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Skim coating ceiling and wall surfaces


Eye protection, either safety glasses or safety goggles, should always be worn whenever preparing surfaces for paint. Respiratory system protection should be worn whenever you are creating dust or working in a dusty environment. Respiratory system protection should also be worn whenever you are applying solvent-based materials. Eye and respiratory system protection products can be purchased wherever workplace safety equipment is sold.

The repair

Begin by removing peeling paint and other loose surface material with a putty knife or scraper. Paint drips can often be removed or “topped” using a scraper. After loose material has been removed, sand the surface with the medium-grit side of a sanding sponge or 80-grit sandpaper. Large areas can be sanded using a pole sander. Remove sanding dust with a wiping cloth or towel.

If other surface preparation repair is needed, such as crack repair or nail pop repair, perform these repairs now.

For skim coating, either a mud tray or plaster hawk can be used to hold drywall joint compound. A 6” or 8” flexible blade taping knife can be used to apply a thin coat of joint compound over and just beyond the areas of small nail-sized holes, indentations, surface scratches and the areas where paint has peeled. Heavy roller cover nap marks and edge lines can also be covered and concealed by skim coating with drywall joint compound. Allow to dry, and then apply a second coat. Two coats will usually be enough to skim coat most minor surface damage. Allow to dry, and then sand. After removing sanding dust with a wiping cloth or towel, the surface should be inspected. Re-apply joint compound to any areas that need additional filling. If the surface looks smooth an uniform, prime and then apply paint.

More detailed coverage of this topic can be found in the book:

The Homeowner's Guide to Surface Preparation for Interior House Painting, on pages 77-81.

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