Q Some of the walls and ceilings in our older house have tiny cracks and other blemishes that make them unsightly. Is texture paint a lasting remedy for this?

A Texture paint, which usually deposits a thicker film than ordinary paint, has many valuable uses, and can sometimes give an attractive finish to problem walls and ceilings. The paints vary in consistency -- some are like thick cream, some are close to the thickness of drywall joint compound. In fact, joint compound is sometimes used for texturing. However, it is not a cure-all for wall-ceiling problems.

Some texture paints have enough elasticity to cover up and prevent the reappearance of so-called hairline cracks that don't widen much over time. It will not cover up cracks wider than hairlines unless they are carefully patched.

Wide cracks, holes, gouged-out or crumbled areas should be completely filled with spackling compound or patching plaster and sanded smooth before painting. Wider cracks that might expand and break through the paint film are best taped and spackled like drywall joints.

Texture paint will also not work well over peeling paint, wallpaper or dirty walls. Since texture paint usually covers less wall area per gallon than regular paint, it is often sold in 5-gallon pails, which can be very heavy.

To use, stir the paint thoroughly and pour some into a paint tray for easier handling. Most textures are applied with a roller, often a special long-napped roller that will leave a textured finish in the thick paint. Some painters are satisfied with the rolled-on texture, others like to tool it or form patterns in the wet film using various tools and materials, ranging from trowels and stiff paint brushes to sponges and balled-up newspaper.

Directions for any texture paint should be read and followed carefully, but virtually all the paints are messy to use. If there is furniture in a room, it should be completely covered with dropcloths, and floors should be covered and the edges of the dropcloths taped at walls to hold them in place.