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Homework: How to smooth a textured wall finish

Repairing nail pops in drywall is not too

Repairing nail pops in drywall is not too hard, but there are a few steps you need to take if you only want to repair and repaint this area once. Credit: iStock

You may have a textured finish on a wall or ceiling in your home. The finish is quite common.

Some drywall finishers create a similar texture by using a very thick-napped paint roller and roll on a thinned topping compound on drywall. After the compound dries completely, the finisher uses a sanding pole to remove the high spots.

However, some people hate the look and if you're one that wants to have smooth walls or ceilings, you can transform a textured surface to smooth with a little work.

Degree of difficulty: Three hammers out of five

Step one: Gather the following tools and supplies: sponge, bucket and liquid dish soap, 6-inch drywall taping knife, 10-inch drywall broadknife, drywall mud pan, ready-mix drywall topping compound, fine-grit sanding block, drywall primer/sealer and painting tools.

Step two: The first step is to wash down the walls that you want to be smooth with soap and water. You're going to be applying drywall topping compound to the wall, and this product contains a glue. Glue sticks best to clean, dry, oil-free surfaces. For now, just clean one wall or perhaps half a wall so you can do a test.

Step three: Put a small amount of pre-mixed topping compound from the bucket or box into your mud pan. Add a small amount of water and mix this until it's the consistency of warm cake icing. Do not add too much water. If the compound is too thin, add more compound until you get the right consistency.

Step four: For now, I suggest that you just try to make a small square of the wall smooth. Let's try a 2-foot-by-2-foot area. If you're not familiar with using a larger broadknife, then start with the smaller 6-inch tool and apply some compound to the wall.

Hold the tool at about a 45-degree angle to the wall and pull off excess compound so that just the low spots in the texture are filled. It's better to do horizontal strokes than up-and-down ones. Hold the tool at an angle like a snow plow so the excess compound runs up the knife and does not glop out down on the floor.

Step five: Repeat the process until your test area is covered. Remember, the less excess compound on the wall, the less you will have to sand in the future. Allow the compound to dry completely. The dry time is a function of the air temperature, humidity and the thickness of the compound you applied.

Step six: Once the compound is dry, lightly sand the test area. You just are trying to knock off any lines you left behind or other tiny high spots. You should have to sand very little. Use a vacuum cleaner or lightly damp rag to remove any sanding dust. Wait until it gets dark.

Step seven: When it's dark, use a flashlight held at a low angle that's washing the test area with light. This low-angled light will reveal any minor defects in your work. If you find some, then repeat steps four through seven until you get the test area nice and smooth.

Step eight: Paint the test area with a real drywall primer / sealer paint made for new drywall. Make sure the patched area is free of sanding dust before you paint. Finish the job with matching wall paint. Check this painted area to see if it's the look you want. If so, then do what you did over all the wall surface you want to be smooth.

Summary: You'll discover it's so much faster to use the 10-inch broad knife, so try to master it as soon as possible. You'll be amazed at how easy it is to get professional results with just a small amount of practice. The key is getting the compound consistency right.


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