Z-Brick Removal #3

Z-Brick Removal #3
This installment of Kitchen Renovation Nightmares continues my account of removing the Z-Brick from the walls of our kitchen and laundry.  See the first installment of Kitchen Renovation Nightmares for the beginning of the discussion.  The second installment described the test I decided to try and the preparation of the wall.

This time I will detail the skim coating process I followed.

Skim coating involves the application of joint compound to the surface of a wall.  Essentially, you apply joint compound to a surface, and then you scrape off the compound in order to fill the various depressions and rough patches in the surface.  Multiple applications ultimately result in building up a smooth finish.

There are a number of videos on the web that show the process.  The videos tend to make it look easy, but (of course) everything is harder than you think, and it takes practice to get the hang of it.

One video I watched showed a nice lady covering every awful surface easily.  She used a thick roller to spread a layer of joint compound on the surfaces.  She then used a squeegee knife to smooth over the surfaces.  Zip zot, and it was done!  This is what I tried first.

It was not that easy to find a 12” squeegee knife locally, so I eventually ordered one.  I also got a ¾” nap roller for applying the joint compound and a paddle attachment to mix up the joint compound.  I felt I was now ready to start the test.

List of materials for test:

  • 12” squeegee knife
  • 5-gallon bucket of pre-mixed joint compound
  • ¾” nap roller cover (heavy nap roller)
  • Paint roller frame with handle extension
  • Paint pan
  • Painters tape
  • Tarp for the floor

I had already removed a section of the Z-Brick from my test area.  I then prepared the wall as I discussed in the second installment.  This left me with a brick-less section of wall (approximately 1.5’ x 8’) that was sanded and primed but was still very rough.

I used pre-mixed joint compound in my test.  I thinned this by mixing in water (starting with 8 ounces for a 5-gallon tub).   The idea is to get a creamy consistency like sour cream or pancake batter.  Remember you need to coat the wall and then scrape it off.  I did not really understand the scraping aspect that well when I started.

I discovered two things pretty quickly.

First, rolling the joint compound onto the wall did not work well for me.  I found it difficult to get the roller in the bucket, so I poured some of the compound into a paint tray.  The material just proved hard to get on the roller, and it was difficult (for me) to apply to the wall.  Nevertheless, I persisted and got the compound applied to the test area.

Second, the squeegee knife does not work as well as a good drywall knife for the scraping process.  After applying the compound, I tried to scrape the material off with the squeegee knife, but it just did not leave a good finish.  As I was extremely novice at that point, I am sure that my technique was at least partly to blame.  In spite of this, I was able to get my first coat on the test area.

Here is a word to the wise at this point.  Make sure to carefully cover your floors, be careful what you wear, and watch the placement of the joint compound bucket.  I say this because the joint compound can get pretty messy … all over you and all over the floor and adjoining walls.  I also managed to show my agility by stepping down from my step ladder right into the joint compound bucket!  Shades of the Three Stooges!

When the wall was dry, I used a fine sanding paper to smooth out the wall before the second coat. You sand in between coats.  I found that a fine sanding block worked much better for this process.  You may require a pole sander for large or hard to reach areas.

Typically, you apply three coats.  You apply the material up and down and then scrape up and down, then you apply the material left to right and scrape left to right, and lastly, you do another up and down pass.

When I completed this process, I painted with a primer for drywall.  The result was acceptable, but not great.

Next time, I will tell you about the tricks I learned subsequently.  These methods produce much nicer finishes and work a lot better.

See you then.

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