Skim-coating damaged walls and ceilings

Skim-coating is a service drywall contractors offer as an alternative to ripping out and replacing old walls and ceilings. While skim-coating is labor-intensive, it can produce beautiful results.


When Is Skim-Coating Necessary?

Maybe you pulled away wood paneling only to find thick black adhesive snaking across the wall. Or maybe you dug away at stubborn wall paper until the wall was so damaged you gave up in frustration. The simplest solution is to rip out the old wall or ceilings and replace them with new boards.

But there’s another option: skim-coating. Essentially, skim-coating involves a series of thin coats of joint compound. Between coats, a drywall worker sands the area, making it progressively smoother.

Preparing for a Skim Coat

The concept of skim-coating is simple. But in practice, skim-coating is difficult. First, if you don’t prepare the surface correctly, underlying problems will show through after paint. For example, many older homes were built with drywall nails rather than screws (the advent of cheap power tools changed this, making nails less popular). The nails tend to wriggle free over time, mainly because seasonal temperature changes cause wood frames to contract and expand. So a good drywall contractor will install screws everywhere nails are “popping” out, preventing them from emerging later. This and other preventative fixes must take place before the skim-coating process even begins.

How Drywall Contractors Skim Coat

The second thing that makes skim-coating a challenge is the practiced hand motions it takes to leave a smooth coat. The messier the application of joint compound, the more sanding and subsequent coats it will take to leave the damaged wall or ceiling smooth and blemish-free. In other words, a qualified drywall contractor can skim-coat a wall in a much shorter time than an amateur because (1) he’s just quicker and (2) he knows how to leave each coat as smooth as possible without removing too much joint compound.

Advantages of Skim-Coating

Skim-coating typically helps with damaged walls and ceilings, but sometimes a drywall contractor will apply a light skim-coat over new drywall. For example, wall sconces often highlight the paper nap on a drywall board — the same nap that is invisible under normal lighting conditions. In this case, a few very thin coats of joint compound can make the area smooth and consistent with adjacent finished areas.

If you think skim-coating might help improve your walls and ceilings, click below to get a free estimate!