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I've learned that it takes 3 coats... 6" 8" and 12" skims the rest of bare drywall. You end up skimming all bare drywall. If you paint any bare drywall don't it swell up and need sanding, mud and paint again? Isn't it: 6" knife for tape, 8" knife goes out from there, then 12" skims the rest of bare drywall? With sanding in between.

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You do not need to have joint compound or skim coating spread over the whole wall before painting. The correct way is to use the compound and skim coating plus any needed sanding to cover seams, nails/screws and other types of repairs. Then you prep the whole wall using an appropriate sealer coat or primer paint. Lastly you come with your final paint coats.

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    Unless you are going for a level 5 finish (perfectly smooth, usually reserved for walls exposed to harsh lighting conditions), then skim coating the whole wall is a typical way to achieve this. Though, I have seen other primer products in the past that advertise level 5 finish without skim coating, I have never tried one. I went the skim coat route for all the walls in my basement because “if you're going to do it yourself, do it perfect”, right? I was wrong — the extra labor of coating/sanding so many walls simply wasn't worth a minor improvement in the end result. Jun 15, 2019 at 14:13
  • @statueuphemism Yes - there are high build primers now than can provide a level 5, Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec Prep Coat is awesome! There are other products out there as well and you'll still need to sand but the primer fills in the imperfections.
    – matt.
    Jan 5 at 14:06

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