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Texture sprayers are common. Is there an analog for flat mudding? The use case is to cover over existing texture to get a [nearly?] flat result. It is tedious to mud wall after entire wall, so I'm looking for another way..

Update: we are in the range of maybe 1500 square feet so production/throughput and cost per area is important. I would be looking for a good but not always perfect quality finish. A litte bit of unevenness in spots is acceptable. Let's get close anyways. In any case in my mind [and others I have discussed with recently] texture is just not even trying: you already conceded to a poor end result.

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  • your suggestion is to install more drywall?? Jun 14, 2023 at 22:28
  • That is what I have read on here to hide/flatten texture walls, that or remove the old drywall. Trying to apply mud to smooth the wall will need a master drywaller. Texture walls are usually done to hide imperfections of the wall in the first place, decoration as the second reason(to hide the fact there are imperfections). Here is another question with ideas. diy.stackexchange.com/questions/19977/…
    – crip659
    Jun 14, 2023 at 22:37
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    If you thinned joint compound to the point where you could spray it, it probably wouldn't work any more. There are high build primers that you can spray but that's more for a smooth drywall finish, not to cover up a knock-down texture on your walls. Sounds like you need to just get the wall as flat as you can with sanding then skim it (helpful youtube video). It's not that bad. Jun 14, 2023 at 22:41
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    It sounds like if you don't want to redo the drywall then skim coating it is what you have to do. Jun 14, 2023 at 22:45
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    Check that video link in my comment above. He's got a bunch of good videos including more than one about skim coating and lots of helpful information. Pick the smallest, most out of the way wall and give it a shot. Keep in mind that if you have too much stuff on the wall already (as in different things), the paint may bubble afterwards so you'll need a good sealing primer. Jun 14, 2023 at 22:49

3 Answers 3

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Don't know for sure what kind of texture you're dealing with but it sounds like what you're looking for is skim coating. There are sprayable high-build primers but that's more for a level-5 drywall finish of new walls, not things like getting rid of a knock-down texture in an old house.

Check out this youTube video. This guy has a lot of useful tutorials, more than one of them covering skim coating, and generally provides lots of good information in a clear (and occasionally entertaining) manner.

In a nutshell, for skim-coating, you thin joint compound to a soupy relatively thin consistency, apply it with a trowel or paint roller then wipe it off with a wide joint knife (or trowel (or special skim coating squeegee)). I won't take on describing how much to thin it down, the video does a much better job than I can do verbally. It takes some practice but goes pretty quickly and you can work with a 2nd person: one rolls the thinned mud on the wall and the other follows behind skimming it off.

A few tips from experience:

  • I would recommend using drying compound. If you use setting compound, it may dry before it sets leaving it powdery and crumbling away.
  • If there are already many layers of stuff on the wall (plaster, different types of paint, etc) you may end up in a situation where the skim coat sticks but applying paint makes it lose grip and bubbles up the paint or leaves you with pinholes. I understand this is because the moisture is essentially trapped in the skim layer. If that happens, you'll need a sealing primer.
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  • The commentary discussion and this subsequent answer have been quite helpful. I'm noticeably more hopeful now. Was not looking forward to traditional mudding of 1500sqft! As is usual operating procedures let's take that youtube vid and your prose as a [probably quite good] starting point . I will tweak and adjust to my circumstances and operational preferences. The roller bit is quite attractive, that's what I was looking for. Jun 14, 2023 at 23:07
  • What were you picturing for "traditional mudding" of an existing wall? Also you might want to give it a little time, someone might have another good idea. Jun 14, 2023 at 23:08
  • I've seen plenty of folks do taping/mudding, done a reasonable amount myself and then had the chance to work with a master mudder/taper who does perfect work. For this kind of scale of work I'm not interested in the time involved by any of those scenarios. I have a good feel for improvising with a roller and am fairly confident that will be workable here. I'll update after experimenting this coming weekend. Jun 14, 2023 at 23:10
  • Do you mean applying a substantial amount like you would with a fine plaster coat? Jun 14, 2023 at 23:11
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    skim coating is not a fast process, it usually takes about 3 coats minimum, just be aware what you are signing up for. 1500sq ft is probably a week of work for a novice
    – redlude97
    Jun 15, 2023 at 0:13
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I agree with aquaticapetheory's answer and helpful tips, but you raise an intriguing point. Why not use a sprayer to initially apply skimming compound?

I've done texture flattening with a trowel. It's not fun and takes a while. It might be made quicker by applying mud with a sprayer in a heavy pattern to uniformly distribute it, then trowel it out. For a hack like me, pulling mud out of the bucket and getting it on the wall is the most challenging part. This might eliminate that hassle altogether. With a little practice the right quantity can be learned for a minimal application.

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  • Seems like if you could get a sprayer to apply the stuff evenly it would really speed up the process in theory but between the overhead of loading and cleaning the sprayer, masking things off, etc just applying it with a roller is a lot less trouble and not a whole lot more time. Are there sprayers that can apply drywall mud without it being thinned beyond usability? Jun 15, 2023 at 14:31
  • Yeah, heavy mud can be sprayed. It comes out gloppy, but that's not an issue. You make some good points, though.
    – isherwood
    Jun 15, 2023 at 16:19
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Following up on the answer from @aquaticapetheory: I did watch the video a couple of times - before trying out the roller and knifing and then after. The initial experience results and thoughts:

  • For significantly uneven walls such as mine with thick knockdown pay attention that the consistency being recommended is not soupy at all but rather almost as thick as you can do while getting it into the nap. We want to get enough material onto the wall so there is extra hanging out. The knifing work is there mostly to remove material not to supplement. In the video he is pulling a small amount off on each swipe. I needed to add substantial amounts because the soupy approach was putting more material on the dropcloth than on the wall
  • Follow the pro-tips of the video for angling the knife to one side to [mostly] avoid the double-sided rim lines (one rim line per swipe is happier)
  • Go ahead and mix an entire box of topping at a go: you'll use it
  • More tips to come after I try again with a thicker consistency
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  • "Soupy" was the wrong word. Besides handling issues you don't want to ruin the mixture with too much water. Also, thinset? Are you using mortar instead of joint compound? You should be able to get a bucket of premixed general purpose mud or, better yet, topping compound and thin it down with some water. Jun 15, 2023 at 14:35
  • Yea its topping, i was searching for that word but couldn't come up with it at the time. correcting now Jun 15, 2023 at 15:49
  • Think the term you're looking for is "compound." "Topping compound" is a special type of joint compound that smooths easier and dries harder. "Thinset" generally refers to tile setting mortar. Jun 15, 2023 at 17:29

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