The Art of Spackling

I almost titled this post, “How to Fix Your Jacked Up Walls,” because at the moment, that’s how I feel about our living room.  I decided to go a classier route, though.  This technique can be applied to various materials by changing the product you use.  If you’re working with metal, use Bondo.  Bondo is what they use to fix dents in automotive repair.  I discovered it when I drilled holes in our steel front door for a door knocker that didn’t end up fitting.

I drill a lot of holes incorrectly, like the time I tried to hang Whitey, our resident White Marlin:

and somehow drilled straight through the waste water line:

See the hole on the other side of the wall?  That’s because I drilled through both sides of the pipe.  I hit the metal pipe and kept going, thinking it was a stud (a stud that kept wiggling around as I drilled).  We realized it when I brushed my teeth and water began pouring out of the wall in the living room.  Jason had to cut holes in both sides of the wall to fix the pipe with plumbers caulk.  Lesson learned.

This post is dedicated Bailey Hollander (she’s the one with the big ears):

Who gets anxious when she’s left alone, and does things like this:

Ashley: Substitue the Fast N’ Final for wood filler:
Materials:
1. 2″ putty knife
2. 5″ putty knife (for big projects, just the 2″ is sufficient for smaller holes)
3. Dap, Fast N’ Final
4. Water
5. Sanding Block (I use a fine grit-220, if you’re working with wood you will also need a 120-grit sanding block)
6. Face Mask, I like to use a non-rebreather
7.  Goggles
A face-mask is essential when sanding.  These products are chemicals.  You do not want to breathe this stuff in, unless you have plans of becoming the star of one of those personal injury lawyer commercials for Mesothelioma.  In all seriousness, wear your protective gear, it’s very important.  
This is what my wall looked like after we removed the built-ins.  Not so pretty.  I like to use Dap Fast N’ Final.  It’s a light-weight spackle, so it creates MUCH less dust than regular drywall spackle. The container says you don’t have to sand, and that’s true when you’re fixing nail holes from picture frames, but for bigger projects sanding is required.  The key to a smooth finish is applying the spackle and scraping it off until you have a very thin coat on the wall, letting it dry, and repeating in thin layers.  
Get a nice glob of spackle on your putty knife.  Don’t be shy, you can use a lot.  The putty knife gets it smooth.  Apply it to your subject (wall, molding, etc.) and use your putty knife to smooth it out, like you’re buttering a slice of toast.  Go over it several times until it looks smooth, using the straight end of the knife to scrape.  If you have a very big project, such as Ashley’s chewed molding, the sandpaper will be required for smoothing, more-so than the putty knife, so leave some excess.  
See the line in the middle of my spackling?  That’s my largest hole. I spackled and scraped with the end of my knife, and wasn’t able to fill the dent entirely the first time around.  I let it dry for two hours, and then spackled a second time.  

Fast N’ Final is quick drying, small holes can be sanded in 2-4 hours, the more layers you have the longer the dry time will be.

Dipping the putty knife in water can help you smooth, if it drying too quickly and looking coarse.

I use a very light touch when sanding.  If I layered properly and did my smoothing with the putty knife, I’m just feathering the edges of my spackle to blend with the wall.  When working with molding I start with a coarse, 120 grit sanding block, to shape the new “wood” I’ve created.  Once it is pretty close to level with the rest of my trim, I switch to a 220 grit to finish.  Sanding blocks start at 60 grit, which is the roughest, and keep going upwards.  I use 200-220 grit for drywall.

This is my final product:

It will be easier to see the finish once everything is painted, but you can tell by touching it with your hand that everything is smooth and level.  

It doesn’t look like much now, but two coats of paint and we will have less scary looking walls.

Jason is building cabinet doors now, so we are almost done with these built-ins.  We used this tutorial from Our Home From Scratch, I can’t tell you how much help it was!

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