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Fun With Wall Textures, Ceiling Textures

In some parts of the United States, the most popular wall textures are NO TEXTURE. Smooth. Same goes for ceilings. This means a perfectly flat and blemish free surface.

But out here in the wild and woolly Pacific Coast where I live, plaster and drywall textures are popular. Some will say that is because textures tend to hide a bad plaster or drywall job.

In some cases, could be. But it could also be that people LIKE the look of a textured surface. Some wall and ceiling textures are gorgeous.

In my work with old plaster and drywall, I find the demand for wall and ceiling textures to be high, and so I have my bundle of texture sample boards to show clients.

Most of my jobs involve either matching an existing texture or applying one of my own unique patterns.

And sometimes my customers like to watch as I put on the texture they have chosen. I may hear comments like: "Hey, that looks like fun!" and "How hard is it to do that?"

And my answer to both kinds of questions is, "Yes, it's fun and I bet you could learn to do this, too."

Sometimes I may recognize that I am not being 100% honest when I say this. After 35+ years, it's not ALWAYS fun, and yes, some textures take some practice to do well -- but behind my response there lies a strong kernel of truth: this is essentially a fun project that a motivated do-it-yourselfer can master with practice and patience.

And that may mean you!

But before you jump in with both feet, allow me to give you a few hints to get you started right. These are things I have learned over the years, some by trial and error.

Because ... I don't always get it right the first time. And you probably won't either. Hence the need, once you get going, to EXPERIMENT and PRACTICE.

The easiest texture materials to use are those designed for drywall. They work for plaster as well. They will stick to both painted and unpainted plaster and drywall.

Standard all-purpose drywall compounds can be thinned and used as texture. Or you can buy boxes of pre-mixed texture compound. Texture compound also comes as bags of powder. (At least true for the U.S.)

Pre-mixed texture mud may need to be thinned. Same goes for pre-mixed all purpose muds. If you mix your texture compound from powder, keep track of your powder-water ratio so you can duplicate it anytime in the future.

The only way you will know if your mud is the right thickness is by experimenting with your tools and textures until you get the effect you like.

Some effects need thicker mud, some thinner. If you are mixing from powder, remember that it is easier to thin your inital mix than to thicken it. In any case, when mixing from scratch, let soak overnight to soften lumps and get it smoother.

Texturizing tools can run the gamut from taping knives to trowels, to various kinds of brushes, to texture rollers and even to commercial texturing tools.

I have even used my hands, ala fingerpainting in grade school. What fun!

Several words to emphasize: EXPERIMENT, CONSISTENCY, PATIENCE.

By experimenting, you discover the thickness of mud that is easiest to work with. You find what tools you like best. Consistency of application is your goal.

(For example, there are some absolutely stunning texture effects I can do, but I have a very hard time getting them to be consistent over the whole wall or ceiling, expecially if these are large.)

And patience will insure that you don't give up easily. Give yourself time to learn.

You will need to practice your technique before you tackle that wall or ceiling. Scraps of drywall or heavy cardboard or even painted plywood will work as a substitute surface.

One thing to remember - once you go for real, you are committed. That is, once you start, you will have to go corner to corner, the whole thing. With many textures, there is no leaving off in the middle.

This is why you probably need to start small. Try a small ceiling, or a small room of walls. When you can do that to your satisfaction, then you may be ready for something bigger.

When you are all done, and ready for paint, be sure to apply a good coat of drywall primer (PVA) first. This will lock up the porosity of your textured surface and provide the foundation for a much better paint coat later.

Now go have some fun!


About the Author: Edwin Brown is a 36 year specialist in the field of plaster and drywall repair and renovation. He works on the west coast of the US. To see a fuller discussion of wall and ceiling textures, including photos of texture samples, go to his webpage at http://www.plaster-wall-ceiling-solutions.com/wall-texture.html




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