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I was attempting to repair a handful of hairline cracks in my drywall over the weekend, and got a bit overzealous with regard to the amount of joint compound I added. This meant I could not sand it down enough to be level with my wall. I'd like to give this another try, however I painted a [thin] layer over one area. Will I be able to use the warm/hot water + drywall sponge technique to remove the mud? Should I do something before that (i.e., sand) to make the hot/warm water + sponge technique more effective?

Any tips appreciated.

Thank you.

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    "I could not sand it down enough to be level with my wall." Why not? – Fizz Sep 6 '17 at 3:52
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The only way you'll get at the joint compound is to remove the paint. Products exist to dissolve even dried latex paint, or you can sand or scrape it off. Once that's done, a simple damp cloth will allow you to rub away the joint compound.

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    Can't say what the US standard for joint compound is, but if using Knauf Fugenfüller (common in Europe) it will definitely not rub down just with a damp cloth about 2 hours after applying it. – Fizz Sep 6 '17 at 3:56
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    Yes, my answer doesn't apply to setting-type (masonry-based) compounds. They're not common in general use here. – isherwood Sep 6 '17 at 13:23
  • Sanding did the trick, both for areas with and without paint. FWIW, I varied the sandpaper grit a bit - basically used something w/more grit at the beginning to expedite the process. Ended up using an electric sander. I had better success with this than the silicon carbide mesh option. Thank you all. – Sanjay Uttam Sep 12 '17 at 17:51
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I honestly don't see the point of using paint dissolver here. Most act by vapors that will cause pitting or at least paint softening in nearby areas, so it's somewhat difficult to control exactly where the paint goes away (now or later). If you want to remove the stuff under the paint just sand away the paint and the stuff under. You haven't told us why you "could not sand it down enough to be level with my wall"; the usual hand tool for sanding paint and/or joint compound and/or other types of skim coat is a silicon carbide mesh on a sander. Make sure your sander is flat; the really cheap ones aren't.

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And a SiC mesh will easily remove paint (from wall) as well in my experience.

Also, if you couldn't level your joint compound, it probably means you've used one that hardens too fast. So [for future reference] get the 2-hour or 90-minutes variety; also use clean tools and recipients, and get a knife or trowel that is large enough for the area you work on. For your current project, it's probably unnecessary to reapply joint compound unless you end[ed] up with dips. Simply sanding flat what you have and repainting over it should be enough.

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