Bedrooms,  Home Remodel,  Uncategorized

How to Skim Coat Damaged Walls

Take a look through my Fixer Upper Home Tour post and you’ll see the previous owners loved themselves some horrendous wallpaper. We’ve got floor to ceiling blue and white vertical stripes, very dark maroon and olive floral print, and some stars that reach throughout our kitchen and breakfast nook.  Ohh…I’ll keep pushing back those images of peeling wallpaper and scraping glue to the back of my mind for just a little while longer. 🙂

The good and bad news of our wallpaper situation is that one of the previous owners removed the wallpaper from our son, Colton’s, room already. Woohoo! One room down…17 to go. 🙂 Bad news? Oh, they must have removed the wallpaper with a baby raccoon or something.  Massive chunks of the wall were taken out as they ripped and shredded our poor drywall.  Thrilled it was gone, but we had a whole other issue on our hands.

It’s time for…SKIM COATING!

After countless Pinterest searches and scouring YouTube for the best DIY video tutorials, I gathered enough tips, tricks, and strategies that I felt prepared enough to fix my baby boy’s room.  From the moment we started this job, I knew what I had found was working.  Walls were almost instantly repaired and smooth! Ahhh!!

So here is exactly how I did it and my very best tips and tricks to get you started on fixing those damaged walls!

Supplies Needed

Spackle – we use Drydex Spackle because it changes color when it’s dried (and it’s pink, sooo…adorable!)

Joint Compound – we used USG Sheetrock Dust Control Patch and Repair Compound

Putty Knife

10″ Taping Knife

6″ Knife

Mud Pan



Mask and Googles

To understand why a room needs to be skim coated, take a look at some of our room’s before photos.  Notice how there is a texture to the walls.  There are pieces of drywall that are very obviously missing.

(Don’t worry! Colton went to bed in our finished basement right after this picture was taken! :))

Look at your walls from the side. Do they have divets or bumps?  Run your hand over your wall.  Can you feel them? It’s time to skim coat, my friends!


Our room had a lot of areas that we felt needed to be spackled prior to skim coating.  We went through and filled all the large nail holes and missing drywall areas.  Let this dry completely and hand sand the areas with 220 grit sandpaper.

Look at those walls!!! 🙁

Every picture makes me cringe a little more inside.

Using your putty knife, scoop about 3 large scoops of your joint compound into your mud pan.  We used USG Sheetrock Dust Control Patch and Repair Compound for our project.  For a project that will already require sanding, it was important that we controlled the amount of dust being circulated through our home as much as possible.  I loved this product as soon as I started working with it and have zero regrets looking back.  Highly recommend!

Slowly mix water into your mud pan and stir it until it is completely mixed.  You want your joint compound to be the consistency of pancake batter for this job.  It might be a bit of trial and error here as you may get too much water and need to add more compound.When you’ve got the correct consistency, scoop some mud onto your 10″ putty knife (a little across the entire blade is perfect!).  Start in the upper right hand corner of your wall, and at a 45 degree angle, slowly and steadily smooth your joint compound onto the wall.  You’ll want to leave a small amount of your compound on the wall to fill in your holes and gauges, while leaving a thin layer on the remaining wall areas.

Scrape your knife on the side of your mud pan to clean off remaining compound.  Turn your knife the opposite direction and once more go over your wall to be sure there is just a thin layer of compound remaining on your wall.  You’ll want excess to be removed. You don’t want to do too much on the wall as you are going to be sanding most of this away.

You’ll start seeing that you’re getting the hang of this process as you work.  And since your mud is thin and wet, you have the ability to go over a space a few times before it dries and cures.  It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around.  You’ll see areas that still need repair after your compound cures and you’ve done your first round of sanding.  There will be a second coat that you can fix everything then!

Continue this process until all walls are completely covered in your joint compound.  Now it’s time to sit back and let it all dry, harden, and cure completely.  Patience is vital here!

Time to Sand

Once your joint compound has dried and cured, it’s time to put on those goggles and face mask and get to sanding!  We used 220 grit sandpaper with our hand sander to do a light sand across the walls.  Too gritty and you’ll lose all of the joint compound you just spend all that time applying.

My huge tip for sanding is this:  LIGHTING!  There were areas that while my husband was sanding looked perfectly smooth, and then when the sunlight hit it later in the day, was an obvious pock mark still remaining.  Bring in shop lights, lamps (take the shades off so you can easily clean the dust off the base and bulb later), and open up windows to allow for the most abundant light you can handle.  Even hold a flashlight in one hand as you sand to allow for direct light right where you are working.

I cleaned off the walls with a lightly damp bath towel to get a reasonable amount of dust off the walls before I inspected them.  When I say lightly, I mean barely can tell it’s damp.  Too much water and you are just wetting the joint compound all over again.  A dry towel could do the trick here, but I was very meticulous about getting every speck of dust out of the room before painting.

Once the dust is off, run your hand over the walls, inspect with a flashlight, and notice the areas that need a second application of joint compound and repair.  Follow the same steps for a second coat.


When it’s time for painting, be sure you are 100% happy with your results.  Paint will only magnify errors and texture on your walls, so be sure they are truly ready to be finalized.  And don’t skimp on the primer.  I haven’t been able to find a single paint and primer combo that truly does the trick.  Pick out your favorite oil-based primer and prime your walls prior to painting.  I am a huge advocate for Kilz products when remodeling my home.  This primer is behind every coat of paint I’ve ever done! And let’s be real, if it’s something Chip and JoJo support, then it has to be good, right? 🙂

After priming the space, I used Benjamin Moore Regal paint in a Satin finish for the room.  Since this wall was textured and skim coated, I wanted the lowest sheen possible to conceal any mistakes that I may have missed.  Flat is best for this; however, this is a little boy’s room.  I wanted the ability to clean the walls when necessary (and as frequently as I know I’m going to be!), so I went with the satin finish. Flat paint does not allow for cleaning and marks easily.  Great for some rooms, but certainly not a kid’s room!Look at how amazing these walls looks! Smooth as can be!

I’ll share my “after” photos of Colton’s bedroom in a blog post soon.  In the meantime, here’s a little sneak peak of what I have been working on in there.  I’m so in love!



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