When it comes to home improvement projects, there aren’t many that don’t involve a good deal of expense and/or heavy labor. So if you’re wondering how you can quickly improve the look of your interior walls without making a big investment, texturing them may be the solution you’re looking for!
Wall texture is a product that is thicker than paint, yet thinner than drywall compound, although drywall compound can be used. Three main types are available – a ready-to-use roll-on product, dry mix (powder to be mixed in water) and spray (may be water- or oil-based). Products in a spray can are better suited for touch-ups to an existing wall texture, however. And while applying texture to one or more walls is relatively easy as DIY projects go, it still requires prep work and specialized tools that you may have to rent or purchase. That said, compared to other solutions, texturing can save you time and money – with the plus side of providing a stylish interior décor touch!
The Advantages of a Textured Wall Surface
As home renovation expert Lee Wallender writes for The Spruce, “Wall texture is often applied out of necessity … But wall texture does have the distinct advantage of being a quick method of finishing walls without the seemingly endless cycles of mudding, curing, and sanding drywall compounds. Wall texture can cover up imperfect drywall or mudding work, and it dries rapidly enough that you can begin painting just hours later.”
For this reason, texturing is ideal for concealing drywall repairs that leave visible seams. It also can be used to cover minor wall damage – such as gouges that don’t go through the drywall – as well as areas in which molding or wainscoting have been removed. While Wallender contends that most homeowners would prefer a smooth surface, achieving it involves the expense and upheaval of installing new drywall. Our blog post – “Types of Drywall You Need to Know About” – covers this topic in greater detail.
Wallender’s assumption could be just an expression of his own preference, as texturing offers a way to get creative and make a unique, stylish statement. Even if you’re not trying to conceal a flawed wall surface, texturing can create an eye-catching accent wall, or add dimension and character to a room.
Should you decide to take the plunge, there are some design principles to keep in mind. As you learn about the different types of textured finishes that follow, choose the finish that best complements the space. For example, comb or orange peel would be appropriate for an accent wall in a small-to-medium-size room, while knockdown or slap brush knockdown might be overwhelming.
Also, be careful if texturing more than one wall in a room. Again, keep visual proportions in mind, and avoid choosing a texture that calls attention to itself. You want the texture to work with all the other elements in the room, rather than be the first thing that you and others see!
Types of Textured Finishes
There are seven main types of textured wall finishes. Home improvement writer Timothy Dale and home renovation legend Bob Villa describe each in an article for Villa’s self-named website, as well as recommended preparation steps and application techniques.
Comb – This texture is one of the most basic techniques, allowing you to create lines of various widths and shapes. This technique is often used to produce a repeated series of rainbow patterns. It requires drywall compound, a roller and a drywall trowel that has evenly spaced teeth (or uneven teeth if you are going for a less organized pattern). Apply the drywall compound to the wall using the roller, then use the teeth of the trowel to gently apply lines in the wet compound.
Popcorn – Although popcorn texture ceilings have a bad reputation, this finish on a wall creates a different impression – especially after painting! If you intend it to be a true accent wall, a popcorn texture wall painted a different color from the room’s other walls will make it stand out in a good way. To create this finish, you need popcorn texture, an air compressor and a hopper gun.
Orange peel – This texture looks exactly as it sounds – it resembles the peel of an orange. Prime the walls so that the texture has a smooth, dirt-free surface to stick to. Use a hopper gun with an adjustable valve, a drywall compound and an air compressor.
Knockdown – This creates a unique, rustic pattern, akin to stucco. Knockdown can be achieved by adding a step to the orange peel technique: After applying an orange peel texture to the walls, flatten the peaks and bumps that form in the drywall compound using an 18-inch or wider knockdown knife. Smaller rooms will likely require a wait period of about 10 to 15 minutes after spraying before the peaks can begin to be flattened, while a larger room can probably be started as soon as you are finished spraying. Just be sure to begin flattening in the same area that you began spraying.
Sand swirl – This creates an artistic, free-form effect that isn’t overwhelming. Use a compound known as perlite (primer with sand mixed into it) and a 7-inch-wide paint brush. Hold the paintbrush by the base, as this will give you more control than holding the handle. Dip the brush a few inches into the perlite, giving it a wipe on either side of the bucket to remove loose drips. Start at the top of the wall, making a big loop with an open bottom. Each row of this swirl pattern will cover up the bottom of the previous row.
