That's been something of an unknown term around here lately, but today I got off my butt and decided it was time to start skimcoating the office walls. We had bought a Magic Trowel over the summer, and we decided to dig it out and see if it lived up to the hype. Step one is to start with a wall that needs help. Check.
Tape any big cracks and fill or patch big holes. Next, use a roller to "paint" on drywall compound. The compound should be about the consistency of cake batter or yogurt. You should use a setting-type compound, since it doesn't shrink as it dries, and that makes it less susceptible to cracking. We used US Gypsum EasySand 90.
Then, dip the Magic Trowel (really a glorified squeegee) into a bucket of water and "wipe" from the top of the wall to the bottom. Sorry, no action shots of this part. But the results?
In case you can't tell, this is a nice, smooth, crack-free, non-green wall. We opted to leave the window trim on, since we're not stripping it. From past experience, removing the individual pieces will cause the paint to crack and chip, and that would be visible under the new paint. The top piece of baseboard came off, since it is harder to work around, but the chips in that will be hidden.
Now, for the thing I wish I'd known before we started: this project is EASY! The Magic Trowl works exactly as advertised, and it's very simple to achieve good results. We have NO experience and kind of winged this, and we still have a tolerably smooth wall. The only imperfections are due to our poor mixer (a paint mixer for a drill is not good enough!) or from not having the mud thick enough to smooth well. Both of these will be pretty simple to fix on the next coat, and they're completely our fault.
This is the one and only easy fix-it project I've ever done on this house. It's not tedious, it's not even terribly time-consuming. We did one 8.5' by 10' wall in about 30-40 minutes. It seems like it would be simpler with 2 people, but I wouldn't have a problem doing this by myself either.
I'm sure something will come up and make me eat my words tomorrow, but I'll enjoy my happy afterglow while it lasts...