Level 5 Drywall – How to get the smoothest wall finish

How to achieve a smooth drywall finish | RedBarberry.com

What is a level 5 drywall finish?

Level 5 drywall finish refers to the smoothest of the smooth drywall finishes you can get and may require one or more skim coats to achieve. There are many different ways to achieve a smooth wall result, but below I will describe what has worked for us with minimum investment. What you will need:

  • Drywall mud (joint compound)
  • Mud pan with metal edge
  • 6″ and 12″ spatulas
  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Painter’s tape
  • Sanding sponges (medium and fine grit)
  • Brush and dust blower
  • Face mask, safety glasses, baseball cap, shower cap, cleaning gloves
  • Lots of patience and arm strength

Ah, wall texture! A wonderful home fashion trend of the 60s, 70s, 80s… and even today. Seriously, I keep seeing builders use extreme wall texture even today. And by extreme, I mean if you can see the shadow of the texture on the wall, it’s too much!  But now having removed texture from 4 different rooms in our home, I understand why- getting flat walls is not easy and is extremely time consuming even for professionals, while texture is easy to spray on and it hides many imperfections in the walls. I wish removing wall texture was as easy as some tutorials suggest – just spray it with water, wait, and scrape it, almost peal it off using a spatula. Tried that, didn’t work, the paint in our home didn’t let the water penetrate. So if you are in the same situation and don’t want to spend $1500 for a professional to beautify your walls, grab your tools, take that vacation, find your patience and get to work! ! MAKE SURE TO CHECK YOUR WALL TEXTURE FOR ASBESTOS BEFORE GETTING STARTED! Step 1 – Lay drop cloth. Protect your flooring with plastic drop cloth. They are really cheap, and usually 2 pieces are enough to cover a large room. But get extras for when you are ready to paint. Make sure to tape the drop cloth using either masking tape or painter’s tape to the footboards of the room. Don’t leave any cracks! This will be especially important when you start sanding (trust me!) How to achieve a smooth drywall finish | RedBarberry.com Step 2 – Scrape the texture. Use your 6″ putty knife to scrape all the texture that you can. Why 6″ and not 12″? Wouldn’t you be able to finish faster with a 12″ putty knife? Perhaps so. But from personal experience I found it difficult to apply even pressure around a 12″ putty knife, 6″ is much easier to control. Sweep all the mess into one pile, so it doesn’t stick to your feet. How to achieve a smooth drywall finish | RedBarberry.com How to achieve a smooth drywall finish | RedBarberry.com Step 3 – Plaster coat 1. After scraping, your wall will still have texture, it just won’t have as many obnoxious bumps. You will need a nice, thick coat of plaster on the first round. Because you need to get as much plaster as possible on your walls at this point, I recommend using the 12″ putty knife. After trying out many different joint compounds, we settled on USG Sheetrock brand, all purpose pre-mixed compound. We bough a 4.5 gallon bucket of it, which worked great for the first coat. For future coats, we refilled the bucket with the same brand, but Ultra Lightweight compound from the boxes, which were cheaper than the bucket. I definitely recommend a premixed compound, rather than trying to mix it yourself. Be warned! Plastering ceilings puts a lot of strain on your shoulders (the whole body, really, but especially shoulders). Dmitry and I divided into 2 teams, he was responsible for the ceiling and I was responsible for all 4 walls. It took me about the same amount of time to plaster 4 walls, as it took him to plaster 1 ceiling. If you’ve never plastered before, it will take you a few tries to find your own groove and plastering method. Youtube is always a great place for tutorials, I recommend watching a few videos before getting started. Once the first coat is done, wait for it to dry overnight. How to achieve a smooth drywall finish | RedBarberry.com Step 4 – Sand. Sanding doesn’t sound so bad, right? Trust me, this step is a NIGHTMARE! Disclaimer: there is a chance you might cry during this step (at least on the inside). Make sure to wear a face mask and safety glasses. I also wore a long sleeve shirt, cleaning gloves, a shower cap, and a baseball cap on top. The dust will dry your skin and hair out, so protect yourself as much as possible! Also, cover all the cracks in the doorways. And even with all this prep, mentally prepare yourself to find compound dust in every room for at least a week after finishing the project. After the first coat dries, you will have scuffs and marks, and some of the bumps will show through. Use your medium sanding sponge to sand obnoxious bumps off, but at this point, the walls will not be perfectly smooth. How to achieve a smooth drywall finish | RedBarberry.com Step 5 – Plaster coat 2. This coat will be much thinner than the first. Here I recommend switching to the 6″ spatula, again, for better pressure control. The main goal of this coat is to cover up all the holes and dents left after the first coat. In this case you want your spatula to be almost perpendicular to the wall. Let it dry overnight. How to achieve a smooth drywall finish | RedBarberry.com Step 6 – Sand. Use a fine grit sponge here. Follow the rest of advice from Step 4. If you are sanding during daylight, you might miss a lot dings and dents and bumps. Wait till it gets dark and use a lamp to look over all your surfaces again. Step 7 – Plaster coat 3 (optional). Dmitry and I have trained our skills so well with the first three rooms that this time we actually didn’t need to do a third coat. But if this is the first time you’re doing this, most likely you will need to skim coat again. Using a 6″ and your mud pan, add very little plaster to the walls and hold the spatula almost at a 90 degree angle to the wall. At this point you should only have very few little dings and dents to fill in, and this will do the job. Let it dry. Since this is the thinnest coat, you might get away with having a dry wall in just a few hours, but I still recommend waiting overnight. Step 8 – Sand (optional). Same as Step 6. Step 9 – Sweep the walls. Sweep the walls with a brush, to remove any compound “crumbs” and prep the room for paining. You may also want to use a dust blower to get any dust out of electrical and cable holes in the walls. Carefully wrap up the existing drop cloth with all the dust, dispose of it, and do a little happy dance! The plastering and sanding nightmare is over! Now you’re ready to prime and paint! How to achieve a smooth drywall finish | RedBarberry.com How to achieve a smooth drywall finish | RedBarberry.com How to achieve a smooth drywall finish | RedBarberry.com-11

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