There’s one room in my house that has textured walls that isn't uniform; they just slapped a bunch of joint compound all over the room and did nothing to smooth it out. The paint on top was chipped in some places and peels away easily. (It’s definitely not lead paint, I’ve checked.)

If I removed all the paint, could I just sand the wall smooth underneath or would I have to do another layer of joint compound as well? Would that make the underlying already dry mud crumble or absorb too much water? What’s the best way to go about this?

Edit: most of my concern is that I'm not sure how old it is. I don't think it's been there a ridiculously long time, but likely at least a few years. I am just clueless and don't know if that would affect the integrity of it if i try to sand it or if apply freshly wet mud on top of it. The paint is a non-issue. it's cheap latex paint and it peels right off without taking anything with it. My main concerns are doing this with minimal damage and minimal expense. I'm not worried about having to do something time consuming if it means less big mess or big expense.

  • Can you make a test with a sander, see if the compound that was used is easy to sand off or not?
    – bobflux
    Mar 4 at 10:41

3 Answers 3


Rip it out to the studs, fix anything that needs fixing or updating in the walls while open, and put new drywall on the studs.

Any way you fix this will be messy. This way won't involve needing to re-locate all your outlets and trim, and won't involve trying to sand off a big gloppy mess of compound while not damaging 0.006" of paper under it. Also a lot less dust (more chunks, but less dust.)

And you'll have the opportunity to correct whatever needs correcting in the walls, easily with access.


A belt sander or large orbital sander with a coarse grit would grind the texture away fairly quickly. It'll be messy, but it's necessary. The key is to not grind through the drywall's paper face. You just want to knock the largest of the bumps off so you can then skim it flat. Use light pressure and keep moving. Stop when you see the remaining voids in the texture diminishing to just a few.

I don't normally advocate sanding interior walls, but this might be the exception. An overlay is at least as much work and causes other problems. A skim coat by an amateur is unlikely to result in a flat finish.

Use eye, ear, and breathing protection.


The easiest way to fix this is to add a new layer of drywall over the existing.

Dry wall is easy. See the Vancouver Carpenter on youtube.

Sanding a painted wall is not easy.

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    Mar 4 at 13:39
  • 2
    I wholeheartedly disagree. Not only is hanging and taping new drywall not easy, it would require a flat surface to begin with. It also creates problems such as thickening door and window openings, electrical box depth, etc.
    – isherwood
    Mar 4 at 13:54

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