Five Reasons To Apply a Skim Coat

Skim coating rejuvenates old walls, making them look new again.

Man applying skim coating to a ceiling | Construction Pro Tips
Construction Pro Tips

What is Skim Coating? 

Skim coating is a great way to make ugly walls and ceilings new again! A skim coat, also known as a level-five drywall finish, is a thin coat of diluted joint compound that can be applied by hand, paint roller or spray rig. Then it’s smoothed out by using a drywall knife or trowel. It’s an easy way to create flat and uniform surfaces on walls and ceilings so they can be painted or re-textured. As a rule of thumb, you should apply at least two skim coats to achieve a smooth and consistent surface. Below, you will find the top five reasons to apply a skim coat to your walls or ceiling.

Damage Caused By Wallpaper

Apply a skim coat if wallpaper removal damages the drywall behind it with gouges or when the drywall outer paper gets torn off exposing the brown paper underneath. Note: Once the brown paper has been exposed, it must be primed with a prime surface sealer before skim coating.

Drywall Repairs

If there have been drywall repairs or ceiling repairs, a skim coat will give a nice consistent surface to retexture or for priming and painting.

Old Surfaces

Years of wear and tear from residents and pets wreak havoc. Skim coating can bring your old tired walls back to their original luster!

Unappealing Surfaces

If you or your customer has an ugly or outdated wall/ceiling texture that is dated or was poorly done, skim coating will give you a new canvas without having to tear out all of your existing walls to get rid of your unsightly texture!

New Installs

New drywall that’s not going to be textured should get a very thin skim coat. This ensures that you will have a uniform surface to prime and paint. Sometimes when you don’t skim coat new drywall, you can see where the paint absorbs differently into the joint compound and drywall paper leaving the tape joints very visible especially with paint that has a sheen such as semi-gloss or gloss paints. This is called flashing or photographing in the painting world. Flashing can also happen when a lot of natural light is in a room or by a South facing window that the light shines directly down a wall or ceiling.

In Conclusion

A skim coat is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to bring walls and ceilings back to their original luster after repairs or damage. Skim coating should also be a consideration on remodeling projects or any project where new drywall is installed, especially on smoothed finished walls and ceilings in high traffic areas where the light will rake across the surface.

Harrison Kral
After spending his college summers pouring concrete and building decks, Harrison Kral decided to find a way to put his insider knowledge of construction to use…. just in an air-conditioned setting. He’s an established writer and editor in the DIY space who has written extensively on the home building industry, the housing market, and general DIY trends.