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Common Drywall Texture Types and Finishes

Looking to go beyond plain-old smooth drywall? With a bit of effort, you can achieve a distinctive, textured look for your walls and ceilings that’s eye-catching, mood-setting, and personalized to your decorating tastes. 

Drywall iStock

Wall texture types can be created by using a paint sprayer, a special brush, or a trowel or knife. Some designs call for a combination of these methods.

Here’s a gallery of the visually appealing styles and patterns you can produce within each of the three application categories.

Spray Textures


Popcorn Ceiling iStock

Popular in the mid-20th century, the popcorn texture consists of knobby, unevenly distributed bumps that resemble popcorn or cottage cheese. It’s a mixture of stucco and Styrofoam that’s sprayed on ceilings to hide imperfections and serve as a sound insulator between floors—but it can also evoke a fun, retro vibe.

Orange Peel

Orange Peel iStock

As its name implies, the orange peel texture is reminiscent of a citrus rind, featuring gentle mounds and dimples. The look is achieved by spraying a combination of drywall mud and water onto the surface, and then going over the mixture with a roller. The orange peel style can be applied to both ceilings and walls to warm up a room.


To get a sand texture for your ceiling, combine primer and water, and spray it onto the surface. The effect very closely resembles coarse, wet sand.


The lace texture is a layered design that resembles old-fashioned Spanish lace. It’s mostly used on exterior stucco walls, but can be used indoors as well to add depth and warmth. To produce this classic look, a mixture of drywall mud and water is first sprayed onto the surface; then, a finishing knife is used to carefully flatten the peaks into a smooth, delicate pattern.

Brush textures

Stomp Brush

Typically used on ceilings, the stomp brush texture is created by pressing a large, long-bristled brush dipped in drywall mud onto the surface, then pushing the mud around to form thin ridges.

This process is repeated until the entire ceiling is covered in this pattern. Stomp brush patterns can vary widely, depending on the type of brush used and the painter’s technique. Popular variations include the slap brush and crow’s foot textures.


The rosebud texture is very similar to the stomp brush texture; the main difference is that the pattern is made to look like a flower with long petals. This is done by making sure no excessive overlapping occurs. It’s no easy feat to produce this design without prior experience, but if you’re able to pull it off, the results can be beautiful and striking.

Sand Swirl

The mesmerizing patterns of the sand swirl texture can be made with a thickly bristled brush, like a wallpaper brush. The arched designs can vary, from half fans to spirals to interlocking C shapes.

This drywall application is another advanced technique that requires practice (and two people working quickly while the mud is still wet), but the end product can be spectacular.

Trowel or knife textures


The stylized comb texture is created using a toothed trowel. It’s typically designed as even rows of half fans or rainbows. The pattern usually requires two people to pull off: one applying the mud, the other following behind with the trowel to make the shape while the mud is still wet.


Knockdown is a term that refers to the general technique of spraying, stomping, or brushing on drywall mud, and then dragging a tool over the still-wet material, flattening it into a random pattern.

There are many variations that fall under the knockdown category, including the skip trowel and Santa Fe textures, as well as the aforementioned orange peel and lace patterns. The subtle differences between them come down to the material you use, the angle of the trowel or knife, and the depth created by the number of layers you add on, among other stylistic variations.


Venetian Dry wall iStock

The Venetian texture is an extremely old—and advanced—technique. It starts with applying a mixture of plaster and marble dust in several thin layers. Then the final layer is sanded and buffed to give the surface a textured, yet completely smooth, appearance that adds extra dimension and artistic flair to the walls or ceiling.