DIY Plaster Walls With Drywall Mud

Want to recreate the look of plaster on your walls? Here’s the step-by-step on how to DIY plaster walls with drywall mud.

plaster walls with drywall mud

I grew up in a house where my mother and father taught us that we could do ANYTHING we set our minds to.

Anything.

The sky was the limit.

The house was busting at the seams with all of our projects.

We decorated our floors with painted train tracks.

We made our own Christmas presents.

We taught ourselves to paint and knit and build and draw and write and create whatever we could think up.

My brother installed a faux traffic light in his ceiling. My other brother built a giant entire marble machine in the garage. My sister let her friends decorate her floor with their autographs.

And my other sister?

She decorated these dining room walls with a finish so creative, so amazing, so over-the-top that after all these years it’s still standing. Still there. Still going strong.

It’s one of the first things that people ask about when they visit the house for the first time.

Up close?

It looks like this.

plaster walls with drywall mud close-up

Look at all those tiny grooves and ridges and flat places. It’s amazing.

Truly.

It looks just like plaster.

I literally laugh out loud when people ask me about it.

They think it’s original to the house.

Ummm.

Nope.

Not even close.

Just my sister and her imagination and a little drywall mud.

She created this entire finish one summer with her friend.

plaster walls with drywall mud dining room

plaster walls with drywall mud dining table

And the best part?

You can create this look yourself on a dime. I actually did this exact treatment in a bathroom in our first house and painted it white. It took me about a day to finish the entire bathroom.

Yep.

You—yes you—my wonderful creative friend can create this look with a little creativity, some patience, an honorary seat at our family table…

…and these step-by-step instructions.

Here’s how to DIY plaster walls with drywall mud.

plaster walls with drywall mud view of walls

DIY Plaster Walls With Drywall Mud

plaster walls with drywall mud supplies

supplies:

drywall mud

flat edge tool (for spreading mud)

large tooth comb

medium tooth comb

small tooth comb

wall paint (we used Naval SW 6244)

plaster walls with drywall mud application

Step 1: Spread the drywall mud

Since my walls are already done, I mimicked the process on a board.

This is exactly how you would apply the drywall mud to the wall.

Start with pre-mixed drywall mud (or you can mix it yourself if you are feeling extra creative).

You’ll want to start with a small section of the wall because the mud dries relatively quickly. I’d begin in an area no one really sees so you can get comfortable with the process before you tackle high-visibility areas. You can also practice on a board like this one.

Take your flat edge tool and scrape the drywall mud onto the wall.

Here are a couple of tips for the application process:

  1. You don’t need perfection here. Actually—you want the opposite. Have you ever seen plaster walls? They are so imperfect. That’s why we all fall in love with them. They are timeless and beautiful in their imperfection.
  2. You want parts of the drywall mud to be relatively thick. You are going to drag a comb through it and you want the comb to create ridges.
  3. Kind of trail off the mud at the sides of your section. You can see how I’ve done this at the bottom of the board. That way when you start your next section, it will flow seamlessly.
  4. Make sure your drywall mud is mixed up and not too runny. You don’t want it running down the wall before you even have a chance to run a comb through it.

Step 2: Start with a large tooth comb

Take your largest tooth comb and drag it through the mud.

Just start at the top and pull it down through the mud on the wall. Don’t worry if your lines are slightly wavy. This is just the first step.

Those lines are going to look completely different when we are done.

Keep going until your entire section has lines like these. It’s important for this to look truly authentic to make sure your plaster has different thicknesses all over the section. That way your comb lines will have different thickness too.

Step 2: Add a layer with the medium tooth comb

Take your medium tooth comb and drag it through the lines you created with the larger tooth comb.

I actually used a hair claw for this step. I just wrapped a rubber band around the clips on the back to keep it open.

Just start at the top and pull it down through the mud on the wall. Don’t trace the original lines exactly. You want to kind of mess them up slightly and create that imperfection with your finish.

You can even cross them slightly with this step.

Step 3: Add a layer with the small tooth comb

Take your small tooth comb and drag it through the mud again.

Your goal is to add even more depth to your vertical lines.

Just start at the top and pull it down through the mud on the wall. Don’t trace the original lines exactly. You want to kind of mess them up slightly and create that imperfection with your finish.

You can even cross them slightly with this step.

It should look like tree trunk when you are done.

Step 4: Drag your flat tool over the lines

This is the most important step.

It’s the one you’ll need to practice at the most.

After you’ve dragged all your lines in the mud–this is the step that makes all the difference. It’s the step that takes it from a bunch of lines in the mud to the look of plaster.

You want to take your flat-edged tool and start at the top and drag it over your lines.

Don’t press.

Don’t apply any pressure at all or you will get horizontal lines in the mud. All you do it take the tool and with the lightest of hands, just let it float down over the lines of mud.

It will flatten parts of them out and create the look of plaster.

Your finish will have small, medium and large lines with tons of depth and flat areas on the wall.

That’s how you create the look of plaster walls with drywall mud.

Step 5: Paint the walls

The best part of this finish? You can check your faux plaster walls after you are completely done with the room to check and see if. you need to go back and touch up any areas with more of the faux plaster treatment.

Then let the drywall dry COMPLETELY.

When I was recreating this for you, I actually didn’t let the drywall dry all the way through and it started glumping up in my paint.

I’d let it dry overnight before I painted.

I’d use a wall paint with a satin finish on your faux plaster walls. You don’t want any paint with a sheen because it doesn’t make the walls look as authentic as a paint with a satin or eggshell finish.

I’m so thankful for my parents.

Truly.

All that creativity made us all so curious. And even now we are all still learning and creating and growing and generally learning all about this incredible journey we call life.

It’s a wonderful way to live.

Especially when it’s full of dining room chapters just like this. 🙂

PS In super exciting news? Amazon Prime Day starts tomorrow. I’m SO EXCITED. I have been previewing all of the deals and sales and I put together an entire list that I’ll share with you all tomorrow. If you aren’t signed up for my e-mail list, you can sign up here to get the list at 7:00 am.

I can’t WAIT to shop together. 🙂

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