Skim coating textured drywall

shadow700February 5, 2011

We are refinishing a room that currently has a painted "sand-like" texture treatment on the drywall. The actual granules are fairly shallow (

We are looking for advice on how to give the walls a smooth (normal drywall) finish. Would it be best to sand the walls down or skim coat the whole thing?

If we skim coat, what is the recommended procedure?


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Firstly, go over the area with a sharp taping knife to remove any high spots. By "high" I mean anything obtrusively so or out of the ordinary. Then with a wide taping knife apply at least three thin coats of drywall compound. THATS the hard part! It takes a lot of practice to get a smooth finish. No sanding between coats unless your applications have high spots or ridges. There should be very little sanding required on the last coat

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 9:33AM
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You may actually find it easier and faster to remove the old drywall with the texture and just install new.

You only have to mud seams and joists then, not the entire surface.

A plasterer's trowel will make much faster work of skimming large areas than using drywall knives.

Maker sure you get one with a large enough diameter handle to control the tilt of the trowel.
The one with the tiny (under one inch diameter) handles are too small to be useful.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 12:08PM
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I agree with take it down or perhaps go over with with some thin new drywall... I went over some old panelling with 1/4 drywall vs trying to tear it out...

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 1:06PM
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As I said before, skim coating is the way to go. If you can not skim coat you will not be able to mud new drywall. If you are not skilled enough to put 3 even coats on, then the only issue will be how much sanding you do. A pro will have virtually no sanding and a diyer will have more sanding. Just more sanding but doable. The taping knife will be much easier to use than a trowel.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 8:40AM
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If you choose to skim coat. you might want to consider "meshing" the surface with reinforcing mesh similar to the mesh tape used on seams only it comes in 3' width rolls and is a tad more heavy gauged. You can get it self adhering or you can tack it up using spray adhesive. It installs similar to wall papering and you can get it at most masonry suppliers. The mesh will give something for the first coats to grab a hold of as mudding over a painted surface doesn't always give you the best adhesion.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 12:07PM
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"The taping knife will be much easier to use than a trowel."

A trowel excels at covering large areas quickly and smoothly.

Avoid the trowels with a small diameter handle though.

They are very difficult to rotate to raise the leading edge.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 12:42PM
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Google skim coating and check out the UTube videos that come up.

I've done both at my house and based on that embedded sand texture you have, I'd have to vote for tearing out the old and putting up new drywall, but it's a close call. I'd worry about the knife skipping around wildly on the "sand grains" but maybe it wouldn't be a big deal. My skim coat worked out well but I put a lot of time into it and I sanded a LOT, something a pro wouldn't have to do as he'd get it smoother with the knives/trowels. I used a 24" wide taping knife and eventually learned to not worry too much about leaving ridges as I could knock then when they dried.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 3:22PM
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I think we are going to try skim coating and if it doesn't seem like it is going well, we are going to overlay with 1/4 or 3/8" drywall.

We're only dealing with two walls (8 sheets total), so it won't be a big deal if we have to go that route.

Thanks for the advice.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 9:58AM
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No one has mentioned material, but I think I would use Durabond 90 for the first coat, since it drys so hard and will better fill up the "valleys" between the bumps. I think that will give you a better surface for subsequent coats of mud. Be carefull not to create any high spots with it however, as it cannot really be sanded down like the regular (softer) mud.

I lead toward the trowel, as well, simply because you can get more material on the wall faster with a trowel. If you're more comfortable with a knife, maybe use it for the final coats.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 10:48AM
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Just an update.

The skim coating went really well. We needed two coats and then a little touchup here and there (the texture was really shallow).

Since I am really cheap and did not have a plastering trowel, I used a 3/8" v-notch trowel that I had from a previous project (the flat side, of course). It went on really well. I can see why a trowel would be the recommended tool for the job over a knife for this application.

We used SHEETROCK Easy Sand Lightweight Setting-Type Compound 90 for the two coats and then 20 for new joints, corners, and touch-up.

The walls are primed and I am going to hopefully paint them later today.

1 Like    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 9:41AM
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