Drywall 101

Orange Peel Drywall Texture

During the 1980's and very early 1990's orange peel textures were very common in new construction of residential buildings across the Southwest United States. During the 1990's, hand textures such as halk and trowel, skip trowel, or santa fe, became much more popular. Now you very rarely see orange peel texture used in new construction. Orange peel texture is still found in hotels or other large commercial applications, but even there, knockdown texture is slightly more common.

Some people mistake orange peel texture for knockdown. How can you tell the difference? As the name implies, knockdown is "knocked-down" with a large flat knife after being sprayed, whereas orange peel texture is left to dry as-is.  The globules of mud on knockdown have been smoothed out but orange peel globules are left rounded. Also, orange peel usually covers the entire surface of drywall with a thin layer so the underlying drywall doesn't really show through.  With knockdown, usually, you can see very, very small areas of exposed drywall between the mud since the globs are larger.

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 mix splattering texture mud 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. Since the texture mud is thin, as it dries, it resembles the peel of an orange, thus the name.

Click on this image for a larger picture

Picture of an orange peel texture on drywall

When spraying orange peel texture, a smaller tip and slightly higher air pressure is used compared to that used when spraying knockdown. 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.

It is imperative that orange peel texture is sprayed evenly. Spraying an even orange peel texture is in many ways more difficult than spraying knockdown.  The technique required is more similar to spraying paint on walls that not be backrolled.

Unlike spray knockdown, orange peel is left to dry as is. You do not touch the texture once it has been sprayed. After it has thoroughly dried , it can be primed and painted as normal.  Because of this, it is slightly quicker to apply than knockdown and therefore was traditionally more common in hotels and large commercial applications where reducing labor costs are increasingly important.

Below are some more examples of orange peel textures

Photo of orange peel drywall texture

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 almost necessary to use a large spray rig with a capacity of 200 or more gallons.

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 an entire house or 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 supplement to a large spray rig.

Hand held spray hoppers

Photo of a knockdown hopper used to spray small knockdown texture patches

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. Many professionals have had limited success with these cans. It is very difficult if not impossible at times to match the original texture. If used, they are primarily for small patches. You should always text 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, some pros have been able to match orange peel texture with a soft bristle brush and 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.

Photo of a type of drywall orange peel texture Image of an orange peel drywall texture

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