My husband and I recently bought a home where a joint compound artist applied his trade :). All walls and ceilings are covered in those half-circle swirls and the ceilings go one step further to create concentric circles! Our home is 40 years old, so there are at least two coats of paint over this texture.

After requesting two estimates and not receiving a response after they came out, six weeks later we bought an electric drywall sander. We tried skim coating first - four applications later we've barely covered the texture. We own a business, so my husband has minimal time outside of weekends. I thought I could work the sander and he could skim coat on the weekends.

We have a space of about four feet between a window and a corner wall. I started with 120 grit and worked for about 20 minutes in a small area with no progress. I jumped to 80 grit, concentrated on one strip from window to corner for about five minutes applying a small amount of pressure to the sander with a minimal amount of progress. I realize it won't be completely smooth, hence skim coating. But I feel like I should have had better results.

Are my expectations too high? Is there a different method I should be applying before sanding? I'm ready to use a grinder on the wall!! By my calculations, it would take a day to just sand the room (not including the ceiling). Any tips would be most welcome - including a visual or to-the-touch idea of what the wall should look/feel like before starting to skim coat. As a side note: I did read the post at Best way to remove textured wall (joint compound)?, but the texture on the wall and ceiling is thicker than even that. I did suggest to hubs putting up new drywall and got a resounding "NO"!

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    Are you sure it's joint compound not something harder like a mortar? I've done far more drywalling than I care to have done, and sanding joints smooth goes pretty quickly, even when my lack of skills has left a bit of a ridge.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 15:28
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    How is the skin coating not working exactly? You should be able to float it however thick you want within reason to fill the texture. Are you using a nap roller or skimming with a knife/trowel?
    – redlude97
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 16:52

2 Answers 2


Sanding is going to be extremely time consuming and also very VERY messy. The best approach I've seen is to wet the material with a sprayer and then as it begins to soften, scrape it off down to the drywall.

After that you will likely need to touch up the surface but I think you'll be a lot better off in a lot shorter time than with sanding.

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    Thank you jwh20. However, the walls have been painted so I don't think softening will work here. I asked my husband and he stated that what we have is a plaster vs joint compound. So, I think I am stuck sanding. Our sander is the kind that can be hooked up to a shop vac. We purchased the Wen 6369 so hopefully that will cut down on the dust. The true test will be when we sand after skim coating, lol!
    – Janie
    Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 22:51
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    Look for a tool called a "perforating roller". It's used primarily for wallpaper but will also work on paint. The holes will allow the water to pass through and soften the compound.
    – jwh20
    Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 22:58

If you spray it (recommended) you're going to want to buy a large metal scraper with a handle - and you really want to make sure you're getting it wet. This could be one of those jobs easier for a pro - its not awfully expensive and just google popcorn removal - same guys take the swirly stuff down. In and out in a day for 1 large room easily.- Option 2 is skim it, option 3, more common for tough stuff, is put sheetrock ceiling over it.

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