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Skim coat. What tools needed? Steps to do?

Skim coat. What tools needed? Steps to do?


Old 07-24-08, 11:53 AM
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Skim coat. What tools needed? Steps to do?

Hi All,

I looked at older post, but couldn't find the answer I am looking for.

I want to paint a wall that is not very smooth. I think the pervious owners had removed the wallpaper and just painted on the wall as such.

What I understand is that I need to skim coat it. But I have no idea what is involved. People on this forum casually talk about skim coating, so it seems everyone knows how it is done.

My questions -
1. Could someone give me step-by-step of how to skim coat? You can point me to a web site, a previous thread in this forum or a video; anything will help.

2. What tools/stuff do I need? I got a bowed trowel from HD but that probably is not the right tool for this job.

Thanks a lot.
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Old 07-24-08, 03:19 PM
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There are knives of varying width for applying joint compound. Generally, the wider the knife, the smoother you can make the surface. You will want to buy a bucket of joint compound and then thin it with just a little water to make it work more easily.

There are more qualified people who will chime in with more detail shortly.
Old 07-24-08, 03:46 PM
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People go about it differently. Even the pros.

Some prefer to put joint compound in a 'mud pan' (like a bread-making pan), and use what is called a broad knife, which is a wide putty knife. Beyond a 3 inch putty knife, you pretty much start calling them broadknives. I like to use a 10 inch one. it is wide enough. Too wide a knife and you wind up with a weird flex in the blade that can leave hump and ridges in your mud at overlap points.

Others will use what is called a 'hawk' (which is a flatboard ontop of a short stick, and then use a trowel with it (like what you use for cement). IMO, the hawk and trowel is good for ceilings as you can catch slobber that falls, towards your face for one thing.

For walls, I like the feel of the control I get using a broadknife vertically on the wall. Something about grabbing the handle of the trowel and pulling sideways bothers me.

So get yourself a 5 gallon pail of 'lightweight' ready mix joint compound. It sands easier. Too bad for you, trying to learn mudding by skim coating an entire wall is not easy for the first time. Mudding is like learning how to ride a bike - the training wheels thing, etc. The idea is so you don't have to sand a ton of mud back off! Unfortunately, you can bet on you are going to have to do a lot of sanding.

Therefore you also need a sanding pole and sanding screen and/or those sanding sponge blocks. I love those things. They come in different grits. Get them all.

You also might consider getting one of those halogen floodlights that you can sit on the floor that adjusts, and has like a 300 watt skinny lamp bulb in it. As you mud, and especially as you sand, you want to cast the light on the wall at an acute angle so that you can see any waves, high spots, low spots, gouges, etc.

In applying the mud, put a sizeable amount in the pan, and you want to apply it and skim it in a time frame that the mud remains very wet/workable. You can do a section of wall at a time - say 3 feet wide and half way up the wall. Apply the mud so that you mud this whole area from base to just beyond half-way up the wall. Then work on going over it in a continous non-stop "pull" from the top of the base to where your mud quits. Pull up ward. One stroke all the way. After this looks pretty good, do the upper 3 foot wide half by applying it all, and then skim excess back off by pulling down, in one continous pull every time.

Then when this section is done, do another 3 foot wide section next to it. Etc.

BTW, this is not some theory of mine. I actually do this sort of thing on a halfway regular basis. I even did a little wall skimming today before I painted it. Fairly recently I straightened out a concaved wall section that was a little larger than one of those 'sections' I mentioned - like 4 1/2 feet wide from base to ceiling, and I used the described method, and it looked remarkeably good without even sanding, even though I did go over it some. And by going over it especially with a handsanding block, even just lightly, you can even FEEL any imperfection. I also did a 10 foot wide wall area, and after I was through, I did not have to sand at all! No need to. Just painted it and it turned out good. A lady was living there with all her knick knacks and stuff and I didn't want no mess. I simply skim coated it like 3 times. The last time is when you can thin the mud some and bear down on each pull, and really get it nice and smooth.

Last edited by ecman51; 07-24-08 at 04:07 PM. Reason: added last paragraph + even more to that

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