How to Remove Drywall Texture

Michele M. Howard

Textured walls have their advantages -- they can provide a three-dimensional look to a room and can camouflage drywall imperfections. You, on the other hand, may prefer smooth, flat walls or want to hang wallpaper, which requires removing the texture. It goes without saying that this is a messy and cumbersome process.

Removing texture requires a lot of sanding.

Even so, this time-consuming job can be tackled by most do-it-yourself homeowners.

Prep and Test

  1. Prepare the work area -- remove all furnishings, wall hangings, picture hooks and electrical outlet covers. Spread plastic sheeting over the floor and attach it to the baseboards with painter's tape to keep it from moving.

  2. Test the texture to determine which removal process to use. Fill a spray bottle with warm water, use it to saturate a 1-foot-square area, and let it sit for 20 minutes. Only use enough water to loosen and soften the texture -- too much water can damage the drywall.

  3. Wear safety glasses and put on a dust mask. Take a putty knife and try to scrape off the texture. If the water has softened the texture enough to allow you to scrape it off easily, you'll be able to remove it with a scraper. If the texture won't budge, it may have been painted over, in which case it will have to be sanded.

Spray, Scrape and Patch

  1. Spray a larger, 5-foot-square area with water and wait 20 minutes. Hold a floor scraper against the wall and push it away from your body to scrape off the texture. Experiment with the amount of pressure and the angle of the scraper to avoid damaging the drywall.

  2. Move to the next wall area; wet it down, and wait several minutes. Repeat the process until the majority of the texture has been removed. Stubborn areas may need to be sprayed a second time. To scrape tight spots, such as near corners, use a putty knife.

  3. Inspect the entire wall. If you've gouged or damaged the drywall while scraping, use a putty knife and premixed joint compound to patch the areas. Sink any nails or screws below the surface of the drywall and cover them with joint compound. Apply the compound along the joints to smooth them out. Allow the compound to dry.

  4. Take a pole sander with 120-grit sandpaper and gently sand the patched or repaired areas to make the wall smooth and flat. Wipe down the wall with a damp sponge to remove the dust.

If You Can't Scrape it Off

  1. Sand the entire wall using a pole scraper with 120-grit sandpaper. The objective is to knock down the high spots and make the wall almost flat. After sanding, wipe down the wall with a damp sponge to remove the dust.

  2. Combine premixed joint compound and a small amount of water in a large bucket. Mix the two together using a drill with a mixing paddle attachment. The mixture, referred to as mud, should have the consistency of custard. Put a quantity of the mixture into a mud tray.

  3. Spread the mud over the wall using a drywall knife. Start in one corner and work down and across to the opposite side of the wall. Hold the knife almost parallel to the wall and use sweeping strokes. The objective is to leave a thin layer of mud while filling up the low spots. Don't worry if the first coat doesn't completely smooth out the wall -- several coats are required.

  4. Allow the wall to dry overnight. Repeat the process, and apply a second coat. Apply as many coats as necessary until the surface is flat. This might take three or four coats.

  5. Perform a final sanding using a pole sander with 120-grit sandpaper. Shine a hand-held light across the surface to see if you missed any ridges or other imperfections. If you did, sand the areas. Wipe the wall down with a damp sponge to remove the dust.

  6. Tip

    Rinse your sponge often when wiping the dust from the wall and wring it out thoroughly so it doesn't soak the drywall.