Shell Busey is well-known across Western Canada as an expert authority on home improvements through his various TV and radio shows. He started in Ontario at age 18 and moved up through the ranks in various building centers, eventually settling in British Columbia in 1974 and operating hands-on a number of building supply stores. This background in handling so many questions and solving problems on all sorts of construction situations lead him to become an authority on all matters relating to construction. His skill as a communicator makes him a popular source of renovation and building information.

Shell has since hosted numerous radio and TV shows, written newspaper and magazine articles, authored books, and recorded a series of “It’s Just That Easy” videos, etc. Shell is seen at the major Home Shows in Greater Vancouver and continues to give great advice on all sorts of home-maintenance issues. Over the years Shell has naturally met and become associated with a lot of high-quality trades people too. From his personal ‘Rolodex’ evolved the Shell Busey Referral Network.

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Caulking is a mastic (paste) that dries to a flexible but strong finish. It also works like an adhesive. Normally it is used to fill gaps where wood trim joins the drywall. Sometimes it can be used for other purposes like making a waterproof seal in bathrooms. That is a silicone caulk and not recommended for painting use because paint doesn’t stick to it. But waterproof clear (or colored) silicone can be used on countertop seams etc.

You will normally just use an acrylic paintable caulk for the gaps at joins of wood and drywall. It comes in a tube like toothpaste or a big caulking tube that requires a special trigger tool to dispense it. Rookies do better with the toothpaste tube. Use a damp rag to wipe off the mess you make, or your finger to make a nice seam along a join. You’ll figure it out with time and practice. I can’t make you an expert instantly!

This, in my opinion. is the world’s worst job next to septic tank re-lining. It takes a long time and there is no really good way to do it, despite all the products on the market.

A wallpaper stripper available from a rental place is an excellent investment and it loosens up the glue which holds the paper to the wall. It has to then be scraped off using some kind of spatula or scraper. Usually the walls are all nicked and gouged after so all that has to be fixed up.

If you have a professional painter ask him if you can do the stripping (of the wallpaper!) prior to painting. This should save you a fortune in hourly charges. The painter can come in at the end and do the repairs after you have done most of the ‘grunt work’. If you can’t do this yourself be prepared to pay quite a bit.

How to Prepare for Painting a Wall

You work out prep backwards. What do you want it to look like in the end? If you want walls that look like the side panels of a Ferrari you better be prepared to spend a lot of dough. That requires a plasterer to skim all the walls first to a mirror finish.

Filling and Sanding

Normally you just want to fill in the nail holes and nicks and spots where tape was ripped off the walls. You use a filler or ‘mud’ available at the Paint or Building Supply store. Get ‘Lite’ filler or products that say “sands easily”. You mix it up to a consistency that spreads smoothly but not too thin. You use a knife or spreader that is wide enough to cover the whole area.

When you first start, like everything else in life, you will not do your best job. If it is terrible when it is dry then sand it off and try again. Ideally you want the least amount of excess filler since sanding is messy and the dust flies. (It also kills your vacuum cleaner if you don’t use a filter bag specified for drywall dust.)

Wear a dust mask when sanding. Be prepared to vacuum every nook and cranny. Keep the door closed when sanding and keep the window open. Remove everything possible from the room. Especially all clothes or bedding in a bedroom. Plastic off the mattresses. You will learn the wisdom of being “frugal with filler”.

Various sandpapers are good from fine to coarse. It depends on how much excess filler you need to remove. I like those little disposable sponge blocks – one side is fine and one side coarse. They cost about a buck or so.

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