Plaster Look for Less
PRO: Jason Fell, former technical director, Northern California Drywall Contractors Assn.
SECRET: Skim-coat smooth drywall to give it the depth and appearance of plaster without the expense and labor of the real deal. For painted walls, Fell first preps the surface with a primer/sealer, such as Bulls Eye 1-2-3, then rolls on a coat of thinned all-purpose joint compound, just as he would if he were painting. To get the right consistency for the compound, stir in water until the slurry is the thickness of soupy pancake batter. While the rolled compound is still wet, Fell uses a wide taping knife to smooth and remove all but a thin layer on the wall. By the next morning, the walls will be ready for a light sanding, primer, and paint. And there won't be a trace of that porous papery look on the surface anymore.