If simple, painted walls don't fit into your sense of style and your vision for your indoor space, there are a number of ways to add texture and nuance to enliven your rooms. Whether it's using wallpaper, textured paint, joint compound or a faux finish, the end result of textured walls is well worth the effort.
Wallpaper might be the most common and simple way to add texture to walls. Textured wallpaper has its own built-in feel and design. With so many different styles and colors available, it can be tailored to match existing décor in a room or used to create a new design you have in mind. It can also be painted, if even more customization is desired. An advantage of wallpaper is that it hides wall imperfections, which means you don’t have to repaint regularly to hide scrapes, marks and dings. For full details about how to install wallpaper, see the project How to Hang Wallpaper.
Make Textured Paint
You can add texture to your walls using textured paint. Using paint in this way can give you more options than the basic eggshell, satin or flat sheens. Instead, you may choose from stone, sand, faux finish or original textures. Textured paint is good for hiding blemishes that a flat or satin sheen might show. You can buy textured paint pre-mixed or you can buy packages of powdered texture additive or sand (formulated for mixing with paint) to add to standard paint, such as True Value EasyCare Ultra Premium Interior Paint. Note: Texture additives can be added to both latex and oil paints.
Buying powdered additive is convenient because you can mix the right amount of texturing agent you need for the particular job and effect you’re going for.
Some pre-mixed textured paints are designed for use on both walls and ceilings, but some are designed specifically for one or the other. Check the package to make sure you’re buying the product you need.
Step 1: Prep the Room
Move furniture out of the room or cover it with drop cloths. Also cover the floor to protect it from paint spills and secure the cloths to the floor using painter’s tape. Mask woodwork that you don’t want ruined by paint splatter. Remove fixtures, switch plates, etc., or mask them.
Step 2: Mix Paint and Texture
Pour paint into a large paint mixing container about ½ full. Slowly pour in the additive while mixing together with a mixing stick. Try to add a half cup of the additive at a time until you reach the consistency you’re looking for.
Step 3: Prime the Wall
For best results, apply True Value EasyCare Ultra Premium Interior Primer/Sealer with a brush or roller, starting at the top and painting in a “W”, “X” or “N” pattern and then fill in the spaces. Continue this until you are at the bottom of the wall. Once you reach the bottom load your roller with primer and starting at the top roll all the way to the bottom then go back next to where you just rolled and roll to the bottom again. This should be done until all of the area you had just primed has been rolled in the same direction. Let it dry thoroughly.
Open the windows to make sure you'll be priming and painting in a well-ventilated area.
Step 4: Paint
Next, apply your texture/paint mixture with the same technique you used with the primer. As you’re painting, look closely at the results and ensure that your desired texture effect is successful. If the texture isn’t coarse enough for your tastes, add more texture additive to your paint and start over. If it’s too much, you may need to start a new mixture of paint and texture to get the effect you want.
Apply Joint Compound
You’re probably familiar with textured ceilings; a similar effect can be created on your walls with joint compound, also known as “drywall mud”.
Step 1: Prep the Wall
Clean the walls with a sponge, water and mild detergent. Let them dry. Move furniture out of the room or cover it with drop cloths. Also cover the floor to protect it from any joint compound that might spill on it and secure the cloths to the floor using painter’s tape (you’ll be laying the compound on fairly thick and it can easily drop off the drywall knife).
Remove fixtures, switch plates, etc., or mask them and any woodwork that you don't want ruined by drops of compound or paint with painter's tape.
You can also leave these protective measures in place for when you begin to paint the walls in Step 5.
Step 2: Prepare the Compound
Purchase a large quantity of joint compound, either ready-to-use or dry mix. The exact amount will vary, depending on how much wall square footage you plan on covering. But you will need to buy in bulk, so get at least a 12-lb. pail of ready-to-use compound or 18-lb. bag of dry mix compound. If you will be mixing your compound, you will also need a large bucket in which to mix the compound with water. Follow the manufacturer’s directions when mixing the compound to prepare it.
Step 3: Begin Application of “Mud”
Start applying the compound to the wall using a 10” drywall knife, beginning in corners, along baseboards or at the top of the wall and work inwards in small sections. Coat the wall with a layer of compound at about a 1/8” to a ¼” in depth. If you want a rougher effect you can go thicker, you just want to try and be as consistent as possible in the depth. It doesn’t have to be perfect as you’re going for a textured appearance, but you don’t want large hills or valleys on the surface. Working in small sections (3’ x 3’) allows you to take your time adding the desired texture effect. Keep a smaller drywall knife (4” to 5”) handy for applying mud to tighter spaces.
