How to Texture a Ceiling

To texture a ceiling in your home, you will need to use paint and drywall mud to achieve the look you want.
Written by Payton Ternus
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
If you’re looking to add some flair to your living space, texturing a ceiling is a great way to add dimension. To texture a ceiling, you’ll need to prepare, prime, and paint your ceiling and choose what kind of texture finish you want.
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What is ceiling texture?

Slapping on a coat of paint is probably the easiest way to finish off a ceiling and call it a day. If you want your room to really stand out, though, ceiling texture can be a great addition. 
You can add texture to a ceiling by applying a mixture of paint and drywall mud. There are different styles of texture to choose from depending on the look you want—these include subtle, popcorn, stucco, and artistic. 

How to texture a ceiling

If you decide you want to texture a ceiling in your home, you’ll need to follow a few steps to get it right. 

Materials needed

First, you’ll need to gather the appropriate materials and tools listed below. You may not need everything listed, as some of these only apply to certain textures.
  • Drop cloths
  • Painter’s tape
  • Primer and paint
  • Paintbrushes, rollers, and trays
  • Sponge
  • Trowel
  • Drywall texturing combs
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Ladder
  • Pre-mixed textured paint or drywall mud
  • Wide compound knife
  • Drywall texture sprayer

Prepare the room

Before you pop open your drywall mud and paint, you’ll need to do some prep work. You’ll be working against gravity while you texture your ceiling, so paint or drywall may try to drip. Getting the room ready will prevent you from accidentally making a mess.
First, empty the room as much as possible. Remove decor, movable furniture, and fixtures to protect them and give yourself more room to work. 
Cover the floor and any furniture that cannot be moved out of the room with drop cloths to avoid paint or drywall splatters.
Then, remove any ceiling fans, vent covers, light fixtures, and faceplates from the room. 
Finally, use painter’s tape to section off the ceiling right where it meets the wall, keeping the tape line as straight as possible.

Prime time

Once your room is cleared out and protected by drop cloths, it’s time to start priming the ceiling. It may seem odd to use primer on the ceiling since texture paint is part drywall, but don’t skip his step. Priming the ceiling will allow the paint to glide on easily and last longer.
It’s recommended to choose a primer color close to the color of texture paint you’ll be using. 
When you begin applying primer, paint on an even, thin layer and let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Mix it up

After your primer is completely dry, it’s time to get your texture paint ready. The kind of paint you’ll use will depend on what texture style you want on your ceiling. 
If you want a subtle design, you will probably get the best results with pre-mixed texture paint
If you want more depth or a more detailed look, you will want to make your own mixture of paint and drywall mud.
If you are creating your own paint mixture, start with a small batch to practice. The mixture should generally be one part drywall mud to ten parts paint
Pour your chosen paint into a large bucket, add your drywall mud, and blend it until you get a consistency similar to pancake batter.

Time to paint

Time to start painting! You’ll want to start on the part of the ceiling that is the least noticeable, like an edge close to a door or a darker corner. 
Set up your ladder there, give yourself enough room to work, and make sure you can work at a comfortable angle. The painting technique you’ll use will depend on the style and effect you want.

For a subtle finish

For this style, you’ll get the best results using pre-mixed texture paint. Apply it to the ceiling like any normal paint, and use a paintbrush to cut in at the edges. Switch to a paint roller and get as close to the ceiling’s edges as possible. 
This is a great option for beginners because if you don’t like the end result, it’s easy to apply another coat and start over.

For a popcorn finish

If you want a retro feel to your home, popcorn texture is a good way to go. You will need to use a drywall texture sprayer and protect the surrounding area with plastic sheeting. 
Choose the right nozzle for the effect you want, and follow the sprayer’s instructions as you move it along your ceiling. Go for a random (not uniform) pattern.

For a stucco finish

For a stucco look, you will need a damp sponge or cloth, a wide compound knife, and possibly a trowel if you are working with thicker drywall paint.
Apply your paint mixture to the ceiling in small sections, then dab the sponge or cloth in a repetitive motion to achieve your desired texture.

For an artistic finish 

Adding a Victorian-style rose medallion around a ceiling fan or light fixture is a more advanced texture effect. 
You’ll need to apply thick strips of drywall mud to the ceiling in concentric circles using texturing combs. Once the drywall mud is dry, you can paint over it.

Can I paint over a textured ceiling?

You’ll be able to
paint a textured ceiling
in whatever color you want once the texture is completely dry. 
Once the ceiling is dry, check for any ridges or spots you may have missed during the application. Then, sand down the ceiling and apply paint primer. 
You can start painting once the primer is dry. Experts recommend using an eggshell or satin finish to emphasize the texture you created.

Why texture a ceiling?

Adding texture to a ceiling adds a personal touch and more character to a room. Different textures are used for different styles and can help achieve cohesion within a space. 
Ceiling texture can also hide any imperfections in your ceiling, like water damage or cracks!
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You can texture a ceiling in your home to level up your decor and add visual depth. It’s also good for hiding any cracks or damage to your ceiling.
Your project costs will depend on what kind of ceiling texture and style you want for your home. It may cost anywhere from $50 to a few hundred dollars.
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