3 Spray Textures for Walls and Ceilings

Close-up of a textured wall

For many homeowners, smooth wall and ceiling surfaces often seem to be the default choice. Rarely will anyone drop a well-done smooth wall or ceiling surface in favor of a textured surface. Though attractive, smooth surfaces are difficult to get right. Any imperfections that you happen to make when finishing the drywall become glaringly obvious. This is where wall and ceiling texture comes in.

Wall and ceiling texture covers up minor imperfections. It even does a good job of reducing the visual impact of major errors. For do-it-yourselfers who find themselves challenged by the art of finishing drywall, texture can be a lifesaver. Spray texture—in the form of handheld spray cans—is a quick, easy way to apply texture.

What Wall and Ceiling Texture Is

Wall and ceiling texture is applied with cans, sprayers, or paint rollers to give the surfaces a bumpy or pitted appearance. A silica powder, texture is mixed with water to create a mix that's frothed up by the introduction of air in the spraying process.

In some applications, the texture is used as an inexpensive and easy way of covering up seams and other features in drywall that are difficult to finish—a way of accelerating the process of finishing drywall.

In other applications, texture is a conscious design choice that gives walls and ceilings a stucco look, like ancient or weathered surfaces found on exterior surfaces. It's a complex, nuanced look that catches the eye.

How to Apply Wall and Ceiling Texture

Texture is applied to walls and ceilings with sprayers, rollers, or with cans.

  • Sprayers: On the large scale, ceiling and wall texture product is applied by painting or drywall professionals using special spray equipment. Dry or pre-mixed spray texture is fed into the equipment's hopper, mixed with air, and sprayed onto the surfaces. Do-it-yourselfers can rent texture sprayers for $100 to $150 per day.
  • Rollers: Inexpensive wall texture product can be made by thinning drywall compound with water in a 4:1 ratio rather than the usual 2:1 ratio. The product is then rolled onto the surfaces, and the action of the roller pulling up the texture creates the bumps.
  • Spray Cans: Spray can texture contains both the texture and the water in the can at the correct ratio. Spray texture is not recommended for large areas. Most cans cover 75 to 125 square feet. Spray texture cans work well for small patches. If you have patched a drywall or plaster surface and need to blend the area with the surrounding texture, a can of spray texture works well. Be sure to choose the right type of texture for the surface.


Practice your skills on pieces of scrap cardboard before attempting to apply spray texture to walls or ceilings. While this does use up a small amount of the texture material, it is well worth the cost in order to achieve the look you're after.

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    Orange Peel (Homax Orange Peel, Pro Grade 25 Oz.)

    Orange peel wall texture


    Orange peel is a popular spray-on texture because it hides imperfections but is not as dramatic as popcorn or knockdown textures.

    Relatively foolproof, orange peel texture does not require any trowel work. Just spray it on, let it dry, then prime and paint. To use:

    1. Hold the can far away from the wall—the 24 inches specified on the can is the minimum. Shoot the wall in short bursts, not with a continuous spray.
    2. The lever controlling the fineness of the spray can be tricky; test it in many different positions to achieve the desired look.
    3. Make sure to warm up the can before using it. Cold texture will spray out in large globs.

    Homax Orange Peel texture finish creates a surface with a mixture of large and small raised ovals and circles. Soft to the touch, orange peel is the one texturizer that works equally well for both ceilings and walls. Homax Orange Peel covers 125 square feet. That's about 15 linear feet of wall.

  • 02 of 03

    Knockdown (Homax Professional Grade, 25 Oz.)

    Knockdown wall texture


    Knockdown texture is sometimes called California texture due to the thousands, if not millions, of California houses and apartments that have this treatment.

    Creating a knockdown texture is a two-step process. First, spray the textured product onto the surface and let it dry for a few minutes. Then, use a drywall knife or trowel to knock down or flatten the texture.

    As with all spray textures, it pays to practice on cardboard or scrap drywall: even more so with knockdown textures since they require troweling. Make sure the trowel is perfectly clean and free of rust before using, as contaminants will smear into the texture.

    Homax Pro Grade Knockdown texture creates flat, wide splotches of texture. This provides a deeper texture than orange peel—it can be lightly touched without damage. Knockdown texture creates a look similar to that of stucco but is somewhat smoother.

    Best for walls, this product covers about 75 square feet. That translates to about 9 linear feet of wall.

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    Popcorn (Homax Pro Grade Popcorn Texture, 14 Oz.)

    Popcorn ceiling


    TriggerPhoto / Getty Images

    Popcorn, also known as cottage cheese or acoustic texture, is the best ceiling texture for sound dampening.

    Although it's not a true soundproofing product (soundproofing slows the transmission of sound from room to room), popcorn texture does an adequate job of softening sound within the room.

    Popcorn texture creates high peaks and low valleys—this is the deepest and highest texture of all and also the most delicate. Popcorn texture can look like cottage cheese when heavily applied. 

    Best for ceilings, this product covers about 80 square feet per can.