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What Is a Skip Trowel Texture?

By B. Turner
Updated May 16, 2024
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Skip trowel texture is a finishing technique used to add a decorative appeal to walls and ceilings. It serves as a compromise between the smoothness of standard drywall and the bumpy texture of a popcorn or orange peel finish. Skip trowel texture can be applied to drywall, stucco, or plaster finishes and may be used both indoors and out. Finishers create this texture by skipping the trowel across the surface as they apply stucco or joint compound, leaving some parts filled and some bare. This finish is naturally imprecise, resulting in unique differences in its appearance based on region or user.

On a plaster wall or ceiling, skip trowel texture may be applied over a traditional lathe system or modern veneer plaster board. Workers start by diluting standard joint compound with water, then applying it to the wall using a paint roller. Next, they drag a trowel or finish knife through the wet compound, pulling it first in one direction then another. By pulling the knife back and forth while varying the angle and pressure, finishers create a highly-textured skip trowel finish.

The process of applying skip trowel texture to a stucco wall is slightly different. Users first apply a skim coat of standard stucco to cover the entire wall or ceiling. Once this coat dries, they place a small amount of wet stucco on the edge of a trowel. By pulling this trowel lightly across the surface, they can leave stucco in some areas while others remain bare. This requires using exactly the right amount of pressure to allow the trowel to skip lightly across the surface.

Like other finish textures, skip trowel textures offer a number of advantages to homeowners. They serve as an effective method of covering up an old or damaged wall. This texture can also mask imperfections in drywall or plaster installation. It adds texture and depth to liven up boring, smooth surfaces, yet remains subtle enough to blend in with the decor. Skip trowel texture is also extremely versatile, allowing users to adjust texture and thickness to suit their preferences.

One of the primary drawbacks associated with this finishing technique is its imprecise nature. With a large amount of variation in skip trowel texture among different regions or installers, it can be very difficult to match an existing finish. This leads to expensive and difficult repairs that may never look the same as the original surface.

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