Q&A / 

How to Smooth a Textured Wall Finish

You may have a textured finish on a wall or ceiling in your home that resembles mesa and butte topography you may see on a grand scale if you travel to the magnificent Southwest part of the USA. I'm a college-trained geologist and marvel at this landscape.

This textured finish is quite common in many homes in the USA believe it or not. It creates a rich texture on the wall and when painted with a flat paint, offers just enough depth to make for a very interesting look.

Some drywall finishers create a similar texture by using a very thick-napped paint roller and roll on a thinned topping compound on drywall. After the compound dries completely, the finisher uses a sanding pole to remove the high spots. The look is much like the mesa and butte finish I'm trying to describe.

However, some people hate the look and if you're one that wants to have smooth walls or ceilings, you can transform a textured surface to smooth with a little work.

Degree of Difficulty: hammer-3-5

Step One: Gather the following tools and supplies for this job -

Step Two: The first step is to wash down the walls with soap and water that you want to be smooth. You're going to be applying drywall topping compound to the wall and this product contains a glue. Glue sticks best to clean, dry, oil-free surfaces. For now, just clean one wall or perhaps half a wall so you can do a test.

Step Three: Put a small amount of pre-mixed topping compound from the bucket or box into your mud pan. Add a small amount of water and mix this until it's the consistency of warm cake icing. Do not add too much water. If the compound is too thin, then just add more compound until you get the right consistency.

Step Four: For now, I suggest that you just try to make a small square of the wall smooth. Let's try a 2-foot by 2-foot area. If you're not familiar with using a larger broadknife, then start with the smaller 6-inch tool and apply some compound to the wall.

Hold the tool at about a 45-degree angle to the wall and pull off excess compound so that just the low spots in the texture are filled. It's better to do horizontal strokes than up and down ones. Hold the tool at an angle like a snow plow so the excess compound runs up the knife and not glop out down on the floor.

Step Five: Repeat the process until your test area is covered. Remember, the less excess compound on the wall, the less you will have to sand in the future. Allow the compound to dry completely. The dry time is a function of the air temperature, humidity and the thickness of the compound you applied.

Step Six: Once the compound is dry, lightly sand the test area. You just are trying to knock off any lines you left behind or other tiny high spots. You should have to sand very little. Use a vacuum cleaner or lightly damp rag to remove any sanding dust. Wait until it gets dark.

Step Seven: When it's dark, use a flashlight held at a low angle that's washing the test area with light. This low-angled light will reveal any minor defects in your work. If you find some, then repeat steps four through seven until you get the test area nice and smooth.

Step Eight: Paint the test area with a real drywall primer / sealer paint made for new drywall. Make sure the patched area is free of sanding dust before you paint. Finish the job with matching wall paint. Check this painted area to see if it's the look you want. If so, then do what you did over all the wall surface you want to be smooth.

Summary: You'll discover it's so much faster to use the 10-inch broadknife, so try to master it as soon as possible. You'll be amazed at how easy it is to get professional results with just a small amount of practice. The key is getting the compound consistency right. Good luck!

Column HT039


2 Responses to How to Smooth a Textured Wall Finish

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *