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How to Remove and Cover Heavy Wall Texture

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Tom Lohr is an avid home improvement enthusiast. He prefers to spend the money he saves on new tools and gardening supplies.

Those Walls Look Great! (in 1958)

Some styles come and go, and it can be challenging to stay in vogue. A few things are easy to update, with wardrobe being a fine example. Others can be more costly, like replacing that avocado-colored refrigerator in your kitchen; however, some things require a lot of effort.

Certain home trends, that were cool in their day, now really date a dwelling and can be downright unsightly. Paneling was all the rage at one point, believe it or not. But removing paneling pales in comparison to the amount of elbow grease it takes to get rid of one of the most confounding home trends in history: heavy wall texturing.

Texturing has its merits. It is good at helping disperse sound and . . . well, that is basically all it is good for. You can't paint it because you will never get paint between the peaks unless you use a sprayer. It collects dust and tells everyone that the last time you updated your walls was when go-go boots were a thing.

If you live in an older home or just purchased one, you likely have some of this heavy texturing. Popcorn ceilings were a thing in the 1970s, but are easy to remove compared to wall texture. You can sand it off, but you will never get all of the dust it makes out of your home during your lifetime. The wetting and scraping method occasionally works, but the only tried and true method takes time and effort.

If you are longing for smooth walls in your home, grab your tool bag and get to it.

Yes, these walls were at one time fashionable.

Yes, these walls were at one time fashionable.

1. Scrape Off the Peaks

Wall texture is a lot like a mountain range. It has peaks and valleys. To make your job as effortless as it can possibly be, you need to get rid of as many peaks as possible. Use a normal paint scraper to do this. Using moderate pressure, scrape up and down and back and forth, hitting the same spot several times. I have found this task to be a thousand times easier if you have sharp paint scraper blades. Get a few new blades before attempting.

You will need a small ladder to reach the upper portions of the wall and the ceiling if it is covered as well. This portion of the process will leave a coat of fine texture chips on the floor. Unlike dust, if you sanded, these chips are easily cleaned up. Despite the residue not being super fine, I still recommend wearing a respirator.

The scraping is worth it

The scraping is worth it

2. Prepare the Wall Covering

You will be covering the knocked-down texture with normal drywall joint compound, commonly call mud. It is multitudes more difficult and tiring if you use the mud at full strength. Put half of the bucket of mud into another bucket; it will be much easier and less messy to mix this way. Cover the original bucket for later use.

Slowly add water, about a quarter cup at a time, and use a mixing paddle on a portable drill to mix. The consistency you want is that of yogurt. It needs to be as thin as possible but still stick to your taping knife. Add additional water or more full-strength mud from the original bucket to adjust.

New and sharp blades make all the difference

New and sharp blades make all the difference

3. Cover a Portion of the Wall

After doing a few small sections to get a feel for it, you should aim for doing a quarter of a wall at at time. Use the medium size taping knife and spread a layer across the wall; be generous. After you have a section covered, switch to the large taping knife and starting at the top, and angling the knife at 45°, smooth out the mixture by pulling straight down as far as possible.

You will have to stop every sweep and use the smaller taping knife to scrape the excess mixture off of the larger taping knife and into the bucket. After you have made one pass, make one more being extra neat on these passes. Every ridge you leave on the wall you will have to sand out.

4. Get Rid of the Boogers

Boogers are specks of mud that slipped off of your taping knife and dried on the wall before you noticed. Boogers are also areas where, for some reason, you had a small build up of drywall mud. Using the dry medium taping knife, just scrape them off.

Peaks scraped off

Peaks scraped off

5. Apply a Second Coat

This is the part you hate. I personally despise doing things twice, but for texturing, you really have no choice. Some of the higher peaks will not be covered and there will be voids (that look like tiny holes) in the valleys. Repeat the same process for a second coat.

One one scraped, one not

One one scraped, one not

6. Spot Correct

If you didn't do a good job scraping the texture peaks off, you may be in for a third coat. Usually, two coats will cover as much as you need. Despite that, some of the valleys will still have voids that look like pin pricks in the wall. Using the same mixture, apply a third coat in the spots that have these or other imperfections.

7. More Boogers

Get rid of any new boogers.

Small holes in the covering that did not fill in the valleys

Small holes in the covering that did not fill in the valleys

8. Sand Off Ridges and Other Imperfections

No one gets by without creating ridges in the coats of mud, it's only how many you create that is in question. Using a coarse sanding sponge, use medium pressure to sand the area flat. Hit it again with a fine sanding brush to blend in your work.

9. Wipe Off Sanding Dust

Sanding will create some drywall dust. Use a tacky cloth to wipe it off. Dust on the wall can cause some imperfections in painting.

10. Choose Your Color

Your wall is now ready for painting. While you don't have to use the best paint on the market, using a quality, one-coat paint will make your paint job less of a hassle.

Welcome to the Present!

Congratulations! Your walls now match the time period you actually live in. You can now take down that matching portrait of Lyndon Johnson. Bringing your walls up to date will breathe new life into your home. It really makes a huge difference. Consider yourself done . . . until texture comes back in style.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.