There are several ways you can repair damage to the type of wall finish commonly known as "orange-peel texture." This finish has a uniform covering of small bumps, and it is sometimes called a "splatter" or "eggshell" texture. You can find it on either plaster or wallboard walls, though it is more common on wallboard.
No matter how the texture was originally created, for most repair methods you'll be fixing damaged areas using a premixed wallboard compound. Recreating the texture is not difficult, but plan on spending a little time practicing on scrap pieces of wallboard. Not all orange-peel textures are created equal. The exact texture you have on your walls depends on the tradesman who applied it, so a bit of practice will be necessary to match the texture.
While this article focuses on the orange peel texture, similar techniques can be used to repair other textures, such as the knockdown (also called "skip trowel"), sand, and popcorn texture (also called "acoustic" or "cottage cheese" texture).
But your first task will be to repair any damage.
Repairing the Underlying Wall Damage
Before tackling the texture, you must first repair any underlying damage to the wallboard or plaster. If there is a hole in the drywall, repair it with a wallboard patch and wallboard compound. If the damage is worn or abraded wall texture or a gouge that has penetrated the drywall face but has not created a hole, repair the area with spackle or ready-mixed wallboard joint compound. Sand smooth and wipe the sanding dust off with a damp cloth.
The second preparation step is practicing your texturing technique.
Practicing Your Texturing Technique
Orange-peel textures can usually be repaired simply by using an ordinary 3/8"-nap paint roller to slightly stipple a coating of wet wallboard compound spread across the surface.
To practice your technique, all you'll really need are some pieces or ordinary cardboard, or pieces of scrap wallboard or plywood. Before attempting repairs on the actual wall, practice on your scrap materials.
Now, let's look at some different methods for repairing an orange-peel texture.
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Repairing Orange-Peel Texture by Hand
The first method we'll describe works pretty well for both small and large areas. It uses ordinary wallboard compound, a paint roller and roller tray, and sandpaper.
- Fill the lower part of a paint tray with premixed wallboard compound, thinned with water to a consistency of pancake batter.
- Apply the compound to the repaired area, using a 3/8"-nap roller.
- Working from the center of the repair area out toward the original textured area; "feather" the effect by lightening up on the roller pressure as you approach the non-damaged areas.
- Do a final roll, moving the roller in one direction only.
- Allow the wallboard compound to dry completely. The effect won't match yet because the dried wallboard compound will have peaks throughout.
- After the wallboard compound dries, take a hand-sanding block with 220-grit sandpaper, and lightly sand the repaired area to level off the peaks and create the orange-peel effect.
- Take a clean cloth, such as an old T-shirt, and lightly rub the repaired area to soften the edges of the sanded orange-peel repair.
- Prime and paint to match the surrounding area (for best results, you will probably need to repaint the entire wall).
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Repairing Orange-Peel Texture With a Hand-Pump Sprayer
One of the newest ways to repair textured walls and ceilings is with a gravity-fed, manually powered pressure sprayer. This technique will be most appropriate if you have very large areas of damage or are applying a new orange-peel texture to entire wall surfaces.
This handy tool does not require an air compressor or another power source—just your hand pressure. When you pull back the lever, the chamber sucks in the textured paint, and when you pump the lever, it pushes the paint out through the front plate. By adjusting the front plate and lever, you can control the sprayed textured pattern.
The gun can apply several different wall and ceiling textures, including orange peel, splatter, knockdown, and popcorn. It is not the best tool for texturing very large areas but works well for a few square feet. Each full pressure stroke can cover an area 6 inches by 3 feet.
- Put on eye protection.
- Cover the floor, as well as any surrounding furniture, with plastic drop cloths.
- Test the spray pattern by adjusting the front plate and nozzle lever to vary the texture until an acceptable setting is found that matches the look of your walls.
- Stand 3 to 4 feet from the wall, and maintain the same distance as you spray. Move the gun in a sweeping motion as you spray. Pull the handle back as required for the amount of spray, and push the handle completely in to complete the stroke
- Rinse and clean the gun then let the texture dry, and prime and paint, as desired.
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Repair Orange-Peel Texture With Aerosol Spray
Aerosol texture products are also available, which will be most suitable for fairly small patch areas. Companies such as Homax offer both oil-based products as well as newer water-based aerosol spray texture products in a spray can.
- Put on eye protection.
- Place plastic drop cloths on the floor below the repair area and on any surrounding furniture.
- Shake the can to mix the ingredients, as directed by the label. After the can is shaken and warm, test the spray pattern by spraying on a piece of cardboard or plywood. Homax provides different spray straws for different spray patterns and heaviness levels.
- Depending on the manufacturer and product used, hold the can between 12 inches and 24 inches from the wall surface. Spray using a circular motion, and cover only about 50 percent to 75 percent of the repair area with texture.
- Let dry, then paint.
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If you just have a small hole or area that needs texture patch, then there are some other products you can use. Again, Homax seems to have a special product for this need as well. Try its premixed Texture Touch-Up Kit, which comes with enough material to cover 10 to 15 square feet. It can handle orange peel, splatter, and knock-down patterns.
If you have a very small area to patch, Homax also makes an adhesive texture patch to fix it. This works for larger nail holes and wall anchor removal holes.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Hopper Gun and Compressed Air
Major damage, such as what occurs with large-scale water damage, is really outside the scope of this article, but in the unlikely event that you are left with trying to recreate an orange-peel texture on an entire wall or several walls, you'll probably have to use a hopper spray gun and air compressor.
You can typically lease this equipment from a rental store. You put a thinned mixture of drywall joint compound (e.g., 30 pounds of a compound to 5 pints of water), mixed to a consistency like runny batter into the hopper, then run the gun half-open through a small nozzle at about 25-30 psi. This setting usually gives you splatter the right size for an orange-peel texture.
The hopper gun method can create any number of textures by varying one or more of these:
- Size of the gun orifice and orifice opening
- Air pressure
- Consistency of the joint compound mix
Goofed Up? Here's How to Fix It
Whatever method you used, it's possible that the results aren't what you hoped for. Don't panic.
If the product you used was a water-based product, including any texturing you did with the wallboard compound, you can simply scrape the failed texture off with a putty knife. If the texture has hardened already, then spray the texture down a bit with water, and let it set a few minutes to soften. Then just scrape it off, and apply the texture again.
If you used an oil-based product, such as is used in some aerosol products, the best way to remove a small area is by sanding. A handheld block sander will give you a fairly uniform removal. Use 150-grit sandpaper to get the high points off then move to 220-grit to get it fairly smooth. Make sure, though, not to apply too much pressure, or you may accidentally sand down into the drywall paper layer. Once the oil-based area texture is removed, prime and spray with a latex orange-peel texture spray.