Step 4: Add Texture
There are any number of ways to create the texture you want. You can use combs and brushes to create striations, sponges to create swirls or mottling, stencils, or even your fingers to make your design. Practice on a scrap piece of drywall to test your design and so you don’t end up with undesired results. Finish texturing your 3’ x 3’ section of wall and then apply compound to the adjacent wall surface in the same dimensions. Add texture and then repeat the process until you’ve covered the entire wall. Let the compound dry for the length of time recommended by the manufacturer.
You can use sandpaper to remove any unwanted ridges or projections from too much joint compound. Use a fine-grit paper to smooth down defects. Sand lightly so that you don’t mar your design.
Step 5: Paint the Wall
Apply True Value EasyCare Ultra Premium Interior Paint with a brush or roller, starting at the top and painting in a “W”, “X” or “N” pattern and then fill in the spaces. Continue this until you are at the bottom of the wall. Once you reach the bottom load your roller with paint and starting at the top roll all the way to the bottom then go back next to where you just rolled and roll to the bottom again. This should be done until all of the area you had just painted has been rolled in the same direction. This ensures good hide and durability from your paint job. Let it dry thoroughly. Add a second coat if any of the wall underneath is still showing. For best results use a roller cover with a thick nap so that paint effectively makes it into all nooks and crannies on the textured surface.
Apply Faux Finish
You can use a sponge painting or rag rolling to create texture on plain walls. Rag rolling is done by using a twisted or bunched up rag to roll paint on or pull it off irregularly, creating a mottled effect for a custom look that is all your own. Using a sponge to dab paint on a surface provides a similar but unique effect. Follow the steps below to do it right.
Step 1: Paint a Base Coat
Using a paintbrush or roller, apply a coat of True Value EasyCare Ultra Premium Interior Paint in eggshell finish in a color of your choice. Allow the wall to dry completely for at least 24 hours before painting a new coat. Let the second coat dry for at least 24 hours as well before the next step.
Step 2: Start Rolling or Sponging
You will need a few clean linen or lint-free cotton cloths or rags, or a sea sponge (they provide a more irregular, natural appearance than synthetic sponges). For rag rolling, decide which method you want to use: rolling on or rolling off. Each of them provides different variations of the same texture. Rolling off usually means less of the base coat will show through, compared to rolling on the paint. Rolling off also usually requires more rags because they eventually become saturated with paint and cease to provide the desired effect. Choose a small portion of the wall to use as a test area to see which method works best for you. You can always paint over what you've done.
For the next coat, use a slightly darker shade of the same color paint you used as your base coat or vice versa, if you want the base coat to be darker than the top coat.
For better results, try diluting the paint for the next coat by mixing it with water in a paint tray. Aim for getting the mixture at a ratio of 2:1 (paint to water).
If you're rolling on the paint, dip your rag into a paint tray to cover it with paint. Be careful not to over-saturate the cloth. Twist it or bunch it up into a ball to distribute paint evenly throughout and then roll the cloth down the wall with steady pressure, starting at the top. Try not to use the same downward stroke each time or the results may be too uniform; you want to use slightly angled, different strokes, re-adjusting as you move along the wall. Keep extra rags handy, as once one becomes too saturated with paint, you'll need a new one because it won't work in the same way. Do this across the entire surface of the wall until you've covered it completely.
When rolling off the paint, apply the next coat of paint over the base coat with a roller or paintbrush. Then, immediately begin rolling a clean twisted or bunched up rag down the wall. The clean rag will pick up paint from where you just painted, creating the textured appearance.
Do small areas at a time so that the top coat doesn't dry before you begin rolling.
Once the rag has become completely saturated with paint, discard it and use another. Keep applying paint and rolling it off in downward strokes across the surface of the wall until you've covered it.
If you’re using sponges, soak a sponge with paint and then dab it on the surface to create random textures on top of the basecoat. For a consistent appearance, make sure your dabs overlap each other. To get maximum texture, periodically re-wet the sponge.
View more articles on decorative painting techniques today!
Wear rubber gloves when rag rolling or sponge painting to avoid overexposure of skin to paint.
Open the windows to make sure you'll be priming and painting in a well-ventilated area.
Congrats! Now you know a few ways to “texture-ize” your walls to add your own personal touch to your interiors.
Project Shopping List
Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.
- Textured wallpaper
- Powdered paint texture additive
- Sand (optional)
- Drop cloths
- Tarp or plastic sheeting
- Painter's tape
- Screwdriver (optional)
- Large paint mixing container
- Mixing stick
- EasyCare Ultra Premium Interior Paint
- EasyCare Ultra Premium Interior Primer/Sealer
- Roller applicator
- Roller cover
- Mild detergent
- Joint compound
- 100 drywall knife
- Small drywall knife
- Stencils (optional)
- Fine-grit sandpaper
- Linen or lint-free cotton cloths
- Sea sponge (optional)
- Paint tray
- Rubber gloves