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Drywall Finishing and Texturing

A Guide to Perfect Walls

When it comes to interior walls, drywall finishing and texturing play a pivotal role in achieving a polished and aesthetically pleasing look. Whether you're renovating a room or building a new home, understanding the various levels of smooth finish and different texturing techniques is essential for achieving the desired results.

The Basics of Drywall Finishing and Texturing:

Level 0 - The Bare Bones

At Level 0, we find ourselves at the beginning of the drywall finishing journey, where simplicity reigns supreme. In this raw state, drywall is hung with minimal intervention, and no finishing touches are applied. This level is often reserved for spaces where aesthetics take a back seat.

In Level 0, the seams and screws are left exposed, and no joint tape or compound is applied. It represents the bare bones of drywall installation, providing a functional but unadorned surface.

Level 1 - The Taped Joint

Level 1 involves applying joint tape and a first coat of joint compound to the seams. It is the most basic level of finishing and is often used in temporary construction or areas that will be concealed by other finishes.

Level 2 - The First Coat

At Level 2, a second coat of joint compound is applied to the joints and screws. The goal is to create a smoother surface, covering the tape and screws. However, it is still a basic level and is typically used in areas that will be covered with heavy textures or wallcoverings.

Level 3 - The Sweet Spot for Textured Finishes

Level 3 is where the transition to smoother walls begins. The third coat of joint compound is applied to cover the tape and screws completely. While this level allows for a painted finish, it is not entirely smooth, and subtle imperfections may still be visible. Level 3 represents a pivotal stage in the drywall finishing process, especially for those intending to add textured finishes to their walls. At this level, the third coat of joint compound is meticulously applied to ensure complete coverage of the seams and screws, creating a surface that is smooth to the touch. Importantly, walls destined for a heavy texture, such as knockdown texture, can comfortably conclude their finishing journey at Level 3.

The decision to halt at Level 3 is strategic. Progressing beyond this stage becomes unnecessary for surfaces that are destined for texturing because the application of texturing compounds introduces intentional irregularities. Pushing the finishing process further might be counterproductive, as the subsequent smoother finishes achieved in Levels 4 and 5 would be obscured by the texturing process.

For projects where textured finishes are the desired outcome, Level 3 strikes the perfect balance between a smooth base and the necessary substrate for effective texturing. This level provides a solid foundation, ensuring that the subsequent texturing enhances the visual appeal of the walls without the need for additional smoothing.

Level 4 - The Ready for Paint

Achieving a high-quality painted finish starts at Level 4. An additional coat of joint compound is applied, and extra attention is given to sanding and smoothing the surface. This level is ideal for areas where the lighting conditions might reveal imperfections.

Level 5 - The Ultimate Smoothness

For the most refined and smooth finish, Level 5 is the go-to choice. A skim coat of joint compound is applied across the entire surface, eliminating any imperfections. This level is recommended for areas with intense lighting or glossy paint finishes.

shows the texture of a wall.

Texturing Techniques

Orange Peel

This popular texture creates a surface that resembles the skin of an orange. It adds a subtle visual interest to the walls while still maintaining a relatively smooth finish.


Achieved by applying a texture and then "knocking down" the peaks with a trowel, creating a flattened, mottled appearance. This technique is versatile and complements various architectural styles.


Although less popular in modern designs, popcorn texture provides acoustic benefits and was widely used in the mid-20th century. It involves spraying a mixture onto the ceiling, creating a bumpy surface.

Mastering drywall finishing and texturing is an art that requires attention to detail and an understanding of the desired outcome. Whether you opt for a smooth finish or choose to add texture for visual interest, the key is to choose the level of finish that aligns with your aesthetic preferences and the function of the space. With the right techniques and materials, you can transform your walls into a flawless canvas, enhancing the overall appeal of your home or project.

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