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Poor texturing creates big headache

QuestionWhen my 1924 home was rebuilt in 1998, the walls were completely stripped down to the framing and new drywall was installed. At the drywall finishing stage I asked the contractor for a small orange peel texture on the walls. What I got was a very gloopy and rough finish on most of the walls. Some areas are very nice. I sued the contractor who then declared bankruptcy, so I'm still faced with how to remedy this situation. I've been told to sand it, apply a topcoat, or just live with it. What is your advice to remedy this situation? I would like to hang some wallpaper eventually.

AnswerWhat a predicament! If it were my house, I would first consider how many coats of paint have been applied since 1998 and the amount of wall square footage that has to be dealt with before considering what direction to take or if I would decide to just live with it. Even knowing that too many coats of paint would make this project more difficult to correct, I still would end up fixing the walls anyway because it would bug the heck out of me.

The gloopy and rough wall texture suggests that you have a heavy texture, which will be somewhat easy to scrape. My best advice would be to tackle one room at a time. Purchase a good 4-inch or 5-inch taping knife and round the outside corners on a grinder or file to help prevent the knife from digging into the wallboard. Try scraping off the texture in a small area to see how well it comes off.

If scraping is somewhat difficult (perhaps because of too many coats of paint), try wetting down the walls with TSP. Mix TSP into warm water (according to the instructions) and sponge it onto one wall. Be sure to protect your hands, arms, and eyes when applying the solution. The TSP should soften the paint somewhat (if it's latex—but I make no guarantees) as well as the texture underneath the paint. You may have to apply the TSP to the wall surface a few times before the latex paint soaks it up. This will be a messy project but there's no way to get around it. Once the paint and texture have softened, scrape it off using the taping knife.

If the dry texture scrapes off easily and you don't want to deal with the water mess, then scrape the dry walls. In either case once the texture is mostly down, you can sand the walls using a drywall hand and/or pole sander. Better yet, try Stanley's dust-free sander. Be sure to use a shop vac that has a double filtering system or run a hose from the exhaust port to the outside to prevent drywall dust from settling all over the home. If you use TSP, make sure the wet walls are completely dry before sanding. I also recommend that you use an open drywall screen sandpaper rather than drywall silicon-carbide sandpaper. Begin with 80 coarse then move on to 100 coarse. Be careful that you don't sand into the wallboard's surface.

Once you have one room completely sanded, decide whether to repair the walls from damage that may have occurred during the scraping process or apply a thin coat of all-purpose compound mix.

When you are satisfied with the finish of the walls, apply a heavy pigment latex wall primer (not a wall sealer) using a 3/4-inch lamb's wool roller. This will apply a slight texture to the wall to help blend the wall surfaces together so you don't have to respray with wall texture. However, there's nothing to stop you at this stage from spraying on the lighter texture you originally wanted.

When the primer has dried, examine the wall to see if you need to sand or repair any areas before applying the finish coat. If you do sand or repair, be sure to apply primer to these areas. I also suggest that you apply two coats of a high-grade premium finish coat, again using the lamb's wool roller, allowing a day to dry between coats. On the second coat, and just before it sets up, backroll the walls with the roller. This will raise the texture on the paint a bit to help blend in the wall surfaces.

No matter what method you choose, wet or dry, they both will be messy. The key is to work in one room only and to mask off all entries to this room with plastic. Take your time during the scraping process to safeguard the surface from damage from the taping knife. With patience it will all work out the way you want it to look.

Copyright © 2005, 2006, & 2007 LAF/C.R.S., Inc. All rights reserved.
Question answered by Leon A. Frechette.

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