For passionate, next-level DIY enthusiasts and veteran renovators, skim coating is the hardcore way of restoring and bringing old walls and ceilings back to life.

What is Skim Coating?

When it comes to renovating the surfaces of your home into something that brings interest, looks more polished, and well taken care of, the go-to means that most people opt for are pasting wallpapers and painting. Skim coating, albeit more cost-effective and generates more refined results, is often neglected because of the stereotype which depicts it as too labor intensive or time consuming. Although skim coating confirms these, it is really an effective technique that can turn warped, dented, cracked or frail walls into even, crisp-cornered surfaces.

Skim coating is a texturing technique where a thin layer of material such as a diluted joint compound or cement is applied over a wall or ceiling to even out its surface. Whether repairing a crack, filling a joint, concealing an imperfect taping job, or leveling an area with an existing flat surface, skim coating provides a plaster-like appearance and a level 5 drywall finish, even without professional experience or plastering skills.

Finish Levels
The rule of thumb in skim coating is that in order to achieve a smooth and consistent surface, at least two skim coats are required. Below is the breakdown of finishing levels that are procured and codified by professional standards, which should be noted whenever applying skim coating.
  • Level 0 Here, no finishing of any type has been applied and the drywall is simply fastened to the walls or ceiling.
  • Level 1 In this level, the drywall joint tape is only embedded in joint compound and nothing more.
  • Level 2 in this level, a thin coat of joint compound is skimmed over the tape and screw holes have been concealed.
  • Level 3 A heavy coat of texture is required in order to hide the taped seams and screws and a rough texture is still evident in this level.
  • Level 4 The walls in this level are flat and will appear flat when properly painted over.
  • Level 5 This is the highest possible level of drywall finishing, which involves applying a skim coat or a joint compound if applicable. A wall in this level can withstand close scrutiny and appear flat regardless the kind and source of lighting, with no visible evidence of seams or fasteners.
When to Skim Coat
Skim coating is a laborious process of fixing your surfaces that require extensive work periods. Although it may not be necessary in every finishing procedure, there are circumstances when applying a skim coat can be helpful and efficient, such as the cases below.
  • Damage caused by removed wallpaper. A skim coat is necessary to smooth out some gouges or abrasions produced after removing wallpaper on the drywall.
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  • Wall repairs. Skim coating helps in giving a consistent surface to re-texture or before priming and painting even on drywall or ceiling repairs.
  • Refurbishing old surfaces. You can renew your lackluster walls or shabby ceilings that went through wear and tear by applying skim coat.
  • Preparing and priming new installs. Give uniform surface to prime and paint your drywall, even if newly installed, with a thin application of skim coat. This helps not only in providing a consistent surface but also in preventing the appearance of visible tape joints, especially when painted over with semi-gloss or glossy paint.
Materials and Equipment Needed for Skim Coating

To execute you skim coat project, youll need the following tools and materials.
  • All-Purpose Joint Compound or Skim Coat. You cant do the project without this, of course.
  • Taping Knife. This is used to apply the skim coat.
  • Mud Pan. This will hold the skim coat or joint compound.
  • Smaller putty knives. For detailing when applying skim coat.
  • Ladder or scaffolding. This is for reach high places especially when applying skim coat to a high wall or ceiling.
  • Skimmer plate. This will hold the prepared compound.
  • Compound applicator (of your choice). This can range from materials like a paint roller or a trowel-like applicator.
How to Skim Coat?
There are two ways that you can employ to apply a skim coat that will produce a smooth finish:
  • Using a roller: This is a technique wherein the thinned joint compound is rolled onto the wall usinga thick-nap roller.
  • Using a taping knife: Here, dabs of skim coat are applied and immediately spread and smoothed across the surface. Afterwards, excess mud (joint compound or skim coat) is scraped off.
Considering the procedures required for the application of skim-coat a cement wall or drywall, it is straight forward and easy to follow. Just be sure that the surface is prepped and everything that needs to be protected is already covered by plastic or drop cloth.
  1. Prepare the skim coat mixture. There are two types of skim coat that you can use:
    • Pre-mixed. A pre-mixed joint compound is ready to use and gradually dries out after applicaiton. To extend pot life for longer working period, add more water to the mixture and incorporate it well.
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    • Quick set. This has the same dusty base as pre-mixed joint compound but it needs to be mixed with water before use. Mix it until it reaches the consistency of thick wallpaper paste.
    Remember that heat shortens working time of the skim coat mixture and cold lengthens it. Likewise, mix the compound in small batches to prevent it from drying out in the bucket before it can be applied.
  2. Apply the skim coat. Scoop some of the skim coat compound onto the mud pan and use a taping knife to paste it on the wall. Spread it in a smooth motion down the wall, filling the holes in the texture and creating a smooth surface.
  3. Work in small areas. Continue applying the skim coat in about 2-foot areas by application and spread. Pulling the compound down and in back and forth in smooth motions until it sets little by little bit. If the compound has bubbles, you dont have to worry because theyll be easily smoothed out as you go.
  4. Allow the first layer of coat to set. Let the surface dry out for several hours or overnight before applying the next coat. Once completely dried, examine it for major rough areas and dripped skim coat. Sand the rough patches to smooth it out.
  5. Apply the finishing layer of skim coat. Repeat the process and apply the skim coat perpendicularly from the first coat. Allow it to dry, then check for imperfections, sand rough patches, and coat as necessary.
Advantages of Skim-Coating
  • Skim coating allows you to revamp your walls and ceilings without breaking the bank. A bag of skim coat, which can cover a lot of surface area, is usually cheaper than big cans of paint and is therefore more available.
  • Skim coating can provide you the benefits of having a smooth, white (or any color) wall without having to finish it with cement that paint it afterwards with primer. It is 2-in-1 without having to pay for the two.
  • Skim coating can help you increase creativity while productively saving money because doing it does not require too much skill and experience you can DIY it.
Skim Coat Brands in the Philippines
  1. Bostik UltraFino Skimcoat. Bostik UltraFino Skimcoat, which is a cement-based powder for thin plastering applications, can be used for exterior and interior plastered concrete applications such as surfaces of walls, ceilings, beams and columns. When mixed with water, its consistency makes it easy to correct surface imperfections prior to painting.

