From Smooth to Textured: 7 Styles of Ceiling Texture

Textured ceilings are in and out of style regularly. Although many people give little or no consideration to ceiling finishes, texturing a ceiling usually adds to the overall feel of a room–sometimes subtly, sometimes with more flair and drama.

Meaning of a Textured Ceiling

Top ceiling texture

The texture on a ceiling is also referred to as a finish. A finished ceiling has other materials added to the drywall. Textured ceilings, which are one of the types of ceilings, generally use a combination of drywall mud, plaster, spackle, and styrofoam/cellulose/sand, among other additives.

Application techniques and tools create additional design finishes. Add the applicator’s individual abilities and tool preferences, and ceiling finishes can be quite different. Even if they have the same name.

Pros and Cons of Modern Ceiling Textures

Ceiling textures were very popular at one time. Unfortunately, many of them contained asbestos–as did drywall. Finished ceilings fell out of favor quickly when it became known.

One of the reasons for the resurgence of the popularity of textures is the absence of asbestos from all ceiling finishing products.


Finished ceilings have four advantages over conventional smooth ceilings.

  • Covering. Texturing hides blemishes. Scratches, small holes, and even wavy drywall can be disguised or hidden.
  • Price. It is much easier, faster, and less expensive to apply texture than make a smooth flat conventional ceiling.
  • Soundproofing. Most finished ceilings have a rough finish. Uneven surfaces break up sound waves. Less noise escapes the room and the sound quality inside improves.
  • Style and Design. Textures provide many unique designs that are personalized by the applicator’s efforts.


There are also a few reasons not to have a textured ceiling.

  • Cleaning. Dust, dirt, and smoke adhere easier to textures. They are harder to clean and some types like Popcorn are easily damaged.
  • Repairs. Finished ceilings can be difficult to repair. Matching color, texture, and style may be a problem.
  • Outdated. People might consider textures to be dated–or outdated. Recent architecture and house designs tend to prefer smooth straight lines.

7 Ceiling Texture Types

Ceiling textures can be fairly common–the same pattern from corner to corner. Or homeowners can become very creative with textured center sections c/w painted borders and scalloped corners. Different types of textures can accommodate almost any design.

1. Popcorn

Popcorn ceiling texture

Popcorn ceiling popularity began to fade in the 1960s. They are making a comeback. Part of the Retro movement? It can be sprayed or painted on. The polystyrene bead, vermiculite, or cellulose additives make it look vaguely like an upside-down plate of popcorn.


  • Very good sound-deadening ability
  • Available in fine, medium, or coarse grades
  • Often applied with colored or reflective flakes


  • Collects dust easily
  • High spots fall off easily if cleaned too hard
  • Considered dated or old-fashioned by some

2. Knockdown

Knockdown ceiling texture

Knockdown texture is created by machine splattering drywall mud onto the ceiling. After it is allowed to dry a bit, it is “knocked down” by dragging a trowel or wide drywall knife over the ceiling. Knockdown texture is often used on walls because of its strength and general acceptability. It is often found on hotel walls, stairwell walls, and office walls.


  • Well accepted finish
  • DIY-friendly
  • Diffuses sound


  • More expensive than other options
  • Must be painted
  • Difficult to clean

2. Spray Sand

Spray Sand Ceiling texture

The spray sand ceiling finish looks a bit like a popcorn finish. It is a much harder mixture of thinned drywall mud and sand. It is applied with a hopper-type spray gun.


  • Easy DIY application
  • Hides flaws well
  • Impressively sophisticated design
  • Does not peel or crack


  • Can be messy. Make sure the walls and floor are covered in poly
  • Sand has to be mixed with water and left overnight before application

4. Orange Peel

Orange Peel ceiling texture

Orange peel texture, knows as “splatter texture”, looks somewhat like an orange peel. It is thinned drywall mud applied with a hopper-type spray gun. Unlike knockdown, it is thin enough to cover the drywall completely. It does not require any further work after it is sprayed on.


  • Easy quick DIY application
  • Some sound-deadening ability
  • Hides imperfections


  • Considered outdated or old fashioned
  • Difficult to match if a repair is needed

5. Skip Trowel

Skip Trowel

Named after the tool used to apply the drywall mud, skip trowel texture is one of the more popular finishes. Also called Santa Fe, Spanish knockdown, or mud trowel knockdown. The drywall mud can be thinned down for a lighter-looking finish or left thick for a heavier appearance.


  • Less messy than other finishes
  • Less costly than others
  • Good at hiding ceiling flaws


  • Difficult DIY application

6. Lace – French or Spanish

lace ceiling texture

Lace texture is a two-part application–usually involving two tones of the same color. First, a smooth coat is applied and left to dry. Then the design coat of a different color tone is applied to create a lacy look.


  • Covers imperfections
  • Often used on walls
  • Considered one of the prettiest and most elegant styles


  • Not an easy DIY project
  • Difficult to clean

Courtesy: – Lace texture

7. Swirl

Swirl ceiling texture

Drywall mud is applied to a surface using a roller or hopper-style sprayer. A brush is used while the mud is still slightly wet to create the swirl pattern. The choice of brush size makes for individuality.


  • Fairly easy DIY project
  • Covers imperfections
  • Popular wall finish


  • Can be tedious to apply
  • Difficult to clean

Applying Textures to Ceilings

Start by painting the entire ceiling with primer–regardless of the style of texture chosen. Drywall mud adheres better to primer and the white background adds consistency to the finished product.

  1. Mix the drywall mud.
  2. Coat the ceiling with mud using either a roller or hopper-type spray gun.
  3. Roll a texture roller over the entire ceiling. Roll in one direction only. Overlap no more than ½”. Do not leave a gap between passes.
  4. Clean excess mud from the juncture of walls and ceiling. This works best when the mud is almost dry.