Tools & Tips: How to Skim Coat Drywall

From on August 25, 2008 in CalFinder News

skim coatI have torn off my fair share of wallpaper: a laborious and often frustrating job, as I am sure many of you understand. I’ve come so close to grabbing the sledgehammer, the most persuasive tool in existence, and finishing the job right then and there, to my own chagrin. Instead I angrily leave several scratches and torn sections of drywall as calling cards for impatience. Yet it’s okay, because this is when skim-coating comes in handy.

Skim-coating is a technique used to bring rough textured or damaged drywall back to a smooth texture prior to painting or, perish the thought, more wallpaper. It is not very difficult and saves a lot of time and money compared to the other option (sledgehammer). Here are a few tips on how to skim-coat your drywall back to its original luster.

  1. Clean the surface to be coated. Wipe the area down with warm water and a rag to get it relatively clean. You’re not looking for perfection here, just a light cleansing.
  2. Apply all-purpose joint compound using a 6” to 12” drywall knife. This is a first coat so don’t worry too much about thickness or stroke lines in the mud. Try to keep it smooth but don’t fret too much, blemishes are inevitable as you get used to the process. Cover cracks, scratches, visible seams, anything you’d later see through the finish paint. Let it completely dry.
  3. Lightly sand away any bumps and bruises, so to speak, in your first coat. Use a fine grit sandpaper to do the job.
  4. Apply a second coat of joint compound to finish the job. Do your best to keep it smooth and eliminate any sign of scratches, dents, or tears in the drywall. Let it dry and sand it again. Depending on how rough or damaged the drywall is, you may need even more than two coats of compound. Just repeat these steps until you’re satisfied.
  5. Use drywall primer or sealer to finish the job. This step is vital to the longevity of your work. Primer not only preps for paint but also seals off the wall and prevents those cracks or dents from reappearing over time—an inevitability if you skip this step.

Voila! You now have smooth, new looking drywall. Skim-coating is a great method for either cleaning up after or preparing for wallpaper. It’s also excellent for making unwanted texture disappear. The best thing about it is that it’s really not all that difficult, although a professional’s speed and precision might leave you in awe.