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September 2021
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Textured Drywall Patch

A recent job had me checking the plumbing on a house being freshened up. After replacing the mixing valve in one bathroom I came to find out that the previous owner had never used the shower, which filled the valve body with crap requiring replacement. This of course after the walls had been painted and carpet laid. Since the shower was tiled. entry from the front was a non starter.

After measuring the walls, I got lucky and discovered that the common wall was in a closet. In order for the plumber to get in, I needed to cut him a hole. Because the walls were textured, I needed to minimize the damage, so I cut the access with a utility knife. This takes longer than with a keyhole saw or a router, but the walls have been painted and new carpet installed.

I bagged and taped off the floor and cut the hole.

Here is the hole.  The studs were already in place. Yeah the plumber got his work done in that little hole. He is that good.

Next up is re-installing the drywall.  Because of  the backing screwing it back in was a breeze. Looking at the bottom of this photo you can see where I taped off the trim and taped it to the poly on the floor.

I used my old friend mesh tape for covering the seams. Here I have taped the horizontal and vertical wall seams. If you look closely you can see the tape line where somebody else  had opened this wall before to work on the drain.

Tech Tip: When you tape or repair drywall always do the butt joints first, cover the ends of the butt joints with the flats, (factory recessed seams) and finally the corners allowing you to overlap the ends with your corner tape. It makes taping easier as you will not telegraph the seams requiring more sanding to finish.

Here is the final tape. Notice the corner tape extends beyond the flat. This helps with finishing.

Next is the mud. Here your coats need to be thin enough to just cover without creating large bulges that are more work.

Because this is a ‘knock down’ texture After the mud is dry and you have sanded it lightly, texture in a can is applied. Follow the directions on the can as far as testing it on cardboard and following the directions in terms of drying time before ‘knocking it down’.

After this dries, before you repaint, lightly sand the area to match the original finish. You want to round the edges to hide your repair especially if your wall has been painted many times. I took the time to cover and texture the previous repair since I was in the neighborhood.

All done! the photo sucks but nobody who has looked at it can find it. And that is name of the game.

Skip Troweled Ceilings

Popcorn ceilings were sold as an enhancement for many years by tract developers, advertising ease of maintenance by virtue of being white, so as not to require painting, and it acoustic properties in reducing sound. Both of these claims are of dubious value, when the reality is that it was cheaper for builders to spray ceilings rather than finish them.

A typical taping job requires a tape coat, a cover coat, and one or more finish coats to produce a smooth finish. By eliminating the ceiling finish coats builders saved time and labor by spraying ceilings. Some builders would not even apply a cover coat, but would spray the texture on extra heavy. Cheaper for them, a pain in the ass now.

Having removed the popcorn on the current project, we were luck in that the builder did use a cover coat before spraying the ceilings.
We still have work as scraping ceilings is not an automatic process. Here is a scraped ceiling.

The popcorn is gone but the ceiling is rough. Because of time and budget constraints we are going to texture the ceilings using a ‘skip trowel technique.

Skip troweling is a technique that used regular taping mud applied to create a cover and a texture. This is what it looks like in process.

Here is Rich using a wide knife to apply the compound.

If you look closely at the knife you can see that the compound is thick at the edges and thinner in the center. When he applies it, the thin areas get skipped as he applies the mud, giving the skipped appearance. A quick troweling smooths the ceiling giving it the illusion of depth while making it easier to paint and clean. This can be done using smaller knives, it just takes more time. And a lot of practice.
Here is a ceiling just finished but still wet.

This gives you a better idea of the ceiling with the new texture.

Remember that you will need to use a primer/sealer before final painting.

Removing Painted Popcorn Ceilings 4

If you want to paint in Arizona near the outside, you need to start early. But it is done.

Here is where we started.

Here is a longer shot.

Here is the other side.

And here we are back at the Storage Project Wall.

Here is that start.

Removing Painted Popcorn Ceilings 3

Got a late start on Wednesday, so we got the sanding done, the second coat of speed set done and the dust control mud up.

