Many do-it-yourselfers overdo texturing and create wall surfaces that look like cake frosting. The key to creating a pleasing textured surface is to use restraint and subtlety.

Texturing consists of troweling on a layer of texturing compound, called "mud" by professionals, then manipulating it with shaping tools, like long-napped rollers and long-bristled brushes, that can be purchased at local stores.Texturing compound is simply a binder, usually plaster or paint, with added aggregate materials. The most common aggregate is silica sand. Other aggregates, like glitter and mica chips, are added to catch the light and give sparkle to the final finish. You can buy ready-made texturing compounds at paint stores and home centers. Paint texturing compounds can be applied with a brush or roller. Other compounds, like veneer plaster (available through mail order suppliers), are thick and must be troweled onto the surface.

You can also make your own texturing compound by adding aggregate to standard drywall joint compound. The amount of aggregate you add depends on the textural effect that you are trying to create. For very subtle patterns, you may not need to add any aggregate. Do not use taping compound for texturing. It is not formulated for application in thick layers and will crack as it dries.

It is difficult to estimate the amount of compound needed for a job because the quantity depends largely on the thickness of the application. Commercial preparations usually have coverage data printed on the label.

Texturing compound can be used to cover minor discrepancies and blemishes in a wall surface. On newly installed drywall, all the nailheads and joints should be spackled and taped over. Also prime or paint the wallboard with an alkyd or latex-based primer.

Wash painted surfaces with a mild detergent to remove all dust, dirt and grease. Remove any mildew by scrubbing the surface with a bleach solution (one part bleach to three parts clean water). Wear rubber gloves and safety goggles when using this solution. Stains should be painted with a primer to prevent them from bleeding. Finally, apply a liquid bonding agent to the entire surface. This will help the texturing compound adhere to the surface. Depending upon the consistency of the mud, you can apply it with a brush, roller or trowel.