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How to Prevent Water Damage without Losing Your Mind Part 2

Maybe my reaction when I found out our son was filling water balloons in the bathroom INSIDE OUR WATER-CURSED HOUSE was a little inflated. Maybe.

Are you CRAZY??? We had to replace that floor down to the joists because of water damage. I’m upstairs plastering the bathroom because of a leak. NO. WATER. PLAY. IN. THE. HOUSE!

His response: “But I covered the floor in towels just in case I spilled!”

Wise beyond his years. Sort of. I had just finished folding those towels…

We’ve now experienced eight—count ’em, eight—leaks in this house.

Our latest was not the fault of the previous owner. For once.

When the plumber replaced the pan under our air handler, he neglected to clean out the drain lines. The small pipes clogged. Water backed up into the air handler and poured down into the air ducts. Missed it? Read all about the horror (and how to prevent major damage) in Part 1.

Last night I finished priming the bathroom. In case you have a leak of your own, here’s what you need to do after installing the drywall.

Remove any paper tape on the edge of existing drywall. This will make it easier to make a seamless connection with the piece you install.


Use low-dust drywall compound. This stuff is magic. Instead of creating an invasive cloud of white dust which will cover every surface in your home, particles of low-dust compound fall straight to the floor as you sand. The drywall knife you see is my favorite. The stainless steel never rusts and is perfectly flexible. A big rectangular blade works best for working large areas but I love the smaller blade for most of the plastering.


I forgot to take a picture of the fiberglass tape. If you have an edge that doesn’t quite match, lay fiberglass tape along the edge to help build the plaster. Here, if I slathered on enough plaster to meet the existing edge, it would likely crack. Fiberglass tape (looks like gauze) helps prevent cracking. Use fiberglass to join all flat surfaces as well. Fiberglass tape is slightly sticky, which means you can apply it directly to the drywall, then plaster over it.


Working in from the edges and corners, smooth on thin layers of plaster. Also fill in the dents where screws are used (always use drywall screws, not nails) since this will take several thin layers. I used paper tape (not fiberglass) on the 90-degree edges (plaster directly on drywall, lay tape, smooth with plaster knife, add thin layer over tape, allow to dry). Paper tape works better because you can fold it at a 90-degree before placing on the wall. Thin layers work best. Scrape the edges flat with the blade. Smoothing it as you go means less sanding.


Cover all of the drywall with a very thin layer of compound (it’s okay if you can still see the drywall; this is for paint uniformity). Using a large, rectangular blade works well here. Sand the entire surface. Any rough edges will be magnified by the paint, so be thorough.


Bare plaster in a bathroom doesn’t work well (shower steam, etc.) so I primed and painted the ceiling and primed the walls as soon as the plaster dried. Color-change paint is best for painting white-on-white. Mine starts out pink and turns white as it dries. The wall primer looks really weird in this picture but dried to a light tan.


Air handler broke

The water leaked

I felt angry—

really piqued.

Pulled plaster out

and fiberglass

wanted to beat

our plumber’s

Door down (what did you think I was going to say?)

Plastered scraped

and painted too

and now I’m done




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