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Types of Common Texture Finishes for Drywall

Finishing a drywall project usually involves texturing the surfaces. The texture serves three purposes. The first benefit is to add interest to the wall; a decorative touch. Secondly, a perfectly smooth and flat wall is difficult to create and flaws can be very easy to spot. The texture breaks up lines and hides variations in the wall's surface. Finally, small dings and scratches that occur will stand out on a smooth wall, but a textured wall helps to hide damage.

Application of the texture is fairly easy but it does require some skill - or maybe more accurately, practice. Some textures are sprayed on while others are applied by hand. Hand applied textures take more time, more skill and are usually more expensive. Both sprayed and hand-applied textures can be applied and left as is or they can be gone over by hand for a more refined appearance.

Orange Peel - Orange peel texture is sprayed on. Joint compound is thinned but left thick enough that it will not run. The diameter of the spray nozzle and the distance the spray hopper is held away from the wall affect the size of splatter and voids. This is a very quick to apply finish.

Knock Down (aka Skip Trowel) - This technique takes Orange Peel texture and knocks it down. Gently applying a wide drywall knife and drawing it across slightly dry compound flattens and spreads the texture.

Troweled - Compound is applied by hand with a drywall knife. Typically applied in arcs, it has highs and lows, small ridges may stand proud, voids can vary in size. This style can varied in many ways such as applying heavy coats with large arcing ridges, similar to Spanish stucco or even and smooth with subtle tool marks and no voids, similar to a plaster finish. This finish takes more time and skill.

Roller - A short-nap paint roller is used to apply thinned joint compound. It is fairly easy and quick to apply and does not require specialized equipment or skill.

Roller Knock Down - A second step to the Roller technique where the compound is allowed to dry for a short time and then a drywall knife is lightly dragged over the texture to smooth and spread it out.

Mud Swirl - This technique is a variation of troweling with the key difference being that the swirl is very uniform and regular. Viewing a large section of wall reveals a very obvious repeating pattern. This technique requires the skill to apply the material in a very uniform way or the effect is ruined.

Spanish / Knife - Joint compound is trowelled on and swept in straight lines is random directions. the blade is lifted off the wall before all the compound is spread leaving small, straight ridges. This technique is fairly easy but more time consuming than most other "easy" techniques.

Slap Brush - Slightly thinned compound is applied with a roller and then a large, straight brush is dipped onto the wall and pulled straight away repeatedly to create a stippled effect. It is fairly easily although time consuming.

Slap Brush Stars - Similar to regular slap brush except that a large round brush is used. The round brush creates a kind of star shape. The pattern is repeated with small overlaps. It is fairly simple to execute except that care must be taken to use the same level of pressure in order to keep the effect consistent. Requires more time and attention to create than most others.

Crow's Feet - This technique is the same as the Slap brush technique except that the brush is twisted slightly as it is lifted away from the surface.

Venetian Plaster - Recreating ancient Venetian style walls is achieved using three coats of compound or true Venetian style lime, marble and pigments. The material is applied with small trowels and smoothed with larger ones. The most correct application involves burnishing the finish prior to sealing. This is a very challenging and time consuming technique. Although the results from application by someone with no experience can add a rustic look to the results.

Skim Coat - An even coat of compound applied as a final finish layer. This can be used to create a nearly perfect smooth wall. It is particularly useful in places where bright light will shine on a surface, particularly at an angle or where light-weight wall coverings will be used. This is a very challenging technique, even for professionals.

The final step before painting most of these textures is sanding. Sanding softens sharp angles, evens out high spots and removes any light tool marks. Some of the textures require no sanding and can simply be dusted clean prior to applying a primer-sealer coat.

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