Posts Tagged ‘vacuum’

Getting Smoothing Compound to Dry Quickly

May 5, 2021

In my previous post, the wall had the thick, knock-down texture that is typical in new tract homes in the Houston area. You can’t hang wallpaper on this texture, because it looks bad under the paper, and because it interferes with good adhesion.

The solution is to “skim-float” the walls with joint compound, a.k.a. “mud,” which is much like plaster. The mud needs time to dry. When the texture on the walls is super heavy, as in this home, I usually let the smoothing compound dry overnight. That does add an extra day – and an extra day’s cost – to the job.

To save these homeowners from paying for that extra day, we pulled out all the stops. In this photo, you see my two box fans and my heavy-duty black floor fan blasting away at the wall. In addition, we have the room’s ceiling fan. And, in the lower left corner, the homeowner added his yellow “squirrel cage” fan.

Once the wall got half-way dry, I used my heat gun – the yellow gizmo you see lying on the dropcloth, which I call “The Great Persuader” – to speed up the drying process in stubborn areas.

Still, it took a long time for the wall to completely dry. Next I had to sand the “mud” smooth, vacuum up the dust, wipe residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then apply a primer.

Start to finish, all that prep, plus hanging the paper – a whole 3.1 strips in 35 sq. ft. of space – took nearly eight hours.

From Drab to Spa-Like

April 17, 2021
Before: Semi-gloss paint on bad texture job.
Virtually the same color, but texture and pattern add a warm and calm feel.
Before: Khaki paint
After: Serene, even Zen-like.
Close-up shows pattern that can be matched so seams are disguised, as well as string fibers that add texture and dimension.

Nearly a full 100 years old, this cottage in the Norhill neighborhood of the Houston Heights has seen many updates and treatments. The master bath suffered from various dubious renovation attempts, as well as the aftermath of acts of nature, such as shifting foundation, leaky windows, humidity. The whole room just had a sort of “last chance” look about it.

Most of the room’s ails could be solved by ripping everything out down to the studs and then starting anew. But on most budgets – that ain’t agonna happen!

So I skim-floated the walls and sanded smooth. Just having smooth walls free of the drab khaki paint color helped left the pervasive glum feeling.

The homeowner chose this faux grasscloth, which is a stringcloth product made by Walquest, in their EcoChic line. I like this because, being a man-made material, the pattern can be matched from strip to strip, so you do not notice the seams like you do with a natural fiber material like real grasscloth. Also, the vertical strings on the wallpaper give texture and dimension, which is a look that many homeowners are craving these days.

The label insert tells you straight off that this material is not washable (they say you can gently vacuum it occasionally). Yet it is still more resistant to stains than true grasscloth.

This wallpaper was purchased from Ted at the Shade & Drape Shop on Kirby at Richmond. (They have another location on Voss near San Felipe.)

Over Prepared??

January 16, 2021

I need to smooth the textured walls in this home’s powder room. I told the homeowner that sanding the smoothing compound would involve some dust.

The powder room is down the hall and, of course, I would keep the door closed, vacuum up all the dust, and wipe the walls and floors free of dust.

The night before my arrival, the homeowner – who has had bad experiences with dust during remodels in previous houses – did this.

In two short hours, she plastic ‘ed over nearly every surface on the first and second floors.

She said she had to use up her pent-up nervous energy due to watching the unfolding of the Capitol siege on January 6th.

And, no – my wall smoothing did not begin to get any dust out into the public areas of the home.

But – it never hurts to be prepared. 🙂

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.