What Is Skim Coat? A Simple Explanation….


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man skim coating the floor

If you’re painting the outside or inside of your home, it’s important to know what a skim coat is and why it’s necessary.

A skim coat is a thin layer of paint that completely covers all surfaces, but doesn’t allow any paint to seep beneath. It helps ensure that your color will be uniform and that there won’t be any visible brush marks or difference in sheen. Imagine if one part of your house was covered in one type of paint, while another part was covered with another type.

With just the two different paints touching each other, there may be some where the colors mix together -especially if those two parts are near each other- and this can cause streaks or uneven coverage. A skim coat will ensure that everything will be covered evenly.

A skim coat is also necessary if you’re getting a professional painter to paint your home for you. A professional painter needs something to work with, so they’ll often use a skim coat if there isn’t already one on your home.

What is skim coat

What is skim coat? A skim coat is a thin layer of paint that is applied over a wall or ceiling prior to painting it. This provides a smooth, clean surface for painting and is much easier than removing the existing paint from the wall before you paint it.

A good skim coat should cover all surfaces, be smooth, and even out all old paint lines. It should be free of any drips or roller marks. It’s also important that no additional material or substances are added to the skim coat such as sand, joint compound, and filler.

The main reason for using a skim coat is to seal in the paint and to ensure that the paint seeps in on all sides and seals the entire home. A thinner, or even semi-thick layer will allow for any extra paint to “bleed” underneath, which means you’ll need more layers to cover your entire home.

This can result with too much or too little coverage depending on how much excess was left behind by previous coats. A thicker layer will require fewer coats, but may not touch as many areas, therefore still leaving gaps in between.

Why do you need a skim coat?

Okay, so you’re ready to paint your home, but there are a few things that may put you off the idea. You’ve seen a lot of home improvement shows where they show just how much work it is to paint a house. What if you don’t want to spend days painting your walls? What if the old paint job is in bad shape and needs to be removed with a sander before you can even think about painting?

It’s okay to be nervous about this kind of project. It is not an easy task by any means and it may take days to complete depending on how much surface area there is.

How To Apply A Skim Coat

man using leveling tool to skim coat the wall

Having known what skim coat is, let look into how to apply skim coat.

Applying a skim coat is necessary to prepare surfaces for painting, but has different steps depending on whether it’s being applied over drywall or a painted surface.

If you’re applying a skim coat over drywall, make sure the drywall is completely dry. If there are any loose edges that could be covered with paint, use a hammer to lightly tap them down. Then prime the drywall with a primer and apply your paint, using a long board to push paint into all corners.

Let the paint dry completely before painting again -don’t go back over with another coat of the same color right away. You’ll need at least 24 hours or longer depending on how thick your final coat will be.

If you’re applying a skim coat on painted surfaces, it depends on what kind of surface you’re painting. If it’s a flat surface (such as a painted wall), paint the wall with a primer, then paint on your first coat.

If you’re painting something that isn’t flat, such as wood trim or wainscoting, use your paintbrush to spread one coat of paint on the wood. Let this dry completely, then apply another coat of paint and wait until it’s dry before applying a third.

Once all three coats have dried, sand the wood lightly with a fine grit sandpaper and apply just one more coat of primer before painting your new color. The purpose in sanding is to smooth out any imperfections in the wood so that they don’t get covered up by another color of paint.

10 reasons to apply a skim coat

Are you looking for reasons why a skim coat is necessary? These reasons include:

Related Article: Why does my House have wet walls after it rains

  1. It prevents color from mixing together and that can cause uneven coverage
  2. It ensures a uniform look on your walls, floors and ceilings
  3. It prevents small brush marks and uneven spots when you’re applying your final coats
  4. If you’re painting a room with multiple colors, it will ensure that they all match each other in color, sheen or finish.
  5. If you’re looking for a high quality paint job, a professional painter will use a skim coat to provide them with a surface they can paint on.
  6. It helps allow the primer to adhere to the surface beneath.
  7. It helps hide uneven textures on any surfaces you’re painting.
  8. It can help stop the growth of mold or mildew in cracks and crevices that you’ve painted over but haven’t reached with your paintbrush yet.
  9. It can prevent staining and fading of the coat beneath if it’s a lighter color than what you’ve applied to top it off with.
  10. It helps protect the surface being painted, especially if you’re using high quality paints which will be more stain resistant than cheaper brands of paint.

Perhaps the best reason to apply a skim coat is that it’s much easier than having to go back over and re-do an entire room because of uneven coverage in one spot or uneven sheen in another.

Advantages and disadvantages of skim coat


Now that we have known what skim coat is, lets talk about the advantages of skim coat. These advantages include:

  1. A skim coating has more process, but the cost is low, and it can be applying to easier for any person. If you dislike your present texture, it is a perfect way to “replace” this without any pay for a previous work.
  2. You can paint a room or a wall with one coat and having the very characteristic of any paint you apply, without having to wait several days for the surface to dry.
  3. In order not to prevent that your house wet needs to stay for 24 hours, you will need the time for drying and the possible use of air flow fan. This fact will help to avoid the paint remaining on your clothes and furniture.
  4. The time between coats is shorter because the paint is applied on a smooth surface.
  5. You will also save your time to apply this skim coat, especially if you are planning to repaint your house within a few weeks.
  6. A skim coat will give your room a beautiful look, and it can create the ceiling to layer less blend in the wall. A skim coat also gives the natural light for a bright and aerial home. This process also visually creates the ceiling higher, which makes your home look bigger.


As we all know, every advantage has disadvantages, that’s why in this article I will talk about the disadvantages of applying the skim coat:

  1. A skim coating is a more workable and skilled process. That’s why this process is more expensive than applying for textured walls and ceilings. It needs more time for painting because the skim coat drying process is slow.
  2. Skim coat will not prevent moisture from spreading to your wood ceiling or cabinets.
  3. Skim coat does not work with all paint colors. This is because some paint colors may become dry faster than others causing uneven application of the first coat.
  4. Skim coating is not a process for those who want to add texture to their walls and ceilings whether by pasting or some other means and feel they do not need it.
  5. This process may create small swirl and lumps when you apply a second coat; this is because of getting rid of any imperfections in the room that could have been there before you applied the previous coat even though it might be only very slight.


When you’re planning for a paint job, you have many choices on the surface best suited for painting and the color or colors that you want to see on your walls, ceilings or woodwork. When it comes to painting over textured surfaces such as woodwork, wainscoting and even walls if they are treated with texture, a skim coat is necessary.

Skim coating is a way of smoothing out uneven textures to create a uniform look so that any new paint will adhere evenly and completely to your home. Skim coating also helps prevent mold and mildew growth in the crevices between painted surfaces.

Skim coat is useful for those who want the results of textured walls and ceilings without the work, but it might take more time to do it as well as cost more money because of how much skill and experience is necessary when doing a good one on your walls or ceiling.

man drywalling and skim coating to get a smooth surface

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