Now that we've put the walls up in the Project House, it's time for the process called "Tape, Bed and Texture". That's when the drywall crew coats the drywall panels with "mud" and tape so the drywall is even & seamless. Then they add a texture to the walls to hide any remaining imperfections in the drywall surface. Texture will enhance whatever finished look you want on your walls (paint or wallpaper, for example). This is a crucial step; you want to decide now what your walls will look like so you don't have to do a lot of expensive re-texturing later. There are lots of texture options.
Tape & Bed
After the drywall panels go up, the drywall crew applies a bed of "mud" and tape to make the walls seamless and even. The seams between drywall panels are taped over. Then the "mud" (a gypsum-based mixture) is spread outward from the tape to hide the tape-lines. The goal is to create a single, even surface that shows no evidence of the individual panels that actually make up the wall surface. This surface will "receive" whatever texture treatment you choose.
"Texture" material is very similar to the mix of materials in the drywall panels it covers - gypsum powder and an aggregate. Texture creates the surface above drywall and beneath the finished wall treatment (standard or faux paint finishes, wallpaper, plaster, etc.). Texture differs in style, pattern and thickness to support different finishes and treatments. For example, a smooth coat of paint looks better when it's painted over a smooth and subtle texture, while some faux finishes (a technique that may use a number of colors and shades to create depth and dimensionally) might look a lot better over a slightly rougher texture that features more three-dimensional characteristics.
"Smooth" or "Slick Wall" Texture
The various rooms in the Project House will contain a number of different textures, and the "Slick Wall" texture is easily the most precise and difficult one of all to create, since it has to be so thin and even. Venetian Plaster consists of three or four razor-thin layers of plaster that form a beautifully polished finish with a richness and deepness that seems impossible to create using such thin layers. A perfectly smooth and seamless bed underneath is essential to pull off the "burnished" look of Venetian Finish, because any imperfections will disrupt the surface and ruin the illusion of tranquil depth.
An artist named Chris Jewett will create the Venetian Plaster finishes in the Project House. Chris says that no texture material is applied to the drywall underneath Venetian Plaster. Chris counts on the drywall crew to do an extremely precise job of hiding nail holes and tape lines in the Tape and Bed process so he can utilize the smooth paper surface of the drywall panel as much as possible. Chris will create Venetian Plaster murals in the Dining Room and Master Bedroom of the Project House.
Chris Jewett tells us smooth textures originated hundreds of years ago in Italy, when the crude home-building techniques of the times required everyone to have rough-textured walls. The wealthy people decided to distinguish themselves from the masses by having artisans create wall textures as smooth as possible, as a sign of distinction and nobility. Nowadays smooth walls are common enough so that refined tastes are turning back to distinctively and noticeably textured walls as a mark of unique design.
This term means different things to different people. Most people use it to describe a "generic" texture good for hiding simple defects in the Tape and Bed defects process. "Orange Peel" is a good texture for accepting any paint job. For an orange peel texture, the drywall crew sprays texture material directly onto walls. The machine that sprays texture material has a transmission, which can vary speed and force of delivery to affect the texture pattern (the machines also have a variety of nozzles to alter texture patterns). We applied Orange Peel to the three upstairs bedrooms in the Project House.
This is a rougher, less-detailed variation of Orange Peel where texture is sprayed onto the walls, then the small peaks of texture material are chopped off by dragging a knife or trowel over the material. This opens up more valleys and flat areas to add depth and color contrast to a paint job.
This texture offers a more refined look under paint, and it's meant to add dimensionally to the finished look of the walls. Texture is rolled onto the drywall panels just like paint, and then it's hand-smoothed. Once texture is rolled on the wall by one member of the drywall crew, another dry-waller runs a knife or trowel across the wet texture material to create crests and valleys. It's just the same as the work you do when you're spreading icing on a cake. This process can yield a relatively flat finish with a "little bit of movement" in it. This approach is the most forgiving to imperfections in the drywall. Or, you can create a thicker skip trowel pattern with a lot more depth and detail. Roger Light, our faux finish artist, says he prefers a subtle surface so he can do his business of fooling the eye better. Faux finishers often do very detailed and delicate work, so in that case they'd have to fight a rougher surface.
Most of the Project House will feature the skip trowel texture. The freehand skip trowel "pattern" will be determined by the Design team, the faux finisher and the crew of painters who will apply a base coat of paint to all the walls in our Project House.
We've used some very skilled professionals to do this work, but you can try it yourself, especially on a remodel job. The powdered texture material mixes with water so you can create textures with all kinds of things, paint rollers, trowels with different notches, whisk brooms, ropes, sea sponges, any number of things.
Whatever finished wall look you decide on, choose your texture before you paint or apply wallpaper so you can avoid the mess and expense of redoing the layers of texture on the walls of your new house.