Drywall: Drywall Repair & Painting
Don't let bad drywall work spoil
your painting job
by Susan Brimo-Cox
That’s the prevailing attitude of general contractors and customers when a painting contractor tackles a job. Contrary to their beliefs, however, you know that paint can’t cover up poor drywall work. If you’re faced with an iffy proposition, do you know what to do?
Ron Franklin, owner of Ron Franklin Painting in Sacramento, Calif., does a lot of work in new construction settings, both commercial and residential. In this arena, there is typically a separation of responsibilities: The drywallers are responsible for their work and the painting contractor is responsible for painting. Still, based on his prior experience, Franklin always does a quick examination of the drywall before he begins his work.
“I’ll take a visual look and if I see there are some areas that need to be addressed — joints not feathered well or raised spots — and I’ll point them out to the general contractor. Someone has to address those before I start painting.”
Franklin writes out a statement for the job superintendent to sign that releases him, as the painting contractor, of any responsibility for wall preparation. “Then, after you paint, if they don’t accept the job, you can come back with the release.”
Some painting contractors may not want to cause a fuss, fearful of possibly losing future work. What you may not realize is that some of this may already be addressed in a job’s specifications. “A lot of painters don’t read the specs very well — somewhere there are specs on painting and drywall,” Franklin points out. “Often there will be a statement that the painter should not paint if the walls aren’t ready.”
Ron Saylor, president of Saylor Painting Co. in Eugene, Ore., suggests that painting contractors can use two established guidelines to help them in assessing drywall surfaces before they paint them: the drywall finishing standards based on GA-214-96 in the Gypsum Construction Handbook (www.usg.com) and PDCA Industry Standard P4-04, which addresses responsibility for inspection and acceptance of surfaces prior to painting and decorating.
In fact, Saylor recommends that the PDCA standard be incorporated into a contract to ensure the issue of responsibility is addressed. “When a painter is instructed to paint a surface, it’s understood that the general contractor accepts the surface. The painter is responsible for the painting only. But past practice has been: ‘You paint it, you bought it.’”
Rick Kilduff, a 20-year veteran in the industry and a superintendent at Soep Painting Corp. in Malden, Mass., likes to review all surfaces prior to applying a primer coat. But his problem-solving procedure is slightly different — he likes to prime first. “After the prime coat is applied, let the taper touch up any problem areas before finishes are applied.”
Sometimes, wall repairs may be a part of the painting contractor’s job. So, it behooves you to be knowledgeable in drywall repair and patching techniques.
“Wall repair, large or small, is one of the most time-consuming aspects of paint preparation,” observes Rick Farland, director of new product development at Hyde Tools Inc. in Southbridge, Mass. And, he adds, it’s a process that begs for innovation.
Painting contractors who find themselves faced with repairing holes in drywall — be they nail holes, dents from doorknobs or larger holes from, say, electrical or plumbing repairs — should remember that it is best to keep the patch as small as possible.
That’s simple with nail holes. However, “as small as possible” can cover quite an area for other repairs. For example, say you have a two-inch-diameter dent. In a textured wall, you might be able to hide that quite nicely in a small area. But on a smooth wall, you might have to apply mud over a two-foot wide area, skimming gradually from high points to low.
Also, it is important to choose the best repair method for the specific situation, especially if you have a hole of significant size. Just filling a large hole with joint compound does not make the repaired area stable or strong, and it can be redamaged easily.
One solution might be a flexible patch. Farland reports a flexible patch is simply cut to size, dipped in water and applied to the surface. “It dries in minutes, creating a stable, well-shaped surface for final finishing and painting.”
Barrett Dilger, sales administrator at Spraytex Inc. in Valencia, Calif., recommends perforated aluminum patches as an alternative. Like flexible patches, they save time and eliminate the task of cutting drywall to fit the hole. But perforated aluminum patches offer another feature: When you apply joint compound over them, the mud permeates the perforations in the patch, so the mud is not simply laying on the surface. “You achieve a bond on the inside as well as on the outside,” Dilger points out.