The seams have been spread out, and the nails and gouges have been filled.

Started early Thursday, did a quick sand and rolled the primer. Love Gripper Primer.

Could not put the finish color as by 9 am the ceiling was too hot. Early start in the morning.

Removing Painted Popcorn Ceilings 2

In our last episode we had bagged the garage, and scraped the popcorn ceiling. So at the end of the day it basically looked like this.

You can see the straight lines that tell the tale of mechanical tools for taping. Tools work fine in the hands of an artisan. They are adjustable so that a really fine line can be set. Not the case here. On of the drawbacks to the homeowner/remodeler is repairing taping done with tools. Because the mud has extra water added to run though the ‘tools’ one of the unfortunate byproducts is the dust from sanding. Taping mud contains adhesives that help it to stick, and when you change the mix by adding water beyond the mfg. recommendations, it doesn’t work as well, and creates much more dust than normal.

The secret to living through sanding is getting someone else to do it:) In this case I enlisted the aid of my daughter, Amanda.

She is no stranger to remodeling having grown up around it, and working construction. Anyhow, after sanding and cleaning up the blizzard of dust, we spotted nails and taped seams with speed set. One of the other unfortunate aspects of using really soupy mud is shrinkage. So at the end of the day it is almost like redoing the taping completely as the paper  gouges, nail holes, and previous mud application was not feathered out.

Tomorrow, a quick sand, another coat of speed set in the morning, touch up, and a finish coat of Dust Control Mud, so that we can prime and paint on Thursday.  Hopefully, as the heat in this room is astonishing, having no insulation over the ceiling, having a cement blockwall with due west exposure, and outside temps over 100.

Closet Office 2

In our last episode we had done the demo, run the electric, built a deck/ceiling frame, and done some taping.
The taping on the cornerbead is done the texture is matched, and it has been primed.
Upper Storage
I have also installed the plywood floor for the upper storage area.

Note that I taped the ceiling and wall to limit the mess as I finished the face of the closet office. I pre-drilled the plywood and screwed it down. It is a two piece installation as there is a wing on both sides. The plywood in front comes even with our drywall and is covered with a 1×6 MDF trim board.
Here is a longer shot.

I extended the trim to the wall on the right and an equal distance on the left. This allows the homeowner to attach curtains if that is their choice. The work top will not extend beyond the sides of the closet so the ability to install bi-fold doors is also open.

In addition to screwing the MDF to the header in front, I also screwed it to the plywood using a thinner screw known as a trim head to stiffen the deck and the corner.

I used quick clamps to align the trim and deck as I screwed it together.

Closet Office Ceiling
The first thing here is installing the electric box and blocking. This is the box recycled from the ceiling in the storage area project.

The placement of the box was decided by the fixture I am using, which in this case is an switched 18” flat florescent. Because of the mounting holes for this fixture I installed a 2×4 backing strip on the left. Because the back wall is next to the garage I caulked the hole where the romex came through, (despite the fact the wall is insulated, it gets moved and bunched up when you run wires through it) and stapled the romex in place which is just good technique. This will provide general lighting on the work surface. The box allows the client the ability to change the fixture in the future if desired.

In measuring the closet it turns out that it is not square. No surprise here. My first sheet goes from 22 1/2” on the left to 23 1/4” on the right.

Here is a trick for cutting small angles. I took my drywall square and lined it up with my measurement marks and used a couple of quick clamps to hole it down as I cut the sheet.

This works fine for small angles, larger ones require either a chalk line or a straight edge.
After cutting and buffing it, I trial fitted it to see that it would fit without breaking any corners or edges.

The light box is in this sheet so I made my measurements and used a circle cutter to make my outline. I used a keyhole saw to cut it out.

Here is a tip for cutting holes. When cutting close to the edge of a sheet, start your cut at the narrowest point to the edge and cut away from it. The chances of breaking the sheet go way down when done this way.

I taped the ceiling box with blue tape to avoid crap in it. Having hung the drywall, I masked the wall and mesh taped all of the seams.

Next up is taping.

