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October 1, 2015 What is a Level 5 Drywall Finish?

If you are a DIY-er, you may have heard the term “Level 5 Finish” and wondered what it meant.  Essentially, a Level 5 drywall finish is the smoothest possible finish that you can get on your drywall ceilings and walls.  And while it is a finish that tradespeople will generally use for higher-end building jobs, you absolutely can use the same technique at home to get similarly beautiful results.

So, what is it?  Think about the process of hanging and taping drywall.  The next step would be to prime and paint it, right?  Well, here’s the thing: Because a large portion of the wall is comprised of the drywall paper without any joint compound, and the other parts of the wall are taped/mudded and sanded, there is going to be an ever-so-slight difference in the way that the paint adheres and dries to the two different surfaces.

A Level 5 finish (also known as a drywall skim coat, not to be confused with the heavier plaster-type skim coat) will correct this slight imperfection, providing a smooth, perfect finish on which you can continue on with painting and priming.

How does it work?  Once you are done taping, mudding and sanding the new drywall, you apply one more coat of joint compound, this time, to the entire wall or ceiling, including the drywall paper areas.  Working in sections, you then roll on the joint compound with a roller, and then remove it with your taping knife. After a light final sanding, this will leave behind a very thin film of joint compound on the entire surface of the wall or ceiling, providing the uniformity that leads to a perfectly smooth, professional-looking finished surface.

by See Jane Drill, Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved