Sharing the easiest way to skim coat to prepare your walls for wallpaper to eliminate your knockdown texture from showing through once the wallpaper is hung on the wall.
I had a HUGE FAIL!
At first. But the old adage “when at first you don’t succeed, try try again” has never rung more accurately than this last week when I added a skim coat to my walls to prepare them for wallpaper.
Honestly, it really wasn’t all that terrible, but it was terrible enough that I had to redo what I had already done. Don’t worry, I will share what I did wrong and then what I did right to make it perfect!
In life, you have to be willing to accept that in order to do something well you have to be willing to mess up to become good at something.
How to Smooth Textured Walls?
I have knockdown texture on the walls in my home. I don’t love it, but it is what I have.
If I had a choice and the world was perfect, I would absolutely have hand-troweled walls and would have paid the extra money for them if we had built this house, but we bought it as a spec house so….here we are.
Knockdown texture shows through wallpaper, even if it is a light texture. And the thinner the paper (like a lot of peel-and-stick) the more it shows. Even the best wallpaper that comes unpasted shows a little bit of texture. The more heavy the texture, the more it shows through.
If the wallpaper is applied without a skim coat, the paper settles into the texture and almost looks embossed. This is really frustrating to me. I don’t want to see the texture rippling through my paper. I want it seamless and beautiful and smooth.
You may hold up the wallpaper and think that your texture won’t be a problem. But once the paper is wet with paste or water, or you peel back that paper layer of peel and stick you will see the texture show through.
To achieve smooth walls I decided to add a skim coat to my walls.
What is a skim coat?
A skim coat is a thin layer of drywall joint compound (or mud) that goes over the drywall to create a smooth finish. The purpose of skim coating is to repair damaged walls and smooth down intentionally applied wall texture. It does this by filling in the gaps to make the surface smooth. It’s also a quick, long-term solution for repairing minor cracks, filling a joint, or leveling an existing flat surface.
In this case, I did a skim coat to smooth out the knockdown texture on my walls and prepare them for wallpaper.
When doing a skim coat you add water to drywall joint compound and then layer it over the walls to make them smooth.
What I did wrong
I added too much water to my drywall compound AND I was being
cheap frugal by trying to make one container of compound last for the whole project. That was a really big mistake that I was sorry for.
See how thin the layer is? You don’t want it to look like that. It needs to be much thicker.
Too much water in my mix made the compound too thin and caused puckering in the finish once it dried so I had to do it all over again with more compound. I should have just bought more compound in the first place and saved myself another afternoon of work.
What supplies do you need to skim-coat your walls?
Get the right tools before you start!
- Paint pan sized appropriately for your project – you can opt to line the pan with a liner to make clean up easy
- 1 Roller
- 2 roller covers – you will want 3/4″ nap (made for stucco) to get all the compound into the crevices and you will want a basic, cheap roller cover to apply primer once the compound is dry
- Drywall compound – buy the premixed and get more than you think you will need. I didn’t get enough and had to start over
- Spray bottle with water
- THIS IS THE ONE TOOL THAT WORKS LIKE MAGIC!
- Mixer attachment for your drill – this is really good to just have in your toolbox anyway. I use mine often.
- Tile sponge
- Drywall primer
How to Skim Coat a Wall to Prepare for Wallpaper
- Start by adding a little bit of water to your compound. Adding water will help it smooth out really well! How much will depend on the size of the container you buy. You will want it to be a creamy peanut butter consistency.
- Lay protection down over your flooring for easy clean-up.
- Pour it into your paint pan (or just dip your roller into it if you have a 5 gallon bucket of compound).
- Load your roller generously and be sure that it is completely saturated with compound.
- Roll onto the wall in 2-3 foot sections (it dries fast).
- Use the spray bottle filled with water to spray both sides of the Magic Trowel.
- Use your Magic Trowel to smooth it all out. This thing is really amazing.
- Continue until the project is finished.
- Let dry overnight.
- Once dry take a damp tile sponge and rub out any imperfections. This is called wet sanding and won’t create any dust.
- Let dry completely.
- Roll on a coat of drywall primer to prep your newly coated walls before you paste up wallpaper to protect your walls from damage if you ever remove the wallpaper.
- Let dry completely. It will feel a little tacky even when it is dry completely and that’s ok! It has prepared your surface for the wallpaper.
I am SO happy with the results and my wallpaper looks AMAZING! It looks like I hired a pro to come in and do the project. I can’t wait to use this method again and again.
Look at how smooth the walls are that the wallpaper is being applied to! It really is amazing to me and I wish I could do my entire house, lol!!
Spoiler alert: I have already finished the wallpaper and it looks so amazing like a professional installer did the job! It is beautiful! And isn’t that wallpaper so so so pretty?!
I love that I get to share this with you. Home takes time but it is worth the time you take in the end. There are very few things that give back to you ten-fold what you put into them. Your home is one of those rare things.
Until next time, stop waiting and start creating!