How To Smooth Walls Without Plastering Step-By-Step

One of the keys to a modern, clean-looking home is to have smooth walls. These days, wallpaper is considered outdated, and painted plaster is the preferred look. But, the thing is, what if your walls aren’t perfectly smooth?

A smoth grey wall in a room

Surely, you can always hire a plasterer, but not everyone has the funds or wants to deal with all that mess. That’s why we’ve created this guide to show you how to smooth walls without plastering.

Use a ready-mixed skim coating solution

To loosen a premixed skim coating solution, stir it using a paddle linked to an electric drill. Add water as needed to make the compound entirely smooth. The finished product should have a custard-like texture.

You can use whatever colour you like. Many joint compounds can be tinted by adding colour when mixing. Start with the smallest amount of water required and slowly raise the speed of the drill until the liquid is well mixed. If the compound needs to be thinned, gradually add more liquid. 

A man using skim coating for repair a wall

  1. Determine the thickness of the first coat or the type of finish you like (from utterly smooth to rough and textured). If you’re right-handed, you’ll use your left hand to grip the skimmer plate and your right hand to handle the compound applicator. 
  2. To achieve the desired thickness and texture, you may need to tweak your method. You can always apply more compound to the surface, but removing it once it has dried is messy and time-consuming.
  3. Apply the first scoop and pull the compound across the surface with the compound applicator after mounding it up at one end of your repair area. Apply hard, even pressure in the direction of the joint/crack, similar to pulling a window squeegee, until just a little amount of material remains on either side of the repair area. 
  4. Then, begin in one of the wall’s corners and work your way down from the highest point. Continue to apply the skim coat to the repair area. Τake another scoop and work out of the location where you just finished the first. 
  5. Make sure that each fresh scoop overlaps with the previous one. Pull the coat in various directions to smooth out all bumps, regardless of their alignment. Start at an edge and work your way to the centre if you’re skimming a ceiling.
  6. Allow several hours for the first layer to set and apply fibreglass repair tape to cracks and joints to smooth it out. Make sure to allow the surface to dry or set before applying the next coat. 
  7. For firm repairs and smooth surfaces, expect 2 to 4 coatings if you have large areas to repair. Don’t use too much material or try to finish with just one coat. It is preferable to apply several thin coats rather than one that is uneven and requires correction.

Fill holes or cracks

Fill in minor and small holes using a fine filler such as Polyfilla. The fine filler is designed to fill in even the tiniest defects and smallest lines. Allow the filler to dry for a few hours. To create smooth walls, sand off the fine surplus filler using a sander or 100 or higher grit sandpaper. 

If the fine filler does not match your desired smoothness, you may need to apply another coat and sand it again.

Sand your walls

Existing plaster walls can be sanded to help level out any bumps or hollows. You just need to apply a thin coat of PVA to the existing plaster beforehand. Then, you can use medium or high grit sandpaper, depending on the size of the bumps. 

A male builder sanding wall indoors

  1. For larger bumps, aim for sandpaper around 100, while for smaller ones, aim for approximately 200. When sanding plastered walls, be gentle because it is soft, so If you get carried away, you may wind up with a more significant problem than the one you started with.
  2. Work gently and steadily to smooth out the old plaster until you’re satisfied with the result. This method has many significant drawbacks. It takes a long time and requires a lot of effort. 
  3. You may spend days sanding a wall to get the right smooth finish. Then, there’s also the matter of the type of plaster that was employed. Some plasters have a very thin top layer that is immediately followed by a rougher undercoat.
  4. This is especially true in older homes, which also tend to have bumpy walls. You’ll get a very rough and uneven wall surface as soon as you sand through the top layer of finishing plaster, which is the exact opposite of what you want.
  5. Finally, dust will fly everywhere when sanding plaster. And we mean everywhere! That is why a respirator is required to protect your lungs if you plan on doing this.

Use lining paper

Lining paper can make a wall much smoother, but any blemishes or scuffs on the wall will show through the paper, no matter how thick the lining paper is.

