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My apartment has plaster walls with some minor cracks, all of which I've repaired with fiberglass mesh + plaster. I've sanded all repairs, washed/degreased the walls, and primed with Zinsser 123.

Now I'm ready to skim coat; the top coat will be EasySand 90, but I'm not sure what to use for the base skim coat; my options so far:

  1. Joint Compound, premixed (Greed Lid)
  2. Durabond
  3. Durabond OR JC (premixed) + Plaster of Paris (3/1 ratio)

Option 1 is probably the easiest, but premix tends to shrink more than powder. Option 2 avoids that problem, but Durabond is not ideal for skim coat, at least not according to the manufacturer. I like option 3, but plaster cures so fast, unless I work quickly with small batches it will be a mess. I tested 1 TSP of baking soda with 1 CUP of plaster, managed to double curing time, I'm just not sure if using baking soda for a plaster skim coat will stand the test of time.

Any suggestions?

  • I use topping mud for skim coats it is the easiest to sand. I don't like the faster set mud's because even if they say easy sand it is usually tougher than plain topping compound or mud. – Ed Beal Jan 12 '17 at 14:20
  • I use Durabond over my green coat, then Easy 90 or premixed over that - the Durabond by itself is impossible to feather. – tahwos Jan 12 '17 at 23:15
  • @tahwos So you're using Green Lid, Durabond, then Easysand? I found Easysand very difficult to feather as well, can I mix it with something to fix that? – raffian Jan 13 '17 at 13:53
  • @raffian No... "green coat" as in my first coat of plaster... it technically means first coat, that has set, but not dried, but it is often just used to refer to the first coat of plaster. – tahwos Jan 15 '17 at 14:19
  • @raffian All of the unmixed (dry) compounds have a "working time" - the only way to make it easier to feather, is to mix it wetter to begin with, then wait for that "sweet spot" as it dries/sets in the pan (while continually mixing), then put it on, before it gets harder to work with. – tahwos Jan 15 '17 at 14:25
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I've been a drywall pro for 30+ years and I currently run my own drywall repair business. Since I mostly do very small jobs and repairs I have found ONE product that I use for everything that calls for non fast setting drywall mud, and that is a product called Plus 3, by USG. You might not find that exact product in your area, but try looking for a lightweight all purpose. The reason I use this is it has low shrinkage, works well for taping, coating, and texturing. I spray it for orange peels, etc, and hand apply textures like skip trowel, and it does it all well. I dislike green lid all purpose for anything except taping as it's harder to sand and shrinks more.

I do us a LOT of durabond type products, although I use the USG Easy Sand 5,20 or 45 minute hot mud. Note that durabond is a brand name used by many like kleenex is used for tissue paper. Here, we often use the term hot mud instead. But I would ONLY recommend it if you are very skilled since it is VERY hard to sand, despite the name of easy sand. Although in thin layers it sand ok. But if you apply too much it's pretty difficult to sand off, whereas the Plus 3 is incredibly easy to sand. And the hot mud costs much more, is difficult to mix up requires constant cleaning of tools every 20-90 minutes, and can give you fits with lumps, etc. Box mud mixes easily, goes on smooth, and sands easy.

The reason to use hot mud is the faster it sets up the less it shrinks, and the quicker you can apply the next coat. But I almost always finish the final coat with plus 3 for ease of sanding.

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