Smooth or textured walls?

1 September, 2013
Are smooth walls more "in style" than textured walls?

Backstory: All of the walls in my house look like this. The biggest problem is the previous owners made a lot of holes to hang things. Patching holes with this texture makes it nearly impossible to actually hide the patch.

Would this require a lot of sanding to smooth them out? I like satin finish interior paints a lot but I don't think they would look good on this texture. Comments and suggestions please.
Smooth walls
Textured walls

Comments (45)

  • Judy M
    I prefer smooth walls, but I think there is a spray that helps cover the flat look of spackle when patching holes.
    Look for "orange peel" spray .
  • sandkshouse
    I prefer smooth. But that is personal preference. You asked if it would require a lot of sanding to smooth them out. I don't think you would want to (or could) make the walls smooth by sanding to remove the texture. I believe the thing to do would be to put a skim coat of mud over the entire wall. This would require a lot of sanding . . . and a talented drywall finisher. But it can be done.
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  • Fred S
    If you can't hide a hole on that wall, then you are doing it wrong. You don't take a putty knife and smear taping mud all over the wall. You fill the hole and don't mess up the surrounding area.
  • jeepflyer
    Fred S you're right. Although I have yet to patch any holes, I have nice flat circles to highlight all of the nail holes that were previously filled. I get what you're saying about not just caking it over the hole, but the previous owners were not as knowledgable.
  • jeepflyer
    Example of the previous owner's work
  • PRO
    ísARK Studio
    If you want to bring the texture from a light 'knockdown' texture (what you have is actually not orange peel) to smooth it is very time consuming to sand down the years of paint, primers and other bad patch jobs. Instead of sanding all of this, I would recommend just using more compound over the entire wall (after just a very light sand once just to scuff the surface) and then a light sand over the top of the compound after it is dry. You may need to do two thin coats. Then prime and paint. Make sure to use a higher nap to create a texture with the paint to even out any imperfections. It is extremely difficult to match texture and I would not recommend buying the products at homedepot and trying to do it yourself.

    Most homes today that have texture do so because it covers the imperfections in the drywall work. Sanding it all down may just reveal those imperfections leaving you worse off than where you started. There is a reason why smooth/level 5 walls are more expensive but spending a few days applying compound doesn't need to be a hard job, it's just time consuming.

    Hope this was helpful and best of luck!
  • Fred S
    I don't think anybody called this wall an orange peel. What did they use to fill those, caulking or taping compound? It also looks like there is a color difference, like they just repainted the spot and the old paint is faded. It is still quicker and cheaper to fix than have someone come in and make it all smooth. If someone did that same thing to smooth wall, it would look worse and be even harder to fix. You need to use the same materials to fix it as were originally used, or you will have a difference in sheen no matter how nice of a job you try to do. I use the orange peel spray very rarely on this type of wall, because it is mostly air in the texture drops. I might use it to fill in a sparsely textured area like the second picture, but it takes a few extra coats of paint before it looks right, because the texture is different. You can't apply it and knock it down, it just disappears. I generally apply "texture" that is taping compound over the holes with a finger and then lightly get it going the same direction as the rest with a wet putty knife. It should be slightly higher than the rest, and when dry, sand it lightly to match. This takes a little practice to get the technique, but once you get it, it goes pretty fast. You will need to get rid of or hide the texture difference from any caulking that was used.
  • simsala
    skimcoat the walls. It is not as difficult as some suggest. Just takes time. Try it on a small section. Or get a drywaller to do. The cost will come back when you re-sell. Just look at the votes. This is what HO want. Any patch job will be just that
  • PRO
    Fradkin Fine Construction, Inc.
    I think a flatter paint sheen would help the look of these walls quite a bit. Skim coating entire rooms, while resulting in a more desirable look to most people, would be a tremendous amount of work.