Slap brush – The slap brush texture creates a random pattern of thin lines that add an eccentric flair to any room. This type of wall texture is a great choice if you aren’t confident with a spray gun. All that’s needed is a roller, a double crows foot drywall texture brush (also known as a slap brush) and drywall compound. Mix the compound with water until it reaches a thick paint consistency, then apply it evenly to the wall using your roller. Complete two 5-foot-wide sections before picking up the slap brush. Apply drywall compound to each side of the slap brush in a thin coating, and then begin slapping the first section of the wall with the brush. There shouldn’t be any specific pattern to the texture, so have fun and mix it up by twisting the angle of the slap brush in the air between slaps.
Slap brush knockdown – This texture combines the slap brush technique with the flattening step of the knockdown texture to create a random pattern of flatter, wider lines, instead of peaked, thin lines. To apply this texture, you will need a roller, slap brush, knockdown knife and drywall compound. Using the slap brush technique, work your way around the room until each wall is evenly covered in a slap brush texture. For smaller rooms, wait 10 to 15 minutes before beginning to flatten the peaks using the knockdown knife. For larger rooms, you can begin flattening the peaks immediately.
How to DIY – But Call a Pro if You Need Help
You may have noticed that some of the application techniques that Dale and Villa recommend require sprayers or other types of equipment you might not feel confident using. Fear not! Shannon Cooper provides a simplified method in her article for 21 Oak. The basic steps follow. Please read the article in its entirety for complete step-by-step instructions.
Prep work – Applying texture to a wall is a messy process. Lay drop cloths on the floor and use plastic sheeting and painter’s tape to cover windows, trim and doorways. Pre-coat the wall by applying a layer of drywall primer or flat white latex paint, then let dry. This step is vital. Otherwise, the bare drywall will absorb the texture paint, negating all of your hard work.
Prepare the texture compound – Mix the texture material after the primer dries completely. Take a 5-gallon bucket and mix four parts of drywall and one part of water. Use the paint mixer attachment of your drill to mix thoroughly. The consistency should be like a thick pancake batter. You can also buy premade texture paint if you don’t want to make your own. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and stir the paint thoroughly before applying it to the wall.
Roll the texture on the wall – Adding texture to a wall must be done in two stages: rolling on the compound and, when that layer is partially dry, applying a second coat. Begin by filling the paint tray with the texture paint or handmade texture compound. Dip your roller into the paint, roll it out, and begin applying it to the wall. A standard roller cover will create a texture, but you may want to try a cover specifically designed for texture. If you’re using store-bought paint, follow all the manufacturer’s directions, as they may only recommend one coat. For corners and other areas that are difficult to reach with your roller, apply the texturing material with the flat face of a paintbrush.
After it dries, apply the texture again – It is crucial to know when to apply the second coat. Let the first coat dry halfway, then apply the second. To check how dry the texture is, press your thumb against the wall and remove it. Apply the second coat after the first coat dries to the desired level. Use a paintbrush to cover corners and crevices effectively.
Get the finish you want – As mentioned earlier, there are many types of texture. If you have the right tools, you can create a variety of finishes. Cooper describes how to create a knockdown finish, which looks like textured plaster. To achieve this effect, run a drywall knife across the surface with the blade held at a flat angle before the wall is completely dry. Once the wall is dry, those who used homemade drywall compound can seal the surface with primer and paint it with their chosen color.
Now that you know the many techniques for texturing walls, you may have answered your own question as to whether you can – or should – do it yourself, or hire a professional. While Cooper’s method can be accomplished by those with beginner-level DIY skills, those who want to cover more than one wall or use a different technique requiring specialized equipment – such as an air-compressor-powered electric sprayer – would be advised to call a pro. Also, a professional has experience in knowing the proper texturing compound consistency – plus has the relevant expertise, appropriate tools, personal protective equipment and assistance, if needed.
The Paint Manager offers experienced, professional application of wall texturing, as well as drywall repair. Our team has been proudly serving Central Florida homeowners for over 20 years with experienced, dedicated and professional services that include exterior and interior house painting, roof repair and cleaning, drywall repair, popcorn ceiling texture removal, cabinet refinishing and so much more!
Plus, become a member of The Paint Manager to receive a 15% year-‘round member’s discount. Contact us to learn more about our services and membership discount offer. We look forward to meeting you!