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This week has been all about making progress on the kitchen walls. I know some of you guys have waited a LONG time for me to find the motivation to finish this room, and it’s finally come! After finishing off the dining room, I guess I just lost that part of my brain that thinks skim coating is at all fun. But I’m determined, so… I guess that’s enough?

kitchen skim coat

From time to time, we all fall into a DIY slump. Skim coating used to be fun for me, but now that I’ve spent at least one part of each year fixing damage from ugly-ass wallpaper (1,2,3,4), I lost my skim coating mojo for a while. I am thrilled to be on the last room that I have to do this to, but I’m once again wishing for tiny DIY elves to come in and get it done for me while I sleep. (I know that I could hire someone to do it for me, but have you met me? I’m stubborn. And when you’ve got more time—and pride—than money, you do it yourself.)

The upside? I’ve gotten pretty good at it. And that means that each job has been finished faster and smoother. I’ve also discovered new and better products to use to help the job. Especially this:

how to seal damaged drywall
RX-35 Sealer/Primer for damaged drywall

This porous surface sealer/primer has been the best product I’ve found for for nixing air bubbles in torn paper and prepping the wall. I wasn’t sure if I would like it when I was fixing the dining room and still had a couple bubbles pop up (which were easily fixed), but now I’ve treated an entire wall with it before I begin a skim coat (last time I only found out about the product after the first skim coat was on), and it’s seriously amazing. I haven’t experienced a single air bubble in the kitchen thus far because it locks down the paper kind of like a coat of glue. (While there’s an affiliate link to the product listing that will make me a couple of cents if you clicked on it, the makers of the product are not paying me to say this and have no idea who I am. It’s basically a schoolgirl crush.)

In other news this week, my darling furball sidekick had to visit the vet. She was favoring one of her paws Monday night, and I soon realized that she split one of her dew claws (presumably at our most recent visit to the dog park) – ouch! She promptly freaked out in the vet’s office at anyone coming close to touching her foot (she has always been an anxious dog, but she turned it up to 11 and pretty much shed an entire coat of fur on the docs and nurses), and four of us had to hold her down while we clipped it off. She’s been on some light pain meds and antibiotics to help it heal over the next week or so, and then she’ll be fine. It’s basically the most expensive manicure I’ve ever purchased, and it wasn’t even for me. Figures.


Oh, and she also has to wear the cone of shame to keep her from licking at her wound whenever I’m not able to be at home. For the record, this is pretty much the meanest I’ve ever been to her—if you’re reading that guilt-trippy look in her eyes, that is.

Charlie in her cone

I gave her some time to get used to it, and she seems to have gotten back to her old happy self, especially in the car.

Charlie riding in the car

While I keep working on the kitchen, there won’t be many interesting updates until the paint goes on. So I started thinking about it, and I realized that there are a number of things that I always meant to do a dedicated post on but simply never got back around to doing, such as info on poison ivy (a good lesson from my highly allergic dad), my stint on HomeStretch (the details on the laundry room and living room makeovers), and some family cookie recipes from this past winter. So, even if you’re spotting some things out of the archives, they won’t be re-runs but instead new details on older stuff I never found the time to share before—including full-fledged makeovers. Which, if you think about it, really is a new concept on this always-in-progress blog!

What have you been finishing this week?

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  1. Poor Charlie! I know that look well, though. It’s the same one Hank gave me when he had to wear the cone after surgery for eating a rock. Give Charlie a scratch behind the ear for Bear, Hank, and me.

  2. Totally relate to the DIY slump! It usually hits me at this point in summer when it’s hideously hot. I am forcing myself to finish reframing all my doors before I can do a fun built-in project in August. I tend to bribe myself with a fun project to get the motivation to finish the unfun ones.

  3. Poor Charlie! Glad to see she’s forgiven you for being so mean to her! :) My dog Gus did the same thing about 2 weeks ago. He broke the nail so far up that they trimmed it as good as they could on the first visit, but he had to go back in a week later so they could trim it again. So.. A round of antibiotics, cone of shame, and two “manicures” and he’s all better. :)

  4. Poor Charlie! I hate when they get hurt and we have to make them do terrible things like wear cones. They just don’t understand and think we’re just mean! My pup had a paw infection a few months ago, and he stopped putting any weight on it – soo sad – so the vet had me soaking his paw in epsom salts twice a day. It was hilarious and also really sad!