    As for patching nail holes, try using a water based spackle, apply with a finger tip to patch the hole and immediately run a moist sponge lightly over the hole. This will prevent a buildup of spackle that ends up looking like a smooth spot in your textured walls.
    The orange peel spray might work but use it sparingly as you have what is called "knock down" texture, not orange peel. Knock down is a completely different application process and orange peel is not a great match for it.
  • vjs12
    I have that same texture throughout my entire house. It's called "knock-down". I love it! I would recommend using Satin paint. Also, doing a faux paint technique on this texture is really nice looking. We did apply joint compound with a trowel and sand it smooth to put up wallpaper in the dining room 18 years ago. It was very time consuming to do. It's a lot of sanding to get the wall totally smooth. I use joint compound to fill the holes by dabbing a small amount on the hole. You can make it blend well with the texture using the joint compound. I would keep the texture. It is more expensive looking than the flat walls.
  • auntiebuzzybee
    Smoothe walls kind of give me the feeling of painted drywall boards! Do ya think? Sanding what we did to prep walls for wallpaper. Things have changed???
  • PRO
    Ray Ellen - Realtor
    If all the walls in your home have that texture, I would just sand and fix the existing holes that were filled improperly, then mute/prime/& paint. Doing a cost/benefit analysis would probably show that you get more benefit from repairing and repainting than from sanding all of your walls smooth.
    I love the texture. It hides minor wear and tear and dings from kiddos better. In this situation, the only way I would "smooth" the walls was if it was for personal enjoyment.
    Don't expect any ROI from making the walls smooth. The next home owner may discount their offer because they have to add "knock down" or "orange peel" texture to all the walls... :)

    And I think satin would look better than a gloss on this texture.
  • brendakusan
    As previously stated, you have "knock down" textured walls. Texture in can products mimic tradtional lumpy textured walls: orange peel, popcorn, etc.
    If you wish to smooth out your walls, contract a good drywaller to do it. It is a daunting, time consuming, very messy task for someone who doesn't do it gor a living. I'm pretty handy, and I have hired people to do this in the past.
    If you choose to live with it. Try to mimic the texture as best you can. Google for how-to instructions. Then paint the entire wall(s). The finish you choose is personal.
    Flatter finishes will mask the textures and imperfections better. There are washable flats on the market. Touch ups are dead easy and unnoticable with flats.
    Shinier finishes will enhance them, but as the whole wall is textured, no one may notice exceot you. These finishes are tougher and scrubbable. Touch ups are more difficult. But in your case, it probably won't matter as your walls are textured.
    Hard to tell, but current finish looks shiny. BTW, previous owner did not paint patches, or if (s)he painted (s)he did not use same colour.
  • PRO
    Bryant Builders LLC
    As a contractor, we use this texture frequently in garages, laundry rooms, and other requested places. it is not dated and adds a different feels to an ordinary walls. Smooth sheetrock with a satin paint WILL show any imperfections.
  • PRO
    Forrest Glover Design
    I love smooth walls and smooth out texture any chance I can get.
  • simsala
    herein lays the whole problem
    If the wall would have been finished "first class" in the first place the HO would have had less problems fixing it. It is much more difficult to repair a textured wall. Textured walls are like handwriting - difficult to imitate. But instead they are textured to hide imperfections. speak: the drywaller does a hush hush job - good enough, we cover it with texture. Cost cutting is the prime objective. But hey, we all want quality work, eh?? Preferable it should cost little. Now it costs in the long run
    Textured walls in garages in some areas of the basement are quite acceptable but in living areas a good quality job will always be first choice.
    In this particular case it makes sense to just repair as good as possible. As has been mentioned before use a flat paint even if it means to repaint the whole room
  • adamrife
    I am renovating my home that has orange peel finish. I have to fill many holes and patches for removed outlets etc. After two $15 dollar cans of aerosol orange peel and very bad results, I broke down and bought a pneumatic texture hopper gun. $60 at home Depot. Just fill your hole normally, thin out some joint compound with water for the gun and go to work. Absolutely perfect results because it's the exact same tool the pros use. In the long run it will save money over the aerosol and your patches are completely undetectable. If you don't currently own an air compressor it's a must have too. Good tools are worth the investment. If you only need it once you can rent a texture gun for about $20. Be sure to properly prime the patch area before repainting.

