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Why do so many Spanish homes have ‘popcorn’ textured walls?

The Local Spain
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Why do so many Spanish homes have ‘popcorn’ textured walls?
Why do houses in Spain have popcorn-textured walls? Photo: Roselyn Tirado / Unsplash

You may have noticed that many older Spanish properties have the typical 'popcorn' textured walls, but why is that, and where does the custom come from?


Popcorn textured walls, sometimes referred to as an 'orange peel' or 'cottage cheese' finish by some, are very common in Spanish properties. 

If you live here or have ever been house hunting and Spain and viewed a few properties, you'll probably have noticed this textured design is more common in older buildings.

Known as gotelé in Spanish, the texture is similar to the pebble dash design found on exterior walls. The grainy texture is applied to walls and ceilings by spraying fragments of drywall or plaster, or by using paints of differing thicknesses to create that raised, 'popped' kernel look. 

However, the classic (some would say dated) design has really fallen out of favour in Spain in recent years.

When did it first become popular, and why has it gone out of fashion?

The classic 'popcorn' wall, loved by some, hated by most. Photo: Wikipedia.

Internal migration

Similarly to how there was a boom in balcony building (and apartment blocks more generally) in Spain in the 1960s, popcorn walls also burst onto the scene during the mass migration of rural Spaniards to the urban centres in the 1960s and 1970s.

READ ALSO: Why do many Spanish apartments not have balconies?

As apartment block living became firmly established in Spanish cities, it was mostly buildings in working-class barrios (neighbourhoods) that went for gotelé walls.

Why did they do this?

Well, firstly, it's important to understand that as more and more blocks went up to deal with the flood of people arriving from the country, these buildings were put up pretty quickly and cheaply.

Rushing to fill demand, meant that the building work wasn't always perfect and there were occasionally blemishes and imperfections on the walls that needed to be covered up with something before they could be sold. So if a wall wasn't perfectly smooth or even, or had a slight bulge or scratch, the textured gotelé design covered it up pretty well.

In essence, gotelé was used because it is both a simple and cheap method to decorate walls. 



Out of fashion 

But just as balconies fell out of favour as the years went by and the property market focused more on square footage, gotelé has also become unpopular in the last couple of decades.

In fact, for many Spaniards, the design is viewed as ugly and dated and conjures childhood memories of their grandparents' apartment. If you have older friends or family in Spain, they may well still have gotelé walls.

For some people house hunting in Spain nowadays, they hate gotelé walls so much that specifying that they want a gotelé-free house or smooth walls, is one of the main criteria when purchasing a property.

And that's not only because some view it as ugly or retro, but also because removing it can be very expensive. According to AS, removing gotelé walls in an 80m2 apartment can cost around €3,000 - so some people might be stuck with them whether they like it or not.


Comments (3)

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Expatriator 2023/05/25 19:42
Can you explain why it’s so expensive? It’s not because of the presence of asbestos?
Expatriator 2023/05/25 19:41
Can you explain why it’s so expensive? It’s not because of the presence of asbestos?
Expatriator 2023/05/25 19:41
Can you explain why it’s so expensive? It’s not because of the presence of asbestos?

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