DIY Wall Texturing Techniques

by on May 26, 2013Karie Fay

DIY wall texturing techniques vary depending on your budget and the look you want to achieveFrom subtle texturing to rich visual depth, almost any effect is attainable with wall texturing products and a little imagination. Select a common pattern – or create your own design – and decide on an application method. When your DIY project is done, you’ll to wonder why you didn’t texture your walls sooner. Once you know the basics, it’s easy to transform the look of a room.

Choosing a Texture Medium

Before you can even think about applying your wall texture, you must decide what product or approach you wish to use. Each texture product option has benefits as well as drawbacks. Consider your budget, the amount of product you will require, and the ease of use before deciding on a product.

  • Joint Compound: Who ever said you’re too old to play in the mud? When you choose to texture your walls with joint compound, you literally get to play in and with the “mud,” as joint compound is commonly known. You can apply it as thick or thin as you want, with the application method you prefer, creating any design you conceive. It’s also the cheapest form of texture possible, and the traditional form as well. Drywall installers use joint compound to finish seams and cover nail or screw holes in the drywall. Some even cover poor workmanship with a thin coat of mud over the entire wall, sanded smooth before priming and painting. The biggest drawback to using joint compound to texture your walls is that it’s heavy and may not stick well to some surfaces. See surface preparation for more information.
  • Textured Paint and Paint Additives: Various manufacturers offer a textured paint product you can use to create your wall texture. You’ll still need to prep your wall properly, but anywhere you can use drywall mud to texture, you can use paint instead. In some cases, you may need to apply a skim coat of mud underneath the textured paint since the paint will not cover surface damage as well as mud does. This adds to the time and expense. Texture created with paint is also subtler, so if you want dramatic texture, drywall mud is your best bet.
  • Faux Texture: Perhaps what you’re looking for isn’t actually a rough surface, as both mud and textured paint will create. The solution? Faux texture – a background color painted across the wall with one or more complementary to contrasting colors, pounced and dabbed on with your choice of tools. Costing no more than the price of the cans of paint selected, it’s much easier to clean and offers the richness of visual depth.

Drywall Compound Texture Application – Professional vs. DIY

To decide how you want to approach the application, consider your resources, budget, and the texture product you wish to apply. Factor in your level of experience, the size of the area you are texturing, and how much time you have available for the job.

It is true that machine-applied texture is the most uniform of all the methods available. Professionals use trailer-mounted machines, pouring dry texture into a hopper, mixing it with water, then using air pressure to power a spray gun fitted with a nozzle. Through changing the hose tips, varying the consistency and adjusting the air pressure, a drywall finisher can create various effects. On large areas, the work will go much quicker and look uniform. However, only professionals have access to this type of machine.

For DIY texturing, can rent a hopper gun. Much like the professional machines, you pour the dried texture into the hopper, add water and use an air compressor to spray the texture. Changing tips and adjusting the amount of air or thickness of the texture will affect the texture you create. Hopper gun rentals are fairly inexpensive, but it does take some talent to create a uniform texture. If you’re looking for perfection, consider hiring a pro.

Premixed texture in a can is meant for small areas, such as a single accent wall or touch-ups of previous texturing. While nothing could sound easier, the reality is a little different. This texture is thinner, so it works best for light texturing. It’s expensive, so you may wish to compare the cost of the amount you need (based on the coverage area listed on the can) versus a bucket of premixed mud or a bag of dry powder to ensure it’s practical for you. It’s also a little tricky to apply, so it’s probably best if you test it on a scrap somewhere before spraying it on your walls.

Hand application is perhaps the most fun for both mud texture and paint texturing. After all, where else can you play with oozing, messy substances and call it work? You can thin drywall compound and spread it on with a paintbrush, roller, or other tools. Alternatively, you can also spread the texture in a smooth layer and then use a variety of tools to create a design in the texture.

Texture Additives for Paint

To create your own texturing paint, start with a decent interior paint – latex or oil will work, but latex is preferred. Keep in mind that any paint additive – texturizing or not – will affect the paint color, so you may wish to go a shade darker or lighter to compensate.

You can purchase packaged paint additives, or add your own product. Packaged paint additives range from simple, inexpensive choices to exotic and unusual products. The most common are basic sand textures, from coarse to fine grits. More dramatic are crumbled stone texturizers. Then there are the specialized products, which can create the feel of suede, the look of metal, or the sheen of solid, polished stone.

