How to Apply Skip Trowel Texture to Walls

Textured drywall.
  • 3-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-100
What You'll Need
Lint-free cloth
Drop cloth
Drywall compound
Long-nap paint roller
Drywall knife (trowel)

One popular method of drywall texturing is known as skip trowel or orange peel texturing. You can apply this texture with a trowel or with a combination of a paint roller and a trowel. The design never finishes the same twice. Its uniqueness is one of the reasons this type of finish is popular. We will briefly walk you through the dual application process. You can customize the process to fit your own tastes and needs.

Step 1 - Clean the Wall

Thoroughly clean the area where you will be working. Dirt, dust, grime, and grease can all prevent drywall mud from sticking. Use a lint-free cloth to dry the wall after cleaning it. To protect your floor and reduce clean up, put down drop cloths before you begin slinging drywall mud.

Step 2 - Mix the Mud

Your drywall compound should be about the consistency of frosting. It could be as thick as peanut butter, but should not be as thin as pancake batter. The compound should hold its shape until it hardens; if it is too thin, this is not possible. Add water to thin the mixture or more of the powder to thicken the mixture.

Step 3 - Apply the Drywall Mud

Using a long nap paint roller, apply a thin coat of drywall mud to the wall. Use long strokes of about 4 feet, and try not to use the same roller pattern for each stroke. The paint roller will produce almost a popcorn effect, and many people use this form of application for a simple way to finish ceilings. For walls, you need to complete another step.

Step 4 - Use Random Knife Strokes

Using an 8- or a 12-inch drywall knife, trowel the freshly rolled surface. Use short, skipping strokes with the knife laid almost parallel to the wall. Lightly smooth the surface in random patterns. Instead of a predictable side-to-side stroke, use different angles and directions. Avoid scraping too much of the drywall mud off, but be sure to smooth any unusually raised areas in the mud.

Step 5 - Apply Multiple Coats

Using the drywall knife, apply two to three very light coats. Apply only enough mud to effect new patterns on top of the previous coat. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before you add another coat. Stop adding coats when you have achieved a look that satisfies you.

Step 6 - Paint the Wall

You do not need to sand this finish before you paint. Once the wall has dried, add a primary coat of paint with either a roller or a sprayer. (Brush painting is too difficult to apply even coverage.)

Allow the primer coat to dry and then apply at least one medium coat of paint. Multiple coats allow for longer durability. For the appearance of even more texture, use a different, high contrast color, and apply short, random brush strokes on top of the evenly rolled coat.