Mud and Messes

By | June 12, 2014

We’re officially in the mudding/messy stage of drywalling the kitchen.

Messy Mud With Drywall

Just a warning, this post is long—and overdue. Sorry for being MIA this week. It’s just been a lot of the same over here. I also know not many of you may ever attempt to tackle a renovation job like this on your own, so your interest level in step-by-step instructions would be low.

So, I’m going to keep this recap simple and try to address some related topics as we go along. For example, how do you decide whether or not to tackle something like this on your own, anyway?

Well, for us, it was pretty simple. Both of our dads have done drywall in the past (at least this much if not more) so we knew we had a good support system behind us, and since we’re less than 2 hours away from both of those dads, we knew we could even call them to have them come help us if we got in over our heads and didn’t know what to do.  And we’ve done that. (Thanks, dads!)

Replacing Can Light in Kitchen

We’ve done most it ourselves though, which means I’ve had a hand in helping with some things I wouldn’t necessarily say are my strengths. Mainly, lifting heavy things. Ha!

Installing Drywall in Kitchen

But, we’ve managed. And thankfully, we’re in the home stretch of this never-ending process of putting walls back up in the kitchen. But we always left the option open to count our losses and call a pro if we ever felt too overwhelmed. Hiring someone to come put up drywall would have been WAY faster, and probably in the $500-1000 price range, (yes, we looked into it), so keep that in mind if you ever tackle a room like this and aren’t sure you want to do it ALL yourself. No shame in that at all!

Anyway, like I mentioned in the last post, we are done with hanging drywall–finally! As of Sunday night, we officially started mudding, and that process is messy, if you didn’t already know that.

I figured the mess would mostly come from sanding, which is true, but it also comes from dripping joint compound all over the floor. Luckily, we’re removing the flooring, but if you weren’t, putting a tarp or thick waterproof paper down would be MUST.

We assembled our tools and got ready to work.

Sheetrock and Drywall Supplies

Which is a good time to mention that “splurging” on this little mixer was totally worth it. It made stirring those big buckets of mud a lot easier.

Drill with Stirring Attachment

Wyatt was pretty excited about it.

Mud Mixer Excitement

And it really did help a lot, especially since one tub of mud we used was old and needed to be really well mixed up and another was new, but really thick. (It was pretty much exactly like opening a container of frosting and needing to stir it up before you can smooth it out onto a cake.)

Mixing Joint Compound With Drill

As a little background, we’re essentially only working on half of the room, which means that we have a lot of seams where new drywall and existing drywall meet up. Which means we had a LOT of problems to cover in order to end up with a smooth surface. I started by applying a coat of Fast n’ Final, which is a thinker, lighter product.

FastnFinal Drywall

It allows you to build up the surface a lot faster without tape. It’s marketed as a quick fix, but we found it worked decently well as a base coat to give us a starting point in evening out those uneven surfaces.

Here’s how it looked at that point:

Drywall Seams Before Tape

Then, it was time to work with the tape and really get those seams nicely joined together.  To start with, Wyatt was using regular paper tape for the seams, but quickly realized he preferred the sticky kind of tape.

Sticky Drywall Tape

He found it to be a lot faster and easier to work with because it sticks directly to the wallboard. You don’t need a layer of mud behind the tape and on top of the tape, just on top.

So, it was my job to help him cut pieces of tape as he went along. For this part, we were working on the ceiling.

Taping Drywall Seams

Then, he stuck it onto the seam and smoothed it out.

Putting Drywall Tape on Ceiling

Here’s what that same seam looked like at this stage (not much better yet):

Drywall Tape and Mud on Ceiling

Then, it was time for a coat of joint compound. Again, we learned there are good and bad options for this. At first, he was working with this product.

The first kind we used, this stuff:

Drywall Mud - Joint Compound 2

… was so thin and watery that it dripped badly and didn’t build up a very thick layer very easily. He got pretty frustrated working with it, so when it ran out, he got something that was a lot thicker.

Drywall Mud - Joint Compound

It also came in a LOT bigger container. Yikes. (P.S. We’re already through a third of this big bucket. Mudding is no joke, guys.)

Tubs of Drywall Mud

First, we filled up the little tray with mud, which we didn’t think we needed at first but ended up being totally worth the $5.

Mudding Drywall

Then, he applied this product with the trowel and smoothed it out as best he could.

Drywall Mud on Ceiling

It didn’t have to be perfect though, because we still have several more coats to do on top of this, and each time any big bumps will be scraped or sanded off as we build up the layers.

See, no worries about it if it looks like this at first:

Unfinished Drywall Exterior Corner

After mudding this with one layer of mud, you can still see the shadows from having a not-perfectly even seem, which means we’ll need to keep adding more layers and widening our coverage until there’s a nice even surface. Each layer gets a little thicker and little wider until finally the seam is totally hidden and blended in.

Uneven Ceiling Drywall

(Sorry for the dark photos, it’s usually nighttime when we’re working on this…)

So, that’s what we’ve been up to recently. It seems to be a pretty daunting process, but really, it’s not as hard as it is tiring and time consuming. We’re hoping to be done in a week or so on this phase…and then, I can hardly believe it…we’ll be ready to paint. Oh my goodness, I think we’re finally nearing the turn-around point, if I was comparing this to an out-and-back race. The finish line isn’t close yet, but at least we’re no longer moving away from it!

If you’ve never done drywalling before, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend just going after a whole room like this, but it’s possible. We’ve learned as we went and haven’t had any big problems. Still, it is easier to tackle something small first, like a patch in the wall or something that won’t show, which brings me to my next point…

The kitchen is a great room to start with, as most of the drywall will actually be hidden behind cabinets or back splash or appliances. Think about it…how much of your kitchen walls do you actually see? Not that much, thankfully. Especially when compared to a bedroom that you see literally all of it. That means the seams don’t need to be perfect. Thank goodness, right?

Now, tell us–have you ever done drywalling? Ever tackled a big renovation like this? How did you survive? What are your best tips and tricks? Do you think you could handle installing and mudding sheetrock? I bet you can–if we can, you can, too!

5 thoughts on “Mud and Messes

  1. Mary

    Oh my goodness!! Too many memories. However I didn’t do a lot of the work for our bathroom since I was in charge of keeping our one-year old out of the mess!!! Ugh!

  2. donita

    Looks like you are making great progress. Love the pics of my handsome son, miss him.

  3. rebeccahoughton

    Ug. I remember this all to well! We reinstalled drywall in every room in our house (one room at a time). The biggest mistake we made (especially with using the sticky tape), was getting in to big of a hurry, and there were a few corners that you could still see the little square pattern of the tape in (that we have since fixed). Patience is the key, but it sucks while you’re doing it.

    1. Melissa Post author

      Thanks for the tips, and the encouragement. Glad you were able to finish your project…makes me hopeful we’ll get this done, too!


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