Posts Tagged ‘trowel’

Smoothing Walls – I Can’t See What I’m Doing!

September 15, 2021
To smooth textured walls so you won’t see bumps under the wallpaper, I use this trowel to spread on Sheetrock brand Plus 3 lightweight joint compound (a.k.a. “mud”). This is called “skim-coating” or “skim-floating.”
Problem is, the mud is the same color as the wall. I can hardly see what I am doing! Once it dries it will turn white. But until then, I’m fumbling along.

Smoothing Suburban Heavily Textured Walls

November 1, 2020


In the tract homes in new subdivision developments all around Houston, it’s very common that the builder will use a heavy wall texture like this. You can’t hang wallpaper on this, because the bumps and dips will look horrible under the paper, and also they will impede good adhesion.

So the walls will need to be smoothed. This is accomplished by “skim-floating” or “skim-coating” the walls with joint compound. I do my own prep. And, as I like to say, I’m better at it than any “guy” you can hire. 🙂

The third photo shows the wall with half in original condition, and half with the smoothing compound applied over it.

Some people use a wide taping knife to spread the “mud,” as we call it. But I prefer the trowel shown in the fourth photo, because I am closer to it and can see everything that I am doing, and also I feel the position of the handle gives me better manual control.

Sometimes, using fans and playing with the A/C or heat systems, the compound will dry in a couple of hours. But with texture this heavy, the material must be left to dry overnight.

Tomorrow morning, I will sand the walls smooth, vacuum up the dust, wipe residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then roll on a primer. Once that dries (again, call in the fans!), the wallpaper can go up. The second-to-last photo shows it finished and ready for wallpaper.

The last photo shows the brand I prefer, USG’s Sheetrock brand “Plus 3,” which you can find at most big box stores and most paint stores. It sands a lot more easily than the standard joint compound in the red, white, and green box.

Smoothing Textured Walls

June 16, 2018


I like walls to be nice and smooth when the wallpaper goes up, first so the texture doesn’t show under the new paper, and second so the paper has an intact, flat surface to grab ahold of. When homes have textured walls, I skim float them with joint compound (which we calls mud) to smooth them.

To skim float, I use a trowel to spread the smoothing compound onto the walls. In the top photo, the upper portion of the wall has been skimmed, and you can see the compound drying around the edges and in high areas. It goes on grey, and when it’s dry, it will turn white. The second photo shows the box that the mud comes in, enclosed in a plastic bag, to retain its moisture.

To help speed the drying process along, I set fans up blowing on the walls, as you see in the second photo. I have three fans, and they will be positioned differently for maximum air blastage. Having the air conditioner cranking away and the house fan on also help to circulate air and pull humidity out of the air. In small powder rooms where the door can be closed and the climate supervised closely, I get a space heater going, which also helps pull humidity out of the air. For stubborn areas, I get out the heat gun – it’s like a hair dryer on steroids. 🙂

Once the mud is dry, I sand the walls smooth, then vacuum up the dust that falls to the floor, then wipe residual dust off the walls with a damp sponge, and then finally prime the walls. For this application, I use Gardz, a penetrating sealer which soaks into the joint compound and binds it together, and which is also a good primer to hang wallpaper on. Sorry, no photo of the Gardz or of the finished wall – but you can Search here to find previous posts.

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.

Soft-Toned Damask on a Tall Bedroom Accent Wall

March 22, 2015

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I don’t get many opportunities to pull out my 16′ extension ladder, but this week I did … the ceilings in this master bedroom were 12′ high! – just a few inches further than I could reach using my 6′ ladder. The first two photos were taken yesterday, as I was “floating” or “skim coating” the wall, to smooth it so the texture would not show through the wallpaper. The whiter areas you see have the plaster-like substance applied, as I work my way from top to bottom, from left to right.

Because of the dark paint on the other walls, I stopped the white “mud” just a hair away from the corner. In the second photo, that is my floating trowel hanging from the brace of the ladder. I floated the wall yesterday, and let it dry overnight. Today I sanded, vacuumed, wiped dust off the wall with a damp sponge, primed, and then finally hung the wallpaper.

I started in the middle (third photo), so I could center the damask motif on the wall, which will look nice once the homeowners get their bed and headboard back in place. The plastic is on my ladder to keep wallpaper paste from slopping all over it. I don’t have to do this with a normal step ladder, but extension ladders require a different angle of approach, and I couldn’t avoid having the pasted paper unbook and flop against my ladder. Yuck.

Fourth photo just shows some of the mechanics of how all this happens. The next pics are shots of the pattern; really pretty, soft, and nicely suited for a bedroom. They wanted a light color on the wallpaper, as it would contrast nicely with their brand new, very dark hardwood floors.

This wallpaper pattern is by Etten (by Seabrook), and is printed on the newish non-woven substrate, which is designed to peel off the wall easily and in one piece, when it’s time to redecorate. Note that, since these papers are generally thick and somewhat puffy, you often see the seams just a little (last two photos).

The room was a master bedroom in a fairly new home, and the location was Pearland, a suburb of Houston, Texas.