How to Install Wall Treatments

By: Editors of Consumer Guide

How to Stucco a Wall

With a stiff brush or a metal comb, work stucco to the desired texture.
With a stiff brush or a metal comb, work stucco to the desired texture.

Road-map walls and ceilings can be impossible to repair, but they're very easy to disguise. Hide the cracks and give the room a new look with stucco paint.


  • Bucket and sponge
  • Putty knife or paint scraper
  • Paint roller with loop-textured roller cover
  • Trowel
  • Stiff brush
  • Metal comb
  • Sponge, or sturdy cord for texturing
  • Utility knife
  • 3-inch paint roller
  • Stepladder


  • Plastic dropcloths
  • Masking tape
  • Strong household detergent
  • Spackling compound
  • Textured or stucco paint
  • Piece of scrap plywood or hardboard
  • Liquid detergent


About 4 hours for a small room, plus additional preparation time as necessary


Preparing to Paint

Choose textured or stucco paint, depending on how badly cracked the walls and ceiling are. Lightly textured paints are mixed with sand and other small aggregates; they hide minor flaws but not major ones. Heavy stucco paints can be applied with a trowel or a roller; choose this type to cover really bad walls. Read the paint label carefully and buy generously; the worse the wall, the more paint you'll need. Sometimes stucco paint covers only about 25 square feet per gallon can.

Before starting to work, prepare the surfaces to be stuccoed. If you're stuccoing clean walls, with no large open cracks, leave the furniture in the room; if you're stuccoing the ceiling or the surfaces require preparation, move it out. Remove drapes, pictures, and rugs. Move any remaining furniture together in the middle of the room and cover it with plastic dropcloths; cover the floor with dropcloths and fasten them to the baseboards with masking tape. Protect light fixtures, woodwork, and faceplates with masking tape.

If the room is very dirty or greasy, clean the surfaces to be stuccoed with a solution of strong household detergent and hot water; rinse and let dry completely. Small cracks will be filled in by the paint. Fill large cracks and deep gouges with spackling compound, pressing it in firmly and smoothing it with a putty knife or paint scraper. Let the patched areas dry completely, at least 8 hours. If the spackling compound has shrunk or cracked, apply more compound to smooth the patched areas; let dry completely. No sanding is necessary.

Determining What Effect You Want

Spread lightly textured paint with a roller, using the type of roller cover recommended by the manufacturer. Spread thick stucco paint with a roller and a special loop-textured roller cover, or with a trowel. Before starting to paint, experiment with the paint on a piece of scrap plywood or hardboard until you know how to get the effect you want. Try using a roller for a uniform stippled effect, a trowel for a random texture, a stiff brush for a rough look.

The paint will start to set up as you work, depending on the humidity; in a heated room, this can take as little as 15 minutes. As you finish applying an area of paint, go back and texture it further to produce different effects. You can brush it into waves or curves with a stiff brush, or make random cross-hatching with a metal comb, or blob it with a sponge; for a bark texture, wind sturdy cord around a roller and roll up and down the already applied paint. In general, the thicker the paint you use, the coarser the texture you can produce and the worse damage you can cover.

Applying the Paint­

When you've decided on a texture and perfected your technique, apply paint to the surfaces to be stuccoed. Paint the ceiling first, again spreading paint in small areas and texturing it as you go; paint corners and edges first and then fill in the main area. To reach tight spots, cut a loop-textured roller cover in half and work with a 3-inch roller; or, if you're troweling the paint on, use a putty knife. Use the same technique to paint the walls, starting at a corner and working around the room, spreading and then texturing as you go.

Let the paint dry at least 8 hours, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Pick up the dropcloths and remove the masking tape after the stucco is dry. Clean up with water and liquid detergent.

Stucco is only one of the many options available to you to refurbish your walls. In the next section, you will learn how to cover a wall in fabric.

For more information on do-it-yourself home improvement projects, try the following links:

  • If your floors need work, you won't need to hire expensive specialists with our article on How to Repair Floors.
  • Learn how to create your own walls with our article on How to Drywall.
  • For instructions and tips on doing a good paint job, see our article on Painting Walls.