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I have the swirly-tiny(stress the tiny)-bump texture on my ceiling on the first floor. I will be doing some major drywall repairs on the ceiling and would like tips on how to replicate the pattern. Doesn't have to be exact but would like it to be pretty consistent.

It is not a popcorn ceiling at all. It feels like sand was mixed with paint and it has a random swirl with the pattern where you end up seeing "rainbows" of about 6 inches.

The swirl pattern whatever... I will just do what I can with that. However how do I get the sandy pattern so even?

Also mudding between new drywall and texture. Should I scrape the existing drywall down a bit before mudding?

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A photo would be worth more than a thousand words. – wallyk Sep 24 '13 at 18:52
Personally, my suggestion is to get rid of the texture. Either replace all the drywall if you're repairing a large area, or knock down the high spots and apply a skim coat over everything. – BMitch Sep 24 '13 at 21:31
@BMitch - would love to do that. But sounds like a TON of work. It is only a texture if you are trying to see the texture. Will upload picture tonight. I thought about skimming it but I am pretty sure it is 2-3 days work for really no gain. I knocked down two walls - reason for some of the new ceiling - so everything runs into each other meaning the whole floor minus bedrooms would have to be skimmed. – DMoore Sep 24 '13 at 22:15
Oh, yea, that's different than what I was thinking you see on older ceilings (the scallop look). Wild guess...but I'm guessing that was done with a sloppy plaster mix and 'twirled' on with a plasterers brush: google.com/search?q=plasterers+brush – DA01 Sep 25 '13 at 3:29
We need the construction date, and ceiling type (drywall, plaster) to best answer. – Bryce Oct 30 '13 at 3:28
up vote 3 down vote accepted

That is in fact a "sand finish", your intuition was right.

Now depending on the age of the house it could be sand added to the plaster, added to the mud, or a "sand finish" paint. The last is your best hope of matching, as you would drywall it all smooth then simply use brushstrokes to recreate the pattern. There are premixed sand paints amazingly enough.

When I've seen this done with wallboard mud, they have a mixer on site to stir every so often (the sand settles slower than blueberries). A quick google search reveals a number of pros complaining about how hard sand finishes are to match. Practice practice practice, on some scrap drywall.

Using a piece you cut off the ceiling for repair, try to figure out what layer the sand was added at (plaster, top coating on drywall, paint).

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So if I buy a sand paint, I would just give it a once over with ceiling paint to match color - assuming the sand paint doesn't look exactly the same? – DMoore Oct 31 '13 at 13:48
You buy sand, and mix it yourself, to match. The sand will project through future paint layers. The sand can be in the mud or the paint. – Bryce Apr 24 '14 at 19:18

It sounds like you have a mud swirl pattern on your ceiling. These can be difficult to match an existing pattern to a repair.

Practice matching the pattern on scrap pieces of drywall by changing the consistency of the mix (thicker or looser) as well as how the mix applied until the pattern is replicated. Practice will enable a good match when it comes time to do the real thing.

You might need a stiff brush on a swivel to replicate the pattern as well.

If you are making repairs and don't like the pattern, just skim coat the entire ceiling and make it smooth, or apply a new pattern over the entire ceiling to make it uniform and consistent.

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Here's a video showing how the swirl texture is put onto a wall. But I don't know how you'd blend it into a repair. – Johnny Oct 25 '13 at 20:45
@Johnny Here's a idea but don't know how well it would work blending, since you "stack" the swirls could you tape the one you want it to look like you are going "under"? You could go over a little bit so it will not have a weird gap. If the consistency is right, then this will be fairly easy if you tape it out I would think. The hard part is the consistency. – Anonymous Penguin Oct 25 '13 at 21:17
@Johnny - good video. I think I can work out the blending I hope. Have you done this before and how do you keep the sand consistency? Doesn't it want to sink in the paint? I am thinking about making blueberry pancakes and the blueberries are at the bottom of the batter. – DMoore Oct 29 '13 at 22:31

This is simple. It's a swirl finish using a rolled on taping compound and then swirled with a brush. After, it was painted with a sand paint finish. Its tricky to patch but if you try to match up with some of the swirl patterns. To even them after the compound is dry take a wet sponge and work the edge where it meets the old. Done this before with good results.

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