Southwestern Style Wall Texturing Techniques

Myra Smith

Southwestern styles of wall finishes conjure up visions of adobe walls with terra-cotta rooftops in Old Santa Fe. This style of wall finish brings the colors and textures of nature into a room, making it calming and inviting. The color palette of a southwestern style room can involve the greens and pinks of flowering cactus or the vivid shades of coral and purple seen in a southwestern sunset.

Sand Finishes

Sand finishes duplicate the look and feel of houses constructed of adobe. These walls can be smooth and cool to the touch or trowel-finished to look the way the artisans in the southwest of a bygone era would have finished them.

A gallon of sand paint will cover 75 to 125 square feet of wall, depending upon how deep you want the textured pattern. A trowel finish will require applying the paint thicker on the wall than a wall finished entirely with a roller.

Sand texture paint purchased from home centers and paint suppliers applies with a roller. The wall is then finished while wet using a trowel, brush or putty knife. This paint works best applied in small sections when creating the patterned surface. There are rollers that will form a pattern in the wet sand paint; however, this creates a repetitious pattern that lacks the individuality of finishes created by hand that truly reflect a southwestern textured wall.

Texture Paint

Texture paint is a very thick off-white wall finish. This paint applies to a clean, non-glossy wall. New drywall requires priming before applying this or any other paint. After drying, the texture paint is painted or left as is. Avoid adding tint to texture paint, which will thin the paint and affect the finished look. This paint will cover any small imperfections in the base wall. Fill any large holes or bad seams with drywall compound and sand before applying the texture paint.

Pick a texture paint that has a longer drying time to allow more time to create any patterns or designs to create a southwestern look. A variety of specialized trowels can be used to create different patterns. Also, many household items such as sea sponges or windshield squeegees encourage creativity.


Stucco is the finish most visualize when thinking of southwestern decorating styles. Applying this finish requires some practice. Apply the finish to a scrap piece of drywall until the technique becomes comfortable.

Previously painted walls require priming before applying stucco finish. Apply sand texture paint to the wall using a wide brush or roller in an “x” pattern. Apply drywall compound with a trowel to create the stucco pattern over the sand paint. Make the pattern using the trowel in a sweeping arc.

After the drywall compound is dry, smooth any unattractive areas or ridges with a putty knife or sandpaper. Use a roller with a longer nap to apply a coat of finish paint to the wall. The paint will have light and dark areas dependent upon the thickness of the stucco base. Apply a coat of glaze in a shade slightly darker than the base color. Seal the wall with a coat of clear water-based urethane to protect the finish.