How much does it cost to skim coat walls and ceilings?
Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to skim coat walls and ceilings?

Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to skim coat walls and ceilings?

$1.00 – $1.30average cost per square foot of wall surface
$580 – $800cost to skim coat a 12' x 12' room (walls & ceiling)
$5,500 – $9,400cost to skim coat an entire house (1,500 SF)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$1.00 – $1.30 average cost per square foot of wall surface

$580 – $800 cost to skim coat a 12' x 12' room (walls & ceiling)

$5,500 – $9,400 cost to skim coat an entire house (1,500 SF)


Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
Kristen Cramer
Written by
Kristen Cramer
Fact-checked by
Tom Grupa

Average skim coat cost

The cost to skim coat walls is $1.00 to $1.30 per square foot, depending on the room size and height. Skim coating drywall ceilings costs $1.00 to $1.50 per square foot. Skimming a 12'x12' room costs $580 to $800 on average for the walls and ceiling and adds a smooth finish.

Cost to skim coat a room or house
Room Average cost*
5’x8’ Bathroom $250 – $370
12’x12’ Bedroom $580 – $800
12’x20’ Master bedroom $800 – $1,100
16’x20’ Living room $950 – $1,300
20’x20’ Garage $1,000 – $1,400
1,000 SF Basement (open floorplan) $2,200 – $3,000
1,000 SF Basement (with rooms) $4,600 – $7,700
1,500 SF Whole house $5,500 – $9,400
2,000 SF Whole house $8,000 – $13,000
2,500 SF Whole house $9,000 – $16,300
3,000 SF Whole house $10,500 – $18,900

*Including walls and ceilings.

  • The skim coating cost does not include the cost of drywall sheets or drywall installation.

  • Labor makes up approximately 70% of the total cost of skim coating.

  • Skim coating estimates are based on the wall or ceiling surface square footage, not the home's floor square footage.

Cost to skim coat walls

Skim coating walls costs $90 to $210 per wall on average, depending on the wall size and height, room shape and complexity, and number of doors and windows the contractors must work around.

Average cost to skim coat walls - Chart
Average cost to skim coat walls - Chart
Cost to skim coat walls
Wall size Average total cost
10' x 9' $90 – $120
11' x 9' $100 – $130
12' x 9' $110 – $140
18' x 9' $160 – $210

Cost to skim coat a ceiling

The cost to skim coat a ceiling is $1.00 to $1.50 per square foot on average, depending on the ceiling height and shape. Contractors typically charge 10% to 20% more for ceilings over 10'.

Average cost to skim coat a ceiling
Room Dimensions Average total cost
Bathroom 5’x 8’ $40 – $60
Bedroom 12’ x 12’ $140 – $210
Master bedroom 12’ x 20’ $240 – $360
Living room 16’ x 20’ $320 – $480
Garage 20’ x 20’ $400 – $600
Basement 30’ x 30’ $900 – $1,350

Skim coat drywall cost per square foot

Skim coating costs $1.00 to $1.30 per square foot, depending on the project size and complexity and the current wall or ceiling condition.

Skim coat cost per square foot
Factor Average cost per square foot
Skim coat materials $0.30 – $0.40
Labor cost $0.70 – $0.90
Total cost $1.00 – $1.30

A drywall contractor adding a skim coat to a wall.
A drywall contractor adding a skim coat to a wall.

Labor cost for skimming walls

Labor for skimming walls costs $0.70 to $0.90 per square foot, or about 70% of the total project cost.

  • Labor costDrywall contractors charge $40 to $100 per hour to skim coat walls and ceilings.

  • Room size – Larger rooms have more surface area to coat, increasing time and costs.

  • Ceiling height – Contractors charge more to skim coat ceilings over 10' due to the extra time, safety precautions, and additional equipment required to reach the surface.

  • Multiple coats – Most projects require at least two coats to achieve a smooth finish. Skim coating with more than two coats increases costs by 50% to 100%.

