How We Got Smooth Textured Walls on a Budget

Let’s talk drywall finishing shall we? I had my heart set (or so I thought) on perfectly smooth walls. As you know I’m trying to keep the Merc as time-period true as possible. So in 1928 when it was built, they used plaster walls with minimal texture.  Going the route of plaster walls would have been an expensive tedious and unnecessary process. Drywall was definitely the way to go, but I still wanted the finish to be smooth.

(Real renovation life perfectly captured above)

Uncompromisingly smooth. That is, until I got schooled on a few things.

  1. The cost. Though I didn’t get an actual formal bid for it, my contractor estimated that it would be about 3-5x the regular cost to do a completely smooth finish. WUUUUUUUUT. (I’m wicked jealous of all of you east coasters that get smooth walls standard.)
  2. They sort of still show everything. Picture your postpartum body in a super tight dress.

    I know I know, just go with me on this.

    A smooth texture is like wearing spanx. Yes it helps a lot, you may have smoothed out the texture, but the general shape isn’t going to change all that much. With smooth textured walls, if the walls have any sort of wave or bulge from the framing (which they most likely will cause boards aren’t always straight) that will still be there.


  3. There’s a great compromising finish called Old World that made me a believer that we could have the best of both worlds.

A quick google image search shows a huge range of what Old World texture looks like and none of them look like mine.

The finisher knew that I wanted the walls almost smooth, so he did a couple of test spots so that I could see what my finish options were. I chose the one with the least amount of variation and they got to work.

We used this finish on the walls and ceiling, you can see in the below picture where the mud is thinner (because it already dried) and how there is definitely texture, but its not everywhere. (The big color variation is because the mud is still wet, when its dry its almost impossible to see in pictures.)

See how there are little spots that the drywall peeks through? That’s where the Old World style kicks in.

When its dry it looks like this:

Can I just say how hard it is to take a picture of a white-ish wall that has nothing for the camera to focus on? Dang.

Another key factor in the visibility of wall texture is the sheen of paint that you are using. The higher the sheen, the sharper the shadows are, which makes the texture more visible. Interesting right?

We are using MY FAVORITE Sherwin-Williams Emerald Matte for all of the walls so the visible texture is significantly minimized. The important thing when using a low sheen paint is to make sure that its high quality, often times the lower the sheen, the less scrubbable, but Emerald is the best of both worlds. We’ll dive deeper into paint in a couple of weeks but its a fascinating world!

Inquiring minds want to know, what type of drywall texture do you have in your house? And how do you feel about it?




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Author: Jeff Donaldsons

Good day everyone, I'm a family man who loves hanging out with friends & meeting new people. Family Friends and Coding Yeah!. I also love helping others.