Monday, April 27, 2015

Skim Coating the Hallway

This photo doesn't really show it, but the walls in the hallway were textured. The paint was pink. The trim was pink too.

There was also a large inset area around the HVAC air intake from where the old house fan used to be. And boy was that a trip learning about how those worked. My friends Erin and Tommy still have theirs. Basically, the hallway in the center of these houses had this huge fan that would draw air up and then forced it out of a central ductwork system. Circulating the air was a way of cooling the house before the days of actual AC compressors and condensers. They were obnoxiously loud though. Erin and Tommys's still works and it actually does cool the house down quite a bit. Dad says his house used to have one back when he was growing up too.

Anyway, I wasn't feeling too crazy about the texture on the walls and decided that the house would look more modern if the walls were smooth. Plus, the walls needed to be skim coated anyway since the texture was patchy at best. When I removed the mirrors that were glued to the wall, it took off some of the cheap latex paint that the previous owner used. Simply painting the walls would have improved things a bit, but it wouldn't have that professional, fresh feel to it. So began the journey of skim coating the walls.

Here's how it goes: you basically take joint compound (I purchased a 5 gallon bucket of pre-mixed joint compound from Home Depot) and use a trowel and a drywall blade to apply a smooth, even coat of compound on the wall. Then, skim it off so that the wall has a flat, seamless finish, let it dry, apply more coats as necessary )this took 3 coats) and finally sand it down. Which, by the way, makes a HUGE mess.


Drywall dust is the devil.
It gets everywhere.
and I mean EVERYWHERE.

Sure, you can put plastic sheeting up.
Sure, you can open a doorway and point a fan toward an open window
          ...that is, until the motor gets so clogged with drywall dust that the fan craps out on you.

(p.s., make sure the neighbors aren't bothered by a continuous cloud of white dust poofing out from your house, and not the kind from Scarface.)

So breaks are necessary to clean out the fan motor occasionally. I found that one of those compressed air cans that are used to clean keyboards come in quite handy. So does a cheap 3" paintbrush for dusting off the trim, the fan blades, everything even remotely close to the work area, and of course, the cats and yourself.

No matter what measures you take,
No matter how careful you are,
the dust will penetrate every corner of your house for weeks
and weeks
and weeks...

and weeks.


You can see here how the joint compound dries white. A nice relief from those pink walls.

2 weeks later I sanded the trim and applied primer, sanding between coats to get that pro finish:

Silky smooth walls:

Next up: prime the walls.

Here's a video that describes how to skim coat a wall. It's a little more labor intensive when the walls are textured, since you need to do 2-3 coats, but the process is basically the same. You can buy buckets of pre-mixed joint compound at Home Depot for super cheap. It's on the aisle where the cement stuff is, usually on one if the side walls of the store.

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