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I have 2 repairs to make.

One is about a 3/8" gap next to window trim that I recently replaced when I built new plantation shutters for the window. ( As a side note there are 5 windows and there will be the same repair necessary on all 5 ). The gap extends the length of the window - approx 60".

The other is on a ceiling in a den we recently scraped the popcorn texture from. Beneath it was a patch someone made previously that is not flush with the rest of the ceiling. Would I be better off cutting this out and re-patching with new drywall or just filling in the uneven surface? The difference in height at the maximum is about the thickness of a yardstick ~1/8" - 3/16" or so.

Trim drywall photo 1 Trim drywall photo 2 Trim drywall photo 3 Ceiling repair 1 Ceiling repair 2

Regards

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    Typically the widow trim is wide enough to cover the gap by going over the drywall. If you do not want to mess with joint compound at the windows your could use some trim such as quarter round or even a narrow flat piece, any profile you like.
    – Alaska Man
    Apr 7 '20 at 18:38
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Remove Highs, Fill Lows

Knock down the high points with a putty knife or other similar tool so that nothing is higher than the final surface that you are after. Fill in the lows with two layers of different types of dry wall mud as noted below.

Fill in most of the holes or voids with setting-type drywall joint compound commonly called 'hot mud' which is a chemically setting dry wall mud. The hot mud has a working time frame that is noted on the product bag. I suggest using 90 minute to give plenty of working time and there is not a lot of advantage in this case for using a shorter time. Be sure to use it within the set-time, there is no way to extend the time by adding more water.

We use this mud instead of regular type because it does not lose volume when drying and therefore will not crack or need additional layers for the deeper voids. A downside, which is also an upside in many cases, is that it is creates a much harder surface that will be hard to change later.

Use a putty knife to just below your desired surface level. Be careful not to allow high spots as it is difficult to sand down and not easy to remove.

Then apply a thin layer of finish type dry wall mud for a nice finished surface that can be lightly sanded if needed

Finally, apply a thin bean of painters caulk in the corner where the drywall meets the window frame, this will hide the wall/window interface where a crack might appear.

enter image description here

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    Since the mud you call "hot mud" is not labeled as hot mud, perhaps you could state the names to look for at the store. I.E. 20 minute joint compound, 40 minute joint compound, 90 minute joint compound or some brands are labeled as Fast set joint compound. If time is not a factor and one can let the mud dry over night then a non "hot mud" might be preferable as it is easier to sand and smooth.
    – Alaska Man
    Apr 7 '20 at 18:34
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    Very good point. I've edited my answer to include this information and a picture of the bags. I called for using hot mud not because of the time but because it doesn't shrink (no additional layers, no cracking in deep voids) and usually one can get away with not taping and the additional related effort and skills needed to do so
    – Ack
    Apr 7 '20 at 18:43
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    I've also seen "Fast setting" or "speed set". Some of it says it's "easy sand", but that's compared to other fast setting muds, not regular mud. This stuff is all harder to sand than standard mud.
    – JPhi1618
    Apr 7 '20 at 19:08
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    I usually discourage new DIY’s From using hot mud because for some they can’t get it mixed and apply a tray in 30 minutes and they keep trying to put it on as the mud is set then the nightmare of sanding. And cleaning a tray/ knife. I find for diy learning it is better to recommend multiple layers of standard joint compound so it doesn’t crack as it drys and shrinks, easier to apply and allows the mud to be worked for a longer time.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 7 '20 at 19:11
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    The reason standard mud cracks is because it’s put on two thick in 1 coat , if it’s not sticking the surface is usually dusty in this case I might put on a coat of 90 minute but make sure to not fully fill and then come back top with joint compound by the time I finish the 5 windows there is 2 coats and the top coat is so much easier to sand. But someone that haven’t taped and textured entire tracks of homes they may take an hour on 1 window.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 7 '20 at 19:26
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You can use basic joint compound for the inside areas of your walls. You will want to put paper or mesh tape around that cutout. And you will want to put an ample amount of compound and feather it out. It is a lot of work to get a circular cutout to not show in a few months.

By the window this is cannot be repaired with joint compound long-term. You may be able to get it to look nice with a lot of work but your window moves with weather and this small area will crack/chip/look-bad within a year or two and possibly in a few months. The only thing you can really do is put trim around the window to cover the gap.

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