3 Easy Spray-On Wall and Ceiling Textures

Close-up of a textured wall

Ceiling and wall textures are initially applied by professionals using special spray equipment. It's nearly impossible for amateurs to create the same effects by hand, but texture products in aerosol cans can come fairly close when applied to small areas. For example, if you've patched a drywall or plaster surface and need to blend the area with the surrounding texture, a can of spray texture can do the trick. You just have to choose the right type of texture for your surface. One of these three most common types should have you covered. 


Practice your skills on pieces of scrap cardboard before attempting to apply spray texture to walls or ceilings. You will use up a small amount of the texture material, but 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


    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.

    • Best used for: walls and ceilings
    • Coverage: 15 linear feet of wall (about 125 square feet) per can

    Application Notes

    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. Actual coverage maybe about two-thirds of the stated coverage on the can label.

    • 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. The lever controlling the fineness of the spray can be finicky; test it in many different positions to achieve the desired look.
    • Make sure to warm up the can before using; cold texture will spray out in large globs.
  • 02 of 03

    Knockdown (Homax Professional Grade, 25 Oz.)

    Knockdown wall 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 used for: walls
    • Coverage: 9 linear feet of wall (about 75 square feet) per can

    Application Notes

    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. Actual coverage maybe about half to two-thirds of the stated coverage on the can label. 

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

    Popcorn ceiling


    TriggerPhoto / Getty Images

    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 used for: ceilings
    • Coverage: about 80 square feet per can

    Application Notes

    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.

    Actual coverage per can maybe only about half of the stated coverage on the product label, especially when you are striving for heavy textures.