You can use smooth, woodchip, or embossed lining paper as all are simple to apply to the wall. Begin in a corner and work your way around the perimeter, making sure to overlap the lining paper by about 3 mm to allow for shrinkage.

When the lining paper is dry, use regular wallpaper paste and scissors to cut the top and bottom. Filler can be used on the wall to make the lining paper look smoother. 

Clean scuffs with warm soapy water

Cleaning up scuffs is one technique to smooth out your rough walls. This can be done by yourself or with the assistance of a professional.

What appears to be an uneven, lumpy surface is often nothing more than dirt and dust that has accumulated over time. Clean up all the scuffs with a cloth and warm, soapy water in circular motions. Use an all-purpose cleaner or sugar soap for tough spots and cut through dirt if the scuff marks are extremely tenacious. 

Wipe off your walls with a dry cloth once you’ve fixed any holes, removed any scuff marks, and completed all of your drywall sandings. You can even vacuum the walls to make sure they’re perfectly smooth and clean.

Plasterboard

Before you begin, make a mark on the wall where you want the dabs of adhesive to go. The adhesive hardens in a matter of seconds. It’s best to work on one section of your wall at a time. 

Young woman put plasterboard on the wall

  1. There should be a line of dabs running from the top to the bottom of the wall, but none of them should be used to bridge the seams between sheets of plasterboard. Attach a framework of timber studs to your wall before dry-lining if it is highly uneven or in bad condition. 
  2. Rather than using adhesive, nail the plasterboard to the studs. You can also use sound-deadening type and thermal insulation between the timber studs before putting up yours to make your wall soundproof.
  3. To begin, trace the rim of your socket mounting box with a marker pen. Then, carefully place the plasterboard against it to create an outline. Make a pilot hole in each corner, then turn the board over and use a pencil to connect the holes. Finally, use a pad saw to cut the square.
  4. Mark the position of the adhesive dabs 400mm apart using a marker spray. Then, in a bucket, mix your adhesive and apply dabs to the walls with a builder’s float and a pointing hawk. Place your plasterboard on the wall and ceiling in line with the chalk lines. 
  5. Tap the board flush against the wall with a hard batten. This can be done using a long piece of 50x100mm wood. Make sure the board is perfectly upright by using a spirit level. Remember that the board has to be flush with the ceiling
  6. If it is not, use a board lifter, a bolster, and wood off-cuts to lift it. Then, carry on with the next sheet in the same manner until you achieve the desired result. You can then paint your newly plastered walls for an amazing finish!

Apply wallpaper to cover imperfection

Depending on how bad the uneven surfaces are, wallpapering can cover such imperfections: 

Father and child apply glue for wallpaper

1. Textured wallpapers

This is a clever solution to conceal old walls. Textured wallpaper has greater substance because it creates a pattern and makes it appear thicker, obfuscating the unevenness of the walls. 

To take it a step further, try using flocked wallpaper, which lends a touch of sophistication to the design while also obscuring the unevenness a little more. A good rule of thumb is to avoid using a vertical design because this will draw attention to any imperfections in the wall.

2. Faux wallpaper

It creates a unique appearance that you wouldn’t be able to achieve with regular wallpaper. The advantage of this is that your attention is focused on the unique and different styles rather than the uneven surfaces

Apply a light-textured paint

Another DIY alternative for homeowners is to conceal any impurities on the wall using light-textured paint that will disguise the little bumps and blemishes. However, the risk here is that you might not achieve the desired result. 

So take your time and think about what is best for you and your home. A smooth eggshell coat of paint or conventional emulsion paint can be used to help smooth out the walls, but it wouldn’t hide many defects, only minor ones.

Clean walls

Cleaning the entire wall is another excellent alternative for smoothing them out. This is particularly important if you have been sanding. This can be simply done with a sponge and warm water mixed with soap. You just need to clean in a slow, circular motion for the best results. Also, cleaning painted walls or dirty ones will offer a brand new look to any room!

There you have it! When it comes to smoothing uneven walls, there’s no need to panic. We have shown you a variety of DIY projects that can be easily implemented. Simply pick one to help you get around this common problem!

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