Ceiling Drywall Repair

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
30,080
697
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The Background

This past weekend, I went on a crusade to finally get one of my bedrooms better suited to handle being more of a computer room, which would house two higher-end gaming machines. As one would expect, heat would be an issue in such a room, and as a result, I went to make two changes: installed a window air conditioner and replace the ceiling light fixture with a ceiling fan. The air conditioner install was fairly straight forward as I went with the Midea U-shaped window air conditioner, which has an included bracket that works well with my retrofitted vinyl windows. It's not perfect as I think Midea could make some good changes to really tighten things up, but it's working fine. Unsurprisingly based upon the title, where I hit quite a major snag was the installation of the ceiling fan.

When I removed the light fixture, I noticed yellowing of the drywall around the box's hole. I touched the drywall lightly, and it seemed pretty apparent that the drywall was not in good shape as it seemed that any harder likely would've broken the drywall off. Unfortunately, in the process of removing the nailed-in junction box, some of the drywall did break off. Given how much drywall broke off and how much weak drywall was still left, I decided to perform a patch.

I had a rough understanding of how to perform this, and overall, I think I did an okay job. Some areas on which I probably could've done better...
  1. I cut the drywall out first and attempted to use that to cut out the patch. Given that I was working with ruined drywall, that just wasn't a smart move. I was able to make it work, but it definitely took more effort than was required. It also doesn't help you make a nice rectangular hole since it's much easier to score the patch piece at proper angles than it is to try to get it right on the ceiling/wall. I actually ended up cutting a proper rectangular patch and having to go back to adjust the hole to make it fit properly.
  2. I probably used more furring strips than were required. Overall, the patch was around 16" x 16", which isn't terribly large. I also had a joist within 3-4" of one side; however, I still used a furring strip on that side, and on the other side as well as furring strips on the other edges. At least in my understanding, this doesn't hurt, but it's likely not necessary.
  3. I needed to get a bit better at screwing the drywall screws in as straight as possible, and also check them then rather than later on. They looked after I was done, but when I went to check with a taping knife later on, a few of them needed to be fixed.
Now is where I reach the part that's pretty new to me... mudding. I think the biggest thing that I should've done differently was something that I considered... taking what parts I had left of my 2' x 2' drywall piece, and making a test rig on which to practice. I probably also should've considered 90-minute setting compound instead of 45 minute as I definitely butted up right against that limit near the end of my work. A few notes about what I did...
  1. I debated on what sort of tape to use for this, and settled on using FibaFuse, which is a fiberglass-based tape. It has the permeability of mesh tape while (supposedly) providing the strength of paper tape. (Although, I did see some paper tape with holes too.) I was considering mesh tape for a while too, but I could never find definitive answers on whether it was fine to apply the tape, and then use setting compound. I know you need to use it with mesh tape, but I wasn't sure if the mesh was permeable enough to really fill the gaps? (My gaps weren't terribly large.)
  2. I think my setting compound might have been a little too watery. I did try to only add a bit of water at a time and then mixing until the water was almost gone before adding more. (I had heard about using this technique in a video.) Although, I think I might not have done the one thing that I read about and that was that once you mix it up, let it sit for a minute or two so the chunks can absorb the water.
The Question

So, what brought on this thread is that I noticed that after 24+ hours, the portion of the setting compound from the tape outward is still fairly beige in color, which from what I read, indicates that it is not yet completely dry. I know that the time on the package is simply for it to harden/set and not the time for it to dry, but I've read that drying times are usually from 2-3 hours up to maybe 24 hours. The room is usually around 70-75F and 40% to 50% humidity, so I don't think it would be an issue with high humidity. That's why I wasn't sure if the issue had to do with wetter setting compound, but then again, even in the area right beyond the tape where some of the compound was feathered into, it's also beige there. Although, thinking about it more now, it's also true that the white area is on the new drywall and the beige area is on the old drywall. I had to strip off the original (painted) popcorn texture (using paint stripper), and I'm not sure if I should have performed other prep work (e.g. sanding to help remove old mud dust) prior to using the setting compound.

I've attached photos of the original hole, the patched section, and the mudded patch. (The latter is kind of poor quality, so I'll have to grab another photo later.)
 

