How Does Skim Coating Work?

Interior Paint in Blue

Interior Paint in Blue

A skim coat of plaster gives your rough looking walls a second chance in life.  If you are running out of pictures and family photos to hide the cracks and blemishes on your walls, you may want to consider “skim coating” your walls.  Skim coating is the process of applying a thin coat of veneer of gypsum based joint compound over an entire wall or ceiling.  It will give you a smooth coat and an even surface.  After building up several thin layers, the overall thickness of the skim coat should be 1/8 inch thick.  This gives you an idea of how thin each coat is applied.  This process can be done in kitchen and bathroom remodels in Summit NJ or a textured wall that you want to make smooth.  It’s definitely not a heavy duty remodeling project, and in most cases, you won’t even have to remove the wood trim around doors and windows.

 

Although the process is easy, it’s not a walk in the park.  Plan on spending 3 to 4 days of working with your arms above your head at times. The cost is relatively cheap (not much more than interior house painting) to do an average size room.  Skim Coating your kitchen may take a little longer due to all the trim work.

 

Take a Good Look

Carefully examine your old walls.  The condition of the plaster will determine if the process will work.  If there are any holes, patch them first.  Use your fingertips and press on the plaster in random spots in the room.  If it feels mushy or crumbles, don’t waste your time.  A full blown drywall job may be required.  If you have miner cracks here and there, skim coating is the answer to get rid of them.  Textured walls have a unique quality to them.  The patterns are done randomly so they cannot have duplicate styles beside each other.  But when you want to get rid of them….the only way is to skim coat the texture.

Materials

For the first coat of drywall compound, you’ll use “setting type compound”.  Get one with a 90 minute set time and one that sands easily.  You may be tempted to cut out a step and use “ready mix joint compound” on the first coat.  Don’t do it!  It can possibly soften the bond of the paint to the old plaster losing its integrity to continue the process.  You can use the ready-mixed joint compound for the 2nd and 3rd coats.   Ready-mix is easy to use and also sands easily.

Preparation is the Key

Make sure your walls are free of any smoke film or smudges before you start.  Use a non-sudsing cleaner like TSP-90.  Use the same check list that you would for any house painting job

Ready to start

Mix about a gallon of setting type compound.  The mixture should be the consistency of soft serve ice cream.  Start at a corner and work your way across the room.  Much like painting.  Load your drywall knife with compound and pull it with even strokes.  This is the foundation so don’t worry too much about having a glass like finish.  You will be adding additional coats and sanding in between.   The 2nd coat should be done the same way as the first coat but this time use the ready-mix compound.   Even though the weather is usually warm in Atlanta, its best to let it dry overnight.

The Final Coat

Look over the entire wall checking for tooling and low spots.  If the walls appear relatively smooth, the dreaded sanding part of the job is next.  After sanding the walls and wiping them down, put a lamp against the wall and look down it to see if there are any sections you can’t live with.    The skim coating is done! Now get out you paint brush/roller and coat all the walls with a good drywall primer.

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