Monday, February 3, 2014

DIY: Wall Replacement and Painting Reveal

I have a confession to make.  Since the middle of June, we have had part of a wall in the smaller bedroom missing.  Now, before you call me absolutely crazy, especially with the below freezing temperatures we've had so far this winter, you will be surprised to know that it actually wasn't drafty at all considering it was an exterior wall!  I was shocked too.

So, since June, when we had the drywall and insulation on the exterior wall removed to have some issues repaired, the wall has had a very large part cut out.  Don't believe me? Well, here's a picture of the bedroom when we first moved into the house.

And here's a picture of the wall with the drywall and insulation removed.

And the picture above is how the room sat for almost seven months.  Last week, we finally tackled the wall.  We had gotten an estimate from someone about doing the repairs, but after seeing the amount of money that he was asking, I was floored at the cost.  I thought it was an astronomical amount to just repair a wall from waist-height down, so I talked with Dylan about it, and we agreed to try to repair it on our own.  

Cue the excitement, folks, because I was actually so pumped to try to do this on our own.  This is a skill that I have wanted to have for a while, and was so ready to try to do this.  I did some research, including watching some videos on YouTube, and then made a list of supplies we would need and after work one day, we took a trip to the hardware store.  

Here's what we purchased: 

1 Drywall Saw (we purchased two of them, but you will probably only need one) - $11 each
1 Sheet of Drywall, (you may need more than one sheet depending on what you are patching) - $10.50
1 lb. Box of 1.5" Drywall Screws - $6.50
1 12 lb. bucket of Joint Compound - $6.75
1 10" Drywall Knife - $9
3 Small Packages of Fiberglass Insulation - $5 each 

And here's what we had on hand already, that you may need to purchase:

Measuring Tape 
Box Cutter
3" Drywall Knife
Work Gloves
Respirator Masks
Eye Protection

Total amount of money on the items we purchased was $69.75 but if you need to purchase the items on the other list, the total amount of money you should expect to spend is about $120, not including the purchase of a drill.  For this project, the drill was not necessary, but definitely preferred, but if you really wanted to try, you might be able to use a traditional screwdriver.  

So, now onto the project.  We ended up cutting more of the drywall out, since there was some small damage to the other areas, and it would end up looking nicer if we took more of it out.  So, using the measuring tape and the level, I marked on the walls where we would cut out, and then working on opposite sides of the window Dylan and I got to work with removing more of the drywall.  It was easiest to use a box cutter to score the drywall and the years of paint layers first, and then use the drywall saw to cut up and then over.  The nice thing about drywall is that once you score the line you want cut, if you start applying pressure to it by bending it slightly, it will break right along the line that you made with the box cutter.  

Since we were removing the drywall all the way down to the radiator and all the way up to the bottom of the window moulding, it was important to use a box cutter to score the caulked seal between all of these items. If you are working with an area near moulding, chances are you will need to partially remove some of it, as those pieces are typically secured to the wall with nails.  If you just score the areas with your box cutter, they should pry off with just a little force using the back side of a hammer, or a flathead screwdriver.

It took us about 40 minutes to remove all of the drywall, and while that may seem like a long time, it was actually pretty quick considering we weren't removing the entire wall, and wanted to keep as much of the other drywall in tact.  In other words, we were being really careful.  When you rip out the drywall, chances are that the old drywall screws will just stay in the studs, so if you're putting new drywall up, take the time to remove the old screws so that you have a better fit and you don't accidentally try to screw into one of them when attaching your new wall.  

After your space is clear, take some careful measurements for the spots that you want to install your new insulation and drywall.  We divided our space into three sections - one on each side of the window, and then a long piece underneath the window.  Once we had our measurements, I penciled them onto the drywall sheet we purchased, and using just a box cutter, we scored the front side of the drywall, the bent it in half to make the break.  This won't break the piece off completely, as the reverse side will still be attached the the paper backing, so once you have your drywall broken, use the box cutter again to cut through the paper.  

For the insulation, the new stuff we bought was not wrapped in paper, so we only needed to use our hands to rip the fiberglass into pieces that would fit well between the studs of our walls.  Also, I absolutely have to recommend wearing gloves, a respiratory mask, and eye protection for this part of the job. Fiberglass insulation is no fun when it's microscopic pieces are stuck in your hands, and inhaling the little particles aren't good either.  I ended up with a migraine for a day and a half afterwards from inhaling so many of the fiberglass particles and joint compound dust.  

