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CommonCeiling Textures and Finishes

There are several styles of ceiling finishes to choose from. Check out the five most popular and the pros and cons of each.

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Four different kinds of ceiling textures | Construction Pro Tips

How to choose a ceiling finish

A lot of time is spent picking outtile,flooring, andpaint colors,but ceiling finishesrarely get the consideration they deserve. After all, the ceiling isone of thelargestcontinuoussurfacesina home.

There are several styles of ceiling finishes to choose from, and presented with all of them, ahomeownercan get overwhelmed trying todecide.Oneway to makechoosing a finish easier is tobuild mock-ups,sothere is a clearunderstanding of whatthefinal finish is going to look like.Trytoviewthemock-upsunder natural lighting anddifferenttemperatures of white and yellow lighting.Keep reading to learn about the five most popular ceiling finishes.

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A ceiling that has been skip troweled | Construction Pro TipsFamily Handyman

Skip troweling

A coatofall purposejointcompoundis applied with a trowel to the surface and smoothed out by dragging the trowel lightly. On the last pass, uneven pressure is applied with the trowel relatively flat to the surface. In effect, the trowel skips across the ceiling. look. After the ceiling has dried, it is then primed and painted.


  • Hides imperfections very well
  • Less skill required
  • Usually dont need to hang plastic
  • Easy toolcleanup


  • Overhead toweling
  • Needs to be painted
  • Takes longer
  • More skillrequired
  • Harder to blend and patch for repairs or during remodels

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A popcorn ceiling | Construction Pro Tips

Popcorn ceiling

Popcorn ceilings are not as popular as they were back in the late 1900s, but that doesnt mean they still arent beinginstalled. Popcornceiling textureis a mixture ofcompoundand Styrofoam balls. It is applied with a hopper andgunand thenleft alone, no tooling necessary. After application it can either be painted or left as is.


  • Easy andfast
  • Less skill required
  • Does not require paint
  • Reduces echos because the Styrofoam balls absorb sound
  • Easierto blend and patchfor repairsorduring remodels
  • Least expensive


  • Outdated look
  • Need tohang plasticto contain the mess
  • Gun and hopper cleanup

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A knockdown ceiling | Construction Pro Tips


Knockdownceiling spraytextureis appliedwith a gun and hopper. Aftertheceiling compoundhasskinnedover (not tacky to the touch),it isknockeddown, which means flattening it with aspecialtysqueegeethat looks like a large (two feet or more) taping knife.After thetexturehasdried it isprimed and painted.


  • Looks great
  • Hides imperfections well
  • Less skillrequired


  • Need to hang plastic to contain the mess
  • Needstobepainted
  • Two-stepprocess:spray then knock down
  • Not easy to blendfor repairs or during remodel
  • Gun and hopper cleanup
  • More expensive

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A ceiling with a smooth finish | Construction Pro Tips


Even though this is one of the most time consuming and most expensive finishes, it isstillbecoming one of the most popular.Smooth ceilings are just that: smooth.They are finished just like the walls, with several coats of mud that get sanded and then painted.Framing imperfections and natural daylightshining across the surfacemakesaccomplishinga smooth ceilinga challenge.


  • Only need to prime and paint
  • Gets finished with the walls, no extra steps
  • Looks great when finished


  • Ceiling needs to be perfect
  • Requires skilled drywall installer and taper
  • Light shines across and will show any little imperfection
  • Paint can look uneven at intersection of walls and ceiling
  • Not easy to blend for repairs or during remodel
  • No sound reduction qualities
  • Most expensive

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An orange peel textured ceiling | Construction Pro Tips

Orange peel

This texture is consistent with the look of the inside of an actual orange peel, hence the name.Orange peeltextureisachieved by spraying aceiling spray texturewith a hopperand gun, and thats it. It does not need to be flattened like knockdown.Once its dry, it gets primed and painted.


  • Hides imperfectionswell
  • Easier to blend and patch for repairs or during remodels
  • Lessexpensive


  • Need to hang plastic to contain the mess
  • Needs to be painted
  • Gun and hopper cleanup

Check out this story for moredrywall finishing tips.