Dan's Kitchen: Drywall, Part 3

Renovation Diary

The current state of the kitchen.
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Name: Dan Bailey
Type of Project: Kitchen remodel
Location: East Boston, Boston, Massachusetts
Type of building: 2nd Floor Condo in a Greek-Revival Row House

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Most of my free time this week was spent taping and sanding the newly-hung drywall – a process that offers all the excitement of a lengthy dental appointment. The walls ended up looking pretty good in the end, but it took me hours of meticulous joint compound application and sanding to get there.

The pantry closet – taped, sanded, and ready to be primed.
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I tackled the drywall in the pantry closet first. My contractor, Gregg, had already taped and applied a rough coat of joint compound to all of the seams and screw heads in the closet, but at least three coats of joint compound are generally required to achieve a smooth, seamless finish. The goal of the first two coats is to build up the surface with joint compound to disguise the underlying seam or screw head. Easy enough. But the finish coat is where things get tricky. The idea is to apply a thin coat of joint compound that tapers off into the surrounding wall. This, of course, is easier said than done, and even after some careful work with a drywall knife, I ended up with lots of little lines and ridges in the finish.

Removing these imperfections after the joint compound had dried involved hours of scraping and sanding. I tried a few different methods – scraping down the high points with a drywall knife, dry sanding with a sanding sponge – but the method that worked best was sanding with a damp sponge. I used a large, everyday sponge, with a scouring pad on one side, which made short work of lumps and scrapes in the dry joint compound. This method had the added benefit of significantly reducing the amount of dust that was thrown into the air during sanding.

The new pipe chase, with two coats of joint compound.
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While I spent nights this week honing my drywall taping and sanding technique, Gregg turned his attention to some carpentry work that needed to be done before we can install cabinets. He began by framing a pipe chase to surround and conceal the large waste pipe that runs down the rear wall of the kitchen. We decided to extend the pipe chase a few inches further than necessary so that it will be flush with the upper cabinets. I think this will look cleaner, and will help disguise the pipe chase, at least as much as it’s possible to disguise a massive pipe running down the center of a room.

The newly-constructed cabinet bases.
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Next Gregg constructed bases for the lower cabinets. He built box frames and topped them with pine planks. The plastic legs that IKEA provides for their cabinets are rated to support a great deal of weight, and could probably handle the heavy stone countertop I’m planning to install without any trouble. But most carpenters, Gregg included, don’t seem to trust the plastic IKEA legs. In any case, the base platforms that Gregg built will better distribute the weight of the cabinets and countertop. He saved me some money by constructing the bases from salvaged and leftover lumber that he had lying around.
With all of the drywall sanding and taping out of the way, we’re almost ready to install the cabinets. As the cabinets are installed, the bones of the kitchen will begin to take shape, and I’ll get my first glimpse of the layout and appearance of the finished kitchen.

Estimated time for project: 24+ weeks
Time remaining: 2+ weeks

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week for installment #26 of Dan's Kitchen Renovation.

(Images and diary text: Dan Bailey)

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