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Renovating and Remodeling My 101 Year Old Row House by Kevin – Weekend 2: What I Learned Finishing Drywall

by Prince Of Petworth May 17, 2012 at 11:30 am 7 Comments

Read Kevin’s previous post here.

When I said in my first post that the basement project will take about a month of weekends, I realize now that may have been a bit misleading. I should have said the project will take about a month with most of the work happening on the weekends. I have a full time job, and my father the contractor, has a schedule filled with remodeling jobs he is working on during the week. So while most of the big progress happens on the weekends, I work at night when I get home. Last weekend we got all the framing, electrical, and drywall rough-in work done, so my weeknights were devoted to getting the second coat of mud on the drywall so it could be sanded and primed.

I’ve been working with my father in his remodeling business since I was six years old, and while I have done nearly every aspect of a remodeling job, there are some things I don’t have a lot of experience with, and doing the second coat of mud is one of them. Every seam, corner and screw hole has to be finished. The first coat is to get the drywall tape on all of the joints and around the corner beads. Perfection is not vital because the mud shrinks and always requires more coats. The second coat however places a much higher value on quality workmanship, a skill that comes from experience. This “quality” is about the thickness of the mud you put on for the second coat which directly dictates the amount of time it will take to sand that second coat and much touch-up on future coats.

I mention all of this because while I was very aware of this “thickness to sanding ratio,” I struggled. Big time. And on Sunday I paid the price for my lack of experience by spending eight hours sanding. It was exhausting and my shoulders were on fire. But I learned my lesson the painful way. In many situations, seeing the results of your hard work are worth the pain. Drywall work is not one of those times. If you get into any big drywall projects, unless you want to skip going to the gym for a week, I suggest paying a professional the quality will be better, and they will be faster.

Continues after the jump.

My girlfriend Megan came over on Sunday and she primed the room behind me as I sanded. Priming is not only vital for future painting, it also allows you to more easily see imperfections in the drywall finishing that need touch up. And as you can guess, my week will be filled with that touch up work.

A little trick my father taught me about drywall touch-up is to mix some chalk dust from a chalk line into the joint compound to help the touched-up area stand out when it dries so you don’t miss sanding it since the joint compound dries white and is hard to see on the white primed surface; and the paint has no problem covering the chalk.

While Megan and I worked on the walls, my father finished up the electrical and started working on the built-in cabinet.

When put in the half bath in the old pantry area on the first floor, we saved the built in cabinet (see photo) because it was too beautiful to not use somewhere else. My father figured out a great way to use both the top shelving unit and the bottom cabinet unit. The shelving unit fit perfectly between the stairs and a support beam and will be a divider between the utility area and the rest of the room. We will back it with bead board paneling, and it will serve as one of several ties to the original home. The bottom of the built in was never more than the doors and drawers, so we will need to build it into a cabinet, which will be a bar storage area.

Next weekend we are going to work on leveling the floor on the half of the room that will get a composite floating hardwood floor. We will also start building the window boxes, preparing for the new hardwood stairs, and trim work. We are getting down to the finishing touches and I am excited to see the room take shape.

More photos here.

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