5 Tips for Matching Drywall Texture
Matching existing drywall texture is difficult to do when patching drywall. There are many variables involved that contribute to whether or not you can see the delineation between a new drywall patch and the existing surrounding drywall texture. We at Drywall 101 have come up with the following five tips to keep in mind when patching textured drywall that will help ensure a seamless drywall patch.
The five tips below are listed in order of importance based on a combination of 1) how difficult it is to achieve the desired result in each step and 2) the resulting benefit if you follow this step closely. In other words, if you give little or no attention to the number five tip it will adversely affect whether or not your texture matches the surrounding drywall texture. However, tip number five is easy to accomplish therefore it is lower on the list than numbers one through four. Step number one is the most critical because it is the easiest to overlook yet it can make or break whether your texture matches. Therefore you could say that these steps are listed in order of diligence required when carrying them out, number one being the most and number five being the least.
Tip 5 - Use the same thickness of drywall as the existing layer.
This is important so that the final levels of both the new drywall patch and surrounding drywall are the same. To do so you should first measure the thickness of the existing drywall and use the same size drywall for your patch. If the existing ceiling was hung with 1/2 inch drywall you should use 1/2 inch drywall. If it was hung with 5/8 inch drywall you should use 5/8 inch drywall for your patch.
This is easy enough when working with drywall hung directly to the studs or other backing below. However if you are patching plaster walls, it is not so strait forward. Plaster may not be exactly half inch or five eighths in thickness. You may need to use shimming to raise the final level of your drywall patch to be equal to the surrounding plaster walls. You can use thin wooden shims or even thick paper folded to the proper thickness placed behind your new drywall patch to raise the level to be even with the surrounding level.
Tip 4 - Coat the least amount necessary of the existing texture.
After you install drywall to your patch you will need to tape and coat the drywall patch so that it blends into the level of the surrounding surface. It is necessary to apply mud to the original texture immediately surrounding your patch so that the patch and surrounding surface are flat. Take care to coat as little of the existing texture as necessary.
This doesn't mean you should sacrifice a flat transition for the sake of keeping your coating as little as possible. It may be necessary for you to coat a wide area so that the two levels blend as flat as possible. Keep in mind however that the less you need to retexture, the easier it will be to control your new texture and the better chance you have of making the two textures match.
Tip 3 - Remove the lines between the patch and surrounding drywall texture.
When you coat your drywall patch there is usually a line that shows up on the edge of your patch in the existing texture. When coating a smooth surface, normally you would be able to feather this line (or lap-mark) out so that the new coating disappears seamlessly into the smooth surrounding. If the surface you are coating has a texture, it is not possible to feather this out completely because drywall mud gets trapped in the texture crevices.
After finishing the final coat on your drywall patch and before you texture, you should scrape off the excess mud trapped within the existing texture on the edge where your final coat meets the existing texture. Some tradesmen do this with a drywall knife by tediously removing drywall mud in strategic areas so that the seam between old and new is as random as possible. Some tradesmen have experienced success by using a slightly damp soft bristle brush to rub along the delineation of old and new.
Whatever method used, the goal is to make the line of delineation between the existing drywall patch and the surrounding texture a random transition. You want to avoid an immediate harsh transition between the smooth new drywall patch and the surrounding texture.
Tip 2 - Use the same methods and tools to texture the drywall patch as the original texture.
This sounds obvious but depends a lot on whether or not you are able to determine the methods and tools originally used. If you are matching a stomp knockdown texture, this step is fairly easy as the types of stomp brushes typically used are limited and it is easy to identify what type stomp brush was used by the type of texture. You should be able to tell by the pattern in the stomp whether it was done with a round rosebud style stomp brush or an oblong crow's foot stomp brush.
If you are matching a texture that was applied by hand, determining what tools or methods where used originally can be more difficult. Methods of applying hand drywall textures vary greatly depending on the region and individual tradesman's style. Even if you can tell that the original texture was applied with a hawk and trowel, for example, you may have difficulty matching the technique used by whoever applied the original drywall texture.
For sprayed textures such as splatter knockdown or popcorn texture, you can easily identify that the original texture was applied with a hopper or spray rig but it is difficult to determine the exact air pressure or how much force pumping the mud through the hose was used originally and even difficult to determine what size spray nozzle to use. Many variables impact the style of spray texture applied so when you apply texture to your drywall patch it is critical that these variables match the original as closely as possible.
Tradesmen with a lot of experience applying drywall texture may be able to look at a texture and quickly guess the methods and tools used. If you are new to this, try experimenting with various tools and techniques. After a while you should get a feel for what changes in technique create different styles.
Tip 1 - Use the exact consistency of drywall mud as the original texture.
In our experience with matching many types of drywall texture in many different circumstances, we at Drywall 101 feel that this is the most important factor to consider when matching drywall texture. The consistency of mud used is so important to the final texture pattern that it can either make or break you when trying to match an existing drywall texture. Even if you take care to follow tips two through five above but the consistency of mud used is too thick or thin, it will be obvious in your texture.
It is difficult to match exactly the consistency of the existing drywall texture because it basically comes down to an educated guess. The only way to get good at matching mud consistency is through experience. Only by mixing many different types of texture mud and applying different texture styles is a tradesman able to get experience. Experience will enable you to look at a type of texture and closely guess what the original consistency was.
If you have little or no experience matching drywall texture take your time when it comes to this step. Apply texture to a small region and examine it carefully. As you do so, try to imagine what it will look like when the texture dries. Let it set for a few minutes, while not allowing it to dry out completely because textures can look different as they dry. If you think your texture is not matching perfectly, remove the texture you just applied, add a little water and try again. Only when you are convinced that you have the exact consistency needed, go ahead and texture the entire patch.
If you are not sure how thin to make the drywall mud, just remember this key, you probably need to add more. Most drywall tradesmen mix texture mud very thin, so the existing texture you are trying to match was probably applied with very thin drywall mud. Most people when matching existing drywall texture do not add enough water to the mud. If in doubt, add some more water and try again. If you take your time with this step you will not be disappointed. A little time spent working with the consistency of mud used will be worth it in the final result.
Types of Drywall Patches
The above are some tips to remember when matching drywall texture. When doing a drywall patch besides matching the texture, there are two other major steps. 1) Installing drywall, and 2) coating your drywall patch. If you want some tips on different techniques to installing drywall when doing patches you can check out this article.