Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

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DanM
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Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by DanM » Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:54 am

I've got a big wall + bulkhead in my kitchen that's going to be getting a lot of light and I want to give it a level 5 finish. I've got plenty of drywall experience but I've never done level 5 before. I'm just wondering what consistency my mud should be before I roll it onto the wall.

Same as taping mud? A bit soupier than taping mud? A lot soupier than taping mud?


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A. Spruce
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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by A. Spruce » Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:50 am

I would say that the mud should be whatever consistency you find the easiest to work with. The "level" of finish has to do with quality of work, NOT the materials themselves, a level 5 finish simply means that every effort is made to achieve a perfectly smooth surface, or at least a surface that doesn't show defects, fasteners, or joints.

I always thin down my mud slightly, just enough that it still holds a good bead on the edge of the knife, yet applies smoothly and evenly. If I had to guess, 1 to 2 cups of water in a full bucket of mud. I also whip it to cream the mud to a very smooth consistency, eliminating clumps and balls that form while the product sits on the shelf. Keep in mind that the more water you add, the more the material will shrink when it dries, which will require more coats to fill imperfections.

The #1 tip that I can give you is to ALWAYS keep your tools clean as you work, and to keep the sides of the bucket clean not only while you work, also when the mud is stored, this prevents the mud from drying and flaking into the material, rendering the material impossible to finish with.
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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by DanM » Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:09 pm

The 'level' is a technical term, though maybe it's different in some places. Level 4 is your standard finish for residential. Taped + 3 coats of mud, then sanded smooth. Level 5 is doing all that then using a paint roller (or a sprayer of some kind) to coat the entire surface of the drywall paper with a thin layer of mud so the porosity of the entire wall is the same. It's useful for areas with a lot of light (natural and man-made), or for places like bathrooms where you're using glossy paint. It's mostly used in commercial projects where there's a lot of directional lighting and they want the finish to be absolutely perfect. It makes the whole wall absorb paint the same way so it all 'shines' the exact same way. I'm just not sure how much to thin the mud out to do it since I've never done it before and I'm hoping maybe there's someone kicking around who has. If your mud is too thick you're gonna have a lot of sanding afterwards, too thin and it won't even out the porosity of the wall properly.

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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by Clarence » Sat Dec 02, 2017 1:11 pm

You need to check on a product called Master of Plaster. You can get a level 5 with this product and it will not require any sanding and will trowel better than drywall mud.

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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by Shannon » Sat Dec 02, 2017 4:33 pm

Clarence wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 1:11 pm
You need to check on a product called Master of Plaster. You can get a level 5 with this product and it will not require any sanding and will trowel better than drywall mud.
Hmm No sanding at all? That seems to good to be true.
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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by Shannon » Sat Dec 02, 2017 4:34 pm

DanM wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:54 am
I've got a big wall + bulkhead in my kitchen that's going to be getting a lot of light and I want to give it a level 5 finish. I've got plenty of drywall experience but I've never done level 5 before. I'm just wondering what consistency my mud should be before I roll it onto the wall.

Same as taping mud? A bit soupier than taping mud? A lot soupier than taping mud?
I personally have never done a level 5 finish but I would say you want it pretty sloppy like taping. I guess start with it a little drier if you want as you can always add more water.
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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by Clarence » Sat Dec 02, 2017 5:10 pm

Shannon you need to try it.
A plaster system is never sanded yet has a smooth finish.

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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by DanM » Sat Dec 02, 2017 5:41 pm

Clarence wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 1:11 pm
You need to check on a product called Master of Plaster. You can get a level 5 with this product and it will not require any sanding and will trowel better than drywall mud.
I looked into that as you suggested, the price is insane though. $150 US per bucket, and you need at least two buckets (the base and the finish). With shipping and converting to CDN dollars that's like $400-450. It looks cool but not really worth the price of admission.
Shannon wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 4:34 pm
DanM wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:54 am
I've got a big wall + bulkhead in my kitchen that's going to be getting a lot of light and I want to give it a level 5 finish. I've got plenty of drywall experience but I've never done level 5 before. I'm just wondering what consistency my mud should be before I roll it onto the wall.

Same as taping mud? A bit soupier than taping mud? A lot soupier than taping mud?
I personally have never done a level 5 finish but I would say you want it pretty sloppy like taping. I guess start with it a little drier if you want as you can always add more water.
Hopefully I don't mess it up too bad lol, god knows I don't wanna sand a layer of mud off the wall.

