Step-By-Step: How To Texture Walls With Drywall Mud

Are you looking to texture your flat walls? Give your home a little more character? Drywall mud is the perfect way to texturize your walls! Here is a guide to do it!

Step 1: Prepare The Area

First and foremost, you must prepare the surrounding area for the oncoming project. Drywall mud can be messy, especially for a first-time plasterer! Even the most experienced painter is bound to make a few mistakes.

Remove any furniture in the room where you are texturizing the walls. Depending on the technique you use, you could have wet mud flying in every direction. Avoid any irreparable damage to your furniture by removing it from the room. If you cannot remove the furniture, consider using a drop cloth or plastic to cover it. It’s not worth risking it, trust me.

Place drop cloths or plastic on the floor and baseboards, securing it in place with painter’s tape. Consider using painter’s tape on the baseboards if the cloth or plastic will make it difficult for you to apply the drywall mud. You don’t want to stain the floor or those fancy baseboards with the new mud.

If you are texturing your walls after just having a wall replaced, you will not need to worry about the baseboards. Apply texture before you install the baseboards. It will be so much easier to spread mud and paint your walls before the baseboards are installed.

Place plastic wrap over any light switches and outlets and secure with tape. This will prevent any of the mud from getting inside the delicate wiring.

Step 2: Make Any Repairs

Please, please, please! Make repairs to your plaster or drywall before attempting to texturize. Any repairs not made before texturizing could make the damages worse. You can use drywall mud to fix any small holes from nails, but do not use it in place of actual repairs.

If there are large holes or cracks in your plaster or drywall, please fix these first. Once these damages are taken care of, the drywall mud will help keep any new drywall in place.

Take a look at this article about texturizing plaster and how to repair plaster!

Step 3: Sand, Wipe, Dry

After all repairs have been made, to create an even texture, you will need to sand your walls. If repairs have made large inconsistencies in the wall, sand it down until it is even with the rest of the wall. You do not need to sand the entire wall, just where it is uneven. If there is a rough texture, sand that down as well.

Now wipe down your wall to remove all dust created from sanding. Removing this dust is ideal. If it is not removed, it could interfere with the texture and how well it will stick to the wall. Wait for the wall to dry or dry it off with a towel before applying the primer in the next step.

Step 4: Prime The Walls

Priming your walls is a very important step. You don’t want stains or muck leaking through to the plaster or drywall underneath. The primer will also help keep the texture in place. Wouldn’t want mud sliding down your wall, now would you?

Using an oil-based or latex primer, paint the walls with a paint roller. Apply one or two coats and use a brush to get into all the nooks and crannies of the room. Wait for the primer to dry before throwing mud on the walls. If you don’t, you’ll have a big mess on your hands!

(Psst! You can get any and all of the supplies listed in this article at your local home improvement store.)

Step 5: Prepare Compound

While you wait for the primer to dry, you can prepare the joint compound (drywall mud) that you are going to use. You can get a premixed compound or powder compound, but either way, you’re going to use water to mix it all together.

Grab a 5-gallon bucket, a paint mixer or drill, your mud compound, and water. Following the instructions of the compound with the correct measured proportions, pour your mud mixture into the bucket about 2/3 of the way and then add the water. With your paint mixer or your drill, mix the compound and water together until it is smooth.

Your mud should not be runny, but not too thick either. Mix in water until is almost like a thick paint or pancake-batter-like consistency. It should be smooth enough to roll a paint roller in, but should not be dripping everywhere.

If the room you are working on is going to require more mud, you can make more later. You do not want your mud to dry while you’re working. Dry flecks of mud mixed in with your wetter mud will not help you create your desired texture.

Unfortunately, there is no way to rehydrate drywall mud. It just doesn’t work, no matter how many people try. You are much better off creating a whole new mixture once the mud in the bucket begins to dry. When it does begin to dry, now you know for the next bucket to work a little faster!

Step 6: Apply Texture

Now, you’re ready to start adding texture! There are many different ways you can apply texture to your wall, so we’ll begin with two basic techniques and then explore some more eccentric methods.

Paint Roller

This technique is probably going to be the EASIEST on the list of methods we’ll give you. You will need a paint roller and a paint tray in addition to your bucket of joint compound. Rolling the mud onto the wall will give it an even, nondescript texture.

After pouring some of the mud from your bucket into the tray, dip the paint roller into the joint compound just as you would regular paint. Roll the mud evenly on the wall and use a brush to get the corners.

Be careful that your mud in the tray does not dry. If it does, you will have dried flakes in the texture on your wall, which will be entirely different from the texture you’re going for. Replenish the mud in the paint tray repeatedly.

Once the mud is almost dry, apply a second coat of mud with the roller. Do your best to prevent sliding the roller in the mud already on the wall. Let the mud dry for 24 hours before painting.

If your texture is a little rougher than you were going for, you can smooth it out right before it’s completely dry. Using a drywall knife, gently scrape the ridges on the entire wall. You want the wall to be even. No inconsistencies. Make sure the wall is almost dry and far from wet. If the mud is still wet, it will easily smear when you use the knife.

All done!

Texture Sprayer

This method is going to be easiest for ceilings, however, it’s a little pricey. You will need to rent or buy a texture sprayer, which can be anywhere from $110 to $15,000 depending on your machine preference. Yikes! At that point, you may even consider hiring a drywaller to do the texturing for you.

The texture sprayer is going to give you an Orange Peel or popcorn type of texture that is not easily accomplished by other methods, though some come close.

To begin, you will place the drywall compound into the sprayer’s hopper and adjust the nozzle and airflow for the desired texture. Decreasing the airflow will spray more compound while increasing the airflow will spray less of the compound. This depends on how rough you want the wall to look.

Slowly, with steady motions, spray the mud onto the wall. Be sure to use even strokes to get the perfect uniformity of texture. Complete one wall at a time so you have time for breaks in between spraying.

For a rougher texture, apply another coat once the wall is almost dry. Let the wall dry for 24 hours before painting.

All done!

Different Techniques

Let’s talk techniques! Because drywall mud is so forgiving, you can experiment with so many different methods and, if you don’t like it, you can wipe it away and try again! Don’t be afraid to experiment with the techniques we give you here or come up with one of your own!


Using a sponge will create a stucco-like texture. After applying some mud to the wall with a knife or trowel, simply, dab the sponge on the wall. Be sure to get every part of the wall. Continue to add mud and apply the sponge until you have the desired effect.

Notched Trowel

Using a notched trowel with indents will create some nice lines and ridges, or can be used to create a crosshatch pattern. Apply mud to the wall with a regular trowel or knife, then drag the notched trowel down the wall. This requires a steady hand to get the lines straight. Then drag the trowel across the wall horizontally and then again vertically.

If done correctly, it will look a bit like a checkerboard, but with the direction of the lines. Although this one takes a bit more time to make perfect, the cross hatched pattern looks like woven fabric.

Other Materials

There are countless ways to texture a wall using drywall mud. Potentially, anything has the capability of adding texture to your walls. It just depends on how much time you are willing to spend to get your desired texture. Here are some other materials that you can use to texture the wall:

  • Plastic bag
  • Paint comb
  • Rag
  • Linen
  • Cheesecloth
  • Burlap
  • Wood graining tool
  • Foot stomp brush

As stated before, please let the joint compound dry before applying any paint. You’ll have quite the mess on your hands if you’re impatient!

Ricky Kesler

With all of the projects I've done over the years, you'd think that I work on my house full-time. But I actually enjoy other things like spending time outdoors and time with my family.

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