Got Ugly Wall Texture? Something You Can Do

by Edwin Brown
(Corvallis, OR USA)

Ugly wall texture is a pretty common headache for many homeowners. Both plaster and walls with drywall covering present their fair share of troubles.

Sometimes, it can just be a case of boredom. That old wall texture or ceiling texture no longer looks attractive to the jaded eye.

A lot of do-it-yourself homeowners are fairly adventurous when it comes to all kinds of home repair or renovation projects. But for some odd reason, they balk at plaster or drywall work.

The truth is, like many things, some instruction, practice and growing self confidence can take the mystery out of this.

If it is a case of wanting to get rid of texture completely, then that is accomplished by skim coating the whole area. Now, the new smooth wall or ceiling offers new options. Do I go with just a smooth finish, or would I like some new kind of texture?

Putting on a different kind of wall texture can be a fun challenge, a fresh adventure that creates attractive results to be enjoyed for years to come.

You’re not artistic? How do you know? I am not artistic, but I have been giving clients beautiful texture effects on walls and ceilings for many years. If you had told me when I was in my early 20s that I would be doing this kind of work for a living, I would have said you were crazy. But
I learned to do it under the instruction of a drywall master, and it wasn’t hard. It was fun.

And I have taught others to do the same.

Here’s the way I looked at it. I remembered my mom in the kitchen, pulling a homemade cake from the oven and while it cooled preparing the frosting mix.

It was fascinating watching her apply the cool creamy stuff over that cake, with deft strokes of the knife. Beautiful swirls and peaks or just about anything that she decided to try. If you had accused my mom of being “artistic,” she would have laughed in your face. But those cakes were almost too lovely to eat.

So I think of applying wall and ceiling textures as “frosting the cake.” You’ve got the cool creamy texture mix you have prepared, and now you can do anything you want to with it.

But, of course, like many things, some practice goes a long ways. I always encourage people to find a surface somewhere to practice on. Maybe a smooth garage wall? A sheet of drywall is cheap. Or maybe painted plywood or even cardboard. Don’t forget, you can erase and start over as many times as you need to.

When you arrive at a point where you can say - “Wow. That I like!”, then ask yourself - can I do this over an entire wall or ceiling and be consistent throughout? That may be the most challenging part. It is better to arrive at something simple, where you can break off at anytime you need to and know you can come back to it later without a seam or lap showing. Like a texture with an irregular open edge.

What about tools? There are lots of things that work to create textures. Brushes, drywall broad knives, rubber floats like tile setters use, plasterers trowels, paint rollers, even your hands (remember finger painting in grade school). You can even build pattern tools you can press into freshly applied texture compound to leave unique imprints.

Like fingerprints, what you do will be unique to some extent. You will always know - I did that!

What you could use is some instruction. See samples of different kinds of wall and ceiling textures. Or watch someone actually doing texture work. This can fire up your imagination and motivation, as you find yourself saying - Hey, I think I could do that.

Edwin Brown has almost 40 years experience doing plaster and drywall renovation work on the west coast of the US.

For some guidance regarding wall and ceiling texture work, and for pictures of various textures, check out his web page at

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