Saturday, September 16, 2017

July-August, 2017: It's all in the wrist.
That's what contractor, Ryan Regan-Ladd told Joie when she asked him to show her how to "mud". Those of you who knew Joie as a child might remember just how fond she was of playing in mud, so her interest might not sound new.

But this particular kind of mud, formally called joint compound, was part of her newer interest in learning how to do drywall...and that interest was triggered by the fact that we had just gutted a large portion of the downstairs apartment.

Typical wall of holes
First things first, however. Joie's training began with patching holes. There were holes of different sizes and shapes in every room--some were caused by the removal of intercom speakers, telephones, outlets, fire alarms and in-wall vacuum connections (the original owners were quite high-tech for the early 1960s). Others were caused by sledge hammers and crow bars that didn't quite hit their target. Marilyn's solution for the past three years was to cover them all with pictures, calendars and mirrors, but she wholeheartedly endorsed Joie's intention to "do it right".

The methodology is quite logical but Ryan had to explain it step by step to the newbie: 1) cut a piece of drywall larger than the hole & big enough to reach at least one stud; 2) trace the outline of the piece over the hole and cut along the lines;
 3) as needed, secure 1 or 2 pieces of 2x4 pine into the frame for the new drywall piece to be screwed into; 4) tape all seams and smooth mud over tape then over entire patch 3 times, letting it dry completely between each layer (this is where the special wrist action comes in); and lastly-- gently sand and wipe surface of patch to remove any dust then prime and paint... which was the only part Marilyn felt confident doing.

 After a thorough inspection by Mentor Ryan, Joie was allowed to graduate to whole walls, which started with replacing some rotten studs, blocks and bottom plate, and continued on to cutting and fitting rigid foam board and/or insulation between the studs.

A screw gun is the professional way to quickly secure large sheets of drywall to the studs (try not to think too deeply about the combination of Joie and a gun of any sort). And finally, the mudding process proceeds the same way as with patches.

Sorcerer and his apprentice

The advanced drywall lesson came in connection with turning a grungy under-stairs crawl space into a usable closet that would bring a tear to Harry Potter's eye...but that story deserves a whole post of its own.

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