Adding clean sand to your paint will create a rough textured surface. Other things you can add to your paint include spackling compound, other drywall compounds, powdered chalk and whiting. No matter which direction you go – manufacturer’s texture or your own additive – add the texture slowly, taking care to strain powders to avoid lumps. Keep track of your exact recipe so you can duplicate it as needed.

Preparing Your Walls

  • Newly hung drywall should be treated as if you were preparing to paint – if you’re using a paint texturizer or faux paint technique. Tape and finish each seam, then cover with a coat of primer. To use drywall mud for texture, you can skip the primer and go straight to either regular or tinted mud.
  • Wood paneling should also be sanded to ensure a good bond before applying a primer. First, fill in any grooves and cover any seams or nail holes with drywall joint compound, then sand it smooth once it’s dry. Deep and wide gaps benefit from a thin layer of compound, covered with drywall tape, then successive layers of additional mud until the area is flush with the surrounding surface. Feather each layer past the first to prevent obvious ridges, and dry between each coat. Thin layers work better since they are less apt to crack.
  • Wallpaper creates a lot of controversy, yet it too can receive texture and turn out well. Where most people encounter problems is attempting to cover wallpaper that is in poor shape. To prepare it properly, first mud over the seams as if it were drywall, and sand it smooth once it’s dry. Sand over loose edges to eliminate tattered areas. Alternatively, stick a little glue under the loose edges and bond it to the wall again. These steps will ensure the texture doesn’t get underneath the wallpaper, where it will likely cause the wallpaper to bubble, sag and fall (and with it, the texture). Of course you can remove the wallpaper instead, if you choose. But if you decide to leave it, after preparing it, top it with a coat of primer. Also, if the wallpaper is heavily textured and you fear it will interfere with the look of your new texture, you can add a skim coat of joint compound over the entire wall once it’s primed.

Playing With Your Texture

Once you’ve chosen your texture product and prepared your wall, it’s probably a good idea to practice a little bit to get a feel for what you are doing and make adjustments. A similar surface works best – a scrap piece of primed drywall or paneling, for instance – but in a pinch, even a large cardboard box, reduced to a flat sheet, or poster board will work.

For uniform drywall texturing, apply the product in an even layer about 1/8 inch thick, working in small sections before proceeding to the next. Spread it, use a tool to create the texture you want, then repeat across the wall. Similarly, apply paint in a thin, even layer of the thickness recommended by the manufacturer.

No matter what approach, tools and texture material you choose, you’re sure to create something not quite like what anyone else has. Just be sure to relax and enjoy the process. Knowing the basics of DIY wall texture, you’ll do fine and it’s going to look fabulous.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Rose Fine January 20, 2015 at 9:50 pm

I have a small bathroom with an orange peel texture. I would like to do either a stucco effect with mud to possibly a tissue paper finish over it. Would I have to first sand the texture off or can I do my faux finish over it? Thanks.


virginia August 21, 2014 at 8:23 pm

To cover very bad wall what type of texture to use smooth or a sand


karie fay September 30, 2014 at 9:16 pm

HI Virginia,

I would probably use the sand if given a choice between the two. I am not sure how bad your wall is, however. Good Luck!

Karie Fay


Dori Bird March 2, 2014 at 10:02 am

I was wondering how much it would cost on average to texture a 10 by 13 by eight room using the “Textured Paint and Paint Additives” method.


Karie Fay March 10, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Hi Dori,

Great question! However, there are so many variables. Do you prefer to buy a texture additive and add it to paint? Or a textured paint ready to go? An additive may cost under $10 or less, for instance. Paint can vary widely in cost as well. Even how much each gallon covers may differ.

To determine the cost yourself, calculate the square feet you need to cover. Do each wall separately and add them together. For instance, each of your 10-foot long walls are 80 square feet (10 x 8) and the 13-foot long walls are 104 square feet (13 x 8). So your entire room is 368 square feet.

Find the product you would like to use and find out how far it goes. Compare the coverage with your square feet to determine how many you need, then multiply by the cost. This will make it easier for you to price the product you want to use. In either case, I would expect you can do it for somewhere in the neighborhood of $100. I base this on a quick search that shows Behr 2-gallon sand finish paint, covering 100 square feet, costs around $25.

Hope this helps,
Karie Fay


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