drywall repair
December 17, 2003 4:58 AM   Subscribe

Talk to me about drywall repair. [more inside]

I'm down with patching, but then you have a spot that's smooth when the rest of the wall is textured. They're not always in spots that can be covered up with pictures!

Also, our previous homeowner was big into faux, so we are left with a fake rock wall that I think was make by slathering on joint compound (or something) and drawing the "rocks" into it. Is it best to sand it down, replace the drywall altogether, or smooth it over with (what)?
posted by kmel to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
In my opinion, your situation is a tough one. Sanding it down can be very labor intensive and the results can end up uneven. And if you go through the paper, you'll have to patch. replacing the drywall is a huge task, very messy and can look horrible if you don't know what you're doing. Corners can be a nightmare. Smoothing it over can be done depending on how deep the relief is. Again, this requires a lot of technique. I have ceiling in my house that are mopped, with little stalactites coming down. I've done plenty drywall and I don't even want to tackle that. It may be worth getting an estimate from a local drywaller when considering the project.
posted by cowboy at 5:58 AM on December 17, 2003

Theres a few options here, but its hard to say for sure without a picture, or a more in depth description (ie, where the angles are). Feel free to email me with either - i used to be a plasterer so hopefully can give you some advice.
posted by kev23f at 7:57 AM on December 17, 2003

I did some sheetrock work when I was working with a remodeller in college and have always enjoyed it. Take your time and use the right tools and it is generally not too hard for the average homeowner. You mention textured walls. What type of texture is it? Is it rolled on or mixed in or sprayed on? Once you determine this, you should be able to match it. The faux rock thing is a bit more difficult. Sanding it down is one solution but will generate a huge mess and take a lot of time. If it is very thick, it may be easier to pull the old sheetrock down and start from scratch; that would also give you the option to do any wiring or plumbing changes you might want to do involving that wall. If you have a local Home Depot or other store that offers DIY classes, you might see if they have one on sheetrock; also, check for books on the subject.

More info here.

posted by TedW at 8:06 AM on December 17, 2003

If you sand down an entire wall I guarantee that *every* square inch of your home and every cavity of your body will sooner or later be covered with a fine white dust that never seems to go away ... AFAIK this dust contains gypsum, small particles of which will lacerate your windpipe/airways and lungs so you should wear a full respirator when you do it. Again, you could probably pop the old stuff off of the studs, but then you've got to avoid damaging internal angles with the ceiling and other walls; and then you'd have to hang the new stuff just right. So I guess I'd pay someone to do it. Maybe get an electrician in to reposition switches/sockets just how you want them at the same time, which might make you feel better about it.
posted by carter at 8:15 AM on December 17, 2003

Response by poster: Yikes. Maybe I should just paint over it and live with the rocky texture until I'm rich.

And ... what are the differences between spackle, joint compound, sheetrock, and plaster?
posted by kmel at 8:50 AM on December 17, 2003

Good that Carter mentions electricity. If that wall has outlets you have something else to consider when removing or layering another sheet.

If you can find them, check the index of Fine Homebuilding magazine at your local library for articles on drywall installation.

If the wall is highly textured -- i.e. more than a 1/4" vairation in the surface, I would not recommend the sanding route.

On preview: sheetrock is drywall is gypsum wall board.

Plaster is a portland cement based mix which is applied in layers over wood or metal lathe (although new systems are available to go in a "skim coat" over a special type of gypsum wall board).

Spackle and joint compound are the same thing in a generic sense, with a number of available variations. Sometimes, spackle refers solely to the compund which is only used for patching -- it sets up differently and is easier to use for small jobs.
posted by Dick Paris at 8:57 AM on December 17, 2003

Following Dick Paris, I'll amend my earlier comment slightly; if it's a small wall, with only a thin layer of relief, then it's do-able; anything big will have you weeping.

Sheetrock: We're all in this together ...

posted by carter at 9:14 AM on December 17, 2003

Spackle: goo used for filling in tiny flaws (nailholes and the like) before repainting. Useless for large repairs; it'll just crumble. For cracks, especially the ones that appear inside corners, use silicone caulk instead; it's less flexible and less prone to re-cracking. (Make sure you use the paintable kind, though.)

Joint compound: goo used in larger quantities when installing drywall; it fills in the joints between the sheets of drywall, and can be smoothed ("feathered") out with a large flat spreader, and a certain amount of skill. (I'm terrible at it.) Not the same thing as spackle.

Sheetrock: drywall, or gypsum board. Not goo.

Plaster: the goo that people had to use to make walls before they invented sheetrock. Very difficult to work with, rarely if ever found in new construction.

For your patching: if the texture on the wall you're repairing is just from layers of paint -- the little ripples left by a paint roller, not sand or stucco or molded faux-whatever -- you can usually get away without sanding the entire wall: after you've put in the patch, sand the area around it very smooth, then the area around that somewhat less smooth, and so on until it's a large enough area that the repair won't be obvious. Then repaint the entire wall using a thick roller, doing several coats, letting it dry completely every time, to let the texture build up. It won't be perfect, but it'll be close enough.
posted by ook at 10:10 AM on December 17, 2003

more flexible. Dang.
posted by ook at 10:12 AM on December 17, 2003

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