If you were not a professional taper, you’d know that skim-coating a wall is one of the hardest things to do. Hard enough that even contractors sometimes give up on the task and call for a taper to handle the job. If you are tackling a big project, by all means hire a taper, but if you only need to skim-coat a wall occasionally to fix damaged walls, then it will save you some money if you do it yourself.
The two main tools professionals use to skim-coat a wall are hawk and trowel; however, contractors can attest that they are difficult to master. A simpler, but by no means faster, method of skim-coating involves doing two or three coats and letting each one dry in between. The result is a smooth, flat wall finish.
½-inch nap roller
Damp rag (dip rag in a bucket with water)
6-inch putty knife
Bristle brush or tack cloth
1. Prep the wall and apply joint tapes on seamed or damaged areas that you need to skim-coat.
2. Using a paint-roller, apply fast-drying, stain-sealing primer on the wall. Choose a primer that dries fast to save on time. Applying a coat of primer will help seal loose paper and enhance the joint compound adhesion process.
3. Use a ½-inch nap roller to roll a layer of mud (slightly thinned all-purpose joint compound) on the primed walls. If you are working on a large wall, apply mud in smaller sections so that you can smooth each section before the joint compound starts to dry up.
4. Using a squeegee know, smooth the joint compound before drying. Start from the top corner and pull down. Use a damp rag to wipe the blade of the squeegee clean after a few strokes. This will prevent the compound from building up on the blade and then depositing back on the wall. Make sure to overlap each vertical pass until you finish each section. Repeat the steps a few times until you get a smooth texture.
5. Continue by rolling the compound down to the lower section of the wall. Then, pull the squeegee upward to smooth that section. Let dry.
6. Using a 6-inch putty knife, scrape the wall to remove uneven lumps and/or ridges. Wipe the walls with a tack cloth or use a soft bristle brush to remove dusts and other debris.
7. Roll the second coat of joint compound, and trowel it horizontally using the same squeegee. Clean the blade of excess compound in the same manner as in the first coat. Let dry and repeat the process of using a putty knife to remove any ridges and uneven lumps, then remove dusts and debris with tack cloth or bristle brush.
8. If the wall is still imperfect, apply a third coat. Trowel off each successive layers at a right angle to the previous ones.
9. Use a 120-grit paper to pole-sand the wall to make it smoother and more even.
10. Remove the dust created by sanding with tack paper and brush.
11. Apply your choice of wall paint to finish!