Boring drywall can become an instant feature by applying an orange peel texture to the surface. This look gives your wall a smooth, textured feel that is similar to – what else? – an orange peel. It adds an extra layer of protection to the wall, hides imperfections and reduces the need for paint touch-ups. Traditionally, orange peel texture is applied to the wall by spraying watered-down joint compound through an airless spray painter. This method takes equipment plus experience to perfect the look. By using the roller method, you can apply the finish without the need for spraying.
Orange peel texture is a mix of joint compound and water. There are premixed joint compounds, but most require a bit of mixing and testing. Covering a large area will require at least a 5-gallon paint pail mixed and ready to go. Start by making a thin solution of half joint compound and half water. Gradually add more joint compound while stirring with a paint-mixing attachment to an electric drill. Keep track of how much joint compound is added in case you need to make another batch. When the mixture is the consistency of yogurt or pancake batter, it should be ready to test. If the mix is too thin, add more joint compound. If it becomes too thick, add more water. Test out the mix by applying a small test patch to the drywall. If it runs or leaks, it is too thin and needs more joint compound.
The best rollers for orange peel texture have 3/4-inch and 1/2-inch naps. Thick naps – the woven cover of a roller – help add depths to the texture. Use painter's tape to protect surfaces and remove plastic outlet covers before you begin applying the mix. Start beside the test patch to make sure the texture matches. Roll the mix on just like paint, with care around corners and edges. If the texture is too light, wait 10 minutes and apply a second coat. Once the shine disappears on the mix, it means it is dry. For a thicker orange peel texture, apply a second coat to the entire wall.
For touch-ups and repairs, there are spray cans available that can match the texture of the wall. Although they cover a lot of wall, these sprays are not made for a whole room, and aren't a substitute for a roller method or airless spray painter. However, if you are working on a smaller accent wall or trim, orange peel spray texture in a 20-ounce can or more can cover your wall. Colors and textures will vary, so always test a small patch to see if it matches the existing work before using.