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Texturing Basics for Walls and Ceilings

Texturing covers up flaws on walls and ceilings, but also adds a dimension
to solid surfaces

You may be ready to freshen up those walls or simply give them a different color. Texturing is a great way to change up the look. Texture helps soundproof rooms and can be dramatic, especially in a contemporary setting.

Here are three basic types of textures:

-Splatter. The lightest splatter, which looks like the peel of an orange is the most economical if you're considering having it professionally done. Heavier settings result in small dots of mud sprayed on the surface.

-Popcorn. We have all seen ceilings that look like bits of popcorn have exploded and stuck. This is a great sound-proofing technique but is also a nightmare to clean. The rounded pieces collect dust. They are also scraped off easily, which can leave a fine dusting on anything underneath.

-Knockdown. Also called "skiptrowel." Stucco-like in appearance, this texturing can range from a lightly raised area that looks like subtle cake icing to deep, meringue-like ridges of spackle for a Mediterranean look.

You can apply texturing with a paintbrush, a roller, or by spraygun. The easiest, most efficient, and least expensive method is by spraying the texture. If you own or can rent an airless compressor, you'll also have less mess and a more evenly finished product.

Check with your local home improvement store for the best materials and additives. Some texture comes in a spray can, which is good for small areas only. It becomes expensive if you try to cover an entire wall or ceiling.

Bags of perlite-type texture are also available. The aggregate is added to the paint and then applied. Plan to use quite a bit more paint as the particles will act like a sponge. This process can be very messy, especially if you use a brush or roller.

The advantages of spraying are many. Speed and uniformity of application are at the top of the list. Not every situation is ideal for spraying, however. If you can completely cover everything that should not be painted, then definitely opt for the spray method.

For a dramatic stucco effect - which is the texture we prefer - you can use joint compound and a trowel to apply to ceilings and walls. If you are doing entire rooms, experiment with large brushes. After the mud is brushed on, wait a few minutes, then "knock down" the surface with a large trowel. After the compound has set, it is ready for painting by whichever method you choose. Again, spraying will help get in all those nooks and crannies in the stucco.

Bear in mind that once you have textured a wall, it may not accept wallpaper in the future. Some papers are made to go over light texturing, but a heavy stucco style will not be a candidate.

Starting with a fresh wall is easiest. Touchups on texture may require a little skill (or at least the touch of the original "artist." We've found this to be true with the stucco-style walls. It is hard to match one painter's handiwork exactly and these patch areas usually stand out - at least to us. On the other hand, the heavier texturing covers up many other mistakes, which is a nice advantage in older homes, too!

When texturing, practice on a scrap piece first to get the hang of what you want to accomplish. Do it right the first time and your project will be a source of pride at the finish.



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