    For the record I hate my texture and would prefer smooth but there is usually a reason for the texture. Poor drywall work. The cost/effort of skim coating might not be worth it if your walls are wavy or blemished.
  • Kivi
    Folks this is an old post is from sept 2013...
  • adamrife
    Thanks kivi. But people may still find the information useful. Are you an admin for this site???
  • Kivi
    Nope just pointing it out in case folks are trying to help the original poster
  • tracie1265
    We are doing remodeling and taking off popcorn ceilings and rough textured walls. The man we hired is excellent but it has taken way longer than either of us expected because we want the ceilings to be smooth and the walls to have a very light texture. I know when all is said and done it will be wonderful but in the middle of it the mess is enormous. Even the dust has dust on it. I suggest if you are going to do it, do it all at once and get it done. Expect it to be an extreme mess. Take everything out of the rooms you are redoing (we didn't :(( ) and last but not least have tons of patience. It is a tedious job.
  • simsala

    as said before: Textured ceilings hide many imperfections. Now you are uncovering them and it takes "whatever" to fix. But at least when it's done you will be happy with it. What the dust is concerned, your contractor should have warned you about it. Even covering everything with plastic will not prevent dust getting in everything. Often heating ducts are missed. Remember they convey air, so the dust will travel wherever there is airmovement. Rather than scraping dry popcorn off the ceiling try (could have) spraying it slightly with hot water/steam, then scrape rather sand. Clear out the room/s is a MUST

  • PRO
    Fradkin Fine Construction, Inc.

    One of the most effective ways to prevent dust from filling the surrounding rooms is to create negative pressure in the work area with a ducted fan. The person doing the work can make a plywood "plug" for an opening window, attach a ducted fan to it and exhaust air continuously through the sanding process. This will prevent that fine dust from infiltrating other parts of your home. If you have a forced air heating system the ducts in the work areas should be temporarily sealed:

    There are more cost effective fans on the market but this or something like this works great. You can put some filter fabric on the intake so dust isn't being shot all over the outside of your home or neighbor's home.

  • lefty47

    HI -- I think smooth walls are better . The textured walls seem to be done only in US homes and I have never seen it in any Canadian homes .

  • PRO
    Design Directives, LLC

    Smooth walls are much more elegant. Easier to apply wall paper, or specialty finishes to smooth walls

  • Ava Williams
    Smooth by far
  • PRO
    Ovchinnikov Eugeny N.

    I might use it to fill in a sparsely textured area like the second picture, but it takes a few extra coats of paint before it looks right, because the texture is different. You can't apply it and knock it down, it just disappears. I love smooth walls and smooth out texture any chance I can get.

  • ginglebell
    I hate These textured walls and yes the builder does it because it is MUCH less work for him to hide his imperfections and thus cheaper for him. Many paint color look ugly because of the texture and you must use completely flat paint. I will be on top of this the next time I have a home built. No more textured walls.
  • PRO
    Jewel Box Homes NW

    Smooth finish is the very best from an aesthetic standpoint. Just be aware of two “cons” to the approach. 1. The cost to apply is at least twice that of a textured finish. 2. Every repair to a smooth surface shows unless you (i) have a pro do the work and (ii) repaint the entire wall where the repair is located.

  • PRO
    Comwest Construction
    Smooth finish looks great if it is done correctly. However Home Depot has texture in the cans you can try it over your patches. light sand and repaint the room. This is the least time and money for fixing the walls.
  • smehouse

    I'm building a home in WI and the contractors all propose using "sand" coated drywall - including on the ceiling. When we renovated our home in VA 10 years ago, there wasn't any discussion about wall surface texture -- smooth was the default on all walls and the ceiling. Yes, it does show imperfections and I drove the drywaller mad when I pointed them out, But I much prefer smooth. I'd rather not pay a premium to get it. Is there a texture other than "sand" that is subtle yet price competitive??

  • kathleen MK
    it takes practice to do a good knock down finish. Even with the patch spray cans you need to lightly knock it down by gently smoothing with a trowel or even credit card. you can water down a bit of space and splatter with an old paint brush then trowel to knock down blobs.
  • PRO
    Bryant Builders LLC

    Only hire a professional to do any finish work that is out the normal. Even smooth walls are an art and can look really bad if not done well. I have had numerous persons 'claim' they can do sheetrock finishing. I do not use any of the box or big box do it yourself products. Most finishers will finish with a texture in our area for .13 per sq ft. of coverage. the painters do not charge extra for painting over it for the final look.

