The technique for how to remove drywall texture depends on the material being removed and the condition of the wall. The most common technique for removing texture from painted drywall requires sanding off the high portions of the texture and filling it in with at least two thin layers of joint compound – called skim coating. Another technique for unpainted textured walls and ceilings, including popcorn ceilings, is spraying water on the surface to loosen the texture so you can scrape it off.
When a wall has extensive cracks, peeling paint or water damage, it may be easier to cover the existing wall with–inch drywall or remove the existing wall absolutely and replace it.
Whatever technique you use to remove a textured surface from drywall, protect yourself from exposure to construction dust, lead and asbestos.
Removing textured wall surfaces is an exacting process that takes patience. Here's how to tackle some common problems so your walls will be smooth and your work, profitable.
How to remove drywall texture by skim coating
Problem: Uneven surface.
To avoid creating an uneven wall when you're removing the texture, do not use a belt sander. It will dig up the texture. Instead, remove high peaks in the texture using a pole sander with 120 grit or a 5-inch floor scraper.
Problem: Bulgy looking patches.
Remove any loose material with a stiff brush, scrape high areas and wipe with a damp cloth. To apply the first coat of joint compound, start at the top and work across and down.
“The most important thing is not to use too much material,” says Ivan Solis, president of Chicago-based Solis Construction. “If you use too much joint compound, it will be difficult to achieve a smooth surface.
Do not worry about ripples, just try to cover the texture and get an even coat on the wall. Hold the joint knife at a 30-degree angle and press it in. “Keep it tight and smooth,” says Solis, who recommends using a 10- or 12-inch joint knife.
Alternate the direction of the skimming strokes with each new coat of mud. If you apply the first coat horizontally, apply the second coat vertically. Return excess mud from the surface to the rim of the pan, keeping the blade of the knife clean.
When the first coat is dry, apply the second coat to fill in the ripples. Again, start at the top in the corner and work across and down. As you work, knife off any big chunks of the first coat, using your blade. If there are still low and high spots, you may need a third coat. When the coat is dry, finish with a final sanding.
Problem: Joint compound that sets too quickly or is too hard to sand.
Choose the right compound for the job. When a wall texture will need several coats of joint compound to smooth the surface, use a setting compound like Sheetrock Easy Sand for the first coat.
“Easy Sand 90 is a chemically setting compound that will give you approximately 90 minutes to work before it sets,” says Jeff Hartin, product manager for USG's Ready Mixed products. The product is ideal for heavy fills and sands easily.
“The nice thing about a setting compound is that you can apply the first coat and start a second coat as soon as the first one has hardened,” says Solis.
For the second or final coat, Hartin and Solis recommend a ready-mixed joint compound, such as Sheetrock Plus 3. The lightweight product is easier to spread, allows a thinner application, and is easier to sand.
Problem: Stains leach through the joint compound.
These problems are often due to improper adhesion and are common on many DIY painting projects. If the textured wall is peeling or plaster and textured joint compound are falling off, remove loose material with a scraper, sand and coat the surface with primer / sealer before skim coating.
Problem: Cracks and dents reappear.
Repair cracks and dents before skim coating. To repair them, tape over the cracks with drywall tape and secure them with joint compound. When the wall is smooth, a drywall primer and sealer will seal the wall and help prevent cracks and dents from reappearing. Primer also neutralizes the pH of the wall for a more even appearance.
Problem: Peeling paint and bubbling in the paint finish.
These problems are often due to improper adhesion. If the textured wall is peeling or plaster and textured joint compound are falling off, remove loose material with a scraper, sand and coat the surface with primer / sealer before skim coating.
Pits on the surface of the drywall are air bubbles that were not properly filled or that were exposed during sanding. Air bubbles result from over- or under-mixing the joint compound. Apply pressure to the bubbles with the joint knife, until the pits are gone. If you do not notice them until the wall is dry, cover them with joint compound and sand.
Problem: Over-sanding; missing high and low spots.
Sand too much and you risk damaging the surface paper. If that happens, cover the area again with joint compound. To avoid missing high and low spots, use a clamp-light or other light source close to the wall to find problem areas. Sand methodically, working from the ceiling to the floor in narrow sections.
How to remove a textured surface from drywall by scraping
Problem: Wall damaged by water and scrapers.
Experts recommend wetting wall textures with a spray bottle to loosen the material. Then use a scraper with a flat, wide blade to remove the texture. Use only enough water to loosen the material or you can damage the drywall. If you mark the sheetrock with the edge of your scraping blade, patch it with joint compound.
How to remove a textured surface from drywall by covering walls with drywall
Problem: Reinstalling trim.
“One thing to keep in mind when applying–inch drywall over an existing wall is that not only will your baseboard, door and window casing look a–inch thinner but all of the” joints “will have to be filled with joint compound and caulked, “says Solis. You may have to remove trim and reinstall it, and electrical outlets may need extensions to bring them flush to the wall.