Actually, to get super honest here, we didn’t just make poutine last night. We also made it the night before. You know you’re really living when you’re making brown gravy from a packet two nights in a row!
A friend and occasional Fawn Log reader who shall remain anonymous for obvious reasons recently told me that she has become shamefully addicted to Taco Bell’s new Cap’n Crunch Delights.
Like us, this lady also just bought her first house. Does home ownership increase junk food consumption? My sample size of three says yes.
Someone needs to look into this. We may yet solve the obesity epidemic! All we have to do is leave our houses and retreat into the woods, far away from the Arby’s and the Taco Bell and the twisted Canadian cuisine.
Before we do that, though, let’s talk about drywall. Drywall has always intimidated me. It feels like something only pros do, and I’ve heard that a good drywall job requires incredible precision.
That may be true in newer homes, where walls are perfectly flat and pristine. For better or for worse, that’s not our house. The walls in our house are old plaster and lathe that have settled over the past 111 years. When you look closely at the walls, as I now have, you realize that they faintly undulate from top to bottom. Matching them requires attention to detail, but not precision. Who needs pros when you’re a schmuck with an old house and the energy of a thousand gravy-smothered cheese curds?
We had several areas to drywall in the bathroom, as well as the kitchen. Step one was enlarging and evening out the holes we had to cover. This did two things: first, it exposed the studs we needed to drill the drywall into. Second, it allowed us to fill the holes with roughly square or rectangular pieces of drywall.
Step two was measuring and cutting the drywall. In retrospect this was the hardest step, although it wasn’t that hard. Mostly I’m just bad at measuring. You cut drywall with a sharp utility knife. Step three was screwing drywall into the studs while looking all manic and sweaty.
Step four was mudding, then taping, then mudding with thin layers again and again. This was the step I was most worried about. It turned out to be much less difficult than I’d imagined. In fact, if you’ve spackled before, you can probably mud.
Tony and I watched a YouTube video that said that, when repairing plaster walls with drywall, your first mud layer should be smacked against the seam between drywall and plaster. In theory, this smooshes mud between the lathe and the drywall, further strengthening the bond between them. It also helps ensure that any gaps between the plaster and the drywall are fully filled. After you’ve smacked a relatively thick layer of mud on, you put drywall tape on the seam and allow the mud underneath to dry. After that, each application of mud should be very thin until the tape is fully covered and the seam is imperceptible.
Here’s where our not so smooth walls came back to gently bite us. We hung 1/4″ drywall because it matched the depth of the plaster where we measured. Because plaster is applied by hand, however, its thickness varies. In our house, the plaster is 1/4″ in some places but closer to a 1/2″ in other places.
My initial fix for this was to ignore everything I’d read about applying mud and just do a really thick layer of it over the tape in areas where the drywall met plaster that was deeper than 1/4″. This seemed like great idea, and it looked perfect until it dried. Then, the mud cracked into a million pieces, as it does when applied too thickly.
I’d read enough to know not to mud directly over the cracks, because they’ll just crack again. My intuition told me to tape over the cracks, and Tony agreed. We taped up the cracks, I learned my lesson, and we applied only thin layers moving forward. It worked well, and later we confirmed that this is the right way to fix cracks. By building up the mud bit by bit, we managed to match the uneven depth of the plaster pretty well. Not perfectly, but pretty well.
We still need to skim coat in the bathroom and kitchen where we hung drywall, since the plaster is in pretty terrible shape from our wallpaper removal in those rooms. Skim coating is another one of those mysterious and scary-sounding renovation words, but the basic idea is to thin mud with some water, then apply a really thin layer of it to the whole wall, filling in any remaining cracks and smoothing imperfections. I’m hoping that it’s also as surprisingly easy as mudding turned out to be.
After that, we’ll sand the whole thing and then it’s time to prime and paint. I can’t believe we might be painting soon! Does anyone have any white paint recommendations? I want every wall of our house to be painted white, so this is important.
Just for funsies, here’s a before and after after after (but still really a before) of the bathroom walls.
Toilet here we come!