It may have taken us a few months but we have managed to find our good work flow.
While Dale is breaking his back lifting sheets of drywall, kitchen cupboards, power tools, skylights etc. I strap on a pink respirator mask and glasses, get up on ladders and scaffolding and scrub away at flaking paint, cobwebs, creepy crawlies and bad plaster. Later returning over and over and over again to sand and apply coat after coat of drywall mud to make everything all pretty and fresh looking again.
Turns out I am better at mudding and taping than Dale. I have that perfect level of OCDness that makes sure I work the mixture and get all the bubbles out while also feathering out the edges just right so I don’t have to do much sanding later.
This is a pretty mild case. Basically a large patch of water damage caused by holes in the roof letting water seep down between the attic walls and end up here on the second floor landing ceiling. The last owner put plaster over it all instead of fixing the problem and so what was left for us was lumpy, stained, peeling and cracking. Since the ceiling is now dry and the holes have since be repaired it was best to use the scraper to chip most of it off, sand down the rest and smooth over a nice skim coat of plaster that I will sand down after it dries.
The second ceiling patch I had to work on was WAAAAAAY worse. It looks like a big ol chunk of the ceiling came down in this back bedroom due to some hefty leakage from above (this room is located under the former attic bathroom)…yucko.
I don’t think the former owner was very handy as he did the worst patch of all time. Problem number one, he cut out all of the lathe in the ceiling so there was no support for the HUGE piece of drywall he used. Problem number two, he didn’t cut out enough of the failing plaster around the hole choosing instead to smuck on the durabond 90 (problem number three) thick and waffely to ‘hold it’… and left it like that, unpainted, unsanded, seams untaped, unfinished. Nice. Needless to say we tore it out and started fresh.
Durabond setting-type joint compound is much harder than your traditional drywall joint compound, and much harder to sand. You want to apply it in thin, smooth-as-possible coats to make sure you don’t leave yourself with a lot of unnecessary sanding in the end. Sigh…I guess no one told the last guy that. The old ‘patch’ was applied so thick and messy and was set like concrete so Dale had to use his grinder to get it off. There is no need to use something so heavy duty on a zero traffic spot like a ceiling. Not fun.
This is our repair after 2 coats and I know it looks bad, but it’s gonna be great with one more sand and a thin finishing coat. Trust me!
We had some HUGE holes to fill up there and it will probably take a few more goes before it’s done and level. What we use on these big gaping holes is a heavy duty metal mesh to bridge the gaps and allow the plaster to hold on to something.
metal mesh for patching holes in the ceiling
The mesh is pliable and you can stuff it in and the wire edges grip right onto the uneven edges left behind where you cut back to the good plaster. Be patient, don’t over apply your mud thinking you can fill it all in one go. It usually takes me 3 messy fills before I can get sanding and applying finishing layers.
When it’s a regular drywall seam that needs bridging we tend to only use paper tape rather than the sticky mesh tape. I find the texture of the mesh always shows through and it’s not really worth all the bother. The paper tape is really easy to apply anyhow and you can rip it off easily to fit the seam when you are on the top rung of the ladder in some awkward position.
Paper tape is easy to work with so no worries. You just have to have a thin layer of compound down first then you press it in and apply another thin layer on top. easy peasy! Working the compound is another story, but you will find your technique.
I like this stuff.
dust control, the mud of choice!
when you sand most of it drops right to the ground (unless you are working directly above, in which case it drops right on your head. Also, don’t even think about using a fan in the room when you are sanding. All the dust will swirl around and land right in yer eyes. Makes for a VERY sweaty job, but at least you will be able to see. Remember, with applying mud, less is more!
there’s no room for ‘pretty’ on this job-site
I find you need to wipe off your face and the inside of your mask ALOT! So here’s a tip on how to stay cool and comfy with all that dust and sticky heat.
I took a men XL shirt and cut myself a new neckline. Don’t sweat it if you cut off too much, it’s not a fashion show.
I also removed the bands from the sleeves and cut a line diagonal from the seam upwards then a second cut straight across the top fold as shown in the picture. Now you have fluttery cap sleeves with an added bonus!
where to make your sleeve cuts
Those fluttery bits will give you a built in ‘hanky’ on each shoulder that is dust free on the underside and super easy to find for the ol face (and eye if you didn’t listen to the part about not using a fan) wipe down. Using men’s XL shirts gives you a loose fit that should help shield you from all the falling dust and have you cool by keeping the material away from the body.
Another thing the experts don’t tell you… this dust is DRYING, as in Sahara desert dry. I wear rubber gloves to keep my hands from being destroyed and keep my hair up in a bun soaked through with conditioner and the dust still does a number. Most of my face is covered with the respirator mask (buy a good one!) and safety goggles but i still need to slather on the moisturizer after I shower to get the dust off. Invest in some moisturizing soap while you are at it as well!