I'm continuing to slowly make some headway in our home office makeover - the ceiling has been patched, primed, and painted and I've finished the wall prep so that the walls are now paint-ready! I don't know about you but while I really don't mind painting, I HATE the wall prep. Spackling and sanding ranks right up there with cleaning out the refrigerator, pooper scooping the backyard, and waiting in the neverending line at our grocery store deli. Except I'd still rather do all of those things than spackle and sand. After having prepped and painted many, many rooms, at least I've figured out three tips/tricks that make the wall prep process a little less painful:
1. Patch any scratches, gouges, or other imperfections in the wall with joint compound that you mix yourself rather than the premixed type that you buy in plastic containers. I use Sheetrock's Easy Sand Lightweight Setting-Type Joint Compound:
It only takes a minute or two to mix and I don't bother with any measuring but instead just add a little bit of water at a time until it gets to the consistency that I want. In exchange for spending just a few minutes mixing, you get to reap all of the benefits of using this type of joint compound over the premixed kind - it's much less expensive, you can mix as much or as little as you need, it goes on nice and smoothly (you have no small dried pieces like I sometimes get when using joint compound from a container), it dries faster, and (most importantly) I think it's much easier and quicker to sand. It comes in five different grades which are based on the average setting and working time for the joint compound. The lower the grade, the faster it will dry (both on the wall and in your mixed batch) - there is a chart on the back of each bag that shows you the approximate setting times and working times for each different grade. Unless you're patching just a spot or two, don't use a very low grade like 20 or your joint compound will start drying up on you before you're done using it. I usually use grade 90, which sets within 85-130 minutes (meaning it's ready to sand and paint after this time) and has a working time of one hour (meaning that you have an hour before your mixed container of joint compound begins to dry up).
2. Use the best sandpaper and a sanding block. For my most recent sanding job, I used 3M's Pro Grade Advanced Sandpaper that I picked up at Home Depot. It's more expensive than your average sandpaper but it has a coating that resists clogging so that it lasts much longer and I get my sanding job done much faster - worth every penny in my book! Also, save your hands and use a rubber sanding block. Be sure to wear a mask, goggles, and gloves while you sand (I'm good about using a mask and goggles but often forget to put on gloves and end up with drywall dust granny hands for a few days....).
3. Remove the drywall dust from your walls by vacuuming off the worst of the dust (I use my Shop-Vac with a wide floor nozzle/brush) and then use your secret weapon - the Swiffer. You can use Swiffer's Dry Cloths but I prefer to use old washcloths since the Swiffer cloths aren't cheap. I dampen each washcloth (just a little) and attach it to the Swiffer just like you would the Swiffer Dry Cloths
and then start at the left hand side of your first wall and swiffer in a straight line from the top of the wall to the bottom, moving down the wall as you go.
My office walls were skim coated because they were in such bad shape so there was lots of drywall dust left on the walls. The more dust that you have, the more times that you should change out your washcloth as you swiffer your room (I changed out mine with each new wall). Don't worry about removing every speck of drywall dust (you couldn't even if you tried!) but a quick swiffering of your room does help in getting a great painted finish.
There you have it! Do you have any wall prep tips of your own to share? I'm off to obsess some more over the dark gray paint colors that I'm considering for our office - still haven't decided...