22 Different Types of Ceiling Textures

When it comes to remodeling a room, many people consider how they want the floors and walls to look. But many people rarely think of the ceiling.

If you want to complete the look and feel of a room, you should consider your ceilings. Having a ceiling with a different texture than your walls can ruin the design of your room. We’re going to discuss 22 different types of ceiling textures so you can identify each and decide which is right for your home.

What Is Ceiling Texture?

Have you ever stared up at the ceiling in a room and noticed odd bumps or decorative swirls instead of a smooth surface?

As a young child, I thought it was a sign of a lazy finisher who didn’t smooth the ceiling once they installed it. Now that I’m older (we’re not going to say a number), I’ve learned these ceiling designs were on purpose.

Some builders and homeowners choose to have a textured ceiling – when the surface has a rough feel and look instead of smooth. A textured ceiling is also referred to as a finish. 

When a ceiling is finished, it has other materials applied over the top of the sheetrock instead of only paint. Textures often use spackle, plaster, mud, styrofoam, and other components to add depth and dimension to a flat ceiling. 

Pros and Cons of Ceiling Texture

Textured ceilings were a big success in years past, but they quickly lost popularity once it became public knowledge that many of these textures contained asbestos. Today, textured ceilings are hit or miss. Some people love them. Others don’t.

Since textured ceilings are hit or miss, let’s look at the pros and cons. You may decide that even though you’d prefer the look of a flat top, a textured ceiling makes more sense. And don’t worry – all-new textures are asbestos-free!

Pros

One of the biggest advantages of a textured ceiling is hiding blemishes. If your material has scratches, waves, or small holes, covering it with texture can conceal the imperfections. 

Another big reason why more people go for a textured ceiling over a smooth flat surface is the price. As weird as it sounds, a textured ceiling is cheaper, faster, and easier to install than a smooth surface. 

And the final benefit of a textured ceiling is that you’ll have better soundproofing. A smooth ceiling causes noise to amplify and echo. Whereas textured ceilings can help block sounds from being heard outside the room.

Cons

With so many practical benefits, it makes sense why people would want a textured ceiling. But these ceilings do have some downsides to consider.

Many people feel that a textured ceiling looks outdated. Smooth, clean lines are preferable for a lot of modern designers. 

Another downside of textured ceilings is that it’s harder to make repairs. To make a repair match, you’d have to reapply the same texture. It can take a lot of time to make it blend in.

And finally, the biggest con of textured ceilings is that the unusual textures are a magnet for dust. You’ll need to dust regularly, using care not to apply too much pressure and damage the surface.

Kinds of Textured Paint

There are four different kinds of textured paint you can use for your ceiling texture. These are:

  • Self-mixing paints
  • Smooth texture paints
  • Alternative finishes
  • Premixed textured paint

Ceiling Texture Tips and Precautions

Applying texture rarely requires using dangerous tools, so it’s pretty safe. But you do want to use appropriate eyewear, so dust doesn’t get into your eyes.

You should also wear something over your face to block breathing in any particles. Everyone should have plenty of practice working in a mask after living through 2020. 

And it’s always a good idea to do some practice before attempting any texture design. Many are simple enough for DIY, but you want to know what you’re doing before working on something permanent.

Finally, always wear protective gear or old clothing and prep your room by covering everything with plastic. 

22 Ceiling Texture Types

Now that we’ve given you all the goodies about ceiling textures, let’s look at the 22 most common ceiling texture types. We’ll describe the design, experience level and tell you how to achieve the look. 

1. Popcorn Ceiling

Out of all the different ceiling textures, popcorn is probably the most known and often the most disliked. This style was widely popular in the 1900s but rarely chosen as an option today. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s not still frequently used. Although outdated for many, it’s cheap, easy, and provides soundproofing (a parent’s dream). 

Popcorn is a combination of mud and small Styrofoam balls, applied to the ceiling using a spray gun and hopper. The final look is a ceiling covered with small plaster-covered balls that resemble popcorn kernels, hence the name.

2. Light Popcorn Ceiling

If you don’t like the thick blanket of balls causing your ceiling to resemble cottage cheese (another common name for popcorn ceilings), consider a light popcorn texture instead.

With this design, you still get a slightly bumpy texture. But these kernels aren’t as bulgy and gaudy as full popcorn. You won’t get horror flashbacks of the 70s with a light popcorn ceiling. 

3. Spray Sand Ceiling Texture

Spray sand is a ceiling texture made of sand mixed with a thinner (thinned out mud, primer, or water). If the name doesn’t give it away, you apply this texture to the ceilings using a spray hopper gun. 

The great thing about spray sand is that it doesn’t peel or crack, unlike orange peel texture. It’s best to get some practice on scrap material before attempting on your ceiling.

