Smooth vs. Textured Walls – Which Finish Should You Go For?

Author: Pat Freling | Updated: | Affiliate links may be present.

Whether you choose smooth or textured walls, at the end of the day, it’s all about the execution. In this article, I’ll discuss texturing and the process of removing texture to help you achieve the exact look you have in mind.

Any room can have smooth or textured walls, it’s all about the look you want. The peel-and-stick texture is an affordable way to try out different looks on your wall. You have three different ways to apply premixed compound texture. Smoothing out walls (skim coating) could add up to $700 when hiring professionals.

Introduction to Textured Walls

Textured walls can range from almost smooth to extremely rough. They’re slightly harder to keep clean than smooth walls, but they can add some depth to the room. You can use peel-and-stick textures or premixed compounds.

When using a compound, it takes days to dry, is a messy process, can cost around $120 to DIY, and requires some tools.

When using peel-and-stick textures or wallpaper, it takes about an hour or less to apply, doesn’t make a mess, costs around $30, and requires no tools. Although it may be easier if you have a scraper tool or putty knife.

Introduction to Smooth Walls

Smooth walls are in most homes and are versatile when it comes to decor and style. You get to choose from five different levels of smoothness. Level 4 is acceptable, but level 5 baby-smooth is the desired result. Smooth surfaces are easy to paint and hang stuff on.

When smoothing out textured walls, it takes about 6 hours or more, can be messy, and costs anywhere between $200 – $700, depending on if you DIY or hire a professional.

Adding shelves or decor to a smooth wall is easy and affordable. You can also add a tapestry or a large-scale piece of art that incorporates texture and pizzazz into a room.

All About Textured Walls

Here are some great tips and information for applying texture to your walls. The textured look adds dimension, and there are several ways to do it.

Two Options for Texture

Peel-and-stick textured wallpapers are a really creative, modern, and cost-effective way to add some grandiose to any room in your home. This is the cheapest option of all, intended to be easy to remove, and comes in a variety of colors and prints.

Applying or removing this is easy, especially if you have a scraper tool or putty knife. Before they’re pushed down firmly, they can be adjusted slightly without ripping. Take a look at this option, for example.

If you’d prefer to apply permanent texture under paint, premixed joint compound textures are very easy for anyone to use, even if they’ve never textured a wall before.

Joint compounds come in a bucket and are very thick prior to diluting with water. If you want really textured walls, the consistency should be like peanut butter.

If you want lightly textured walls, use a little more water to achieve a pancake-batter consistency.

Premixed joint compound textures still require the drywall to be primed before application.

There are three types of premixed joint compound textures – sand, smooth, and rough.

3 Types of Premixed Texture

Texturing walls is easy! There are many different ways to apply premixed joint compound texture. Here are 3 different options for DIY.

The first is the sand texture. Add the desired amount of diluted texture into the paint roller pan and use a paint roller to apply it.

The second is the smooth texture (not the same as smooth walls). This time use a coarse-napped roller.

After applying the first layer, you’ll want to go over it a second time without adding more texture. You’ll get a different look depending on how much pressure you use or which direction you roll.

The third option is to use the coarse-napped roller the same way as before, except this time with a rough texture. Once it dries, it’s very coarse, and I wouldn’t recommend it for a child’s room.

Adding texture this way shouldn’t cost more than $120 to DIY. That’s including the cost of tools and materials. I recommend trying out the peel-and-stick option first, though.

It takes textured surfaces about 24 hours to dry. After it is dry, paint over it with the color of your choosing! I’d recommend the lovely “Dead Salmon” color.

All About Smooth Walls

If you’d rather keep your walls smooth, there are still lots of ways to spice up the space and add some glitter.

Have an Accent Wall

It might be a fabulous idea to add some POP to a room by focusing on an accent wall. An accent wall can have a bright or rich color, textured wallpaper, an object hung up, or all three.

Hang up Something

I loved how my living room felt after I hung up some tapestries. Tapestries come in a variety of colors, textures, patterns, and images. It can be the perfect, less-invasive way to add style to your home.

Hanging up a giant mirror or several smaller ones can make the room look bigger. Adding framed pictures or art pieces is a great option for any wall. You can make a big collage of several smaller artworks/images to really make it your own design.

How to Smooth out Textured Walls

Skim coating is the most effective method to smooth out textured walls. It involves at least four different tools. A blade, sanding tool, paint roller, and magic trowel.

The steps of skim coating include scraping, sanding, applying all-purpose joint compound, sanding again, applying more compound, and lightly sanding one more time.

The first step to smoothing out a textured surface is to scrape off as much texture as you can with a blade.

The second step is to sand the surface. Wear a mask for any sanding steps. I recommend using 80-grit on a sand pole. A radius sander is also an excellent sanding tool option.

The third step is to apply an all-purpose joint compound or “mud” with a blade or magic trowel. Where there are peaks, it may be necessary to apply a bit more mud.

After the first (and understandably thick) coat of mud has dried, the fourth step is to sand it down, attempting to make it as smooth as possible. 120-grit sandpaper would be better for this step.

If you start to see texture again, you’ve gone too far. You’re aiming to smooth out the mud applied the day before. After sanding, go over the wall with a slightly damp cloth or duster to remove any dust.

Be very gentle on the wall for the following steps. It’s easy to leave unintended marks at this stage. The fifth and sixth step is to apply a second coat of mud, and once it’s dry, sand over it again with 220-grit this time.

If there are any dents at this point, you fill them in with a very small amount of tinted putty. Smooth it over with the blade and once it’s dry, go over it very lightly with a mild sanding sponge.

How Much Does It Cost to Skim Coat?

It’s quite a challenge not to leave any marks, dents, sanding scratches, or uneven spots while skim coating a wall. Hiring someone to skim coat for you can cost up to $600 in labor, depending on their rates and how long it takes.

Watch how a young couple skim-coated their living room by themselves.

To DIY, it can cost around $120 for the tools and materials if you don’t already have them. It could easily become more costly to skim coat walls in your home. It depends on how many walls need to be done and how much experience you have.

Final Thoughts

Any room in your home can have textured or smooth walls, it’s all about the look you want.

If you decide your walls need some texture, I urge you to try the peel-and-stick textures and wallpapers because they aren’t as damaging to walls as they used to be.

Either way, make your decision carefully and prepare for any renovation. If you’re using compound or sanding, be sure to wear a mask and cover the floor and furniture.

Whether you choose smooth or textured walls, I hope you find peace and joy in your home every day.

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About Pat Freling

Pat has been into DIY painting since he was 14 years old. He's painted interior walls, decks, patio, and even the first car that he'd purchased at 18.

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