9.19.2011

diy: knockdown wall texture

The first official day that we had our house I ripped the wallpaper out of the kitchen. I think I had heard the mantra "wallpaper=bad" so often when reading about home decorating or talking to friends or relatives that I was sure I couldn't possibly live with the stuff in my house. This being my first project in the house, I had yet to learn an important lesson about myself...I am not a closer. In the common speech: I don't finish things. At least, I don't finish things quickly. In fact, I've realized in the last five months of home improvement madness that if I don't have a VERY exact plan of how I'm going to go about an ENTIRE project, I make it through the first few steps and then stall...possibly for weeks or months...before continuing.

That's why after attacking the kitchen wallpaper and discovering that the only thing behind it was paper backing and unfinished wallboard, I walked away and didn't look back for four months. Four months, no joke. You'd be shocked at what I'm willing to put up with if I don't have a vision of the changes I want to make. Gross, yellow, papery walls that's what. And here they are.


You'd have to look very close to truly appreciate the grunginess of my kitchen walls, so just trust me that it wasn't pretty. I had a couple of options for handling the wallpaper backing (the yellowish papery stuff left behind after you pull off the patterned half of the wallpaper). Option 1: Purchase the special wallpaper removal tools and chemicals from Lowe's. Remove paper as instructed. Option 2: Concoct a magical solution of fabric softener and other various ingredients, score the backing and soak the walls in the solution. Scrape paper off. Option 3: Ignore the paper and put some paint on those walls.

I know Option 3 sounds lazy, but I figured why not try it first and see if I could get away with it. It was worth a shot, but no such luck. The paper backing showed through the paint something fierce. Unfortunately, both of my other options required soaking the walls, which concerned me because the wallpaper had been glued directly to unfinished wallboard, a substance that doesn't normally take well to being saturated with liquid. So, the project stalled, yet again.

This is where the knockdown finish technique comes in. It was actually my lovely mother who first suggested adding knockdown to the kitchen walls so that they would match the finish in the rest of the house. My first response was, "Gee, Mom, that sounds like A LOT of work." But after my first few ideas never really got off the ground, I started to wonder if it wasn't possible to add texture to the walls right over the wallpaper backing and then seal it with a primer. The knockdown texture would hide the grainy bumpiness of the wallpaper backing, but I wouldn't have to go through the process of soaking the walls and scraping all of that darn paper off before painting it.

So off I went to Lowe's for supplies. I used this tutorial and this one to plan out my process and then Joe and I just went for it.



First grab a five gallon bucket and mix your drywall compound. I liked using the powdered wall texture because it was easier to mix to the right consistency and the leftovers store really well; however, according to the second tutorial you can use any type of drywall compound as long as you can get it to the right consistency (somewhere between the thickness of frosting and peanut butter).

After you've mixed your compound pour it into a paint tray and start rolling it on the walls. We used a plastic loop roller, which is exactly what it sounds like...a roller covered in tiny loops of plastics. We tried using a regular old paint roller too, but the results with the plastic loop roller were much better. Your goal is to create lots of  peaks and valleys all over the walls so that when you come back and "knock-it-down" the wall doesn't become one big schmear of drywall mud.


 
Look closely and you'll see those peaks and valleys. :)
 
 
 Once you've rolled all of your walls, go back and using a 10" or 12" drywall knife lightly flatten out (knockdown) the tallest of your peaks. This should create the well-known knockdown texture effect on your walls. The drywall compound dries very fast, so Joe and I split up the jobs and he painted texture on while I followed him around the room and knocked it down. Overall, we were very pleased with the results in our kitchen. Especially once we finished up with a few coats of Blue Bayberry by Olympic.

As far as the wallpaper backing goes, the drywall mud stuck to it really well and we haven't had any problems with bubbling or peeling so far. All in all, it seems like a great solution to our wallpaper dilemma. Now, I need to go get to those other 10 projects that I've left sitting while we worked on this one...it never ends.

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