4. Knockdown Ceiling Texture

The knockdown ceiling texture has been around since the early 1900s, preceding the more popular styles like orange peel or popcorn. 

This style is a popular choice for DIYers, as it requires little tools, basic knowledge, and a simple technique. Which tools and the method you’ll use will depend on the texture you choose – mud trowel, splatter, or stomp.

The basic concept is to apply drywall mud onto the ceiling, so it forms peaks. Then use a knockdown knife to flatten these peaks, giving the ceiling dimension and a mottled look that also soundproofs. 

5. Mud and Tape Ceiling

Mud and tape ceilings are becoming a typical ceiling texture. This method uses drywall tape to cover any seams, joints, and along the sides attached to the roof. Then mud goes over the tape. 

The downsides of this texture are that it can be more expensive and it’s time-consuming. This look is best if you prefer an unfinished look. If you like an elegant, intricate design, this isn’t the one for you.

6. Skip Trowel Ceiling Texture

To create a skip trowel ceiling texture, you must know how to use a trowel – a small, flat blade with a pointed tip. 

To start, hold your trowel (coated with an all-purpose joint compound) against the ceiling at an angle. Then move the tool gently over the surface. 

You don’t have to stay in a specific pattern. As the name implies, your trowel will skip over the surface, causing a distinctive design that resembles stucco, covering less than 50% of the surface. 

7. Sheetrock Ceiling Texture

The sheetrock ceiling texture has been around since 1917, making it one of the oldest styles still used today. This texture gives your ceilings a rough, artistic look that works well with multiple design schemes. 

Besides being versatile and attractive, a sheetrock texture is easy to do with minimal tools. But it may be time-consuming. 

To achieve a sheetrock texture, use a stiff bristle paintbrush to apply the mud compound directly to the sheetrock. Do not smooth the surface out. It will dry in imperfect ridges and lines.

8. Lace Ceiling Texture

A lace ceiling texture gives your ceiling more elegance and class. When done correctly, it will look like your ceiling is covered in antique lace. Other names are French or Spanish lace.

The process for doing a lace ceiling texture is similar to the knockdown method, but it takes a lot more work and time to get the lace’s intricate patterns. 

And you have to apply two layers for a contrast of colors. After applying the first layer and letting it dry (easy), apply the textured coating on top in a different color, using hand tools and patience (challenging). 

9. Swirl Ceiling Texture

A swirled texture is one of the most attractive designs for ceilings, and it’s pretty easy to apply. Plus, it’s easily customizable to meet your particular tastes.

After applying mud to the ceiling using a sprayer or roller, use a brush to draw swirls while the mixture is still slightly wet. The size of the brush determines the circle size. There’s no correct way to choose the size and technique. It’s all a matter of individual tastes.

Due to the application’s tediousness, you may get the job done faster with a second person helping. Or leave it up to a professional as this pattern can be difficult for beginners.

10. Fish Scale Ceiling Texture

Fish scales have a repeated pattern, similar to a swirl texture, that overlaps like fish scales, which influenced this texture’s name. Other names for this design are shell or fan pattern. 

To achieve a fish scale texture, brush layers of circular arches in an intricate layout overlapping each previous turn. 

While you get a unique and attractive finish, the fish scale texture is one of the most difficult for beginners. In most cases, it’s best to leave this job for a professional to handle.

11. Slap Brush Ceiling Texture

Slap brush is a standard DIY ceiling texture that’s a lot of fun to apply. But it can be a long and tedious process that requires lots of practice. 

This texture gives your ceilings an artistic dried paint feel with rough ridges and lines laid out randomly. To create a slap brush texture, start by applying mud to the roof using a roller.

Then slap the ceiling with a stipple brush or other hard-bristled tool. While it can be fun to hit the surface, use care as any mistakes will show up once it’s dry, leaving behind a mess rather than art.

12. Stipple Brush Ceiling Texture

A stipple brush texture is similar to stomp and slap in that you use a stipple brush to create patterns. However, this texture is more challenging because the material’s thickness needs to hold a good design.

Stipple brush textures are great for hiding flaws like cracks, holes, or patch jobs. When done by someone with experience, it looks great. But when done by someone with inexperience, it can look sloppy and unfinished.

To achieve this texture, cover the ceiling with a layer of mud using a roller. Then use your stipple brush to form patterns. These can be random or information, using stamping, slapping, or any other technique. Rosettes and crow’s feet are also possible options.

13. Rosebud Ceiling Texture

Rosebud is another easy texture you can apply to your ceiling to get a unique pattern. You can form rosebuds using a paint roller, a stomp brush, or, if you’re creative enough, an airless paint spray gun. 

You only need a thin layer of mud to achieve a rosebud texture, so it’s not the best option if you want coverage for ceiling imperfections. Any cracks, discoloration, or holes will show through a rosebud texture.