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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by A. Spruce » Sat Dec 02, 2017 6:39 pm

The only time I've ever rolled mud on a wall was when trying to match wall texture after a repair. The walls had a smooth finish, but several layers of rolled on paint had given the surface a slight stipple, making a baby's butt smooth repaired spot stand out like a sore thumb.

What I can tell you is that it is very hard to get mud to take into the roller and release, the drywall ends up pulling the moisture out of the roller but not the mud. Maybe there's a special roller used for the job, I've not seen one, I used 3/8 nap paint rollers and also had a "texture" roller, which didn't work well nor match anything either. Another problem with rolling on mud is that because of the aforementioned issue, it is impossible to get an even "texture", which means you're going to get the shading and shadows that you're trying to avoid in the first place.

If your kitchen were mine, I'd simply work the topping process until I'd achieved the baby's butt smooth finish I was looking for, then two coats of primer. Primer is going to seal the drywall surface, giving you that even uptake of the paint that you're looking for. Once the primer is done, do two coats of a good quality paint. When the drywall is properly done it doesn't shade or shadow, when the paint is properly done it doesn't shade or shadow either. Between the two (perfect drywall and perfect paint) you'll have the wall finish you're looking for.

I don't sand drywall until I know I'm close to the finish I'm looking for, then, when I do sand I have a pencil in hand to mark any high/low spots that will need more attention with the mud pan, otherwise everything gets feathered and blended together with the sanding block. You can also hold bright lighting at extreme angles when your in the sanding process to ferret out shadow casting imperfections.
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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by DanM » Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:58 pm

A. Spruce wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 6:39 pm
The only time I've ever rolled mud on a wall was when trying to match wall texture after a repair. The walls had a smooth finish, but several layers of rolled on paint had given the surface a slight stipple, making a baby's butt smooth repaired spot stand out like a sore thumb.

What I can tell you is that it is very hard to get mud to take into the roller and release, the drywall ends up pulling the moisture out of the roller but not the mud. Maybe there's a special roller used for the job, I've not seen one, I used 3/8 nap paint rollers and also had a "texture" roller, which didn't work well nor match anything either. Another problem with rolling on mud is that because of the aforementioned issue, it is impossible to get an even "texture", which means you're going to get the shading and shadows that you're trying to avoid in the first place.

If your kitchen were mine, I'd simply work the topping process until I'd achieved the baby's butt smooth finish I was looking for, then two coats of primer. Primer is going to seal the drywall surface, giving you that even uptake of the paint that you're looking for. Once the primer is done, do two coats of a good quality paint. When the drywall is properly done it doesn't shade or shadow, when the paint is properly done it doesn't shade or shadow either. Between the two (perfect drywall and perfect paint) you'll have the wall finish you're looking for.

I don't sand drywall until I know I'm close to the finish I'm looking for, then, when I do sand I have a pencil in hand to mark any high/low spots that will need more attention with the mud pan, otherwise everything gets feathered and blended together with the sanding block. You can also hold bright lighting at extreme angles when your in the sanding process to ferret out shadow casting imperfections.
I may have to try a thicker nap on the roller, or see if there's a specialty one to use then to get it to unload onto the wall properly. You bring up a good point about the wall sucking up the moisture, maybe I can damp sponge the wall first to give it a little drink so it doesn't want to suck all the moisture out of the mud. I think evening the 'texture' out should be straightforward. From what I've learned you roll the mud on in a fairly thin coat (in small areas at a time, so it doesn't start to dry/thicken on the wall at all), then trowel it flat so it's roughly 1/32 to 1/16 thick.

Typically I do exactly what you're describing: tape, top/fill coat twice, skim coat, sand, touch up imperfections, then prime & paint. I'll admit what I'm planning is total overkill but mud is cheap and labour is free lol. I basically want to do it just to learn how to do something I've never done before and see if there's any noticeable difference in how the paint looks afterward. Well that and admittedly I love learning anything that involves getting artsy with trowels. Doing it on my own house is the best place to experiment since if I mess it up I can just tell people my wife did a bad job painting, err, I mean I can take the time to sand it off and try again.

