How about a spray machine that will save time and money when doing patch repair on textured finishes? Kev's got the answer in this month's column.

All of you on the east coast can stop reading now. This month’s article deals with texture. Not the type of texture that is preferred in your choice of toilet paper or baby blankets, but the type that is applied to walls and ceilings.

I learned to finish in the Midwest where every wall is sprayed with orange peel, and ceilings are adorned with either popcorn or some type of a swirl or stomp. When I moved to the east coast, I had to relearn everything, as every wall and every ceiling called for a smooth finish. And yes, I hated life for a few months until I adjusted my finishing technique.

Every finishing system has its own set of pros and cons. While it does take more effort to achieve a smooth wall finish, you don’t have the expense of pulling a spray rig behind your pickup. Admittedly, the fun quotient is sizable while spraying glittery acoustic into the pores of the new guy, accidentally. But the hassle of dragging hoses up several flights of steps does not seem to be a fair trade for the fleeting few moments of elation such elementary pranks provide. Patchwork also takes on an added dimension. Each and every rathole left behind by plumbers, electricians and well-meaning but dangerous home theater installers/homeowners now have to be texture matched after you patch them.

Finishers have proven to be a very inventive lot. A drywall nail cut down with snips and sanded to a point will serve nicely as a tape advance pin for your bazooka in a pinch. Who hasn’t cut down an old 6-inch knife to the shape needed to finish the top of a pointed cathedral? The hinge-side of many a steel door has been used to act as a makeshift metal break in order to form the back of a blade into a curve to round out a snaky top angle. And we have all at one time or another come up with our own special way of trying to texture small patches.

Examples run the gamut from low tech to very expensive, from flicking a Wisk boom dipped into thinned topping compound in the direction of said patch, to using an old piece of carpet to try and get an obscure scallop design to match. Of course, you can always choose a hopper gun hooked to a compressor spitting mud at everything and everyone. Be ready to be open-minded. I think I have found the answer to your prayers.

No more hauling around hoses.

Spray divinely

I was recently sent a model of what I believe to be the world’s first HVLP hand sprayer. Its roots come from where most useful inventions come from: real world need. This tool was created in the mind of Scott Fyfe. An inventor and full-time patch man, Scott was frustrated by the current methods of trying to match existing texture, and living in California everything is textured. Not only is it difficult to exactly duplicate existing texture, it’s messy and labor intensive.

Enter the Red Tail texture gun. At first glance, it looks like a bug sprayer on steroids, and I’m not so sure I won’t try to spray some skeeters with it on the Fourth this year. Granted, this bug sprayer is constructed entirely of CNC machined billet aluminum and brass. This gun is also designed to operate eight hours a day in real-world conditions with very minimal maintenance. Having tried a similar, although less refined tool previously, I was very skeptical. Sure it would look great sitting on my shelf, but would it perform? Understand, this tool is designed for spraying patches. But being the hard case I am, I decided to spray a whole room.

A light orange peel was chosen for the first test. The spray pattern was very impressive with very little overspray. The tip can be adjusted to spray very light orange peel all the way up to applying heavy acoustic. It took approximately 20 minutes and three refills for me to spray a 170 square-foot bathroom. There was a slight learning curve, and admit I wouldn’t want to spray entire rooms every day, but the sprayer performed wonderfully. The energy exerted pumping the plunger was not even close to the effort that would have been involved in setting up a hopper, hooking up the compressor, dragging hoses and cleanup.

Cleaning the Redtail is a breeze. All one has to do is unscrew the texture bottle and rinse it out, refill it with clean water and spray the gun a few pumps. Maintenance is limited to applying a few drops of oil to the plunger rod once in a while. Not being satisfied with just spraying orange peel, the following weekend my new toy was used to spray knockdown on the walls of a friends’ family room. Once again, the tool performed perfectly. Starts and stops were even. The gun holds pressure, so between pumps it still sprays, achieving a very even spray pattern.

In my humble opinion, for texturing patchwork this is the tool. Imagine what a time-saver this little tool could be. The only prep work needed is to pre-mix a few containers of topping/texture. Load up one bucket with your tools and another with the sprayer and off to the wonderful world of patching you go. To change to a different type of texture all that is required is to screw on a different container of mud, adjust the tip to the desired pattern and pump away. And no, you don’t have to drag a hose anymore.

T time

Let’s switch gears for a minute. June is fast approaching and with it comes the “Second Annual T-shirt” contest. I know June seems a long way off but in order to be considered, you must have your submission in by May 23. Last year, there were a number of shirts sent in late that didn’t make the cut-off date. We were impressed with the time and effort many of you spent last year on your designs. We wait with anticipation to see what you come up with this year. Suppliers are also welcome to send in creative logos.

During a recent trip to Canada, I was introduced to the MUDgear collection being promoted by Westroc. There was the “RESPECT YOUR MUDDER” tee, “HERE’S MUD IN YOUR EYE” and one in French that translated, “It is legal to pull a joint with Westroc.” Now here’s a company that proves they understand who their customers are and they’re not too stuffy to joke about it.

Once again, shirts are preferred over pictures. If you do decide to send a picture instead, submissions modeled by hot babes, cute kids or bizarre looking individuals will obviously receive higher marks. Crank up the creativity, people. This is your annual chance to get some free exposure. Send your submissions to: Adventures in Drywall, c/o John Wyatt, 755 W. Big Beaver Rd., Ste 1000, Troy, Mich., 48084.

And remember: Whether you choose to pull a hose or pull a joint, it’s still your life!