How to Texture a Wall With a Roller

Stippling wall with paint roller

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 2 - 4 hrs
  • Yield: 120 square feet
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $20 to $30

Wall texture is often applied out of necessity. Given a choice, many homeowners would choose a smooth, glass-like texture for their walls and ceilings. Besides being the preferred style of today, smooth surfaces help paint color stand out better. Because there are no bumps to create a shadow effect, the surface appears brighter.

But wall texture does have the distinct advantage of being a quick method of finishing walls without the seemingly endless cycles of mudding, curing, and sanding drywall compounds. Wall texture can cover up imperfect drywall or mudding work, and it dries rapidly enough that you can begin painting just hours later. And many homeowners do enjoy the rustic look of textured walls.

Best of all, wall texture, which usually is applied with electric texturing machines, can be accomplished with items that are easy and inexpensive to obtain: a paint roller and drywall compound.

How Wall Texture Works

Wall texture is a substance that is thicker than paint but thinner than a straight drywall compound. Texture applied to walls and ceilings creates small shadows due to the bumps and depressions.

While these shadows tend to disappear in direct light, they lengthen as the light source moves at a sharper angle to the wall. This darkens the overall shade of the surface, thus slightly darkening the wall.

This darkening effect does a superb job of hiding surface imperfections. If your drywall has visible seams, bulges, depressions, or other imperfections, wall texture can go a long way toward hiding them. This is one reason why ceilings are so often texturized: Because ceilings receive the most light, it is very hard to hide their imperfections. 

Texturing a Wall With Texture Machine vs Roller

Professional painters create wall and ceiling textures with an electric texture sprayer. These tools allow the user to pour texturing compound into a hopper, and the machine introduces water and air to the mix. The hopper is a better choice if you are texturing a large area.

At between one to three gallons per minute, the machine sprays texture onto the surfaces. The sprayed texture goes on rapidly and dries quickly.

Do-it-yourselfers rarely have the benefit of using a $2,000+ electric texture sprayer. An ordinary paint roller fitted onto a roller cage is an effective, low-cost alternative.

Application is far slower than with the electric sprayer but it's easier to control, and can be a good option for smaller areas or repairs. Knock-down and orange peel effects can be achieved with the paint roller method, just like with the electric texturizer.


Watch Now: How to Texture a Wall With a Roller


Wall texture effects can vary depending on how the material is applied and rolled. Practice the technique on scraps of drywall or even sheets of cardboard before moving to your walls and ceilings. Practice with both thin coats and heavy coats. Try different drying times between coats.

Paint tools
The Spruce / Margot Cavin

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Drop cloths
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Drywall knife
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Drill and paint mixer attachment
  • Paint roller and cover
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint tray


  • Painter's tape
  • Drywall compound
  • Flat paint or drywall primer
  • Paint


By its very nature, texturing a wall with a roller is a messy operation that results in wet texture material flying in all directions. When stippling a ceiling, even the most careful painter will need to cover the floors and adjoining wall surfaces, including door and window trim. Use drop cloths for the floor and plastic sheeting for vertical surfaces, hanging it with painter's tape.

  1. Patch Surface

    Some fixing of wall and ceiling surfaces may be necessary before you can apply the stipple texture.

    Patch any holes or chips with either drywall compound (mud) or lightweight spackle. Use your drywall knife to force the compound into the hole and give it a quick swipe with the edge of the knife to smooth the compound across the surface. Do not spend too much time on this, as it will get covered with the texture material. It's usually not necessary to sand the surface—simply smoothing it with a drywall knife is fine.

    Patch holes before painting
    The Spruce / Margot Cavin
  2. Prime Surface

    Apply a coat of flat white latex wall paint or drywall primer. Let it dry. This pre-coat is essential because texture paint applied directly to the bare drywall will be absorbed into the wall surface, compromising your efforts.

    Prime surface
    The Spruce / Margot Cavin
  3. Mix Texture Compound

    Create your own inexpensive wall texture material by thinning out drywall compound with water in a 4:1 ratio. Use a 5-gallon bucket and a paint mixer attachment on your drill to mix the texture compound thoroughly. Blend the mixture until it has the consistency of thick latex paint. It should be smooth and easy to roll on.

    Alternatively, you can purchase premixed texture paint. Popular brands include Sheetrock Texolite and Behr Premium Plus Texture Paint. Stir the paint thoroughly, as directed by the manufacturer, to prepare it for application.

    Mix texture compound
    The Spruce / Margot Cavin
  4. Roll Out Wall Texture

    Texturing involves a two-part rolling process—an initial application, then a second rolling over the applied material once it has partially dried. Getting the timing correct is the trickiest part of the process.

    Fill a paint tray with the texture material or texture paint. Dip a paint roller into the paint tray, roll it out, and then apply the texture over the wall or ceiling surface. An ordinary roller cover will produce a texture, but there are also special roller covers available that are designed for stippling.

    Make sure to follow the product directions when using commercial texture paint as the manufacturer may recommend a single coat.

    Rolling out wall texture
    The Spruce / Margot Cavin


    In most cases, if you are having an issue with your wall texture, the cause is the proportion of water to the drywall compound. Too little water yields sticky, sharp-peaked textures. Too much water results in peaks that do not hold or even in water dripping down the wall.

  5. Reach Tight Areas With Brush

    Where the roller cannot reach—the corners and edges around woodwork—complete the texturing by applying the material with the flat face of a paint brush.

    Use flat edge of paintbrush for tight areas
    The Spruce / Margot Cavin
  6. Let Texture Dry

    Let the texture dry partially—about halfway to full dryness. Test for dryness by pressing your thumb into the surface and pulling it away. The result should be sharp spikes, almost like a meringue.

    Test texture surface for dryness
    The Spruce / Margot Cavin
  7. Texture Second Time

    When the applied texture material has reached the desired consistency, roll over the surface again. This will slightly pull up the partially dried material, creating the desired three-dimensional texture. In places where the roller cannot reach, you can use the flat face of a paint brush to pull up the material slightly from the surface.

    Roll over textured wall twice
    The Spruce / Margot Cavin
  8. Create Knock-Down Surface (Optional)

    As an option, before the surface is completely dry, you can knock down the surface by smoothing a drywall knife across the texture, with the tool held at a flat angle. This slightly flattens the peaks of the surface, creating a look much like textured plaster.

    Again, the texture substance needs to be the correct consistency for this to work. If it is too wet, the texture will smear; if it is too dry, it will not knock down.

    Use drywall knife to smooth out the textured surface
    The Spruce / Margot Cavin
  9. Paint Homemade Texture

    If you use a homemade mixture of drywall mud to create the texture, let the surfaces dry completely, then prime and paint them as desired.

    Paint homemade texture wall
    The Spruce / Margot Cavin


    Don't skip the primer. Drywall mud is chalky and sucks the moisture out of paint, leading to inconsistent results and wasted paint. Primer is relatively cheap and seals the surface for the finish coats of paint.

Tips For Texturing a Wall

  • Don't use a thick-nap roller cover as this picks up too much texturing compound, making it difficult to roll out.
  • Work fairly quickly since drywall compound that's spread out dries fast.
  • For texturing effects like knock-down, have an assistant follow you with the drywall knife as you roll out the texture.
  • For thick wall texture that's drying too slowly, increase heat in the room or turn a fan on low to encourage drying.

When to Call a Professional

If you need to cover large areas with wall texture, it is usually best to hire a painter or decorator to create texture with an air-compressor-powered electric texture sprayer. Orange peel, splatter, and knock-down effects are all possible with texture sprayers. Application is rapid, and drying time takes only a few hours.