Plasterman Question of the Month
First, on Kal-Smooth. It’s one of my favorite products to use. From my own experience with it, it’s easy to apply and the setting is gradual so you can work it down to a nice smooth finish. Your problem could be from using old product. This can cause the smooth coat to set up faster and not give you a lot of time with it. A suggestion is to mix it in batches no larger than a 5-gallon bucket. Use clean water and make sure you have everything set up and ready so you can begin applying it immediately after mixing. Another tip is to try and apply it over a fresh base coat that you’ve applied that day. This will give you a moist surface to work over, which will help you with coverage and workability.
I do not suggest using retarder. I believe your cracking and peeling problems came from using it. It held off the set and on a ceiling with the heat and wind factor in the house you were working in, this most likely caused it to dry out before it chemically set. I hope these suggestions help you and hopefully you’ll give it another try!