  • simsala

    to find out if your wall is acceptable to you, take a trouble light with a 300W lightbulb and shine the light on the wall from the bottom up. Or on a ceiling from the side (as flat as you can go)

    Now you will know!!

  • PRO
    Bryant Builders LLC

    Trends in home construction and home improvement keep changing. Removing texture is very time consuming. You have to determine what look is best for you. Not everyone likes the smooth ceilings. I am one of them. I don't really like all the other options either, but I do like that a texture of some sort over time will look flawless longer in many cases. Ex. is the old popcorn ceilings. Unless they were damaged or yellowed, they have held up. But with time have become dated. We are always facing the-out with the old and in with the new. I do not recommend a shine on the ceiling paint-use flat. Flat paint hides more imperfections. On walls, use a smooth or 3/8 nap rather than the larger nap which gives a texture when painting. you might consider other options too-in many areas wallpaper is becoming very popular again.

  • PRO
    Waterlily Interiors

    We like a smooth wall. That being said, textured walls are more popular the further west you go. They can be harder to repair in the long run and less expensive in the short run. Textured walls can also cover a multitude of sins from a bad drywall install. If you want wallpaper, steer clear.

  • C K

    I LOVE smooth walls and ceilings. In my last home, I took down *all* of the popcorn ceilings (be prepared for a stiff neck), repairing any imperfections and sanding until it was as smooth as a baby's bottom. It was *gorgeous* and so nice to know all of that dust-collecting popcorn was out of there. The added benefit I was hoping for and got? No more shadows from the little peaks and valleys in the texture. It made the room look so much brighter and cleaner. I moved before I got a chance to do the walls. My home now has knockdown like yours, but even given my positive past experience, I am thinking twice before doing it. It's a huge job (in this case, would involve skim-coating and sanding). I would say it's fantastic for perfectionists or whose who like a more modern look and it's what they're doing in new high end homes, but, as others have said, you won't get good ROI out of it. Do it if you have the time, money, and patience (or can hire a contractor), but only if you would find it rewarding and eye-pleasing and are going to live there awhile. Don't smooth all of your walls if you're planning on selling, etc. Just get the $60 texture gun at Home Depot, have at it with all of the poorly finished areas, and repaint if you want the best monetary ROI.

  • PRO
    Gerety Building and Restoration

    I vote smooth, but everyone's choice will be different.

  • Jay Langdon

    I'm learning after moving from Nebraska to New York that this is a regional thing. East is smooth, west is textured. I have seen som people even the "pros" say textured walls hides a bad dry wall job, I will have to disagree even texture won't hide a bad job, just try it and see.

  • michellejhd

    I am selling my older condo (built in the 1980's in Florida) in which every wall is textured with that awful popcorn look. What neutral color other than white should I use to paint over to make it more attractive to buyers? It is very expensive to change the wall texture and I may lose my "investment' in doing this. Painting may be the better option...

  • PRO
    Waterlily Interiors

    We would use a washable matte paint. Any shine on these walls will highlight the texture. Washable matte will give you the ability wash and touch up.

    I imagine the labor to remove this would be high and then you would have to repair it before painting.

  • Dan Hardy

    I have been asking everyone in Phoenix what iz the reason for the textured walls. I'm painting this CRAP right now. You can't get a straight line anywhere. You get paint on different color trim, you will end up touching up all day, forever! I've been told it saves time when they first do it. That may be, but from then on it will add a 1/3 more in materials everytime you do something, patch, paint. And it has to be another 1/3, at least in time. If it doesn't, it's because the painter did a CRAPPY job. Another thing with the skip trowel texture is it is a dust catcher. Wash a portion of it and then look at your water. It will be filthy. And for any builder to say it will cost more he is blackmailing you. Scaring you so he can make his money, then cost you big time the life of the house. The person who first did this must have basketball sized nuts.

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