    Features of this brand include: excellent workability, good adhesion to concrete surfaces, no cracking or flaking, minimal powdering of surface when sanded, and requires no primer for white finish.

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    Coverage: 1 1.2 kg per sq. m area, per mm thickness.
    Shelf life: 12 months from manufacturing date
    Packaging: 20 kg Bag
    Price range: PHP 500 PHP 550

  2. BOYSEN Skimcoat #7750. BOYSEN Skimcoat #7750, which is a bonding paste that is mixed with cement instead of water and applied on concrete, is used to correct surface imperfections prior to painting. It repairs concrete defects while for plastered concrete, concrete slabs, pre-cast concrete surfaces. However, it should not be applied on painted surfaces and requires curing 14 days before painting.
    Coverage: 0.4 kg per sq. m. per mm, recommended total thickness is from 0.3 - 4 mm.
    Packaging: 25 kg per pail
    Price range: PHP 1500 PHP 1700

  3. Eurotiles Skim Coat Superfine. This Skim Coat Superfine is a thin plastering mortar that covers pinholes and other finishing imperfections on surfaces of concrete walls, columns, beams and ceiling. As explained from its features, this is easy to apply, has excellent workability, is non-cracking and produces a superb smooth surface finish.
    Coverage: 17-18 sq.m.
    Packaging: 20 kg Bag
    Shelf Life:12 months from manufacturing date
    Price range: PHP 550 PHP 600

  4. Pr1mero Pro Premium Skimcoat Superfine White. This is a rapid-setting polymer modified coating that is used to coat imperfections, eliminate hairline cracks, and plaster the uneven surface of walls, columns, beams and ceilings. Also, it can be used for both new and old unpainted concrete. Its features and benefits include long pot life, easy application, accessibility for sanding, and generates an excellent coverage.
    Coverage: 1 kg per sq. m. per mm
    Packaging: 20 kg Bag
    Shelf life: 12 months from manufacturing date
    Price range: PHP 500 PHP 550

  5. Davies Mondo Skimcoat Powder & Davies Coat Saver Coat Saver SOLO Powder CS-K1 Skimcoat. Davies offers two skim coat products that are formulated as a free-flowing white powder that should be mixed with water to form a paste, which will be used to fill up cracks and achieve a smooth and even concrete surface.

    Mondo Skimcoat Powder SK-1 features properties that smooths out masonry surfaces, is resistant to hairline cracks with superior strength and durability, is alkali-resistant, provides outstanding adhesion to water-based paint systems, and allows faster curing compared to traditional plastered walls.

    Meanwhile, the Coat Saver Powder CS-K1 Skimcoat, Economy is another option that is easy to apply with longer open time for good workability and coverage, capable of great adhesion even with todays modern latex paints, resistant to hairline cracks, has extended pot life for easier workability, provides superior strength and durability, and is also alkali resistant.
    Coverage: 1 1.2 kg per Sq. m. area, per mm thickness.
    Shelf life: 12 months from manufacturing date
    Packaging: 20 kg Bags
    Price range: PHP 500 PHP 550

  6. ZEMCOAT Super Fine. This is a skim coat for ultra-thin plastering application that perfectly smooths concrete and plastered masonry surfaces such as walls, columns, beams, and ceilings. This skim coat acts as concrete neutralizer, patching compound, and paint basecoat in one. Likewise, its advantages include high initial adhesiveness, non-sag properties, long setting time for superior finish, longer pot life, non-cracking abilities, and easy application. However, it requires 3-5 days curing time.
    Coverage: 1 kg per sq. m. per mm
    Packaging: 20 kg Bag
    Shelf life: 12 months from manufacturing date
    Price range: PHP 500 PHP 550

  7. Island Super Kinis Skim Coat. This product provides a smooth finish to interior and exterior concrete surfaces and has excellent bonding strength, good filling properties, and good hydrophobicity.
    Coverage: 12.5 sq. m at 2mm thickness; 5 sq. m. at 5mm thickness
    Packaging: 20 kg Bag
    Shelf Life: up to one year from date of manufacture
    Price range: PHP 410 PHP 500

Skim coating is definitely one of the most accessible and cost-effective options that can help in reviving and sparking up the life of lackluster and worn out walls and ceilings, without having to consult the service of professionals. It can be a productive DIY project that can easily be executed with the wide assortment of tools and materials that you can use, especially in making over your room or even your house.

Whether youre a DIY person or a dedicated renovator, skim coating can be a convenient method that only takes for you to overcome your lethargic disposition and challenge yourself to endure extensive amounts or working time. But all your hard word will absolutely be paid off when youre finished.