers inside the wall.

Besides these seam areas that let go, I had one wall where the entire surface came apart in a mottled effect.

Another factor is that the original skim-coat had been applied over a glossy paint. It’s hard for anything to stick to gloss. The guy probably should have rolled on a “bonding primer” before applying his skim-coat.

Of course, all that increases the time and materials needed, and ups the cost to the homeowner.

Gardz is a wonderful product that is designed to soak into surfaces and “bind them together.” It dries hard and is pretty water-resistant. It was originally intended to “lock down” torn drywall. But workmen quickly discovered that it would fix a whole lot of other surfaces – such as my delaminating skim-coated walls.

At first I thought I would just Gardz (we use it as a noun and as a verb!) the areas that were lifting. Once it dried, I intended to skim-float over these areas, sand smooth, and then prime the entire room with my usual wallpaper primer – Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime.

But I realized that, even after I wiped down the walls with a damp sponge, they were still covered with powder or grit. This was powder from the layer of skim-coat, as well as residue from wallpaper paste. Neither my primer not wallpaper will stick securely to powder.

So I decided to roll Gardz on to all the walls, ceiling to floor.

Fifth photo – I was really pleased with the way the Gardz soaked in and drew all those layers together. There was no more power on the surface, and the inner layers of the walls were all pulled together.

To even over these vacant areas, and to create a pristine new surface, I skim-floated over the entire wall surface – all walls, floor to ceiling. See last photo.

Once that is dry, tomorrow morning, I will sand everything smooth. Next I’ll apply my 977 primer.

Then walls will be stable, and the surface will be ready to take on the new wallpaper.

From Textured to Smooth Wall Surface

March 30, 2021

Many homes in Houston have textured walls. In new homes in the suburbs, the texture is often really heavy – the so-called “Tuscan” look.

The texture will look bad under the new paper, plus it interferes with good adhesion. So it needs to be smoothed out before the paper can go up.

I use the process called “skim-floating” or adding a “skim-coat.” You can Search here (upper right corner) to find posts explaining this process.

And don’t pay your painter or handyman to do it – they don’t understand what’s needed for wallpaper. I’m many times better! 🙂

Here are before and after pics of a powder room I smoothed and prepped in the Bellaire neighborhood.

That second photo is enlarged many times – the wall is actually much smoother than the picture makes it look.