How to Skip Trowel Stucco

Updated February 21, 2017

Stucco transforms otherwise plain or unsightly walls, giving them texture and warmth. Imbue interior walls, exterior walls, basement foundations or garden walls with the essence of Spanish haciendas or Tuscan villas with skip-trowel stucco finishes. Aiming for an organically mottled texture, the process of applying a skip-trowel finish frees finishers from the constraints of highly detailed or more consistently textured finishes. Apply skip-trowel, stucco finishes to sound, properly prepared drywall, concrete or masonry surfaces.

Pick up approximately 1 quart of stucco with a trowel and place it on the surface of a hawk. Use cement stucco on concrete or masonry surfaces and joint compound on drywall surfaces.

Pick up a gob of stucco from the hawk with a wide trowel. Starting at a top corner of the wall, hold the trowel to the wall with the blade edge at a slight angle, so the bottom of the blade makes contact with the wall and the top of the blade hovers slightly away from the wall.

Begin pulling the trowel across the wall. Bring the upper edge of the blade up and down at an irregular rate to apply uneven amounts of stucco. On drywall walls, try not to exceed 1/8-inch thicknesses at the thickest points. On concrete and masonry, do not exceed 1/4-inch. Continue covering the wall with stucco in this matter, applying stucco in all directions.

Level texture in those areas of a drywall wall just before the stucco starts to set. Level texture in areas of a concrete wall just after the stucco starts to set. To level the texture, wipe off the trowel and hold it at a sharp angle with the entire blade edge against the wall. Pull the trowel across the wall, applying light to moderate pressure, to knock down the high areas. Work in horizontal and vertical directions and wipe of the trowel blade frequently.


Add colour to a stucco finish by adding tint to the wet stucco mix. For joint compound, use all-purpose tint. Add concrete pigment for cement plaster.

Things You'll Need

  • Joint compound or cement plaster
  • Masonry hawk
  • Wide trowel
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About the Author

Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.