Here's a little tip for before you start installing the new drywall.  Since the walls will be mudded (construction term for smothered with joint compound), use a marker to mark on the walls where the studs are.  You will want your drywall screws to go through your drywall and secure into the studs, so making sure you know where they are after you have the drywall in place, is important.  You can actually see the marks that I made in red Sharpie at the top of the picture below.  I also ended up making marks on the radiator, since I knew I would be painting it white anyways.  This was very helpful in making sure I was putting the screws in a straight line.

Always make sure to dry-fit your drywall first to make sure that you have the tightest fit possible in the space.  Once you have the piece cut to the size you need, use your drill and the drywall screws to secure the piece in place.  Make sure that you countersink the screws too, that way when you mud, the screw heads will not show through and you will end up with a smooth surface.

If you are working on a wall that has an electric outlet, light switch, or an air vent, you will need to do some additional measuring to make the cutout for the item.  Almost all of these items will be attached to a stud, which actually works in your favor.  Since you have already marked your space as to where the studs are, you will only need to do some minimal measuring to mark the location of the hole.  For us, we were working with an electrical outlet, which I measured was 9.5" below the bottom of the window frame, and the electrical outlet itself was 2.5" wide by 4.5" high.  Using these numbers, we dry-fit the new piece of drywall, and marked where the stud was located, and then drew a box where we had measured the outlet to be.  We punched a hole in the drywall and cut out a rectangle using the drywall saw, and realized it was a perfect fit after placing the board back up on the wall.  

Repeat this for the rest of your space, making sure to dry-fit the drywall pieces first and then screw them into place.  Before you call this part of the project done, go back and apply pressure to the boards to make sure that it's not flexible at all and that the boards are really in place. If you find that the wall gives at all, make sure to add a few extra drywall screws to secure it in place.  

Your last set of steps will be to mud the new boards, or in non-construction terms, add all the joint compound to the cracks.  This will be done in at least three phases, so don't worry about getting everything perfect on the first application.  Your first step is to add the joint compound to the seams of the drywall.  Using your small drywall knife, stir up your joint compound until it is creamy and soft.  Grabbing a decent glob, press the joint compound into the cracks of the board seams, adding more until the surfaces are flush together.  You will need to do this to all of the cracks.  Using your larger drywall knife, go over the top at a 45 degree angle to the seams and smooth out the joint compound.  You don't need this to be perfect, as it's just to remove the excess compound so that you don't have to sand an inch of plaster off the walls before your next application.  

Once the joint compound has set for a few hours and is completely dry, put on your eye protection and your respiratory mask and use some medium-grit sandpaper and sand over the entire area until it is smooth and relatively flat. Be careful not to over-sand on the drywall that hasn't had joint compound applied, as you'll likely take the paper coating off of the board.  If you're looking to make sure that you don't have any protruding areas, use a clean drywall knife or your level, and run it gently over the surface so you can see what areas need additional sanding.  Vacuum up the area to get rid of all the plaster dust, and don't forget to vacuum the wall as well to get rid of the dust that hasn't fallen onto you or the floor. 

Repeat this process, only this time, apply a thin layer of joint compound to all the parts of the new board.   This process is called skim-coating.  You will want to try to get the most level layer on the wall, which by using your larger drywall knife, will help you maintain an even layer.  Sand again after the area has dried, vacuum, and repeat at least one more time.  Once you have at least three layers of joint compound on the wall, use your judgement to determine the coverage and whether or not you have the best finish on the wall.  If you think that you need to add more joint compound, don't be afraid to do so.

Once your joint compound has dried and you are comfortable with the coverage and the look of the wall, add at least one coat of primer to the area.  The joint compound is very absorbent, so if you are going for a darker color paint, I would add at least two coats of primer, but for a lighter color, you may be able to get away with just one.

At this point, you are ready to paint, so gather up those supplies and get that color on the wall!

And yes, while this was mostly a post about repairing a large portion of a wall, I guess it's also a reveal of the paint color we chose for this bedroom, which will eventually become the craft room.  The color looks a little off since there is such a huge glare from the windows, but I have to tell you, I am so excited that this wall is finally repaired and that the room is painted.  All in all, this project, minus the painting and waiting time between coats of joint compound, took only 4 hours, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Plus, one of the best things was that we saved hundreds of dollars by doing this project ourselves.! I'm actually surprised and kind of proud that Dylan and I were able to do this on our own without ever having done it before!  We still have a few touch ups to go as far as paint, like the crown moulding, baseboards, and window trim, but I'm calling this room mostly done since I can start putting in furniture and getting all my craft items out of the master bedroom closet!  Also, this wasn't the only room that was painted this weekend!  Yipee!  I love progress!

Have you ever repaired or replaced a significant portion of a wall before?  Was it easier or harder than you thought it would be?


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