How to Texture an Old World Wall


Today's walls are homogeneous. Manufacturers use machines to produce a consistent product that looks the same in New Mexico as it does in New York. Long ago, installers mixed plaster by hand, according to their individual recipes. Not only did textures and colors differ from town to town, they varied within the same house and even on the same wall. Old World walls have rough surfaces with character and stand on their own as decorative elements.

Things You'll Need

  • Drywall compound
  • Taping knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint
  • Sponge
  • Use a taping knife to spread a very thin layer of drywall compound on the wall. Thicker layers will leave larger lines and crevices. If you prefer your wall to look as if it was originally created for old aristocracy rather than a converted working building such as a barn, keep the lines between the layers subtle.

  • Allow the layer to dry per the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Add more layers until you achieve a look that you like. Remember, you're not adding the material for functional purposes so the amount is a personal decision based on cosmetic appeal.

  • Use fine grit sandpaper to smooth the wall and remove sharp edges of drywall compound that would have worn off over the decades or centuries.

  • Use a sponge to rub the paint onto the wall. This is the base layer so make sure you get into all the cracks and crevices so that the white does not show through.

  • Add another layer of paint, in a slightly darker shade. Again, rub it but use very little paint on the sponge so that the base color shows through in some areas.

  • Use a third, darker color if you want more variation in your wall surface. Work this color into cracks and crevices.

Tips & Warnings

  • Select an off-white or light tan paint color to resemble the dirt that would have collected on the wall over time.
  • Mix sand or small pieces of straw into the drywall compound to mimic the unique recipes of ancient plasterers.
  • Practice the technique on some cardboard or plywood before you try it on your walls.
  • You'll need to spend a lot of time sanding if you decide to revert from an Old World look to smooth walls. Set up your practice board in the room and live with it for a few days before you commit yourself to the wall technique.

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  • Photo Credit Old wall. image by Lucia from
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