Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Finishing Drywall for Beginners: Resources and Tips


So, as I pointed out in my last post, I'm no expert on finishing drywall. In fact, I've only tried to do some patch jobs here and there, and to say the work was less than impressive would be an understatement. However, I'm really happy (and a bit proud) of how well my latest finishing work went. I'm going to share the resources that helped me and the hints I found the most helpful.

After we had the sci-fi wall removed, we had two different drywall situations. There was a huge panel of drywall missing where they had to put in the support beam on top of the existing studs (a 6 foot section or so). That was going to require one seam to be mud and taped so it would blend in with the rest of the wall. The contractor also had to remove a 6 inch strip of drywall in order to tuck in the 2x4 supports. That area was much more tricky because we couldn't quite get the patch dry wall to sit flush. So, that area had some lumps and bumps to work around.

Finally, I've had unfinished drywall above my cabinets for about a year now, so I figured I may as well tackle that while I was working on everything else.

My husband cut up the drywall and put it up. Once he had the drywall up, I had to figure out this whole tape and mud thing. The first thing I did was read this article by Young House Love. I love how they used to (they no longer blog) give really simple explanations to different projects. It was a good place to start to get an idea of what I needed to do and learn the lingo and tools of the trade.

After I read that article, I moved on to YouTube. I watched several videos but I found this series of videos from a technical school particularly helpful. It was very simple and step by step. I would highly recommend watching the entire series from start to finish.

So, using those videos and various articles I read, I started the process. I think my mistake in the past has been not feathering the mud very well. Once I got the method of feathering the edges down, I noticed that my mud was blending much better. I also didn't previously know I should start with a narrow drywall knife and work my way up to a wider knife as I put layers on. Eventually the seam was about 18 inches wide.

Also keep in mind that the mud shrinks as it dries, so you will need more than one coat to fill in the screw holes.

I put my first layer of mud on and let it dry for 24 hours. Before I started the next coat, I would "knock down" (moving the blade lightly across the surface to scrape off any bumps or large ridges) any high points with a clean drywall knife/scraper. I did not sand between coats. When I was researching this entire process, I found that most pros did not sand between coats. The rationale was if you were smooth enough and feathered correctly, you could save sanding for the last step. That worked really well for me.

As you can imagine, working up from a 3 inch blade to a 12 inch blade took many coats. I think I ended up with around 5 or so. The last two coats I thinned out with some water. That was a hint I kept seeing thrown around and it really did create a nice smooth finish on top of the other coats.

For the 6" strip of wall that was uneven, I had to be a bit more creative with applying mud. I had to try to make the bump disappear slowly, so the mud kept going further and further out from the seam. I had to do more coats on this particular section just make sure that 1) a coat wasn't too thick where it would take days and days to dry, and 2) the tape on the high point was effectively covered so it wouldn't be exposed when I sanded it. It looked like a serious mess for the first 4 coats or so.

The area above the sink/cabinets had a hole I needed to fill in. I used some spare mesh tape to create a patch over the hole and then mudded right over the mesh. It took a couple of coats, but the hole disappeared.

Something a pro probably doesn't have to do (but I did) is go back through after my final coat and filled in any large divets in the smooth finish. So it wasn't a full coat, just a "patch" job on those areas that weren't even with the rest of the drywall.

I tried using a wet drywall sponge, but much like Young House Love, I found the sponge wasn't really all that helpful. I moved over to a fine grit sandpaper and dry sanded. It was definitely more messy, but was much easier to get a nice smooth finish. Most importantly, dry sanding allowed me to feel where there was still bumps or ridges as I went along. The final sanding went surprisingly fast. I didn't have to apply much pressure and was done within a half hour.

Once I was happy with a [mostly] smooth finish, I vacuumed the entire wall and started to apply texture. I had never noticed the texture on my walls until it came time to try and match it. Apparently it was a every man for himself project. The kitchen has no texture on the walls, the living room has a "normal" knocked down orange peel texture look, and the hallway was a random assortment. I used the Homax orange peel wall texture in a can. I used the water based version just so clean up would be a bit easier if things went crazy. I made sure to tape off areas with some drop cloths so it wouldn't spray everywhere (although I didn't bother with the floor since that's coming out within a few weeks).

I watched this video on how to apply the texture. Using a circular motion, I started to apply the texture. It was a bit of a guessing game to see what type of pressure I needed to apply and how thick it should go on. I did have to go back through and add more after I stood back and compared it to the other walls.

Once all the texture had dried completely, I knocked down the texture to match the texture on the other walls. The hallway isn't a perfect match since whatever method they used wasn't what they used in the living room. However, the living room was almost a perfect match.