  5. So cute! I love these pictures, and I love how that kitchen is coming along. Charlie seems very excited!

  6. Please help, I really don’t know where to ask because every other site is some general DIY site and my questions relate directly to what you have gone through.

    I worked really hard to get the walls in my hallway in much better condition. They were pretty beat up from the prior owners, so I did a lot of spot patching, etc. I also decided to skim coat a section that was really bad, but didn’t skim coat the whole thing.

    I did two layers of tinted primer and then after that dried, a day later I started painting. I did the first coat and things looked pretty good, but it didn’t look like the paint really covered the primer, I had a lot of spots showing the primer. When I did the second coat, I started getting all kinds of bubbles, that virtually destroyed my paint job.

    I read your site, and went looking for the Roman RX-35 based on your recommendation. My local HD store did not carry it. I went to another local home improvement store and found the Kilz Gardz product. I then sanded down my bubbled spots and then peeled back farther to make sure that got all the parts that did not adhere off the wall. I applied the Gardz, and I literally watched the bubbles start coming out worse than before. Almost as if the Gardz was just eating away at the paint. Now the problem is even worse! It is almost like I have to peel all the paint off and start over? Have you had problems with applying the RX-35 cause bubbles to appear? What do you do? It seems like if you just peel off those bubbles and apply it again then it will just keep traveling until all the paint is gone.

    This is so incredibly frustrating because the task of literally peeling all the paint off the wall just feels insurmountable. Do you have any advice at all that you can give me?


  7. thanks for tossing in some useful links for skim coating and what not. Been meaning to get around to it, and while i may be late to this blog post, it really motivated me to get up and make things happen.

  8. The sealer you showed above is water based. I’ve read a variety of articles that say you should use an oil base sealer when the gypsum is exposed. What is the difference in how things will come out when you use oil vs. a water base sealer? I have purchased a Zinser oil based product to seal the gypsum problem. Can I use that over the entire wall that has previous layers of patch, compound etc…? Also, can i use the sealer again after I am done skimming and mudding and sanding the wall, to ensure the paint sticks to it? I have had problems twice with the paint and drywall falling apart in my bathroom. I wish there was a way to post a photo of my mess! Thank You…

    1. I’ve read the opposite, in fact – that oil based products in the bathroom can sometimes help encourage mold growth. I use a water based sealer because I didn’t like the results, the smell, or the longer dry time with oil based products and did a side by side comparison, and I’m still not experiencing any problems a few years later. But if your problem is too much moisture and not enough ventilation, there isn’t going to be a paint product that will magically fix it, so you may have a different problem to resolve first. You also might want to look into a mold or mildew sealer product (Kilz I believe makes a few options).

  9. Hi, I appreciate this post because it helped me decide on Rx-35 to seal my damaged drywall. I was wondering if there was a reason you didn’t use it again to seal the skim coat before painting.

    I’m trying to avoid buying another can of primer for one small bathroom, but I don’t want to run into problems with the paint not adhering to the Rx-35. Hoping you see this 4 years later! Thanks.

    1. Hi Matt! Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve written these! I think that you probably can use the Rx-35, but the consistency and cost were a factor for me, since Rx-35 is pricier than the primer I use. Basically, the Rx-35 is kind of sticky, and I wasn’t sure it would work well as a true paint primer when my main reason for buying was the sealing properties. Also, since I was doing a larger room, I had run out of Rx-35 to the point where I knew I’d have to buy more primer to get the job finished. I decided my more economical option was to buy a new whole can of separate primer that I knew primed my walls well — plus, it can be tinted! The primer I recommend is cheaper than Rx-35. And because it can be tinted too, I liked that I could skip an extra coat of paint (I’ve used that trick on non-repaired walls as well because primer is cheaper than paint). So, I can’t say for certain how it performs directly under paint. I simply didn’t try to make it do more than what I was using it for (sealing the drywall before joint compound). Thank you SO much for reading my tips and lots of luck on your project!

      1. Thank you for the detailed reply! I think I will look for the primers you mentioned just to be safe.

  10. Ok.
    1. I have removed wallpaper from powder room and adjoining laundry room.
    2. What I have is lots of torn paper . . Nicks . .
    3. Do I sand and vacuum the walls before I use the RX product ?

    1. I got rid of all torn paper that was loose before applying the RX. What I was trying to do was prevent bubbles under the surface once I applied the joint compound (which is wet and WILL cause bubbles if it’s not fully sealed and if the torn paper gets wet underneath). I sanded only after the joint compound went on.