Ken Collier: Hi, my name is Ken Collier and I'm an Editor at The Family Handyman Magazine, the leading brand for Do-it-Yourselfers. Today I am going to talk about the tools and materials for getting your walls smooth.
Now there is a lot of stuff here and you don't need all of this by any means. A lot depends on how big your wall repair is, for a small repair you are going to need spackling compound. To apply it you need a putty knife small is fine, should be flexible though. For larger repairs you are going to need the basic material of the drywall business called mud or joint compound. Now for most homeowners it's best to buy mud in a small container because it does go bad just sitting open, but if you've got a lot of wall repairs to do there is larger pales and even 5 gallon buckets full of it. This is standard lightweight, joint compound. Now to apply that you've got a couple of tools, one of them is a 6 inch taping knife and it's important that this knife be flexible, this will get your joint compound on easily. There are stiffer ones that are made for other purposes but you want 6 inch flexible life. For larger repairs you'll need another basic tool of the drywall business, a broad knife. 12 inches is the standard width. Another type of mud that you should be familiar with is called Setting Type Compound. It comes as a powder in neither big bags like this or more conveniently in small homeowner sized containers like this. Setting Type Compound is a powder that you mix with water to form a mud that looks very similar to regular premixed mud; the difference is in how they set. Setting Type Compound is more like concrete; you mix it, it hardens. Regular mud is more like paint; you apply it and then the water in it gradually evaporates and it gets dry.
Now that Setting Type Compound comes in a couple of different flavors, this one is 90 which means that it sets up in about 90 minutes and this one, you can see, is a five-minute variety so it sets up in five minutes. Now, you're going to need something to put your mud into. I like to use a tray, there are inexpensive plastic ones with a metal edge or if you want to go slightly higher upscale all stainless steel pans are great. Often, when you're making a repair you need to embed some kind of tape in the mud, this gives it quite a bit more strength. The normal tape, that's used all throughout your house on the drywall, underneath the paint, is paper tape; this is what drywallers use when they're building the house. But you'll find, a more convenient form is this adhesive fiberglass mesh tape, it looks like that. It's not quite as strong as the paper tape but for amateurs it's definitely the way to go, it's much easier to use. Finally, a simple Sanding Block, piece of wood with regular sandpaper on it, same kind you'd use for wood, in maybe a 100 or 120 grit; simple but effective. Another is a Sanding Block that's specially made for drywall, it has little clamps on either end, you can put sandpaper strips in their or special mesh sanding screens that go little faster. You can have these on the end of a regular painter's extension pole, if you're working high up on the walls or patching ceilings this'll definitely save your back.
Finally, there's a kind of an interesting way you can sand drywall and that's using is sponge. If you get the sponge damp you can rub it on the dried mud and it'll do a great job of smoothing off the mud without leaving a lot of powder all over your floor. So that about covers it, these are all of the tools and materials you're likely to need to get your walls smooth.