Smoothing out those textured surfaces

May 10, 2017 by Jason Matthews


If you’re the kind of person who feels a little overwhelmed by all the choices when you’re shopping, you’re not alone. Hardware and home improvement stores have aisles and shelves full of tools and painting equipment that make it hard to know which ones are the right choices for your job – and every season, there are new ones. An intriguing product recently featured by Popular Mechanics, the Texture Terminator, caught our eye at Matthews Painting, and reminded us of an all-too-common problem encountered by DIY and professional painters alike:

What’s the best way to handle a textured surface?

Removing the texture is often a priority with today’s modern or minimalist interior design. Heavier and more chaotic textures often clash with rooms that feature crisp whites and clean lines, with monochromatic color schemes and metal. Yet since there are different reasons for why the texture was there in the first place, there are also different strategies for removal – some of them best left to professional painters’ expertise.

Sometimes texture is a feature of the ceiling or drywall itself, which may have been finished with a rougher popcorn or more sculptured orange peel surface. Textured ceiling tiles will show traces of the underlying texture for years, even through multiple coats of paint. In other cases, the culprit is a previous paint job completed using a textured paint or glaze product. Even the surface that remains after wallpaper removal, although not technically an intentional texture, may present a challenge if what you want is a smooth new look.

Sanding and scraping may be inevitable for removing texture from drywall. That knockdown or popcorn surface is created by applying plaster or joint compound, so it will come off using a utility knife or other scraping tool. Before you begin any scraping, keep in mind that the popularity of some of these textured surface styles was decades ago, and it’s possible that asbestos and lead are in the finish if applied before the 1980s. As with any job, it’s important to make sure that you use proper safety equipment and disposal techniques.

Scraping off the texture and sanding to a smooth wall finish is time-consuming, so there are other methods to consider. A “mud” skim coat essentially creates a new wall surface, because it fills in all of the gaps and rough cracks in the existing textured surface, but it’s still important to make sure it adheres properly on a well-prepared wall. With ceilings, sometimes the best solution is to hang new drywall over it. It may seem excessive to hang a smooth surface, but a lightweight panel product may be the answer.

Textured paint can be removed as well, but with care, using a little spray water and a wide drywall knife. Sometimes the paint removal can cause new damage to the drywall underneath, however, so it may be well worth the investment in having the ceiling or walls prepared by experienced professionals.

At Matthews, we can repair unintended damage to textured drywall but think it’s better to avoid at the outset of your new painting job. We also offer professional wallpaper removal that leaves surfaces ready for the décor change you have in mind. Please contact us with any of your questions, and we’d be happy to help you understand more about the kind of textured surfaces you have and what’s best to do about them.


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INTERIOR: We are now scheduling interior work for: JUNE 2017.

Our Interior Services Include Wall, Ceiling,Trim and Door Painting, Kitchen Cabinet Painting and Refinishing, Touch-Up Painting and Staining, Drywall Repair/Re-texturing and Wallpaper Removal!

EXTERIOR: We are now scheduling exterior work for: AUG. 2017.

Our Exterior Services Include House Painting and Staining, Deck Staining and Sealing, Pressure Washing and Log Home Restoration.

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