I had one partial gallon-sized bucked of joint compound from some time last year (or was it the year before?), but it certainly wouldn’t be enough to complete the entire garage, so I went to the store to get one of those big honkin’ buckets. I prefer the pre-mixed stuff because, well, I’m an amateur, and pre-mixed means less work and less chance for screwups! I needed to get paper tape anyway, because apparently Wal-Mart only carries the fiberglass stuff.
After wandering back and forth across the whole store a few times (apparently they rearranged their layout a bit), I had everything else I needed and was faced with the decision of regular pre-mixed joint compound, or lightweight pre-mixed joint compound. There were no prices posted, so my first inclination was to go for the regular stuff. Then I picked up the bucket with my one free hand. Oh man. I think it said 63 pounds. I hastily set the bucket back down (“dropped” is more like it) and went for the lightweight stuff. The weight of this one wasn’t listed, but it was substantially lighter than the first so I quickly waddled my way to the register. Okay, I slowly waddled, because for whatever reason they put the bulk buckets at the back of the store, and the small project buckets near the front. That’s a looong walk with all that weight dangling from one hand and nothing to counterbalance on the other side.
Anyway, on another day I probably would have stuck with the regular stuff, but quite frankly I didn’t want to look like a complete idiot, struggling to manage a 63 pound bucket, a 20×20 furnace filter, and a few miscellaneous odds and ends—all without the help of a cart, basket, or bag. So I settled for looking like a mildly amusing dork instead. After fighting my way through the check out interrogation (“Did you find everything okay?” “Do you have everything you need?” “Joint compound, eh?” “Do you need any drywall with that?” etc.), I headed for home. A little harrowed, perhaps, but ready for work!
With the worst of the old tape already removed and the resultant “tracks” sanded down, I decided to wipe off the excess dust using a wet bath towel. It worked a little too well. The towel acted almost like a sanding sponge itself, as it cut right through even the dried mud in short order. I backed off a bit, but hopefully removed enough of the dust.
I went back in the house to find my drywall knives. Apparently I never got around to filing down the corners when I bought them last year, so before using them I had to hunt down my Dremel and a grinding wheel. After a few minutes (and lots of sparks!), I had nicely rounded corners. I do this with my drywall knives to prevent any chance of gouging the walls with a corner, and to lessen the amount and severity of sharp lines that can occur when smoothing wet mud. With newly-rounded corners, I set to work!
Rather than break into the new bucket of mud, I decided to use the old stuff first. Problem #1: the lid was not on tight. I don’t think it has been open too long because it seems like I recently took a peek to make sure it wasn’t dried out yet, but I’m not sure how long ago that was. Problem #2: this stuff stinks! I didn’t let this stop me, because I remember joint compound always smelling bad. I didn’t think it was this bad, but it’s been a long time since I’ve used the stuff, and this particular bucket is a different brand that I only used for one tiny little piece, so I didn’t question too much. After all, it wasn’t dried out so it must still be good, right? Right?! Hmmmm…..
I went ahead and started mudding/taping the walls. I decided to use paper tape instead of the mesh, so the first thing is to slap a bunch of mud on the joint. After a few moments of this I started seeing problem #3: gray streaks. I thought to myself, “that’s odd”, but kept going. After doing more, it seemed like the streaks came from my drywall knife. There are a few corroded spots here and there (it’s a cheap knife), but I didn’t think it could possibly cause this much streaking, so I pushed on. The gray streaks kept coming, and in fact I had the impression that they intensified the longer I went. I really didn’t understand what was going on, but the mud applied normally, so I went ahead and finished the taping.
Here is what some of the joints look like. Of the areas shown below, I replaced the tape from floor to ceiling next to the door, almost all the way to the ceiling in the corner, and a small segment at the far top above the dark gray spray paint.
After cleaning up and coming back in the house, I got to thinking about those gray streaks in the mud. A little Googling tells me that it might be mold. I had no idea this stuff could even get moldy! Nothing looked like mold to me, but I’m no expert, so I went out and took some pictures of the bucket. What do you think?
First and foremost I am obviously hoping this isn’t actually mold. I know joint compound can be a few different shades, so maybe this is just some pigment that gives the stuff a darker gray color. If in fact it is mold, I am hopeful that it will be trapped as soon as the mud dries out. As far as I know, mold can’t survive in an active state without a fairly continuous source of water, so maybe it will be okay. I really don’t want to have to tear anything back out and start over. :-(
In the meantime, I have to decide whether to continue using this old bucket of mud, or throw it away and crack into the new one.
-- "How can I be lost if I've got nowhere to go?"