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I was tweeting Lenovo for a context, but then dithered over which word to use. I wanted to say that one of the walls of our house does not have any picture, artifact, clock or anything that we do on the wall.

What that wall is?

We have kept one of our room's walls empty OR plain?

I wonder whether we can use 'empty' for something that is not a box-type of thing or any bench.


Another question, if the wall is not painted, is it 'plain' wall?

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    Empty is acceptable, but I would say 'bare' – StoneyB Dec 23 '14 at 10:50
  • Spot on, sir! @StoneyB bare walls -undecorated walls. I always used 'empty' instead. – Maulik V Dec 23 '14 at 10:59
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    If there is absolutely no paint on the wall, what is there? Exposed sheetrock? Bricks? In general you could describe a wall as unpainted and your meaning would be carried just fine, but if you want to be descriptive you’ll need to say what is there (not what is missing). – Tyler James Young Dec 23 '14 at 19:12
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Your "box" analogy is very good. In the US we would say that a "room is empty", but a wall is bare. Plain has other meanings which might confuse the issue - for example, when one is describing a home, plain is often used to mean "austere", or without ornamentation. So, if you visited the home of an Amish person in Pennsylvania, the walls could have hooks for coats and hats, and a clock, and even a curtain over the window, and still be described as "plain".

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Such a wall is empty. It looks empty. And it is empty of 'any picture, artifact, clock or anything' else we hang on a wall.

At least that is the usage I have inherited from my forebears.

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I would go with "bare". If you said "plain", I would assume a drab color.

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I would use the term blank. That is,

We have kept one of our walls blank.

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If the wall is not painted, it is "unpainted" or "unfinished". Instead of "unfinished", it might be "brick" or "concrete" or "cement" or "natural wood" or "stone" -- by default, these (finished) surfaces are unpainted.

In most American homes, the interior walls have the following layers, from the surface inward:

  • Paint (most newer homes use water-soluble acrylic paints)
  • Primer (most newer homes use Kilz or polyvinyl acetate primer)
  • Texturizer or "skim coats" of plaster. The most common texture looks like the texture of an orange peel. "Skim coats" of plaster are designed to achieve a very smooth finish.
  • gypsum board (aka Sheetrock) or a similar water-resistant material. The non-water-resistant material includes:

    -- A thick paper-like surface layer.

    -- A pre-cured plaster-like material.

    -- Another thick paper-like surface layer.

  • Wood studs, separated by either insulation or air.

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