How to Achieve Latex Sand Texture

What You'll Need
Latex paint
Silica sand (specific for paint mix)
Caulk, drywall or plaster patch
Paint brush
Paint roller (low pile or sponge)
Paint roller pan
Paint can opener
Drop cloth
Water bucket
Mixing bucket
Paint rags
Painters tape
Paint stir

Complex as it might sound pulling off a sand texture finish only adds one step to your home project. Read on for step by step directions to achieve your unique textured finish.

Step 1 – Preparation

No matter how careful, paint finds a way to land on surfaces you don’t intend. Spread a drop cloth or plastic to protect everything you don’t want painted. Remove nails and wall hangers. Use caulk, drywall repair or plaster patch to fill holes and cracks. Kill mold and mildew, if any, using a 75% water, 25% household bleach solution with a sponge or rag. Allow the washed surface to dry then apply painters tape around moldings or other surfaces you desire to protect. 

T-nut and expansion anchors that you will use after the paint application will require that you stuff paper or leave the pin screw in the anchor to avoid the sand/paint mixture from clogging and complicating their use after your project is finished.

Step 2 – Prime

Stained surfaces need a stain blocking primer but for a clean face standard primer will do. Oil-based primer will adhere better than latex, a consideration for painting tile or other surfaces that may resist adhesion. Note: oil-based primers require solvents to clean so weigh your primer decision with that in mind.

Step 3 – Mix

Into a mixing bucket pour the latex paint and add silica sand (specific to paint mix, not beach sand) to about a 10 to 1 ratio. Thoroughly mix then paint a small section to gauge the appearance. Adjust your mix with either paint to dilute or sand to increase the texture.

Step 4 – Application

Use a low pile or sponge roller to roll paint onto your surface. Paint at the highest locations working your way down. To ensure uniform application, paint lengthwise first then up and down smoothing out roller marks as you go then lengthwise once again with only light pressure. Apply two coats (allowing the first to dry) for a uniform finish.

Sand will separate and flow to the bottom of the paint bucket quickly so each time you fill your roller pan thoroughly mix the sand/paint solution to ensure an even texture.

Step 5 – Texture Designs

One alternate idea to simply rolling the texture is to create designs. Apply one coat without regard to roller or brush marks. While the paint is wet use a brush, sponge or trowel to create swirls or other patterns in the finish. Experiment on a plywood sheet before application as once this texture dries do-over’s will need to be sanded smooth or they will telegraph through your top coat.

Step 6 – Cleanup

Latex paint cleanup needs only water; the sand texturing will not complicate this process. Thoroughly rinse your roller, brush and buckets/pans to remove all the paint residue. Allow your brush and roller to completely dry before storage.