Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-02-2003, 09:48 PM
Earthling Earthling is offline
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Up a creek with no paddle
Posts: 1,376
Textured Walls and Popcorn Ceilings

Why are houses built with textured walls and ceilings? More important -- if I wanted smooth walls (for repainting), are there ways to accomplish that? Is it even advisable to try?
Old 09-02-2003, 10:07 PM
Psifireus Psifireus is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 87
I can't tell you why builders do the textured wall thing, but I do know there is some substance you can spread over the texturing so that you end up with a smooth surface to which you can apply wallpaper. I assume one could paint the new, smooth surface instead of applying wallpaper to it.

Ask someone at the hardware or paint store in your area.

I'm interested to know how this turns out for you as I, too, am considering going with smooth walls.

It sounds like alot of work...good luck...let us know how it goes.
Old 09-02-2003, 10:42 PM
Scarlett67 Scarlett67 is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: The Middle of Nowhere, WI
Posts: 10,705
In our (self-built) house, we textured our walls (quite thickly, in fact -- like stucco) to camouflage the many seams in the Sheetrock. (Mr. S HATES doing Sheetrock -- he's allergic to the dust, and it's a pain getting the seams right; plus with redoing a lot of walls due to remodeling, a lot of them were done with small pieces, scrap, etc.) We get a lot of compliments on our texturing.

I imagine professionally built walls are textured simply as a design element.
Old 09-02-2003, 11:40 PM
Geoduck Geoduck is offline
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 369
Finishing smooth walls is now considered the product of specialized skilled labor which has significant costs and adds time to the construction project. It is cheaper and faster for the contractor to have the taped sheetrock joints sprayed over with texturing goop.

Though I cannot stand the stuff and the look, in two of my houses I have had to spray the gunk on newly constructed walls to match existing texture. I also built a totally smooth closet wall just to see if I could do it.

Sure you can have smooth new walls in your home--you would either have to hire good tapers or learn how to do it yourself. If you are considering smoothing existing walls that are already textured, it would probably be easier to slap a whole new layer of sheetrock over everything rather than sanding down the surfaces smooth. Either way it is going to be a mess. Sheetrock and mud are fairly cheap and somewhat forgiving so you have some wiggle room to learn a new skill.
Old 09-03-2003, 12:04 AM
Bad News Baboon Bad News Baboon is offline
Join Date: May 2001
Location: A house.
Posts: 3,734
I will second what Geoduck said.

I would also recommend that if you want smooth walls, your best bet is to re-sheetrock the wall. Using something that can be applied to a bumpy surface is asking for a LOT of work. Especially if what you are looking for is a very smooth surface.

Another thing to keep in mind: In DFW there is a lot of clay in the soil. A lot of homes here have shifting problems. I have seen homes that employ the 'popcorn' method as a quick way to cover a crack.
Old 09-03-2003, 05:39 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 57,090
Ceilings in the UK are nearly always 'Artexed' - Artex is (or used to be) a flexible covering, applied with a textured roller, but the term became generic, like Vacuum Cleaner became 'Hoover'.

Apart from any putative aesthetic appeal, I believe this is done because the flexible covering is less prone to showing cracks and that the textured surface hides any minor unevenness and imperfections in the original finish.
Old 09-03-2003, 07:09 AM
herman_and_bill herman_and_bill is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 772
You can try sanding the whole wall, just don't dig into the sheet-rock, or you can plaster the wall with joint compound, this doesn't dry real fast and will give you time to spread it out evenly, but you might need two or three coats and you probably will still have to sand.
Old 09-03-2003, 09:21 AM
Rocketeer Rocketeer is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 6,893
Even then, you'll probably have one or two studs out of line, so your wall, although it'll be smooth, probably won't be flat.

Incidentally, that's why auto dashboards and interior trim are textured--it's to hide the non-smoothness of the surface; plastic parts are prone to sinkmarks caused by contraction of the plastic (during hardening) at cross-section changes.
Old 09-03-2003, 10:20 AM
enipla enipla is online now
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Colorado Rockies.
Posts: 11,884
What geoduck said. Trying to get a wall perfectly smooth is a real skill. I've done quite a bit of sheet rock, and still find it to be a lot of work.

I opt for a light 'orange peal' texture on my new stuff/replacement rock. And I still do some sanding, apply numerous coats of mud before I spray the texture.

What Scarlett67 did works well to. And you don't need a compressor/spraygun.

The popcorn is darn right rediculus and I just won't have it. I have heard of people getting it a little wet and then scraping it off, but it sounds like a giant mess to me.

I'm going to have to run some new water lines in part of my ceiling this winter. It has popcorn on it. I'm just gonna rip the rock down and replace it.
I don't live in the middle of nowhere, but I can see it from here.
Old 09-03-2003, 01:09 PM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: San Francisco area
Posts: 16,115
Before you start scraping or ripping down "popcorn" be aware that it may contain asbestos.
Old 09-03-2003, 01:13 PM
Belrix Belrix is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Denver, CO, USA
Posts: 2,733
I replaced a bath tub in my upstairs bath. The room had sheetrock sprayed with orange-peel texture. Removing the bath required that i remove the wall segments that joined it. Where I replaced the wall, it, of course, was smooth. The original part of the room had its former texture. I lived with this half-and-half room for nearly two years while we saved to finish the rest of the remodel.

I had a choice when I went to finish, texture the smooth part to match the original part of the room or (somehow) smooth the orange peel to match.

The orange peel texture required equipment I didn't own (could probably rent) and I was worried that the joint between old and new would never match. I instead bought a 5 gallon bucket of wallboard mud and smoothed the remaining orange peel.

Four-cycles of spreading & sanding resulted in a wall that looks very nice. It makes a huge mess, there was dust in literally every room of our house. I roughed up the orange peel with sandpaper before I started to try to increase the adhesion.

In retrospect, I should pulled all the wallboard down when I pulled the needed sections down. It's cheap to replace & would've been a lot less work.

My mom burst a hose on her washing machine & the spray washed the popcorn right off her ceiling. Rather than have a "clean" place, she sprayed the rest of the ceiling (in a more controlled manner) and scraped it off with a wallboard knife. It does come down.
Old 09-03-2003, 01:39 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Portlandia
Posts: 39,126
A suggestion for smooth walls: I recommend NOT painting with either gloss or semigloss, if using white/offwhite paint. The glare from lighting will be unpleasant. You might get away with semigloss on the walls, but I recommend eggshell. Tinted paint is a different ballgame, but I would still not go with gloss.
Old 09-03-2003, 03:06 PM
rjung rjung is offline
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Fifth corner of the Earth
Posts: 17,034
Don't textured walls/ceiling absorb sound better? I would imagine a smooth-surfaced room would echo more.
Electric Escape -- Information superhighway rest area #10,186
Old 09-03-2003, 10:25 PM
j666 j666 is offline
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Away for a while
Posts: 6,367
Even well done taping and mudding will show seams with time.

Anyone can mud a wall smooth instead of using texture; it just takes forever unless you are incredibly experienced and/or naturally skilled. I've managed a seamless ceiling. After that, texture is looking better and better.

Getting rid of the texture:
Ripping out the wall board and starting over would be easier.
Leave the ceiling alone, that's too much work for a sane person.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:53 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to:

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017