From Popcorn to Perfect: Removing Texture from Walls

How to Remove Texture from Walls

Do you dream of smooth, modern walls but feel stuck with yesterday's popcorn ceilings or orange peel texture? You're not alone!  Banishing those outdated looks is easier. 

This blog will explore practical methods for removing texture from your walls, giving your home a fresh and sophisticated feel. Whether your walls are painted or bare, we'll explore step-by-step options to achieve the perfect canvas for your design ideas. So grab your tools and start creating a beautiful, smooth wall finish!

There are two main approaches to consider, depending on whether your walls are painted or unpainted:

Method 1: Soak and Scrape (Unpainted Walls)

This process works best for unpainted textured walls. Here's a breakdown of the steps:

Preparing the Area

To ensure a clean workspace, start by covering the floor and trim with a canvas drop cloth and painter's tape.

Step 1: Moisturize the Walls

Utilize a pump sprayer or spray bottle filled with water to saturate the wall's surface with water evenly. Apply the water two to three times, allowing it to soak for approximately 15 minutes until the texture softens.

Step 2: Begin Scraping

Hold a drywall taping knife at a 30-degree angle and gently scrape off the softened texture, starting from the top of the wall. If you encounter resistance, reapply water to the area and continue scraping carefully.

Helpful Tip: Maintain a slow and steady pace to prevent damaging the drywall. Add more water if needed to facilitate easier scraping.

Step 3: Continue the Process

Proceed to scrape off the texture with smooth, long strokes. If some texture remains, don't worry; it can be addressed during the sanding stage.

Step 4: Dry and Sand

Allow the wall to dry completely for 24 hours. Once dry, use a drywall sanding screen to smooth out any remaining texture, leaving your walls sleek and ready for painting or further treatment.

How to Remove Texture from Walls

Method 2: Skim Coating (Painted Walls)

Scraping might not be practical for painted textured walls. Skim coating offers a great alternative:

Preparing the Area

Before applying joint compound to smooth out textured painted walls, take precautions to protect your surroundings.

Step 1: Floor Protection and Trim Removal

Shield your floors and furniture with a canvas drop cloth. Delicately remove baseboard trim from the walls with a putty knife to ensure a clear working space.

Step 2: Lightly Sand the Painted Texture

Lightly sand the painted wall to remove the glossy sheen. This step facilitates better adhesion of the joint compound. Clean the sanded surface using damp rags or paper towels to remove dust.

Step 3: Prepare the Joint Compound

Transfer half a gallon of pre-mixed drywall compound into a five-gallon bucket. Gradually add water while mixing with a drill equipped with a paddle bit until the mixture reaches a smooth, lump-free consistency similar to pancake batter.

Step 4: Apply the Joint Compound

Pour the prepared compound into a paint roller pan and apply it to the wall using a thick-nap roller. Ensure even coverage across the wall.

Step 5: Skim and Smooth

Using a drywall taping knife, skim excess compound off the wall, starting from the bottom and working upward. To minimize mess, collect the scraped compound in a drywall mud pan.

Tip: Work under bright light to detect any remaining texture or flaws on the wall's surface. Vary the light angles to inspect your progress thoroughly.

Maintain Moisture and Work Efficiency

Work in small sections to prevent the compound from drying prematurely. Keep the surface moist as you proceed, avoiding skimming over dried areas.

Tip: Consider working with a partner for a smoother workflow - one person can handle applying the compound while the other skims the wall.

Step 6: Drying and Potential Second Coat

Allow the joint compound applied to dry completely for 24 to 48 hours. Depending on the depth of the texture, a second skim coat may be required. If needed, follow the same steps for a second coat.

Step 7: Sand for a Flawless Finish

Use drywall sanding sponges to lightly sand the wall in circular motions, addressing imperfections for a seamless, smooth finish.

Tip: Perform the sanding process in good lighting to identify and rectify any missed spots or inconsistencies on the wall surface. Vary the light angles to ensure thoroughness in your sanding efforts.

Here Are Some Additional Tips for a Successful Project:

  • Time Commitment: Removing texture can be time-consuming. Be prepared to invest effort depending on the room size and texture severity.
  • Alternative Option: If the texture is minimal and you don't mind a slightly textured finish, consider simply painting over the existing texture with a thicker paint.
  • Tools and Materials: Gather all the necessary tools like a pump sprayer, drywall taping knife, roller, sanding tools with different grits, safety gear like a respirator (for dust protection), and joint compound.
  • Dust Control: Dust will be a factor in scraping and sanding. Wear a dust mask and work in well-ventilated areas.

Final Thoughts

With a little planning and effort, you can transform your textured walls into a smooth and modern canvas. By choosing the appropriate method, following the steps carefully, and utilizing the provided tips, you'll be well on your way to achieving a stunning finish for your home. Remember, a smooth wall can be the foundation for various design styles, allowing you to create a space that reflects your unique taste. With a little planning and effort, PatchitUP empowers you to redefine your living space effortlessly.


1. Is removing texture from walls a DIY project?

Removing texture can be a DIY project, but the complexity depends on the texture type and your experience level. The soak-and-scrape method is achievable for unpainted walls or minimal texture. Skim coating for painted walls requires more finesse. If you need more clarification, consider consulting a professional.

2. What safety precautions should I take?

Safety is paramount!  Wear a respirator to avoid dust inhalation and safety glasses to protect your eyes.  In older homes, check for asbestos before starting. If present, leave removal to a professional.

3. How long does it take to remove texture from walls?

The time commitment varies depending on the room size, texture severity, and the chosen method. Skim coating often takes longer than scraping due to drying times between coats.

4. Are there alternatives to removing texture?

If the texture is mild and you don't mind a slightly textured look, you can paint over the existing texture with a thicker paint. This can be a quicker and less labor-intensive option.

5. What tools will I need for this project?

You'll need a pump sprayer (for scraping), drywall taping knife, roller, sanding tools with various grits, a respirator, safety glasses, drop cloths, painter's tape, and drywall compound.