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mikeeee321 09-21-2013 10:00 AM

Skim coating plaster walls
Hi all,
I just purchased a house built in 1941 with plaster walls and had wall paper throughout every room of the house. For about every room where I removed the wallpaper, I spent hours and even days repairing small holes and scratches before priming and painting. This left the walls in pretty good condition but I felt like it could be a lot better. I have a couple rooms left and one of my friends mentioned the art of skim coating the walls, which would save time and leave a better finish as an end result. Iíve been reading a great deal about this (everyone has their opinion about the best way to go about it) but was looking to find the best option for my situation. The walls in the room I want to skim coat are in pretty good condition, they have a few small cracks in it, lots of fine scratches but nothing too deep and a few holes that were used to hang a mirror and pictures.
From what Iíve read, for the cracks I should use tape, then use an all-purpose setting compound, then a light weight compound and sand if needed. Iím wondering if a setting compound would be necessary because my walls arenít in that bad of condition, Iím just looking to coat over the small scratches.

Thanks in advance!

Matthewt1970 09-21-2013 02:16 PM

That sounds like the way to go. The setting compund is stronger (better for cracks) and will dry quicker allowing you to skim coat the entire room sooner. The setting stuff just doesn't sand as well or leave as smooth as the regular stuff.

Gary in WA 09-21-2013 04:00 PM

"From what I’ve read, for the cracks I should use tape, then use an all-purpose setting compound, then a light weight compound and sand if needed."---------------------------"The gypsum panel surface should be skim coated with a conventional weight joint compound to improve joint and fastener concealment, especially where gypsum panel surfaces will be subjected to severe artificial or natural side lighting, or be decorated with gloss paint (egg shell, semigloss or gloss). Skim coating fills imperfections in joint work, smooths the paper texture and provides a uniform surface for decorating by equalizing the suction and texture differences between the drywall face paper and the finished joint compound.
As an alternative to skim coating, or when a Level 5 finish is required, use Sheetrockģ Brand Tuff-Hide™ primer-surfacer." From;


Gymschu 09-21-2013 06:25 PM

Just a heads up. Skim coating is one of the messiest jobs you will ever do. From putting the mud on the wall to sanding when it's is one gnarly job, one that I NEVER enjoy doing. Mask up when sanding to protect those lungs and seal off rooms where you don't want dust to accumulate. Also, temporarily block ducts as the dust finds its' way into your ductwork and then into your heating system blowing dust into every single room.

ToolSeeker 09-21-2013 06:26 PM

What I have been using for skimming (just did a wallpaper removal and skim) is the new ultra light mud in the bucket with the puke green lid. It is easy to work with, fills well, and sands easy. If you use tape on the cracks I would use the all purpose to tape then top coat with the ultra. If this is the way you decide to go come back and I will give you a couple more tips.

cdaniels 09-21-2013 07:02 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Any cracks need to be screwed down on either side before skim coating or they will come back as the plaster continues to move.This is what I use.

mikeeee321 09-21-2013 08:02 PM

Thanks so much for the speedy replies!

@cdaniels - thanks for the tip. I have a few cracks by my radiator and window's that'll I'll use the screws on.

@ToolSeeker - The type of mud you describe seems perfect for my job, and that would be great if you could fill me in on any more tips you have!

Thank you

ToolSeeker 09-21-2013 09:02 PM

With the ultra mud don't thin it. As tempting as it is the problem is if you don't use it all and seal it up, when you come back the next day it's soupy. Use a 12" knife but make sure the blade is flat, some have a curve, look down the edge you can tell. Remember it is a SKIM coat so what you put on you will pull almost all of it back off. If you pull it really tight you can cut down on a lot of sanding.

mikeeee321 09-29-2013 06:59 PM

Thanks ToolSeeker. What brand of the ultra mud would your recommend?

Thank you.

ToolSeeker 09-29-2013 07:24 PM

It's a USG product, you can find it at the depot.

jeffnc 09-30-2013 07:28 AM

Skim coating isn't that messy if you use this technique, which I do. I do not normally do 2 coats as in this article though. The paint roller and thinned compound are important for time savings and less mess. The squeegee is important or else you'll constantly be getting knife edge marks and getting frustrated.

ToolSeeker 09-30-2013 08:03 AM

Myron Ferguson has a video on this on you tube. It's under fine homebuilding I think something like smooth walls in 6 steps.

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