Drywall Ceiling Textures,
Not Just Popcorn Anymore!

Drywall ceiling textures are a good way to add some detail to an otherwise flat ceiling. Drywall (more commonly known as Sheetrock) is the most used ceiling finish. It's the least expensive way to close up those bare joists or rafters.

Drywall is not necessarily the quickest way to finish a ceiling. With the hanging and joint finishing it can take up to four days, and that doesn't include painting.

Drywall needs three coats of joint compound and it needs to dry between coats. The drying can take an entire day for normal compound.

Most professionals use setting type joint compound which is like plaster of paris, and it can set up in thirty minutes to two hours depending on the mix chosen. 

If you don't have any experience with the setting type compound my recommendation is to work in small batches and use the two hour mix. You cannot retemper (add more water if it starts to set up) setting type compounds it will result in poor adhesion and a poor finish.

    Some Drywall Ceiling Textures:

  • Drywall can be "skim coated" with joint compound to make it look like plaster. Special drywall needs to be used with this technique to ensure full bonding of the compound to the drywall. The compound is spread on very thin and smoothed down with trowels. This textured ceiling takes years of practice to master and is better left to a professional.
  • The mud swirl texture is the most interesting ceiling texture I have ever seen. The swirls overlap and I must say it looks pretty good. It adds a nice texture to a boring ceiling.

    With this technique, or ones similar, it hides the imperfections in the drywall and gives the room a different feel. With a little practice you can do this textured ceiling yourself. But I recommend buying a video and a step by step instruction booklet before you begin.

  • The "popcorn" ceiling texture is another idea. It's applied with a special machine that holds the joint compound, and has an air hose to blow the compound onto the ceiling.

    Glitter can also be added to spruce it up a little more. The texture of the popcorn also hides imperfections in the drywall. It's also an acoustic texture to cut down on the echos in a room.

    This was popular in the late 70's and 80's and not very popular today, but it's still an option. It's one of those texture that you either love it or hate it there really is no in between with most people.

  • Raised plaster stenciling is yet another option. A plaster stencil can be used to accent a light fixture, or to add a little design to an otherwise bare ceiling.

    These stencils are DIY friendly and can be very fun to do. The designs are anything from a vine to a faux medallion. These are a great way to add a personal touch to your kitchen ceiling. You an even use these stencils on the walls, like in the picture to the right.

  • For more ideas for other ceiling types, visit my kitchen ceiling ideas page.

  • One other technique is the knockdown texture. This texture is accomplished by using an acoustical sprayer, a fancy name for a machine that blows compound onto a ceiling in little pellets.

    You spray the compound onto the ceiling and using a wide joint knife, using very little pressure, you "knockdown" the pellets leaving little flat areas where the pellets used to be.

    The pellets are simply flattened out, but not completely.

As you can see there are many ways to add texture to a drywall ceiling and make it "yours". Any ideas you can think of to add a special texture can be done. Any special techniques you have in mind can be tried on a sample board without doing an entire ceiling. Try out some of you own ideas you may be surprised at what you can do.

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