How to Skim a Wall

Unsure how to skim coat over paint, skim coat ceiling, skim coat with a roller or how to skim coat a textured wall? Well you’re in luck because in this article our experts explain  how to do just that…

In the early stages of plastering a wall you don’t need to worry so much about smoothness, because it’s getting the walls as flat as possible that should be the real focus.

The last thing you want is different thickness’s of plaster that are drying and firming up at different times, meaning you have to mess around with figuring out which places to skim once you’re done and waiting for it to dry. Uneven thickness can often happen when too much time is spent on getting the first coats of plaster smooth and not enough time ensuring it’s flat, so don’t get too focussed on getting it smooth in the early stages.

If your plaster is flat, it means you can move along the wall naturally to enable you to finish the job and it’s then in the final stages where you get your wall smooth, removing any trowel marks or ridges as you go. And, you might want to check out these handy hints on how to skim a wall before you start.

In cantiere

Some people, especially the professionals like to skim coat a wall the traditional way, using a hawk and trowel – and for this, you will need to be aware of the six stages of skimming. There’s no short cut around this and it’s vital that you follow each stage, letting the plaster firm up a bit before you move on to the next.

There’s no putting the plaster on and trying to smooth it out straight away either, because to get it right it takes several thin coats, removing trowel marks and ridges in between, when the plaster has gone tacky. You can also resolve issues like blistering in the walls.

If you’re slightly newer to plastering, or are just an occasional plasterer, the whole process of skimming a wall with a trowel and hawk may seem a little daunting. It takes a lot of practice to wield the trowel and hawk successfully, so you’ll be pleased to know there is a different, slightly easier way to skim a wall using a paint roller and squeegee knife.

As with the method above, you’ll need to ensure you have the right tools for the job to avoid frustration half way through and also make sure the wall is ready to skim, so be prepared beforehand and fix uneven sections, torn away paper and holes before you start.

Plastering Equipment Needed to Skim a Wall

This method can show you how to skim a wall the easier way and the tools you will need are as follows:

    • Drywall compound
    • Primer
    • Paint roller and roller sleeve
    • Mud pan
    • Squeegee knife
    • Taping knife and masking tape
    • Paint brush
    • Sanding pole and sandpaper
    • Safety glasses (the last thing you want is mud or dust in your eye.)

plasterers kit

Start off by rolling the whole wall with fast drying stain sealing drywall primer to ensure the joint compound sticks better to it. Make sure to let the sealer dry thoroughly too.

You can then roll on a slightly thinned layer of all purpose joint compound with your heavy nap roller. The consistency should be a bit like mayonnaise – just thin enough to roll on a wall. If you get it too thin, it can cause shrinkage and subsequent cracks, but don’t worry if this happens the first time, just get it a little thicker for next time. Roll it on small sections at a time so that you can then smooth out the joint compound before it dries and try and keep it as even as you can.

After this first coat has gone on, you can then trowel it smooth with your squeegee knife. Keep a damp cloth and mud pan handy to wipe off any excess mud. And, don’t worry if you have to go over a few areas more than once. Start at the top corner and pull the knife vertically downwards, stopping around halfway, then, once you have rolled the joint compound on the bottom half of the wall, start at the bottom and pull the knife upwards.

After the wall is smooth, let the first coat of joint compound dry. Then it’s time for your second coat which will need to be spread with a trowel in a horizontal direction once it has gone tacky. The idea is to go at a right angle to the direction in which you went with the coat before. If you still see imperfections then it’s fine to do a third coat – just wait for the second one to dry first.

The process may seem drawn out, but it’s pretty quick because the layers of mud should be thin and as a result will dry fast. Then, the smoother you have your wall, the less sanding you’ll need to do afterwards.

After the last coat has dried you can then pole sand the wall to get it looking flawless. Hopefully this won’t take too much trouble if you’ve followed the stages of skimming a wall as mentioned.

If you have any questions about how to skim a wall, or if you need any further plastering help or advice, feel free to give us a call. With over 50 years experience in the plastering industry we can help you find the right tools and equipment to help you get the job done as easily and pain free as possible in no time at all.

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