Why You Should Consider Skim Coating Your Walls

Skim coating is the application of a very thin coating of plaster or other material over the top of your drywall with the goal of either adding texture or hiding holes and marks. There are numerous reasons to consider skim coating your walls — it can bring them back to their near-original state no matter how many ding marks from chairs or how many times you've removed wallpaper. Ultimately, the skim coating gives your walls a fresh start and may help you avoid having to remove the drywall and start over.

If you have walls in your home with damage on them, and that damage isn't isolated to just one specific area, it may be beneficial to skim coat them rather than tackle each area separately. However, using joint compound or other material to skim coat requires several steps. You'll need to apply a very thin layer of the material, allow it to dry, and then sand it down to be level and smooth. If you don't mind doing a bit of work to perfect your walls, it can be an excellent way to refresh those spaces to make them usable for just about any planned project, whether you plan to paint a fresh color or add wainscoting to them.

When to skim coat drywall

Skim coating isn't a faster way to fix walls in all situations, but it is a reliable method for improving the texture and creating a like-new, smooth surface on the walls that you can paint over. You should consider the use of skim coating in any situation where there is some damage to the walls that alters its appearance but doesn't cause any structural weaknesses. For example, if you have an area that constantly has the back of chairs bumping into it, you may wish to skim coat those walls to get rid of all of the marks and blemishes on them.

You should also consider using skim coating as a way to create an even surface to paint. In older homes especially, which may have had layers of paint already added to them, skim coating creates a better surface area to work from moving forward than just trying to add more paint. You can use skim coating as a way to make painting surfaces once covered in latex paint easier, too. If you want to change up the current texture of the walls, such as getting rid of a popcorn ceiling to create a new, smooth surface, applying a skim coating can help with that.

Benefits of skim coating drywall

When it comes to the cost, skim coating typically ranges from $1.10 to $1.30 per square foot to complete, with most of the cost coming from the tedious work and labor involved in the process. If you do that work yourself, you'll lower this cost. By contrast, the average cost to replace drywall ranges from $1.50 to $3 per square foot for materials and installation. 

There are other benefits to skim coating before painting a wall, too. As noted, it creates a smooth appearance, which can create a better look for the finished project. That's especially true if you plan to add any type of gloss-like finish to the walls since this type of paint allows small blemishes to shine and stand out. It's also ideal in situations where you're covering up very dark paint with new, lighter paint. For example, if you have a dark blue accent wall in your living room and want to refresh it with a much brighter color, the skim coating will prevent the paint from seeping beneath and mixing the colors or allowing the darker paint to show through. That could mean fewer coats of primer.

Skim coating can be labor-intensive and time-consuming because it takes a refined level of skill to get rid of the smallest imperfections. Yet, it can be well worth it to give your room a like-new look and helps you avoid having to learn to hang drywall like a professional.