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Skim Coating a Wall to Prep for Painting

Construction How-To, drywall, Drywall, Wallpaper, wallpaper. wall coverings, walls January 23, 2015 Sonia


Monroe applied two coats of the finish color over the primed wall surface. Dark paint on white primer usually doesn't cover in one coat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Removing Wallpaper to Create a Painted Wall Surface

By Larry Walton

“These stripes are not right,” declared the homeowner who was getting no argument from contractor Brian Monroe. Like many design concepts, he knew it was probably just “the thing” in its time, but now it was time for a change that did not include wallpaper. The update called for a skim coat and fresh paint.

Some vinyl wallpapers can be removed by first peeling off the top vinyl layer.

Some vinyl wallpapers can be removed by first peeling off the top vinyl layer.

You never really know how wallpaper is going to come off.  It usually requires some testing to see what works. Some newer wallpapers are strippable, which means they are designed to be removed without water or chemicals. If it’s a true paper-face wallpaper, then water or a liquid wallpaper remover can soak in and release the glue.

Outer Vinyl Layer

After peeling off the outer vinyl layer, Brian Monroe soaked small sections of the backing with a wallpaper and paste remover.

Vinyl-face wallpapers, on the other hand, present a barrier to liquids. Since wallpaper remover can’t get to the glue, it is ineffective. Sanding or scoring is often recommended for getting the liquid through the protective surface of vinyl. Specialty tools are available for this job.

Wide Putty Knife

A joint knife or wide putty knife make good tools for scraping off the wet wallpaper backing.

However, before you resort to sanding, scratching or punching through the vinyl, try peeling off the top layer of the wallpaper. That’s what Monroe did on this project. With the vinyl layer gone, water and wallpaper remover can easily penetrate the remaining paper backer and release the glue.

Beadex Silver Set

Monroe used Beadex Silver Set 40 joint compound for the skim coat. This type of compound is handy to keep around the house for drywall repairs because you can mix as little or as much as you need for each drywall home improvement or repair job.

Drywall Mixer

Monroe used a cordless drill and drywall mixer to mix the compound in a 5-gallon bucket. Water-to-powder ratio can be adjusted to achieve a consistency that is smooth without being liquid.

After removing the wallpaper, Monroe mixed up some drywall compound and used a drywall taping knife to apply a thin skim coat over the wall surface. A little primer and paint finished off the job and transformed the look of the walls into what the home-owner had envisioned.

Monroe used a taping knife to apply a thin layer of joint compound on the wall.

Monroe used a taping knife to apply a thin layer of joint compound on the wall.

Before sanding the skim coat for paint, Monroe hangs a dust barrier over the door opening to minimize dust finding its way to the rest of the house.

Before sanding the skim coat for paint, Monroe hangs a dust barrier over the door opening to minimize dust finding its way to the rest of the house.

A hand sander was used to smooth out bumps and ridges in the finish. The sander holds precut sand paper. Notice the small fan positioned in the window to exhaust dust from the room.

A hand sander was used to smooth out bumps and ridges in the finish. The sander holds precut sand paper. Notice the small fan positioned in the window to exhaust dust from the room.

It's important to apply primer over the finished skim coat before painting with the top coat. Primers fill tiny voids in the drywall compound for proper sealing and adhesion.

It’s important to apply primer over the finished skim coat before painting with the top coat. Primers fill tiny voids in the drywall compound for proper sealing and adhesion.

Monroe applied two coats of the finish color over the primed wall surface. Dark paint on white primer usually doesn't cover in one coat.

Monroe applied two coats of the finish color over the primed wall surface. Dark paint on white primer usually doesn’t cover in one coat.

The finished bathroom includes a new wall color of the homeowner's choosing, which can be easily changed with paint for future updates.

The finished bathroom includes a new wall color of the homeowner’s choosing, which can be easily changed with paint for future updates.