Drywall Finishing Levels & More Texture Talk

You guys are BLOWING MY DANG MIND with your comments on yesterday’s post about drywall texture. So I thought it would be a good idea to do some more research so we can compare better notes.

Here’s what I learned, there are 5 different levels of drywall finishing, and there seems to be a lot of variation on how to define the final 2 levels.

Level 0 | Unfinished: The drywall is hung with no finish work at all.

Level 1 | Unfinished: is when you put the drywall tape in the joint compound along the seams. Its ok to have it be rough and have tool marks.

Level 2 | Unfinished: is when you skim a thin coat of joint compound over the tape and screws. This just has a thin coat of compound over the tape and screws. There is usually no sanding at this point and tool marks are still ok. FYI you can stop at this level if you plan on covering it with tile.

Level 3 | For Medium to Heavy Paint Texture: is when you apply a coat of joint compound to the tape and screws. . This level is smooth and doesn’t show tool marks. Walls that are going to be receiving a heavy texture (usually a spray texture) can end at Level 3

This is where things get a little murky.

Level 4 | For flat paint, a light final paint texture: Level 4 has two additional coats of joint compound over the screws and tape joints (this means that there are actually 3 coats because of the light skim coat in Level 2) The compound has to be smoothed, and there cannot be any tool marks or ridges.

This is where those of you who are in the midwest/east coast with smooth walls seem to be on the scale, the seams and screws have had a few layers of compound on them and have been sanded smooth. My house growing up had this level of finish with no texture on it.

Level 5 | Completely Smooth for high gloss paint or harsh lighting conditions: To get to Level 5 you add a thin skim coat over the entire surface. The skim coat is of joint compound or of a material manufactured specifically for this purpose. Walls are sanded and there are no tool marks. The walls are usually checked with a halogen light to ensure that they are nice and smooth. Often times a Level 5 gets a colored final skim coat over the first one so that the contractors can see where has been done and what still needs to be finished.

I would say that the Merc got a level 4.5. The Level 5 is what our contractor was talking about when he said it would be 3-5x more. He said that to do a perfectly smooth wall we would have the first skim coat on the wall done and sanded, and then a second coat is applied and sanded as well.

The style of the Old World texture that we did blurs the line because we’re getting a Level 5 treatment (with the full wall being covered) but not going for a perfectly smooth finish.

I asked my contractor about texture and why it seems to be so prevelant here on the west coast and he said it was just the way they’d always done it. I’ve never seen a house in So. UT without wall texture. Everything from budget builder grade up to million dollar parade houses have wall texture. My sister’s new house in Vegas has a texture that I’ve never seen before that looks similar to alligator skin. (You can see her full room makeover here)

Our old house had orange peel, so those that commented about never getting a straight paint line because of the texture, I HEAR YOU. That is why I always talk about bleeding the original wall color first because you will NEVER get a straight line if you don’t. It doesn’t matter what kind of tape you use.

Those that have texture, do you hate it? Do you wish you had it? I’m LOVING the insight into this part of peoples homes that totally gets overlooked, keep chiming in!





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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.