Can Kilz 3 over new drywall be sanded?


Unfortunately, I hired a contractor who wasn't proficient. In short, rather than doing the final mudding and sanding on my new drywall properly, he totally messed it up and then to make it worse, he sprayed over all his obvious mistakes with Kilz 3! I have about 25-30 sheets of 4x12 drywall that I'd like to save if possible. Right now, when I look down it, it looks like a patchwork quilt of varying smoothness and textures. I don't want to have to demolish it and start over if possible. We wanted smooth walls and ceiling, but one option is to sand some and then do some sort of knockdown textured finish (we find that sort of yucky though), to cover most of the mistakes. I have purchased (arrived today) a 9" circular powered sander with vacuum hose (haven't tried it yet) but was wondering it the Kilz will ever get 'hard' so it would sand to a 'powder'. I don't care if I damage the mud underneath because all the walls or going to need to be skim coating anyway to get the smoothness I want. I'm open to all thoughts, but sure dread the thought of tearing out the walls (I can save the ceiling) and carrying it all out the basement and across the back year to a dumpster sitting on end of driveway. Oh, and I'm 71 too! Thanks in advance.

  9 answers
  • Deb K Deb K on Apr 13, 2021

    Hi Stephen, yes you can sand it, if it is still soft, you may be able to scrape it off gently, and it should show his mistakes off better for you to fix up as well, you will have to prime again once you smooth it all out though.

  • Betsy Betsy on Apr 13, 2021

    Hi Stephen: One thing you can do is to take this clown to court and sue to get your money back. Tell the judge, and this is very important, that "you've lost faith in him and his abilities" and want someone else to do the job. Take pictures of his bad work to offer as evidence. Even if he isn't with a company, you can bring suit against him. There is no reason for you to tidy up after him.

  • William William on Apr 13, 2021

    You should be able to sand with no problem. Primer does show a lot of imperfections in walls. I have sanded and patched walls after priming to get them smooth. Just make sure you prime again. I'm 69 and still going.

  • Seth Seth on Apr 13, 2021


    Can you post a picture? When you say the contractor did not do the final mudding and sanding, are you seeing the joint tape and compound covering the tape stick out for all of the drywall seams? The Kilz will not sand to a powder and I don't think sanding will solve your problem. You can mud over the Kilz to smooth out tape joints and sand the joint compound. You could then skim coat to smooth everything else out before final painting. You should talk to a plasterer and see what they say. And sue the original contractor.

  • Stephen Van Osdell Stephen Van Osdell on Apr 13, 2021

    Okay, let me first say that I've had a long string of very bad luck with my basement project, mainly the drywall. 1st contractor required $1200 up front which I gave him, and after a few days of 'brother in the hospital' excuses, he even stopped responding. This was in October, then my mother had a stroke and holidays came. 2nd contractor was weird (admitted half way through job that he was severe bipolar) and worked alone. We got almost to the end and he changed the price on me (and no, it seemed so simple, we didn't write it down). Wife and I remember specifically him saying $35 a sheet hung and finished. At the end, he changed to $45/sheet saying that it was only $35 if he did more than 100 sheets! So, I paid him the $35/sheet and sent him packing but he still needed the 3rd and final mudding. This was 2 months ago. 3rd contractor was hired to get me over the finish line, but I started noticing stuff that made me feel like he didn't know what he was doing (and I was right) and I terminated him after 2 days. He was sanding bare drywall and ruining (what is called burning) the paper causing it to make 'whiskers'. Then, I hired this most recent guy. He had told me he could finish everything in 2-3 days for $2000. I have written agreement with him that it would be to my satisfaction. During the 2nd day, I noticed he was wearing an ankle bracelet and he confessed that he'd been in prison for 7 years (he was 31) for dealing meth and had been out about 6 years, but had recently got into some more trouble. He had tatoos from neck to ankle, arms and legs and was very intimidating with me at home alone. He rushed spraying the primer, I think, hoping it would cover everything that he chose to mess up. He skimmed in some places, not in others, he sprayed primer on too thick and he helper backrolling didn't have a clue it appears. He finished at night and it looked okay in the dim light (my bad) and I paid him cash. Next morning in daylight is when I got the shock. I texted him and told him I wanted a refund, but he hasn't responded one word in 3 days! There was no tape showing when he started. Now, I have messed up inner corners, rounded outer corners, messed up corner of the room, and a patch work of textured caused by lousy backrolling of a too thick coat of sprayed on hide hid primer. We are thinking of maybe doing a 2/3 wainscoting and putting cover molding up in corners and texturing knockdown the ceiling. Then, I'd only have to straighten out the top 3rd of the walls. I don't think my nerves or wallet can handle tearing out and starting over. Suing? Even if you win, you only get a judgement and people like him will never have anything or a regular pay check which can be garnished. Hardly worth the effort and also somewhere dangerous with these kind of ex-cons.

  • Stephen Van Osdell Stephen Van Osdell on Apr 13, 2021

    Oh, I forgot to mention that I can do the wainscoting myself. Also, any opinions on what the powered 9" sander would do to that primer? (I ordered protective Tyvek coveralls from Amazon this afternoon). Getting mentally prepared.

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Apr 14, 2021

    Yes, you should be able to sand that smooth with no problem.

  • Stephen Van Osdell Stephen Van Osdell on Apr 14, 2021

    I did finally get a response back from Kilz. They said that it can be sanded after it has totally cured (1 to 2 weeks) with 150-180 grit paper! Thanks Chloe! I also had an estimator in this morning. He says it can be saved. Step 1 - sand high spots on all walls and corners. Step 2 - skim coat everything Step 3 - lightly sand skim coat Step 4 - Prime again. Any suggestions on what primer to use the second time over the skim coated walls? Estimator also said that the skim coat would stop the old primer from peeling, and that it was peeling because the idiot sprayed it without dusting off the walls first!

    • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Apr 16, 2021

      Thanks for letting us know that Kilz responded to this perplexing situation. Glad you have the steps defined. Sorry for your aggravation hopefully it’ll be forgotten once you get everything straight.

  • Holy cow! Where did you find these winners??? Every state has some sort of licensing board. If they are not licensed, bonded and insured, this is what happens. You have spent hard earned money on nothing. A legal signed contract sighed by all parties gives you a leg to stand on if necessary. Long gone are the days of a promise and handshake. That was when people had pride in their work and people kept their word. See if this helps.

    So sorry this happened to you. Now you know better.