How to Skim Coat Drywall?

scrolloJune 9, 2006

Does anyone have experience skim coating drywall? My house has ugly textured walls -- splattered plaster which has been smashed down (is this called orange peel? or maybe it's knockdown?) I' tried getting plaster and smoothing it over the texture, but its still not perfect, especially against sideways lighting. I was told skim coating is what is done to create perfectly smooth, clean walls & that's what I want. Smooth smooth smooth!

Can you do it yourself & if so, how? What does it cost to have a contractor do it? (It's a big house!)

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missn427

Scrollo,
I am currently doing it in my house too! Have a stucco texture on 90% of the walls (plaster/cement) which has been on there for 40 plus years. Decided to do mine because I was having a difficult time painting it, specifically in the corners of the room (painting walls different colors and tape DIDN'T work to keep each color on the wall it was intended)

First I used a stuff used to actually texture the wall. That filled in the deepness. I'm in the process of putting the skim coat on. It's done just like skimcoating/mudding drywall, only on a HUGE canvas. Its been easy enough to do, and I actually enjoy doing drywall (mudding, sanding, etc).

Laura

    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 2:25PM
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gardenspice

You need Drywall mud, a wide blades, some of the manual sanding tools with the metal grids, a good portable light, an excellent shop vac, cleaning supplies and infinite patience.
THe drill is mud on, let it dry, sand to smooth, mud on, dry, sand to smooth, mud on,dry sand off, until you can move the light over the wall with out seeing imperfections (or at least only ones you can live with). Then prime with GARDZ, then paint.
Be prepared, it takes several coats to achieve a good look, each successive coat will mean filling in low spots. It may seem like you are sanding off as much as you are putting on, but each go round is less of the wall.
Also, drywall dust is very fine and it gets every where - just be prepared for the clean up effort.
THe good news is that while you will question your sanity after the first coat, it gets easier quickly.
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 2:29PM
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brickeyee

"a wide blades"

Get a plasterer's trowel and forget drywall knives.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 6:27PM
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tudi66

We are in the final stages of skim coating the walls in our kitchen. It took an insane amount of time (Our fault really, we took numerous days off from the project) but we are happy with the result. After two coats of mud on all the walls, we rented a drywall sander from Big Orange to sand the majority of the wall surface. That was the biggest help because there was minimal dust. It took like an hour to get a smoother finish on all walls with the machine. After using the machine sander, we hand sanded what the machine could not reach and filled any holes. A little more hand sanding followed, then one coat of GARDZ. We will probably do one coat of regular Zinsser primer before we paint since the GARDZ dries clear. If I can remember I will post before and after pics on this thread if that would help anyone.

An afterthought, our living room has the same rough popcorn like texture on it. We were contemplating using the drywall sander to smooth the texture first and then start coating with drywall mud, then sanding again. Does anyone see any problems with sanding the wall as smooth as possible before skim coating?

Tudi

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 4:35PM
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brickeyee

"Does anyone see any problems with sanding the wall as smooth as possible before skim coating?"

Asbestos was used in drywall mud for a limited time.
Before turning the mud to dust at least have it checked (and I think most of tge asbestos stuff is misleading).

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 10:26PM
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tudi66

"Asbestos was used in drywall mud for a limited time.
Before turning the mud to dust at least have it checked (and I think most of tge asbestos stuff is misleading)."

I don't think the walls have drywall mud, although I could be wrong. They are old plaster walls that the PO added a texture to.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 11:00PM
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brickeyee

"PO added a texture"

The texture is what may contain asbestos. When was it added?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 1:09PM
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tudi66

"The texture is what may contain asbestos. When was it added?"

I don't know when it was added. My guess is about ten years ago when he bought the house. Do you think asbestos was still in use in products then?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 11:39PM
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scrollo

Thanks for all the feedback! I still have three questions:

1. what is the best tool, and how wide? Most of what I see at Home Depot & Lowe's are "Taping Knives." Is there anything better?

2. what kind of "mud"? It looks to me like Joint and Topping compound is the right thing. Is there anything better?

3. has anyone tried this "Dustless Drywall Hand Sanding System" (see link below) from Home Depot? It attaches to a shop vac and uses a 5 gal tank of water to trap the plastet dust.

Here is a link that might be useful: Magna Dustless Drywall Hand Sanding System

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 11:03PM
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brickeyee

Skim coating with drywall knives is a nighmare. A plasterers trowel is about 8 x 4 inches and allows quick coverage of large areas and produces a very smooth surface if used correctly (plaster walls are not sanded, plaster is to hard).

Joint and topping can be used, but is likelty to require multiple coats from shrinkage during drying. I use Easysand90 or 120. Mix about as thicjk as peanut butter and it has no shrinkage as it hardens by chemical reaction, not drying.

If it comes from HD it wil be merginal at best.
Try a Porter Cable 7800 system. They really work.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 8:41AM
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tudi66

"Skim coating with drywall knives is a nighmare."

Yes, we learned this the hard way. A trowel would be easier, although it takes some time to get used to using it.

"3. has anyone tried this "Dustless Drywall Hand Sanding System" (see link below) from Home Depot? It attaches to a shop vac and uses a 5 gal tank of water to trap the plastet dust."

We rented this machine from HD. We were pleased with the results. It sanded large surfaces smooth with very little effort and kept dust to a minimum as long as the bag is not full and the hose attachments are properly connected.

If we should tackle this project again in another room we will use the trowel method or perhaps slightly thinning the compound and rolling it on with a paint roller.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 5:36PM
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puffer1

As a full time drywaller,the best way i have found it to find a local drywall store(look in phone book). They make a 24 inch drywall knife. Use a "lightweight" mud. Lightweight (plus-3 mud) Has half the glue as a midweight or topping compound,and makes for the easiest sanding. Yes a quickset mud has almost no shrinkage,but as you have probly found is hard to sand and leaves lots of fine scratches because of the hardness of the compund. So first you apply the mud with a 12" drywall knife then you would wipe over it with the 24" drywall knife. This leaves alot less lap lines and you float over the rough spots better. Then lightly sand and do it again. As your final sanding use 120 grit sand paper for a fine scratch free surface. Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 12:13PM
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willowglener

Sounds to me when skim coating you don't tape the drywalls together. Am I correct? I found it difficult to coat the walls lightly after taping, especially using the mesh.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 6:37PM
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brickeyee

Love the drywallers who have to sand everything.
Plaster is not sanded. Original plaster is to hard to sand (lime and plaster), and even Durbond is a real bear.
Along comes Easysand to fix the 'problem'.
I douby you will find anyone doing even 1 coat veneer plaster with a knife. The ability to swing a wide swath with a trowel and cover large areas quickly makes them a prefered tool for plaster or skimming in my book.
I do 2 coat plaster almost every month, and a few times a year have a 3 coat job. I have a plasterer who does the small work, but on a lrage job it takes both of us (and sometimes a third to mix and keep us moving).
I still have a couple buckets of slaked lime hanging around ready to go.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 8:55PM
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