After texture, all I needed to do was paint the surfaces. I'm really happy with how everything turned out. Now, that doesn't mean I want to tackle this project ever again. I'll add drywall to the list of things I'll hire someone else to do in the future (along with tiling and laying pavers outside).

The area I patched is a 6 inch section directly below where the beam attached to the wall. Can't see it, can you? Success!  

 Since we're planking the ceiling, I didn't have to worry about finishing that area.

Hard to tell with the shadow of another wall showing, but there really isn't a seam showing. The texture isn't perfect on this wall, but I'm happy with the way it turned out.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Living in a Remodel..While Pregnant...While Working From Home...

Good Afternoon!

So, it's been a while since I wrote. That's because we're in the middle of about 15 different projects and have yet to complete any of them. My office is the official dumping zone of all things in the way, which has made working feel like this:

I thought I would check in and give some pictures what being stuck in the middle of a renovation really looks like. As much as I would like to pretend that we decide to do a project, spend a weekend working and "ta-da!" we're done and giving each other side hugs [ala a Lowes commercial], that isn't real. What is real is eating take out or cereal because the oven is covered in drywall dust, clothes lining yourself on the ladder several times a day, and watching a movie with a couch that is barely reachable without learning some parkour moves.

The big project we're working on is planking over the popcorn ceiling. I knew this project would be time consuming, but I didn't think we'd be working on it for weeks, maybe months(!). The worst part of this project for us is two fold. The planks don't like to get into place since their tongue and grooves are thin and flimsy which leads to my husband yelling every fake curse word he knows. (Because, you know...children) The part I find annoying either you have to move all the furniture out of the room (not an option for us) or do this dance of moving items as you lay every single row. Thankfully we got a paint sprayer to do the first couple of coats of paint. I would be seriously losing my mind if I was having to paint the ceiling by hand...the planks suck up paint like no other. I would be permanently frozen with my arms in the air like I do not care.

Totally safe. I'll just keep 911 on speed dial while I wait to hear a crash.

I was sure there was a stud in there somewhere.....

While my husband is planking the ceiling, I have been doing a steady rotation of projects. The first project is attempting to learn to mud and tape our patched drywall from the wall removal. I knew before I even started this project that I would hate it. Patience is not my thing and that's pretty much exactly what mud and taping requires. You have to have the patience to get everything just right so it looks okay under the texture and paint. I do not possess this trait. I do however possess the ability to watching a myriad of YouTube videos that do little more than give me a false sense of security on my level of finishing skill. I know it won't look perfect when I'm done, but I'm hoping it's at least somewhat seamless with the other drywall. Otherwise I might be strategically moving pictures and furniture to cover my terrible job. So, if you see chair sitting randomly up against a wall, at least you'll know why.

In addition to the drywall and ceiling, we have all our flooring order and delivered for our kitchen/living room area (Yay! more junk to work around!) and two slabs of butcher block waiting to be finished for the island. After all of that craziness, we still have to wrap the LAM beam and supports. Oh and add new trim and crown molding.

While we're in the middle or remodeling/finishing our kitchen and living room, we also have that little detail of me being in my last trimester with our third child. My now office/storage closet/hoarders paradise has to come together to become a nursery in a couple of months.

Now, I know the baby probably doesn't care if there is a nursery and more than likely will sleep in our room for the first few months. However, all the baby gear is in storage. To get to the storage, I have to pull everything out and rearrange. Which means, I really need to get something resembling a nursery together in order to rotate all the junk in our house. So it's not so much a desire to create a cutesy nursery so much as the necessity to create a place to stack bins and bins of baby junk.

That long winded response means I need to create a new office space in our basement so I can clear out this mess. The first step in that long process is to paint our family room. The family room has remained mostly neglected since we moved in. To be honest, we rarely use it. I didn't even want a family room when we were looking at houses, because I knew we wouldn't use it. However, it has been nice to have a place to hide...I mean husband's hunting/sports decor. So, now I need to create an office space that goes with all that ugly...I mean delightful decor. I started painting with Sherwin-Williams' "Perfect Greige." For the most part, I'm very happy with the way it's turning out. It's a nice mix of the grey/blues I like, but still fits in with the whole dead pheasant on the wall feel my husband has going for himself.

The brass boob light makes everything much more yellow than it actually is. We plan on removing those...probably when our unborn child is 19.  

Future office location. 

So. That's where we are right now and why I've been a bit busy to write lately. I'm hoping everything comes together in the next month or so. Mostly for my sanity, because being pregnant, hot and crowded isn't a good look on anyone.

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