Over time, the walls in a house see some major wear and tear. They get re-painted, wallpapered, stripped, hammered, and scraped. No matter what happened to your walls, every once in awhile, it’s a good idea to skim coat your walls. Skim coating a wall is a process in which one smooths out damaged drywall making the overall wall better. Skim coating a wall yourself is relatively easy to do and significantly cheaper than paying someone else to do it. Below are some tips on how to skim coat a wall quickly and efficiently.


Depending on the amount of space you wish to have skim coated, paying a professional can cost up to several thousand dollars but if you do it yourself you can reduce the cost to a couple hundred dollars. Here’s a list of materials you’ll need as well as price estimates:

  • Plastic Drop Cloth – $8.00
  • Painters tape – $7.00
  • Disposable Respirator – $12.00
  • Gloves – $5.00
  • Shoe Covers – $5.00
  • Joint Compound – $15.00
  • Paint Tray – $3.00
  • Roller Cover – $10.00
  • Roller Handle – $10.00
  • Putty Knife – $10.00
  • Trowel – $5.00
  • Spray Bottle – $3.00
  • Fine Sanding Pad – $6.00
  • Microfiber Cloth – $10.00
  • Drill – $100.00
  • Drill Mixing Attachment – $12.00

Before you learn how to skim coat your walls, you need to first prepare the wall. The best way to do this is to use a primer to quickly seal the wall from further damage. It’s important not to merely spot prime but do the whole wall. Part of the reason you skim coat is to give the whole wall a nice, even finish. In order to do that, the whole wall should be properly primed. Also, don’t forget to lay down a plastic floor cover to protect your floors from the primer as well as the skim coat materials.

In addition to preparing the wall, you’re going to have to prepare the joint compound material that you’ll be using to skim coat with. Usually, when you buy a bucket of joint compound, it’s too thick to use for skim coating. Mixing in some water into the compound using a drill and a mixing attachment should do just the trick. Many recommend that you divide the joint compound into two separate buckets to make the job of mixing easier on your drill.

How To Skim Coat Your Walls

Now that your wall, room and joint compound are prepped and ready to go it’s time to skim coat.

First, use the roller and roller cover to apply a good layer of joint compound to the wall. You’ll want no more than ⅛ inch of compound on the wall. Make sure to only work with smaller segments of the wall. Don’t work on a section of wall any larger than 4 feet by 4 feet or you’ll run the risk of the the joint compound drying up before you finish. Try to coat the wall evenly but don’t worry too much whether or not you get it perfect the first time.

Second, use the trowel to wipe the area smooth. This might require a few passes to get a uniform coating on the wall segment.

Third, repeat steps one and two once or twice until perfect uniformity has been achieved. Use water and the spray bottle if a section is starting to dry and you need to moisten it up some. The sanding pad can be used to smooth out the final areas that you just can’t get perfect using the trowel. After everything is done, go over the wall with a microfiber towel to assure that you have removed every last piece of dust.


Although it may take a while to get used to, skim coating isn’t that difficult. With proper preparation you can avoid damaging the room with all the mess and save a lot of money by doing it yourself. Try it out and enjoy the improvements you’ve made to your own walls.