Skim Coat on Walls
I have been skim coating for years with knives. Start with a 6″ blade and increase to a 12″. Results are good, but slow, since it is only occational work for me. I generally use 45 minute stuff that I mix. Sometimes I use ordinary premixed joint compound. I am gearing up to do some volunteer work in MS. The question I have is would I doing my self a favor if I changed to using trowels when skimming? Does it matter?
I have been skimming for years and first learned with knives as you are doing. Got up to 18" and 24" knives too. Then I met this Italian old timer to learn plaster skimming. He taught me how to use a trowel. So much faster. But you can't use these trowels for compound - or at least I can't. They are arched and the compound does not have the body or "sculpt" as plaster does.
I tried every American made trowel available in the US but they were all too stiff. Then during a trip to Europe, I was strolling through an industial supply area and came across trowels that are thin and have some flex to them. MUCH more than reg US trowels.
Holy Cow! What a difference. Now I only trowel.
During August I was helping a buddy for a week to skim his apt. I forgot my trowels and had to skim with knives. Slow goings. The following week I returned and remembered to bring my trowel. Zip, zip, zip. Soooo much faster!
Ya just have to get the right trowel. I have seen some at HD which have the right flex, however they are only 8" long. Mine is 12". (HA!)
BTW - are you using a mud pan or a hawk? Two of my guys refuse to use anything but a mud pan when using knives. I can't stand the mud pans - ever! A hawk is the only way for me. I think they are faster but I guess it boils down to what you are used to.
There he goes—one of God's own prototypes—a high powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live and too rare to die.
—Hunter S. Thompson
from Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
Thank you both. I am using a mud pan out of habit, but I've known for long time that I dislike the thing and am going to throw it away righ now and make myself a hawk. As for trowels I will do what I can and keep looking for better. There will always be wall work to do. Thanks for the encouragement.
Don't waste effort making one. Buy it. They are inexpensive and will be more durable than anything you make. I have one hawk that is 18 years old and has had regular use.FThere he goes—one of God's own prototypes—a high powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live and too rare to die.—Hunter S. Thompson
from Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
Frankie's right. For heaven's sake, buy yourself a hawk. Go to a mason supply and get a 13", that's a good size for most. The titanium ones are $$ but if you use it a lot it's worth it.
Try the trowel that pool plasters use.
Stepping out of my carpenter clothes and into my whites I will tell you that my years as a plasterer taught me that troweling is the only way for skimming. U.S. makes good trowels, but they're hard to find. A company named Curry out in California makes the best. When I was plastering in the plasterers union, that's all I used. Still have mine.
Knives are great for taping. I don't use trowels when I tape.
There's too many to choose from.
If someone wanted to just get one trowel for flat smoothing dmix walls what would you recommend?
r u a feckless dastard?
The trowel I use most for white coat (skim) is the same one I use for scratch and brown. It's a 14" spring steel plastering trowel. It's slightly tapered from fore to aft and the edges are eased from the years of use. I have two of these particular ones along with about 20 other trowels of various sorts. Stainless steel is nice since you don't have to worry about the rust, but I find that you can't quite get the lite flex you want especially when you're brush & spattering or "sweetening up" the final float on the white.