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Skiptrowel Technique for Interior Walls

A Spanish or Mediterranean style lends itself to using plaster for wall texturing

Several techniques are available for texturing walls, including orangepeel and splatter applications. However, the most popular plaster pattern in a Spanish or Mediterranean style home is more "stucco-like." The application is referred to as skiptrowel or knockdown.

If you are planning to add wall texturing to large areas, you should certainly consider hiring a professional. They will have the proper equipment to make the job go faster and with less mess, especially if all furniture is removed from the room.

However, if you just want to attempt one wall or add a stucco texture to a small room, then it's a pretty simple do-it-yourself job. We have textured a large wall space, repaired existing plaster sections, built an extension to hold a sculpture, and removed and filled in a sliding glass door in a living room. While we could see the difference in applications - between the original "artist's" touch and ours - no one else could. After all, using this technique is much like leaving a signature behind, especially if it the stucco effect is applied by hand!

Interior plaster - or mud - comes premixed and that's the kind we use. In some areas where there is wall movement, we often use the type that is marked "flexible." Check with the experts at your local home improvement store for the latest products and their recommendations for use.

Always make sure the surface is clean - free of dust and damp. Repair cracks and fill in any small holes. Although skiptroweling will cover flaws, it's best to start with walls that are in good condition. Don't be tempted to apply plaster over wallpaper - the moisture in the mud will cause problems down the line - if not sooner.

The only tool you really need is a rubber trowel. You can use a metal spatula for flattening the peaks if you want.

The plaster can be thinned somewhat, but we use it directly from the container after stirring it well. Use the trowel as a scoop and slather the mud on the walls. You can cover the entire section with plaster or leave a little wall surface showing. Use random motions and build peaks and blobs on the wall - not too thick or you'll have some eventual cracking. Swirl it and pretend you're icing a cake.

You may want to practice on an old piece of plywood first to determine your "style." You can flatten the surface a little as you go or wait for the plaster to set for about 5-10 minutes before taking the spatula and running it at an angle across the mud. This flattens the "meringue points." Either approach will look nice after it is painted although it may be difficult to envision at this point.

Using the skiptrowel method to add texture to walls is a fun process. It's also a job that is hard to mess up. The only part we find difficult is touching up someone else's handiwork - now that can be a challenge.

Related Articles:
Texturing Basics for Walls and Ceilings

House Painting: Getting Started



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