Step 23e – Apply Skim Coat, Primer, and Paint

I was now finally ready to complete the finishing touches on the interior walls. There is a good reason that most owner/builders don’t do their own drywall. It is a marathon! By the time I was done I had gone through 15 boxes of joint compound and I was ready to hang up my hawk and trowel for a couple years. That having said, I wouldn’t do it any differently. The best feelings of pride and redemption are found when you accomplish something that draws on your deepest wells of hard work and perseverance. The blood, sweat, and tears give way to pride and self confidence. That feeling deep in the pit of your stomach that questions whether you are capable of doing what you set out to do is destroyed by the beautiful proof of your competency right in front of your eyes. The routine has become familiar for me throughout the build and finishing the interior walls was no exception.

Tough to see, but this wall has been covered with a very light layer of mud

Applying a skim coat is a pretty simple task that produces a monumental result. Before my first skim coat I was pretty apprehensive about how the walls would look. There were many imperfections and little dips and divots here and there. After it was all done I had to look really hard to find the slightest imperfection. The skim coat involves watering down the mud just a bit so it is just a little thinner than usual. Next, you apply it to the top half of the entire wall, or a large section if you are working with a wall longer than ten feet or so. After the entire top half of the wall or section is covered with mud, you make a long swipe from top to bottom, keeping slight pressure on the side of the knife closest to the corner. For the next swipe, you switch your pressure so it is on the other side of the knife. This makes it so you don’t leave a big line in the mud. You repeat this swipe until the end of the wall or the section. Then you repeat the process for the bottom half of the wall, swiping from bottom to top. When you are done, there will still be some minor lines but on the whole the wall or section should look pretty good.

The mud has now been smoothed over

After the mud was completely dry, I took a work light and went over it little by little searching out any imperfection and sanding it down with a foam sanding block. If I found any nicks, I grabbed my six inch taping knife and filled it in with a scrap of mud. Once this was dry, I wiped down the entire wall with a microfiber towel.

After waiting for the skim coat to dry, I sanded down any visible spots

Airless pant sprayers are pretty awesome. I bought one to use on the bottoms of the exterior gable overhangs and it was a cinch to set up, use, and clean up. Now it was time to test it out on the inside. First, I taped off the doors and windows. Next, I loaded up the paint sprayer with primer and gave it a good coat. I waited a couple of hours for the coat to dry, and then went back over it with a light and sanded down any drips or imperfections. I then repeated the process, applying a coat of primer with the paint sprayer, waiting a couple of hours for it to dry, and then going over it with some light sanding.

A coat of primer added with the paint sprayer

The last step was to wash out the paint sprayer and fill it with paint. I gave the walls two coats of paint with the sprayer, sanding lightly between the coats. While the first couple walls I did turned out great, paint on some of the other walls sagged a bit and I ended up having to sand it down and repaint. After all of the sanding I did with the drywall, I decided to hire a painter to finish up the remainder of the walls. I do want to improve my skills with the paint sprayer, but at this point of the build I am anxious to get moved in and tired of painting!

Advice? Questions? I'd love to hear your feedback or help you out in any way I can!