In the company of celebrities, the Stars practice their moves in creative drywalling.

Both conventional and nonlinear drywall framing was used on the Gretzky project.

Spiral staircases and arched walkways display the many curved features of the home.
Chances are, if you're a drywall contractor that produces quality finished product in California, sooner or later you'll cross paths with someone who will introduce you to the stars. The lead in this production is Paul Croteau, drywaller, working in upper-scale homes in Hidden Valley. Supporting cast includes Star Drywall, E-Z Trowel, with special guest mention by retired hockey star Wayne Gretsky and actress/wife Janet Jones.

So how do star drywallers, sport figures and movie stars all compose the narrative?

Using the E-Z Trowel for arched surfaces helped the productivity of this job.

A star is born

Croteau has been in and around the construction business for the duration of his life. His dad was a lath and plasterer who influenced him to remain in the industry. Adopting drywall in place of plastering because of time efficiency and cost, he has been practicing residential drywall. Through years of hard work and making connections throughout the area, Star Drywall came into contact with Sherwood Construction, of Thousand Oaks, Calif.

"Cindy McClure, purchasing manager of Sherwood Construction, had me do one house and since then I've been in several of these homes," says Croteau.

Because of the value of the real estate he's working in and around, Croteau stresses the biggest challenge of working in the area is motivating crew to display the highest degrees of quality. Beyond an exceptional finished job, there's a whole other level of demand while working for the stars.

With Star's reputation for outstanding decorative drywall work, the company was able to land the subcontractor work for the Gretzky home. The scope of the job was to drywall and finish the elaborate 11,000 square-foot home, the 1,000 square-foot carriage home, and the two 1,500 square-foot pool houses.

Up above and around

The home's interior is complex, with layered drywall throughout the structure. The living room features a multi-layered coffered ceiling with soffits that hangs 23 feet above. Another feature was to wrap gypsum board around a spiral staircase, arched entrances and custom ceilings. With all these contours and arches, special tools were needed for a clean, smooth finish. The company strictly follows the Gypsum Association's guidelines for Level 5 finish. After mudding and taping, a skim coat is applied to create a level of consistency for the coating. After that, the company sprays gypsum primer 100 percent throughout the entire complex.

Most materials for the job were supplied by Hamilton Materials, of Orange, Calif.

Star has always depended on the service of Hamilton and continues to find great favor within the company's line of finish applications and accessories. Used on the Gretzky project was Prep Coat, Hamilton's all-purpose topping and hot set product made to provide a surface with minimal texture differential, such as the difference between joint compound and the paper face on sheets of drywall. This was used on the James Hardie stock for the wall systems. For all the bending walls, Croteau and crew used the High Flex 1/4-inch board by National Gypsum, which is made for such applications without soaking the sheets.

"The stuff bends nicely," says Croteau. "You don't need to soak it, don't need to score it. Plus, you have a nice substrate."

With the aid of the board following the radius walls, the company has been recently using a product that they believe helps immensely for such complex curves and twists. The E-Z Trowel, from Las Vegas, allows one to float the mud over seams in the same direction that the tape is running, helping to eliminate joint visibility and allowing greater control over arched wall systems. It is made of self-lubricating high-density polyethylene and has a self-healing quality designed to retain its shape without cracking, peeling or warping.

Using Rolls Scaffold, of Oxnard, Calif., the company was able to reach the 23-foot ceiling, float the compound around the ceiling arches and center point of an axis that meets in the center of the living. The last finish coat to meet G.A. specifications was the Topping line by Hamilton. What distinguishes this from the other line of the company's topping coat is the shade of finish: The Prep Coat is white, the Topping is yellow. These different colors help differentiate the number of coats applied to meet the Level 5 finish rule.

As of press time, the company was near completing the last of the pool houses and settle on to another year of busy framing throughout the upper-scale area.

Since working on a celebrity-couples' home, were Star Drywall able to meet the hockey legend and film star?

"I wish," says Croteau. "The Gretzky's would tell their representative who would convey to the construction workers what was wanted and needed. I hope to at least get Wayne's autograph."

Well then, whom has the company met?

"We did do Lenny Dykstra's (former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies player) home. He'd sign baseball cards for us and everything."

Meeting, working for and holding company with world-renowned stars is a frill of the job. Beyond the rewards of peripheral contact with famous people an even greater benefit of such high-class projects is the focus and challenge of the work. Most of these residential properties are larger in scope and more complex in layout. It is no wonder the Hidden Valley community are reaching for the Star's. The company is the star of its own picture show, canvassed not on celluloid but drywall.