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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by A. Spruce » Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:31 pm

Think about it like this, drywall mud is basically wet sand, the roller will pick up the moisture great, but the sand itself doesn't want to flow into the nap like liquids do, nor will if flow out of the nap, like liquids do. There really isn't any amount of water that you can add to mud that's going to make it react any differently to a standard paint roller.

A longer nap roller is only going to be harder to load with sand and be more aggressively held by the nap. Shorter might fair better, but highly doubtful. The texture roller I have is basically like the loop of velcro, 1/8" to 3/16" loops tightly covering the roller. While this roller loads and releases better than a paint roller, it's going to leave behind a substantial texture and significant amount of mud.

You might try going to USG or Goldblatt to see if they have any specialty rollers or application equipment for the job. The only other thing I can think of that might do it is a leveling box, which is used to feather out seriously messed up joints, but again, this is designed to apply a large amount of material, not the "dusting" that you're looking for.

Have you tried YouTube for L5 finishing tech/tools? If not, it would be a good place to start as well. If you find something, post links here, it would be interesting to see the process/tools involved. 8-)
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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by A. Spruce » Sun Dec 03, 2017 2:06 am

DanM wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:58 pm
Typically I do exactly what you're describing: tape, top/fill coat twice, skim coat, sand, touch up imperfections, then prime & paint. I'll admit what I'm planning is total overkill but mud is cheap and labour is free lol. I basically want to do it just to learn how to do something I've never done before and see if there's any noticeable difference in how the paint looks afterward. Well that and admittedly I love learning anything that involves getting artsy with trowels. Doing it on my own house is the best place to experiment since if I mess it up I can just tell people my wife did a bad job painting, err, I mean I can take the time to sand it off and try again.
I wanted to step back in and say that you're doing exactly what I would be doing if this were my project in my house. Well, not exactly, but very very similar. As an outsider looking in, it is so easy to overlook the fact that this is your house and your project to do any way you like. As a person that has remodeled my own home, I can assure you that I take way more time and do things that I wouldn't likely do in a clients house because of the fact that it's my time and my money to do with as I please, it's not being dictated by someone else's budget or tastes or normal job/time constraints when you're trying to earn an honest living.

Anyway, I just wanted to recognize your perspective on learning a new skill and doing something different because THAT is what you wanted to do. Who knows, it could be something that you use down the road on a client's house, recoup some of that learning time you're doing now. 8-)
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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by Clarence » Sun Dec 03, 2017 8:12 am

Dan i like what you stated " I love learning anything that involves getting Artsy with trowels "
Spruce also made a very valid statement about " Perspective on learning a new skill "
For the investment of $500.00 you can get an education on how other products work and if you can use that product to increase your profits.
Example : in 1997 i ordered 4 pails of M.O.P. which i applied to plaster walls on a contract in process the walls were inspected by the owner and told the GC. to have the sub that fixed the plaster walls do all the walls my contract increased by $ 90,000.00 not bad for a $ 600.00 investment.
After that job the use of the product for me increased 100%. I was the first contractor to ever order a 40 Ft. trailer load of the product. If you look at the web site i completed the work on The church with the Blue & White cornice work also the Dock Street Theatre work also includes one of the most significant buildings in the USA , The second oldest Synagogue in the USA and the 8th most Prominent in the USA.
Also many State & City projects i used the product for over 20 years and made a very GOOD profit.
Invest the $ 450.00 maybe you can get a good profit return.

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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by DanM » Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:04 am

A. Spruce wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:31 pm
Have you tried YouTube for L5 finishing tech/tools? If not, it would be a good place to start as well. If you find something, post links here, it would be interesting to see the process/tools involved. 8-)
I have looked it up on google & youtube, but anything involving specialty tools is almost always some spray machine designed for big projects. Needless to say, it's a little to pricey to spend on learning to do something. There are videos on doing it with mud and a paint roller but they don't say much about what kind of nap on the roller, and sometimes it's really hard to tell what the consistency of mud is in a picture. I know it's fairly soupy but I guess I'll have to experiment on some scraps and see what works I suppose. If I find anything useful I'll post it on here.
Clarence wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 8:12 am
Dan i like what you stated " I love learning anything that involves getting Artsy with trowels "
Spruce also made a very valid statement about " Perspective on learning a new skill "
For the investment of $500.00 you can get an education on how other products work and if you can use that product to increase your profits.
Example : in 1997 i ordered 4 pails of M.O.P. which i applied to plaster walls on a contract in process the walls were inspected by the owner and told the GC. to have the sub that fixed the plaster walls do all the walls my contract increased by $ 90,000.00 not bad for a $ 600.00 investment.
After that job the use of the product for me increased 100%. I was the first contractor to ever order a 40 Ft. trailer load of the product. If you look at the web site i completed the work on The church with the Blue & White cornice work also the Dock Street Theatre work also includes one of the most significant buildings in the USA , The second oldest Synagogue in the USA and the 8th most Prominent in the USA.
Also many State & City projects i used the product for over 20 years and made a very GOOD profit.
Invest the $ 450.00 maybe you can get a good profit return.
It's not a terrible idea, but I'm pretty much redoing the entire house on a budget of $35k, and we're roughly $31k into that at this point. There just isn't enough extra money to spend $500 on learning to plaster.

