Orange Peel Drywall Texture
During the 1980's and very early 1990's orange peel drywall texture was very common in new residential construction across the Southwest United States. During the 1990's and early 2000's, hand textures such as hawk and trowel, skip trowel, or santa fe, became much more popular. Now you very rarely see orange peel texture used in new construction in the Southwest United States, however it seems to have made a resurgence in other parts of the country. Orange peel texture is often found in hotels or large commercial buildings. Spray knockdown texture is slightly more common than orange peel even in those types of buildings.
Is it Orange Peel Texture or Knockdown?
Some people mistake knockdown for orange peel texture. How can you tell the difference? Both orange peel texture and knockdown are sprayed using similar equipment. However, as described below, orange peel is thinner and left to dry immediately after being sprayed. Knockdown, on the other hand is, smoothed slightly, or "knocked-down", with a large flat knife shortly after being sprayed. The globules of mud with knockdown are larger than orange peel and spread out across the surface. Orange peel covers the entire surface of drywall with a thin layer so the underlying drywall does not show through. With knockdown however, very small areas of exposed drywall are visible between the globules of sprayed drywall mud.
How to Apply Orange Peel Texture
Orange peel texture is very similar to Spray/splatter knockdown. Texture mud is pumped through a long hose to a special spray nozzle. Running parallel to the mud hose is a high pressure air line. In the spray nozzle the air and mud combine causing texture mud to splatter into thousands of small droplets. These droplets of drywall mud land on walls and gradually merge to form a consistent thin layer of mud across the surface. As the texture mud dries, it resembles the peel of an orange, thus the name.
When spraying orange peel texture, the tip is smaller than what is used for knockdown and the air pressure is slightly higher. This makes the droplets of mud exiting the nozzle smaller than knockdown texture, allowing them to merge into a uniform film rather than remaining as individual globules.
The most difficult challenge of spraying orange peel texture is keeping it consistent across the entire surface. Spraying an even orange peel texture is in many ways more difficult than spraying knockdown. The technique required is similar to spraying paint on walls. However, when spraying paint with an airless sprayer, you usually also back roll the surface to smooth out any uneven areas. With orange peel texture, you do not have this option since the texture must be left to dry in place.
After it has been sprayed, orange peel texture is left to dry as is. Because of this, it is slightly quicker to apply than knockdown. This is likely a big reason it is more common in hotels and large commercial applications where reducing labor costs is increasingly important. After it has thoroughly dried , it can be primed and painted as normal.
Orange Peel Spray Equipment
Spray Texture Rigs
Spray rigs are used by the professionals for the largest of jobs. For example, when spraying orange peel in hotels, hospitals, or other large commercial buildings, it is necessary to use a large spray rig with a capacity of 200 or more gallons. This type of spray rig is usually mounted on a trailer with a gas powered motor and air compressor. The texture mud used comes in powdered form and is mixed in the hopper similar to the way mortar mixers work.
Portable texture sprayers
Portable sprayers with tanks that can hold between 5 and 10 gallons of texture are useful for smaller projects where you need to spray at least a few rooms. Graco® makes several different models of sprayer with different size tanks and motors. These sprayers are a good choice for professionals, even as a supplement to a large spray rig. These smaller sprayers are great when you don't want to fire up the large trailer mounted sprayer for a simple patch or small project.
Hand held spray hoppers
Hoppers are lightweight and easy to operate. They can be used by do it yourself homeowners to repair small patches. Since the mud is gravity fed to the nozzle rather than pumped under pressure, it is difficult to get the same texture effect as with larger sprayers or spray rigs. Some professionals have found success spraying orange peel with a hopper by using very thin mud.
Spray texture in a can
Homax® sells drywall texture spray cans that work just like most aerosol cans. You can buy them specifically for knockdown or orange peel texture. Though they are convenient for small patches or repairs, it is very difficult if not impossible to match the original texture using this method. If used, they are primarily for small patches. You should always test the texture on a scrap piece of drywall before spraying the patch.
Soft bristle brush and paint stick
When it comes time to match texture on drywall repairs, most professionals simply pull out their small air compressor and hopper. However, if the patch is very small, a few inches in diameter, you may be able to match orange peel texture with a soft bristle brush and a paint stick. If you have ever pulled your fingers across a wet toothbrush, you are familiar with how it splatters water in the opposite direction. Similarly, a soft bristle brush can be used to splatter thin mud on a drywall patch. To do this, the mud must be very thin, almost watery. The brush is then dipped in the mud and a small stick can be used to pull the bristles toward you, in the opposite direction of the patch. As the bristles spring back into place, they splatter mud in the opposite direction.
Should it be used in new construction
Whether or not orange peel texture should be used in new construction depends on several factors. However, it is good to remember that orange peel texture is very difficult to match. Like all sprayed textures, the final product depends on the consistency of the mud, the ambient temperature and humidity levels, the air pressure used, and of course the skill of the tradesman. It is almost impossible to recreate conditions exactly like they were when the original texture was applied. Though orange peel texture may be appealing for it's quickness of application and apparent ability to cover underlying imperfections. The ease of matching this type of texture in the future should be given consideration. Particularly in areas that get a lot of traffic or are subject to updates and repairs.