Q: In the process of removing plastic tiling from the basement bathroom walls, my wife pulled quite a bit of the white surface away from the drywall. Prior to sanding, priming, and painting, do I need to patch the damaged surface? If so, can I use joint filler (of which I have an excess), then sand, prime, and paint? — John, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada

A: Steve Thomas replies : If the drywall is sound and in good shape, you can fill the holes, or even skim the whole surface, with drywall compound, then sand, prime, and paint. I'd use latex primer on a bare compound surface with a satin or semi-gloss latex top coat.

If you plan to re-tile the bathroom, however, I would pull the drywall off altogether, apply a cementitious backer board, or one of the new lightweight tile backer boards, and then apply your tile on top of that.
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