To achieve this look:

  • Apply a thin layer of mud onto your ceiling.
  • Use a stomp brush, start in the top corner, and press down so the bristles flatten out.
  • Twist it for more dimension, or pull it away for a stiff look.

Continue the method across your whole ceiling. You can overlap the buds or place them untouching, randomly or in a pattern.

14. Crows Foot Ceiling Texture

The Crows Foot ceiling texture is a favorite for DIY’ers, although be aware you need two people to complete the job. This texture can hide minor flaws under a decorative layer of texture.

You achieve the intricate crow’s foot pattern by using a stipple brush. After coating your brush (or the wall) with drywall mud, press the brush onto the ceiling and pull away. 

For each new stamp, turn the brush a half turn and stamp adjacent to the previous mark. This design is messy so prepare your room ahead of time. 

15. Stamped Texture Ceiling

Another ceiling texture similar to the swirl pattern is the stamped texture. The difference is that you use brushes to get swirls while you need patterned rollers to form a stamped surface. 

To achieve a stamped texture, coat the ceiling with mud. Then apply your patterned roller to the surface and move it back and forth, applying hard pressure so the mud stamps. 

16. Smooth Ceiling Texture

Many people turn to a smooth ceiling texture to achieve a more modern look. You may think because there’s no design that this would be the easiest texture to get. 

You’d be wrong. To achieve a perfectly smooth texture, you need multiple mud layers, sanding each layer before applying the next. Even the slightest flaws will show up, which is why it’s so time-consuming and frustrating to achieve.

Most beginner DIYers will not be able to achieve a perfectly smooth ceiling texture. If this is the look you want, you may want to consider bringing in the professionals. 

17. Skim Coat Ceiling Texture

A skim coat texture means you are smoothing out the previous surface. This method requires some practice, but it’s a simple process that most DIYers can handle.

To get a skim coat texture, start by applying a thin layer of mud over the surface. Once dry, you can continue to apply new layers until you get the finish you desire. This texture is similar to a smooth texture.

18. Santa Fe Ceiling Texture

If you like the skip trowel texture, but you want more coverage, consider the Santa Fe texture. This pattern provides 60% more coverage than a standard skip trowel texture. 

Santa Fe is an excellent choice for hiding minor ceiling flaws, although the uneven application does not provide maximum coverage. A completed application will look like you have two layers of drywall, with plenty of space where you see the bottom layer through the top.

The application of this texture is the same as the skip trowel, except you cover more area. Apply a thin layer of mud over your ceiling without making it even.

19. Stomp Ceiling Texture

A stomped ceiling texture is similar to stamping, knockdown, and stippling. You use a textured roller and a stomp brush to create a patterned look. 

A stomp texture won’t hide imperfections, so it’s not the best texture to use for damaged ceilings. The biggest factor of this technique is having the compound mixed right. 

To stomp a design, apply your solution on the stomp brush and apply it to your wall. Repeat the process until the ceiling is covered in designs.

20. Orange Peel Ceiling Texture

Another familiar texture applied to ceilings and walls is the orange peel. This texture gets its name due to the resemblance to an orange peel. If you like a subtle, rough, slightly bumpy texture, this might be the style for you.

You apply an orange peel texture to your ceiling using a sprayer, which is a bit messier than applying a texture by hand using a trowel. But if you’ve got enough experience, a spray application is faster. 

21. Tree Bark Ceiling Texture

Tree bark ceiling texture mimics nature and gives your home a more natural feel. This texture is a knockdown style with a twist. You get long sculpted lines similar to tree bark, hence the name.

Instead of using a brush, you use unique heavy foam rollers that create a uniform pattern. Coat the roller in your mixture and roll it over your ceiling. 

22. Hawk and Trowel

Hawk and trowel is a texture that was widely popular in the 1970s. The name comes from the specific tools needed to create this design – a trowel and a hawk.

This technique is easy enough for users of all skill levels, so it’s an excellent beginner project. The final result will vary by applier, but you end up with plaster layers that have a ripple effect, similar to water. 

Ceiling Texture Types FAQ

Now that we’ve looked at the 22 most common ceiling textures let’s go over a few frequently asked questions people have about the topic.

What are the 4 types of texture?

Textures can come in spray, drywall, patterns and designs, and brush strokes. 

What is the best texture for ceilings?

The most common texture for ceilings in higher-end homes is the knockdown. Apartments and older homes may have popcorn or orange peel ceilings, which are common but less preferred styles.

What is a textured ceiling called?

Ceilings that have a texture are referred to as finished ceilings. A finished ceiling refers to the addition of other materials besides paint to give a unique look. 

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed this extensive guide to all things related to ceiling textures. Skip the boring (and expensive) choice of a smooth ceiling. Choose one of these twenty-two ceiling textures to give your home character, depth, and extra appeal.