How to Do a Smooth Texture on a Ceiling or a Wall

A wall or ceiling with a smooth textured surface does not have the benefit of popcorn or orange-peel texture to hide the imperfections in the drywall's surface and the raised areas from the drywall tape and mud joints. Drywall imperfections cause shadows on a smooth textured wall or ceiling. To create a smooth texture, drywall finishers skim coat the entire wall or ceiling after the tape and mud joints dry. Painters must apply a primer to drywall with a smooth texture before giving the wall or ceiling its final coat.

Apply the smooth texture after the tape joints have dried.
  1. Cover the floor, windows and doors with a drop cloth.

  2. Shine a flashlight across the wall or ceiling's surface. Remove any ridges or high spots in the tape and mud joints with a sanding block, using the shadows created with the flashlight's beam as a guide.

  3. Mix a bucket of lightweight all-purpose joint compound and water, using the joint-compound manufacturer's recommended compound-to-water ratio. Stir the mixture with an electric drill equipped with a paddle bit until the compound has the same consistency as toothpaste.

  4. Fill a drywall mud pan with the joint compound. Put the lid back on the bucket of joint compound.

  5. Cover the wall or ceiling with approximately a 1/16-inch-thick layer of the joint compound, using a 12-inch drywall knife to spread the joint compound. Start at one corner and work across the wall or ceiling's surface. Remove any ridges in the wet skim coat with the drywall knife's blade. If the compound starts to dry on the drywall knife's blade, wash the dried material off the knife's blade with water.

  6. Let the skim coat on the wall or ceiling dry completely. The skim coat's color changes from off white to a bright white color when dry.

  7. Hold a flashlight against the wall or ceiling's skim coat. Shine the flashlight's beam across the skim coat's surface in all directions and look for imperfections. If the skim coat contains high spots, lightly sand the high spots with a damp sanding block. If the skim coat contains low spots or valleys, apply a second skim coat to the low areas. Let the skim coat dry.

  8. Sweep the wall or ceiling with a broom. Check the smooth surface with the flashlight. Apply another skim coat, if needed. Walls with large dips or imperfections often require more than one skim coat.