If your drywall has an imperfect taping job, is uneven, or has minor damage, skim coating is a texturing method that you can use to repair the damage and give it a smooth finish. While the process is quick, skim coating is a long-term solution for filling a joint, repairing minor cracks, and getting smooth walls and ceilings. Skim coating also helps homeowners get rid of orange peel or textured walls easily if they prefer smooth walls.

We’re going to discuss an easy DIY approach to skim coating drywall. Keep in mind though that if you expect finish levels like a Level 5 drywall finish and are a greenhorn at this sort of home improvement work, you’re better off calling a professional contractor to do the job for you.


The national average cost for materials alone is around $0.34 per square foot. This means only materials for a 500 square foot wall would put you down around only $174. If you choose to hire a drywall contractor for the job, expect the costs to go up to between $450.91 to $533.71 including materials and labor. 

Tools and materials needed

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  1. Drop cloth
  2. A 4-in-1 screwdriver
  3. Paint roller
  4. Roller sleeve
  5. Taping knife
  6. Sanding pole
  7. Squeegee knife
  8. Safety glasses
  9. Masking tape
  10. Drywall compound
  11. Primer
  12. 120 grit sandpaper

The process 

Prep work

  • Lay down a drop cloth on the floor and any furniture you cannot move out of the area you will be working on.
  • You will need to roll the entire wall with a stain-blocking sealer. It is best to choose a water-based stain-killer for a primer.
  • Use the paint roller to apply the fast-drying, stain-sealing primer onto the wall. This will help seal loose paper and promote better adhesion when the joint compound is applied.
  • This is applied in thin layers, and the purpose is not to actually repair any cracks or uneven sections on the drywall.
  • Let the primer dry thoroughly before you move to the next part of the process.

Applying joint compound on the walls

  • Mix the all-purpose joint compound next. Getting the consistency of the joint compound is crucial. You want it to be around the same consistency as mayonnaise or the mud used for bedding tape. The point is to get it just thin enough to roll on the wall. Get the consistency too thin and you will have shrinkage.
  • Use a heavy nap roller and begin working in small sections. Don’t worry if you get cracking in the first coat. You can always cover it up in the second coat. Just remember to mix the joint compound a little thicker.
  • Use a half-inch nap roller to smooth out the joint compound wherever it’s uneven before it dries.
  • Remember, an even coat will help make the squeegee work easier for you.

The first coat

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  • Keep a mud pan and damp rag handy. You will need to use the squeegee knife to smoothen the first coat.
  • Use the mud pan to wipe off any excess compound on the blade, and use the damp cloth to wipe the blade every few strokes.
  • Follow a set path. Begin at the top corner, and setting the squeegee knife against the wall, pull it down. Overlap each section until it is smooth.

Reworking areas

  • Some areas may require you to work at them a few times, but once you get used to the squeegee knife, the process becomes easy.
  • Once the top section is done, start from the bottom and go upwards. Roll the joint compound at the bottom, and setting the squeegee knife against the wall, pull upwards.
  • Clean up along the edges as you go up.

Prepping for the next coat

  • Let the first layer of the joint compound dry thoroughly. You can help make the process faster by bringing in a couple of box fans and a space heater.
  • If there are proud mud lines or lumps, don’t bother sanding them. Instead, just scrape them off using a 5 or 6-inch drywall knife.
  • All you need to do is brush off the wall once you’re done, and it’s ready for the next coat.

The next coat

  • Change the direction for the next coat and work horizontally from the top corner instead of vertically.
  • The more coats you add, trowel off the next layer at a 90-degree angle from the previous one.
  • The smoother your coats are, the less sanding you will need to do.
  • While this may seem like a lot of work, the coats dry up pretty fast since you’re only applying thin layers. It isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
  • Once your finishing coat has dried, use a pole sander and 120-grit sandpaper to finish the wall. Your DIY skim coating project is now complete!
What is skim coating and how to do it? was last modified: October 14th, 2022 by Narayan Shrouthy
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This is something that my father did a lot in his business when the walls were slightly damaged, but it is annoying, so he sent professionals to do it