Drywall --how long does it take?

eastgateFebruary 27, 2009

I have about 4000 square feet of wall space (1000 square feet of floor space). How long should it take to complete the drywall process? Two workmen started taping and applying the joint compound yesterday morning; they say they'll be finished by noon today and ready to paint on Monday. Does that seem possible?

The inspector from the bank said he would review their work after they had applied the primer, but wouldn't it be easier to fix any problems before they paint?

I'm too ignorant to know if they're doing a good job.

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meldy_nva

If the two workers are each expert; and work smoothly together (that comes from practice); and there are no awkward curves or angles; and the walls are not more than single panel height; and there aren't too many windows or doors to cut around; and there are no/few closets or cubbies; and they aren't cutting out for electric outlets etc; and the weather cooperates by not being too humid or too cold or too hot or too dry; and all the materials are at hand; and you are amazingly lucky: No. I don't think so. However, a full crew in the best of circumstances *might* be able to hang that many square feet in such a short time.

It's ever so much easier to see a good drywall job than it is to do it. The walls will be smooth and level, with no bulges or cracks. Dimples from the nails should be smoothed over -- you may see the patch's color but you won't see a shadow. The joins (where one panel abuts the next) will be smooth, not rough or bulked and neither convex nor concave. (BTW, it takes a day or two for the mud to dry before one can tell how good or bad the finish is. Mud shrinks a bit! A slight concave is okay because the primer will even it out. Ridges are not okay.) Cuts for doors, windows, outlets, etc. will be snug without crumbles or jagged edges. If you can check when it's dark outside, lay a flashlight along the wall -- believe me, every bump will throw a shadow! oooh, that's nasssty.... there WILL be small bumplets in even the best of work, so to be fair you should not complain about what can't be seen in daylight.

And this may not be of concern, but I prefer drywallers who make sure not slop the mud around! Mud is a form of plaster, and it's really hard to get off the floor.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 12:38PM
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jasonmi7

Anywhere from 1 day to four weeks.

I'm not being flippant; but no one can answer this....there is the level of finish, the complexity of the framing, the amount of expertise, the number of people doing it, the level of automation they use, the type of joint compounds and tapes they use, and yes, even the weather plays a big role.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 1:01PM
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sierraeast

"Two workmen started taping and applying the joint compound yesterday morning; they say they'll be finished by noon today and ready to paint on Monday. Does that seem possible? "

Way too fast for a decent finish, imo.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 1:14PM
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eastgate

Thanks very much for the info.

The workman says that he has been "mudding" for 20 years and not to worry. I hear that a lot lately!

It appears to me that he plans to tape, apply joint compound, then paint. Can the walls possibly look good? They actually look pretty smooth to me already, but I always thought sanding and repeat mudding was involved.

I'm paying the going rate for these guys, but obviously I failed to ask enough questions.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 1:19PM
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Ron Natalie

Way too fast for a decent finish, imo.

I don't know why you would say that. Even with the premixed compounds you probably can get three or four coats on in that time. If you use some of the mixed from powder you can greatly reduce that drying time.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 1:20PM
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sierraeast

Three or four coats in twelve hours? Not hardly, at least not on any of my projects or from any quality finisher out here.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 8:02PM
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jasonmi7

"Way too fast for a decent finish, imo."

"Three or four coats in twelve hours? Not hardly, "

Absolutely. Instead of redi-mix (a water-based), you used powder-based (a checmial-based), and you can easily have it done. In fact, it's done ALL the time. How else do you think they build thousands of houses a day throughout the country (well, at least they did up to 2006). Throw in a good, experienced crew using bazookas, taping boxes, and a pump, and I'll stack ANY of my guys up against any of yours.

Sorry; but time does NOT equate to quality anymore. It still is all in the hands of the people doing the work.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 8:11PM
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worthy

he plans to tape, apply joint compound, then paint.

Does that mean one or even two coats? Unacceptable. A Level Four finish (see link) is the standard you should obtain.

Check all those areas that meldy nva mentioned. Remember, it's not the painter's job to fix the defects in speedy gonzales' work.

Here is a link that might be useful: Levels of finish

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 10:17PM
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brutuses

No way can they do it in that timeline and give you beautiful walls. My DH is building our house. He and his helper only had to do a 1900 sq. ft. house and it took them longer than than just to install the drywall. We hired painters to apply the joint compound and paint and it took them 8-10 days. We have smooth walls, no texture and wanted it hand painted, no sprayers.

To do a good job you have to apply the joint compound or whatever it's called, let it dry, sand, then come back maybe 2 more times and repeat that process.

If someone is applying joint compound today and telling you they can paint it tomorrow, run them out of your house.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 11:02PM
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sierraeast

J,
I've seen my fair share of cocky builders come in to our area thinking they were going to set the town on fire. They simply didn't last too long. I never heard one, however, claim to build houses from the ground up in thirty days or less,(your words on a years ago thread). If your finishers can waltz in and blow out 4000 s.f. of area, 3-4 coats, in a day and a half, good on ya mate. Not gonna happen around these parts! As far as "stacking" one against the other, the only one's i ever have to prove myself to is my customers. I think I've done that well over the years. Have a good one!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 7:06AM
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jasonmi7

I think some of you really need to get out and see what goes on in the rest of the country in terms of building. The idea that it takes forever to drywall or build or paint is simply a false one. You do understand how taping machines and chemical-based joint compounds work, don't you?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 8:27AM
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sierraeast

J, You might be too young to know about "banjo's" It was the hot taping machine before bazooka's. When bazookas came out, i kept pace using my old banjo. Question is, what does that have to do with a quality, reliable drywall finish that's gonna hold up with no call backs? You can display your tract home, racetrack mentality all you want. That's why they call them "disposable houses" these days!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 8:41AM
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brickeyee

Achievable with setting compound and steady work.
If you use a 90 minute compound (or shorter) by the time you apply the first coat around the room and come back to the starting point it will have hardened.
Setting does not have to be dry for the next coat, just hard.
It hardens by chemical reaction, not drying out (like pre-mixed mud).