Those pics of the church look really good btw. It'd be fun to learn how to plaster since it's a bit of a dying art form. Maybe at some point in the future I can try doing a feature wall or something out of plaster to see if I can figure it out.

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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by Aaron » Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:49 pm

You might try this cheaper solution. Get your walls to Level 4, and then use this Zinsser Peel-stop primer. Maybe use a normal primer first and then this stuff on top of it. Assuming your Level 4 walls are perfectly smooth, use a 1/4-inch nap roller.

https://www.homedepot.ca/en/home/p.zins ... 50755.html

My theory is that this stuff builds a thick layer of acrylic that could "key into" all the pores of the drywall paper face, and level everything out to create a consistent-looking "substrate" to apply the topcoats.

If not in one coat, maybe two coats would do it. Then two top coats on that.

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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by Clarence » Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:05 pm

Yes peel-Stop is a good product to use as a bonder or primer for skim coating a veneer plaster don't know why it works so well other than it have good adhesion for the finish.

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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by A. Spruce » Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:35 pm

That's actually the point of any type of primer, quell the dust, stabilize and add bite the surface, and provide an even porosity surface for the finish to be applied to.
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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by DanM » Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:35 pm

Well I fiddled around and here's what worked best for anyone who's interested.

3/4" nap roller was the best. The 3/8" was fine but it didn't hold as much mud so you'd need to reload more often. I went 1-sheet at a time (roll on the mud, trowel it smooth) and the 3/4" got enough on there to do it with one load.

The mud worked best when it was a bit soupier than taping mud. The mud I ended up settling on was about 75% the thickness of what I'd usually use for taping. It let it spread on easily enough, and it retained moisture long enough that you could take your time troweling it perfectly smooth without starting to stiffen up at all and cause any of those spots where it kinda makes the trowel not glide smoothly and you get chatter lines.

Would I recommend doing it? Probably not. It wasn't very difficult if you've got any drywall experience, it didn't take long either, but it's faster and easier to do 2 coats of a really good primer. The only time it might be worthwhile would be in a bathroom where you're using really glossy paint and have a lot of light, or if you were going to make a feature wall with some funky multicolour paint job that was really going to stand out. With regular flat paint you can barely tell the difference between the Level 4 and Level 5 walls, and even then that's only at certain times of day when the sun is beaming across the wall. Most of the time you can't tell at all.

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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by A. Spruce » Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:51 pm

I don't want to way I told ya so, but . . . :? ;) ;) :mrgreen:

Totally teasing ya!

Thanks for the update on your findings and experiences with this topic 8-)
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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by DanM » Mon Dec 04, 2017 5:39 pm

A. Spruce wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:51 pm
I don't want to way I told ya so, but . . . :? ;) ;) :mrgreen:

Totally teasing ya!

Thanks for the update on your findings and experiences with this topic 8-)
That's ok lol, I knew there was a very high probability of it being complete overkill.

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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by A. Spruce » Mon Dec 04, 2017 6:14 pm

It's kinda my job around here as the resident sh!t giver to make sure everyone gets their allotted dose! ;) :mrgreen:
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Re: Level 5 Drywall Finish - Mud Consistency

Post by DanM » Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:11 pm

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention since it's pretty obvious but anyway doing the level 5 means you have to sand more. Even though it's just a light brushing to remove lap marks and edges, it's still more sanding and it's the entire wall. Nobody wants more dust or time spent sanding, so that's a huge negative.

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