Basement Reno - Our stairwell was/is painted with lead paint. It needed to be evened out and our contractor covered the stairwell areas that had the lead paint with drywall mud to "encapsulate" it while smoothing it out. Now months later we are priming and spots of the drywall mud is pulling up when I roller it.

Any ideas or help would be much appreciated! I'm not sure how to remedy. They used USG Sheetrock Plus 3 Joint Compound and we are using Kilz 2 All Purpose Interior/Exterior Primer It's been 5+ months since they finished, and wiped all of the walls down before starting.

  • Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
    – Community Bot
    Oct 2, 2023 at 22:36
  • I'm wincing. There probably should have been better prep on top of the lead paint before skim coating, including a primer for joint compound adherence. At this point you might want to encourage any bad spots to slough off so that you can clean and prime those spots, but my instinct would be spray the primer instead of rolling in hopes of it stabilizing at least some of the bad spots. And I definitely wouldn't send a Christmas card to the contractor. If you got it saturated wet and power washed it, then maybe you could get back to square 1?
    – popham
    Oct 2, 2023 at 22:40

1 Answer 1


I'm going to speculate that the wall was not cleaned before applying dry wall mud/ joint compound.

You can't get adhesion on dirty, oily, or loose surfaces. Any place where the joint compound came free, remove loose areas, clean it with a degreaser spray (I like TSP), wipe it clean, and replace the joint compound. After it fully dries, sand it smooth and flush, wipe it down with a tack cloth/damp micro-fiber cloth, and then apply your primer.

  • 1
    sand it smooth and flush, Unfortunately, this is where OP gets back to the lead paint problem - sanding a lead paint wall is going to release some lead into the environment. Not deadly, but more precautions needed than normal because it isn't just "dust" but "lead dust". Oct 2, 2023 at 21:54
  • @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact If they overfill just a touch, they can sand down to flush without a significant worry. Oct 2, 2023 at 22:13

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