To me the real test of how professional a sheetrocker is can be determined
by a nice smooth finish. Smooth is the hardest of all finishes. Think of
it this way... when something is smooth any break in that is noticeable.
If smooth is what you want get out your phone book and get some bids or
call your friends for suggestions on tradesmen.
I have rentals and do a lot of work myself. I do a finish that is a
modified "knock down". This hides my weaknesses in finishing. The
sheetrock is hung well. Taping and mudding takes some time to get a good
technique but can be done. But then all the sheetrock should have a skim
coat and then be sanded and another coat, etc. This is what gives the
smooth nice look you want. In my rentals I don't have the time, or the
skill, to do smooth; so I usually have a slight texture.
I am pleased with my skills and the jobs I have done over the last thirty
years, but to be truthful, I usually don't need smooth.
IF you decide to try it... you didn't say how high your ceilings are...
mine are 9.5'. So I rent a sheetrock lifter. It really helps me. I use it
on ceilings and have used it on some walls. To cut down on seams, I'd
layout the job with the largest sheets of sheetrock that will work. So
instead of 4 x 8, I'd get 4 x 12, etc. Every seam that doesn't have to be
there is one more smooth place on the wall that doesn't need mudding. You
didn't say anything about your ceiling joists or studs, but if they are
out of square/alignment that can also affect the look you seek. Other
tools are not too expensive: trowels, utility knife, sheetrock
square/straight edge, electric drill to screw in screws, chalkline for
marking studs, keyhole saw to cut out areas around outlets, tape measure,
and if you decide to texture there are hoppers for spraying mud onto the
walls to give texture.
And lastly the blistering should be investigated. That is not normal. Rust
would indicate to me moisture. Perhaps you have a leak in the roof? Is
there a floor above this room? Perhaps plumbing... water is sneaky and can
travel a long way from where the problem is. I once had ants in a rental.
The next made the ceiling soft and it all had to be redone. Animals, like
squirrels, mice, birds, etc. can also cause moisture that can cause
problems on sheetrock.
If your house is empty, be sure to keep it warm now that we are entering
the colder months. It will help to keep your materials dry and not
damp-ish and will protect the unused home from issues that can arise from
lack of use. One other thing... as an older woman, I don't have the
strength that many a young fella has, so I opt for "slight of hand
tricks", if you will. I do things differently than some may expect. I have
hung sheetrock horizontally instead of upright. If the ceiling is eight
feet or less you have just the ceiling and center seam on each wall. And
the seam is right where you can work it. Most furniture is three or four
feet high and when in the room and next to the wall you rarely notice the
seam. So my walls look quite nice. Besides if you're looking for seams you
are probably looking vertically and you rarely see mine running that
direction. Good luck.