Mud & Paint

December 27-April 14:  It’s a good thing that the dreary work of mudding & taping coincided with the dreary days of winter (and the better part of the shut down). It was 20 years since I’d last picked up my drywall trowel and unspooled a roll of tape, but the skills came back. I started in the attic to make sure. 

Drywall and the mud that makes it seamless are one of the few modern building materials that are relatively benign.  Drywall is approximately 75-90% gypsum (calcium sulfate), 10% cellulose and “trace amounts” of proprietary additives. Gypsum is considered an abundant resource and available worldwide. It’s most commonly extracted from vast open pit mines, manufactured in vast factories, and shipped in vast quantities. Mud (joint compound) in it’s conventional ready-mix form is 60% limestone, 32% water with the rest talcum, mica, perlite and a mix of proprietary ingredients including fungicides, preservatives, and polymers. The USG compound I used has been granted a Green Guard Gold label—a third party certification that tests for chemical emissions to the indoor environment (mostly VOC’s).

I could have made the more environmentally sound choice (were I willing to shoulder more work) by buying compound in its powdered form. This product has less packaging waste (all those 5 gallon buckets), transportation waste (all that factory added water), and doesn’t contain nearly as many mystery ingredients. I did order the bulk of my ready-mix in boxes (with plastic bag liners), not buckets. 

The drywall scraps (despite all efforts, there were a lot), got tossed to the edge of my property and covered with rotten straw. Gypsum is a good soil amendment when you want to raise the pH of your soil (to make it more alkaline). I chopped a few scraps and threw them in the hole where I planted a lilac bush. This unconventional solution may have raised eyebrows in the neighborhood, but saved me the expense and hassle of a dumpster.  lilac

For paint, I chose a soft white in a matte finish for its timeless appeal. An eggshell finish is more practical but I object to the shine and was worried that my mud job wouldn’t be up to the challenge. A flat or matte finish hides better.

Just as I did for the exterior, I purchased organic, low odor, zero VOC paint from South Carolina manufacturer Ecos Paint. The paint is certified Red List Free (free of “worst in class” chemicals prevalent in the building industry).


It’s non-toxic and biodegradable. It doesn’t contain any algicides, mildewcides, pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. Ecos is one of few companies with a completely transparent label—all ingredients are listed. Their product is especially needed for those with chemical sensitivities and other vulnerable people.  

The paint covered well and was reasonably priced. I think companies like this who are striving to make a difference should be rewarded with our dollars.

Once the brushes and rollers were put away and the tarps folded up, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was finally able to enjoy the feel of my transformed space without scrutinizing every dip, drip, skip and bubble.

polished June 2020

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: