Monday, August 17, 2015

More Dining Room Updates...

So I am not done with the dining room yet.  This is because I decided to devote 3 days of my life to skim coating the dining room walls.  Man, am I soooo glad I did. What a difference it made!

Admittedly, I did a horrible job documenting the skim coating, but I still thought I would skim (pun intended) over the the process.  Basically, skim coating is putting up a new, thin layer of joint compound over your walls.  This can be necessary in a few instances, like when you remove wall paper and it damages your walls, or if you have a texture to your walls that you wish to cover up.  Skim coating is typically quicker, easier, and cheaper than installing new sheetrock.  In my case, I have plaster walls that had a number of cracks that I patched.  The patched areas are smooth and they contrast with the texture of the walls.  My walls aren't purposely textured, but after 90+ years of paint jobs, there was a rather pronounced texture to them.  

When we renovated our bedroom and the living room, we did not skim coat.  Every time I turn on a lamp or the light casts in a certain way, it brings out the imperfections and textural inconsistencies in the walls.  Some old house flaws I find charming - lumpy walls is not one of them.  When I did the hallway, the walls were so damaged from plucking off pieces of painted over wall paper, that skim coating was a must.  And the walls came out gorgeously.  I seriously run my hand over the hallway walls to marvel at their smoothness multiple times a week - it's a problem.  Every room moving forward will be skim coated and I will be circling back to the bedroom and living room at some point to skim coat those walls as well.

Anyway, enough rambling. Let's talk about the actual process of skim coating.  I did the "easy" version (which spoiler alert - isn't all that easy).  There is a more "traditional" method using a hawk and trowel, but I am not skilled enough for that.  I used a tool called the Magic Trowel and I love it.  It really does lessen the amount of skill required but you still need to be patient as it does take a little experience to get the hang of it.  Here is the gist of the skim coating process!

Tools/Supplies Needed:
  • Joint Compound (I recommend the dust control version, unless you like to be surrounded by a cloud of drywall dust)
  • 3/8"-3/4" Nap Roller Cover (the more damaged the walls, the thicker the nap)
  • Paint Roller
  • Paint Tray
  • Mixing Paddle Attachment
  • Drill
  • Water
  • Magic Trowel (you can find it here, also is sold in select Sherwin Williams stores)
  • Sanding Sponges (Medium and Fine grit)
  • Pole Sander (with Fine grit paper)
  • Wet Rag(s)

Step One:

Add about 1 cup water to a 5 gallon bucket of joint compound of your choice and mix thoroughly with your drill and mixing paddle attachment.  You are looking for the consistency of melting ice cream.

Step Two:

Scoop a few scoops of the thinned mud into your paint tray and load up your roller.

Step Three:

Roll the mud onto the walls.  I have found it works best to apply the mud in 4'-6' wide areas, working across the bottom coming back to doing the top of the wall.  Once your mud is applied to your first section, take your Magic Trowel and wipe the blade with a damp towel and then start at the bottom edge of the wall and literally wipe the trowel upward maintaining a light pressure.  Repeat until the entire working section is smooth.  Then move on to the next section and repeat until all of your walls are covered.  Depending on how much texture you are trying to cover, it may take more than one skim coat to get the job done.

Step Four:

Wait for the mud to dry.  I use premixed compound and it was humid, so I waited a good 24-36 hours before sanding.  Once the mud is dry, take your pole sander and go to town sanding every inch of the walls.  After that, turn off the over head light and set up a lamp close to the wall so that it casts shadows on the wall.  Use that as your guide to find any areas that require more sanding.  Do not skip this step.  If you do, when the sun shines in just right or a lamp is put in a certain corner, you will find these imperfections and it will have defeated the purpose of the skim coating!

Step Five:

Wipe down the walls well to remove the dust and then apply primer and paint.

Now that my walls are ceiling is done, I am moving on to the trim.  After scraping away the varnish on all of the trim, I applied primer.  I always prime before I do any caulking or patching because the primer makes any imperfections more apparent - the natural wood finish tends to camouflage things in my opinion.  

After priming, I spackled the proverbial crap out of everything.  

The sun was shining in through the window so I wasn't able to get a shot of that trim, but it was just as pink and spotted as the baseboards.  THIS is why I can't leave my wood natural.  It has been so abused and damaged over the years that it takes this much spackle and patching to make it look good again...  Sigh - at least it's still there and (mostly) original.  I got the spackle sanded down last night, so on to reinstalling the crown moulding, caulking and then paint!  Wahoo!

In other exciting news - I got over my irrational fear of electrical work and installed the dining room chandelier!  It took me 10 minutes.  Not sure why I was so intimidated.  I love the light fixture though. I think it's just the right size for the space and it has just the right vintage look I was going for without being too formal.

Well that's all for now.  So close, but still a lot of work left.  I would LOVE to enjoy a completed dining room by the end of next weekend.  Let's see if that can happen!



  1. LOVE the chandelier! And you will be so glad you put so much work into smoothing the walls. I was just telling a friend that there's not many perks to living in our circa 1993 house (no character, lots of florescent lights, LOL), but smooth walls are one of those things I take for granted.

    1. Haha... yeah, there are always trade offs. Unless you're super rich and can afford to built a custom house exactly the way you want it, I suppose...

  2. Jen I can't wait to see the completion! That chandelier is phenomenal - classic/vintage/modern! You nailed it.

    1. Thanks, Denise! I actually had my eye on this chandelier before we even bought our house. :-)