  • Repairs and preparation – Skim coating prices do not include repairs:

  • Drywall repairs cost $200 to $750 on average.

  • Ceiling repairs cost $200 to $500 to fix holes, cracks, or other minor damage.

  • Popcorn ceiling removal costs $1 to $2 per square foot.

  • Wallpaper removal costs $1 to $2 per square foot.

  • Drywall finish – A level 5 drywall finish costs $1.75 to $3.50 per square foot, and includes hanging the drywall, taping and mudding the joints, and skim coating the entire surface.

  • Drywall texture – The cost to texture drywall is $0.80 to $2.00 per square foot. A knockdown texture is a popular alternative to skim coating.

  • PaintingInterior painting costs $1 to $3 per square foot of surface area.

Skim coat material prices

Ready-mixed joint compound for skim coating costs $15 to $20 per 4.5-gallon bucket to cover approximately 250 to 650 square feet of surface area. Joint compound is also called drywall mud.

Skim coating also requires other tools and supplies, including:

  • Trowel or skimming blade

  • Paint tray or mud pan

  • 5-gallon bucket

  • Drill with mixer attachment

  • Thick-nap paint roller cover

  • Paint roller frame

  • Paint roller extension pole

  • Wet rag

  • Tiling sponges for sanding

  • Pole sander

  • Safety glasses

  • Respirator dust mask

  • Contractor-grade masking tape

  • Drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect the floor and furniture

  • Ladder to reach high areas

Frequently asked questions

What is skim coating?

Skim coating is a thin layer of diluted joint compound smoothed evenly over an entire drywall surface with a trowel or skimming blade. Skim coating—also called a Level 5 drywall finish—creates a flat, uniform surface on walls and ceilings.

Why does drywall need a skim coat?

Reasons to skim coat drywall include:

  • Preparing new drywall for priming and painting

  • Touching up scuffs, holes, gouges, and other drywall damage

  • Fixing drywall damaged by wallpaper or paneling removal

  • Smoothing old, worn, or bumpy wall surfaces

  • Covering unwanted wall or ceiling textures

You can prime and paint drywall directly, but a skim coat is recommended for new drywall that will receive gloss, semi-gloss, or enamel paint or in rooms with bright lighting conditions.

How long does it take to skim a room?

Skim coating a room takes 1 to 4 days, including the drying time between each coat. Installers apply the coating in thin layers, and the process often requires multiple coats. Each coat takes 12 to 24 hours to dry.

How much skim coat do I need?

Skim coating requires 1 gallon of joint compound per 50 to 150 square feet of surface area. Skim coating an average 12’x12’ room takes two 4.5-gallon buckets of ready-mixed joint compound or drywall mud diluted with water.

What is the difference between skimming and plastering?

Skimming is a plaster or drywall finishing technique. Installers apply a thin coat of drywall mud or joint compound on top of drywall board or plaster walls to create a smooth surface. Plastering involves covering walls with a mixture of cement or sand, lime or gypsum, and water.

Plastering walls costs $2 to $10 per square foot.

Hiring skim coating contractors

Before hiring a drywall repair or plastering contractor near you, be sure to:

  • Get at least three in-person estimates to compare.

  • Look at their reviews on HomeGuide and Google.

  • Look for a drywall contractor who is a member of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry (AWCI).

  • Ask for references and browse their portfolio of similar completed projects.

  • Select companies that are licensed, insured, bonded, and have been in business for 5+ years.

  • Get a detailed estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before work begins.

  • Avoid choosing the lowest quote as quality may suffer.

  • Never pay in full before the project starts. Follow a payment plan instead and request receipts.

Questions to ask

  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?

  • Will your company work on the project, or will you subcontract the job?

  • How long will the project take?

  • Does the estimate include cleanup costs?

  • What other costs should I expect?

  • What permits do I need, and will you obtain them?

  • What will I need to do to prepare my home before the project begins?

  • How do you handle damages that happen on the job?