How to Make Drywall Mud Relief Figures

Laura Britton

Drywall mud, or drywall joint compound, provides an accessible means for the home sculptor to create relief figures on the walls of bathrooms, hallways, living rooms, bedrooms and other areas where you want to add visual interest.

With a little sculpting know-how, some basic tools and a bucket of joint compound, you can create any design you like on any exposed drywall surface. You can add a mud relief figure to a wall that has already been painted if you're willing to do a little prep work.

  1. Sketch or choose your design based on where you will place your mud relief figure.

  2. Prepare the section of the wall you'll be using by sanding it with sandpaper to rough it up and remove any paint that is already there.

  3. Mix the hot mud powder with water according to the manufacturer's directions. "Hot mud" is quick-setting drywall joint compound, and it doesn't shrink and crack like all-purpose mud, making it ideal for this project.

  4. Apply the joint compound directly to the wall using the palette knife, making sure that the first layer is flush against the wall and secure. Build this layer of mud up to a thickness of ΒΌ inch to 3 inches, depending on the needs of your design.

  5. Use your sculpting tool, wax carver and dental pick to carve into the mud and shape into the design, texture and dimension you want.

  6. Allow the joint compound to dry and set according to the directions printed on its label.

  7. Apply primer to the sculpture and to the wall before painting.

  8. Tip

    Use stencils or craft molds to work with pre-made shapes and designs. Pre-mix the joint compound and latex paint for faster work when using stencils and molds. Paint the relief sculpture to match the wall or paint it in a contrasting color.