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herm0016

Diamond Member
Feb 26, 2005
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your patch looks great, but why did you not not put in the new fan box when you had it opened up? what is the pink around the edges from?

try sanding it, if it sands, then its dry. i actually think it looks pretty darn good in the pictures. get a can of the spray texture and go nuts. you may want to prime the patch first. some of the spray can ones say to prime first.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
30,080
697
126
your patch looks great
I did make one other mistake that I forgot about earlier. (I figure it's worth mentioning so maybe someone else reading this can try to not do what I did.) When I was cutting the patch, I scored it from the back instead of the front. It wasn't bad in the end, but it did lead to some unsavory edges that I had to clean up.

but why did you not not put in the new fan box when you had it opened up?
I did consider using a new work brace instead. Since I never planned on doing this drywall work, I had already purchased the retrofit brace, so I figured I'd just use that instead. I could still probably put in the new work item given that the ceiling opens up into the attic, so I do have access to screw in the brace.

The one thing that I was also debating against was pre-drilling the hole for the box itself. It was far easier to know exactly where to put it before it was all mudded over, but I figured that would make mudding harder. At worst, if finding the correct place is a pain from below, I can always go up top and drill the pilot hole from the attic.

what is the pink around the edges from?
That's CitriStrip. I wanted to strip far enough around so I could properly feather out the mud, and since one of the previous owners painted over the popcorn, I need to use something a bit more powerful than a scraper + water. I've used it in the past in my kitchen during its remodel (I didn't do the drywall work there), and it worked well. Although, the contractor talked about just mudding over top of the popcorn instead of scraping it off.

try sanding it, if it sands, then its dry. i actually think it looks pretty darn good in the pictures.
Ah, okay! So, the color isn't too big of a deal? I did rub my finger against it a bit, and it didn't feel too bad, but I'll give the sanding a try too. I bought a vacuum-based sander today too, so hopefully that can help with the dust. (I also have the proper filter and bag for drywall dust for my vacuum.)

get a can of the spray texture and go nuts. you may want to prime the patch first. some of the spray can ones say to prime first.
I'm considering removing the popcorn texture. I did that in the kitchen, and I find it looks a lot better. Although, I know that textures are generally easier, and would require a lot less work for me in regard to making everything near perfect. The problem right now is that everything is currently in that room, and to really get rid of the texture, I'd need to move everything out. So, the short-term solution would be to just reapply the popcorn.
 
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herm0016

Diamond Member
Feb 26, 2005
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I really appreciate your well reasoned approach, questions and response.
i'm sure @Greenman will come and give advise also.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
30,080
697
126
I really appreciate your well reasoned approach, questions and response.
i'm sure @Greenman will come and give advise also.
I’d like to think part of is because my computer had been down for weeks during a rebuild, and this brought it down again. So, I’m trying to avoid messing it up and having to redo it. :p I purchased a texture sprayer earlier and some popcorn texture mix.

I took a new photo of the ceiling that shouldn’t be so blurry. (Not sure why it looked so bad.)
 

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Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
30,080
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As a bit of a final update, I did go through and get everything done. Awkwardly, I had intended on putting popcorn back on the ceiling as I had purchased a sprayer and the texture to do it; however, once I saw that beautifully smooth and primer-covered ceiling, I just couldn't do 'er dirty by spraying that nasty popcorn up there. So, I just painted it, and then went onto the fixture install. (I did cringe a bit at the idea of drilling into my nicely done ceiling.)

I have to admit that the retrofit fixtures certainly look a lot easier in the instructions as it's kind of a pain to line everything up perfectly. It took a bit of time to get everything done, but the ceiling fan is working fine with the dual-switch implementation. In the end, it does look a bit odd with the flat ceiling surrounded by a bunch of popcorn, but eh... just don't look up!

As a bit of a side note, I am using Lutron Caseta switches, and I wish they would provide the user setting option with the wall switch like they do with the Pico Remote. The difference is that the remotes have a round, bulbous button in the middle that can be set to a certain level. So, if the light is off and you prefer it at 50% most of the time, you could make it so the bulbous button does just that.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
30,080
697
126
Why wouldn't you finish the job and scrape the entire ceiling?
I had already setup the room prior to finally deciding to replace the light fixture with a ceiling fan. I didn't worry too much about it originally because I didn't suspect that I'd end up needing to do drywall work to fix things. I did consider moving things out of the room to do the work, but the issue was finding a good place to put large, cumbersome objects like the home theater chairs. The whole reason I've shoved these pricier items into the room is due to rambunctious, bite/claw-happy cats, so moving leather chairs out is not going to fly. (They've already got enough claw marks from when I only had them covered.)

Although, I guess I could've just considered shuffling the home theater chairs around the room when I needed access to that area of the room?
 

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