Level 5 drywall finish performed with skimming blade on a white interior wall

Finishing recommendations for concealed doors

April 15, 2024

Drywall. Wallboard. Sheetrock. However you call it, gypsum board is the industry standard for internal wall construction around the world, providing an adaptable, fire-resistant surface that is easy to join and decorate. Having decided on Angelbau premium door products does not preclude using traditional drywall for your walls. However, whether doing the work yourself or hiring a contractor, you should be aware of the best practices and terminology that will provide the best possible integration with your hidden frame doors.

There are five finish levels for drywall. The levels generally refer to the amount of joint compound or mud used on the drywall after fastened to the wall frame. The drywall panels are nailed or screwed to the wall frame and the seams connecting panels are covered with joint tape, which will allow the joint compound to fill and cover the seams. An additional skim coat can be added all around the drywall to ensure a flat appearance consistent throughout the length of the wall.

Choosing between a Level 4 or a Level 5 drywall finish

Level 1 and Level 2 finishes only cover the screw/nail heads and tape for unfinished or minimally finished space. A Level 3 finish will include extra compound over all seams and fasteners and patches of extra compound throughout the panel to facilitate an even coat of paint/primer. Those choosing premium decor elements would typically expect a Level 4 or Level 5 finish, where the entire surface of the panel is covered in the joint compound to create a uniform surface. When working with Dorsis Fortius invisible doors, regardless of the type of door finish, you want to maximize the continuity of the wall into the door as there is no frame to disrupt the visual flow.

A Level 5 finish requires the entire drywall surface to be coated with a thin layer of joint compound (skim coat). After completely covering the joints between panels, the entire surface is filled until level. It is then sanded and checked for level (your drywall finisher will be shining bright light down the wall to spot imperfections). The doors are then installed and the level is checked again to see if more sanding is required before painting or papering (additional wall texturing is not recommended for use with Angelbau swing and sliding pocket doors as it would detract from the uniform appearance associated with high-end European interior doors).

How to achieve the best Level 5 drywall finish

Achieving a Level 5 finish gets tricky when the starting point is imperfect framing. Therefore a little planning, upfront expense, and checking alignment with a laser level during the framing process will go a long way, especially if your build is new construction or a major remodel. Using LSL lumber (engineered studs) is a good choice for framing as they are completely flat. LSL studs cost more than standard dimensional lumber, but you’ll save significant time and money down the road when correcting irregularities of your wood stud wall framing with drywall shims. You may also prefer to use heavier 5/8” drywall sheets that are more rigid and better at hiding imperfections (the extra benefit of these thicker sheets is better sound damping).

Level 5 finish is labor-intensive, given the additional steps, careful wall preparation, and a demanding sanding process. To achieve the best results, pick a drywall contractor proficient in Level 5 drywall finish to ensure your design aesthetic is actualized.

Title image: Level 5 Tools Skimming Blade