A quick pass with a drywall knife over the joints for any ridges and the second coat goes on.

Setting compound and mesh tape allow multiple coats on smaller jobs in a few hours.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 10:28AM
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sombreuil_mongrel

Its a 125-sheet job. That's a long weekend for a crew of finishers. It's 4000 sq ft of rock, not of house.
Casey

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 11:19AM
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worthy

I'd like to hear from the OP, since the job should be done and ready for painting.

I've seen my fair share of cocky builders come in to our area thinking they were going to set the town on fire.

I used to get this all the time. My favourite was when a very taken with himself business type in the swankiest part of town asked me for a time and price on a complicated addition/demolition. My price was okay. But when he heard me say "three months" his facade of politeness fell away: "Sh*t, No way Man!!" Click.

A couple of months later, he called me back overly politely, asking me whether I could take on the job. "Sorry, I'm all booked up for the next year."

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 1:00PM
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jasonmi7

"Question is, what does that have to do with a quality, reliable drywall finish that's gonna hold up with no call backs?"

Sierra; that's why I've got articles in Fine Homebuilding and JLC. This isn't housing tract mentality; this isn't about fly by night. This is modern home building. Rather than insulting me; please get current with trends. And no; I really, truly do not mean any offense by that; but there are a LOT of very modern inventions, processes, and products that allow this without sacraficing quality. And that's why I responded as I did to the OP. It CAN take from anywhere from a day to 20.

What exactly is your job, Sierra? Because I assume you're a contractor to speak so elegantly and informatively about the process. So you know that USG now sells more drymix compounds than redi-mix for finishing drywall, and I assume you are well aware and familiar with fast setting compounds:

Setting compounds:

As I'm sure you know; setting type compounds as shown above are far superior to redi-mix type compounds for both binding and preventing cracks in the first coat (the tapecoat). One of their huge drawbacks is how hard they are, which is why taping machines make this a much easier/better process.

For top compounds, a two, three or even four coat process is generally done with...of course, Easy Sand topping compounds as shown below.

They're used in the same manner as redi-mix topping coats, but of course dry faster. One of the unfortunate side items of our economy is that USG has discontinued many of their forumulas. Now, you can get 20, 30, 45, 90, and 120. That's minutes of total set; dried; ready to sand. They used to have 10 and 5 minute sets, too. What that means is that with the dry compounds, properly mixed and applied, they are done, dried, ready to sand at those set times. Apply a 20-minute Easy Sand, and after your coffee break, you're ready to sand or put the next coat on.

And let's not forget the tools I mentioned. Here's a picture:

Taping tools such as bazookas (which replaced Banjos about 20 years ago), and flatboxes allow near perfect tape and tapecoat application. Flatboxes in particular allow perfect 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12" feathering that don't require sanding (in the right hands, of course). Couple that with a 45 or 90 minute compound, and you're done in a day or two.

Certainly if you are dragging 5-gallon buckets of redi-mix around, it's gonna take more time and rely more on hand skills, but rather than insulting others, why don't you look into the process that is now used in more new homes than the one you're describing?

Oh, and by the way; after two decades building spec and custom homes, and working with the oldest housing stock in the nation on literally hundreds of remodels; I've had 6 screw pops.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 6:57PM
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eastgate

Thanks, everyone, for your opinions.

I hope the finishers don't get insulted, but they're definitely not painting on Monday. I checked the walls this morning and the nails need more mud--there's an indentation over each and every one of them. The striped areas look pretty smooth.

My biggest fear is that they're going to do an "orange peel" finish while I'm at work!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 7:32PM
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worthy

I've had subs on small jobs using Durabond 90 for more than 20 years. However, the drywall companies I use for whole homes have always hired tapers who use standard compounds--usually while walking around on illegal stilts. (Another story.) And I'm not about to second guess them as long as the finished job is acceptable. I've seen autotapers and flatboxes since forever.

It generally works out to two weeks for taping and finishing a 6,000 sq. ft. home. I never calculate the wall area. I found it wasn't worth the effort to bypass a drywall contractor.

I've had 6 screw pops.

Sorry, unless perhaps you're using kiln-dried lumber I find that impossible to believe. Though maybe that's more in the definition. I have less tolerance for minor defects than some, a habit I picked up from dealing with picky buyers; no clue about structure, but a speck on the paint or drywall gets their back up. Screw-pops are not a warranted item here.

Finishing set in action.

Here is a link that might be useful: Auto taper in action

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 7:51PM
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jasonmi7

"I've had 6 screw pops....I find that impossible to believe."

"Screw-pops are not a warranted item here."

Dude. I am that good. And I warranty screw-pops.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 8:27PM
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worthy

You young'uns break me up!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 8:43PM
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jasonmi7

*snicker*

Hard gettin' old, ain't it?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 8:48PM
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eastgate

For what it's worth, I looked in the trash and noticed the empty packages of compound were red, white, and blue like the ones in the second set of pictures. Unfortunately, I didn't notice the number. After reading all these comments, maybe the locks on the house should be changed before the guys return on Monday.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 9:24PM
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worthy

Certainly when you move in.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 10:29PM
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eastgate

Another question: what's a primer surfacer? will that give the drywall a smoother surface? Will the paint adhere as well?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 2:13PM
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