Flat taping into corners like this is more art than science, as you have to cover the tape and yet not so hard into the corners that you telegraph the wall texture into your mud. It leaves ridges at right angles to the line of your mud. Sand or fill. If needed your second coat can run from the wall edge to the feather edge to fill in those ridges. Depending on how picky you are. As you can see taping the ceiling box closed was a good idea.
After sanding, I removed the masking paper, ran a small bead of caulk into the corners and primered.

Leave the tape on the box until your painting is done and you are installing your light.

Next up will be shelving and decking.

Door Stops and Drywall Patches

Doors and walls are dangerous together. Especially during puberty. Door slamming and banging is a favorite sport among a certain age group. Using a doorstop to prevent damage to your walls by the door pushing the knob through the wall is a good idea. There are many doorstops available.

These Doorstops suck. These are the cheapest ones available. Not just in cost but also in construction and durability.

Cheap door stops

These as you can see failed miserably. These are made by Stanley. They still suck.

In repairing damage to your wall, we will do a quick ‘tapeless drywall patch’. This is one hole that the homeowner started to repair the damage. Noble effort. The idea is great, the follow through is not. We want a square hole.

Cutting around the affected area

The first thing we need to do, is to square the hole. We are removing enough drywall to get past the cracked portion that the doorknob created. A drywall keyhole saw is the preferred tool for this.

Squaring the hole for the patch

Once we have our hole, take a scrap piece of drywall at least 2” larger in both dimensions than your hole.  We will make a ‘tapeless’ patch. We are going to remove an inch of drywall to leave a facepaper taping area.

Score the backside of the drywall so that you can carefully remove the edge piece so that the face paper remains. Do this with the other three sides. Your eyeballs are good enough to measure this as after the first cut, you can hold your patch up to the hole to see what else has to be removed.
Scoring the backside of our drywall patch

When you are done, your patch will look like this. We have eliminated needing a scrap of wood, screws, and drywall tape. This is for small repairs usually under 6” square.

Here is the front of our drywall patch using the face paper as our tape

Before we mud this in, we dry fit it to make sure that it will fit in our hole. Trim as necessary. It should fit snug, not tight.

Testing the fit of our patch before applying mud

Next we butter our hole with drywall mud. We are applying our mud to the surface to embed the ‘tape’ portion of our patch and the excess mud in our hole will seal the side edges when we install it.

Here we are prefilling our hole with mud applying enough to fill the gaps in our drywall and enough to fully embed the 'tape'

Insert the patch, and wipe it down, carefully so that you do not push it below the surface requiring more work.

Here is our patch in place, wiped down first coat

It will look like this. Let it dry as long as it needs to. With premixed mud, it is 24 hours. You can use “Speed Set”, which is taping compound that comes as a dry powder that you mix up yourself. It comes in 45, 90 minute times. It hardens chemically like concrete, but is a lot easier to sand. 45 minute ‘speed set ‘ has a working time, before it begins to harden and create a mess, about 1/3rd of the time (15 minutes)on the bag. You will need at least one more coat of mud before you sand.

Speed set is handy to have around, doesn’t dry out, and has an incredible shelf life. The down side is that it comes in big bags.

This particular wall was textured with a splattered ‘orange peel’, which requires more work. (don’t get me started on textured walls) The good news, is they sell spray textures in cans. so you can match this particular texture. One thing to remember, is that after you have re-textured, is to lightly sand the texture before you paint, so that the texture blends into the undamaged area. The texture on the undamaged area is smoother due to the paint that has been applied previously.

Finished and textured patch

Finally, before you repaint, put a quick coat of primer on the patch before you repaint the wall. This will hide the patch work that you did. Especially using semi or high gloss paints. Your finished repair should be invisible so that you can’t tell it ever happened.

Invisible repair

To insure that patching does not become a regular part of your life, replace all those bottom springy doorstops with a hinge mount stop like the one below. Take out one of the hinge pins, slide this on the pin, and set the pin back into the hinge. It is adjustable so you can limit the door travel. These were 99 cents at the home store.

Better Doorstops