Choosing the Right Ceiling Textures for Your Rooms

Done right, texture can add another dimension to your ceilings. Ceiling textures can be formal or casual and can feature large patterns or small, detailed designs.

To create ceiling textures, joint compound or drywall "mud" is applied to the ceiling. This material can vary in consistency from the thickness of heavy cream to that of peanut butter. Ceiling texture material can be applied by hand or by specially designed spray guns. Texture can be added to the ceiling material with trowels, drywall knives, combs, brooms, sponges - even your fingers!

Types Of Textured Ceilings
The tools and techniques for creating textured ceilings have created an infinite number of styles. Fortunately, these styles can be grouped into a small number of types:

  • Knock Down - To achieve this look, texture material is applied randomly with a spray gun and then the peaks of the material are "knocked down" with a clean trowel. This type of finish can be quite complex when several coats are applied.
  • Combed - Using a special trowel with regularly spaced, triangular notches, a swirling pattern is applied on a smooth layer of texturing material. This look can be very formal when concentric rings are applied around a central light fixture.
  • Roller - Applied like paint, a rolled finish uses a long-nap paint roller to achieve a heavily textured look. The longer the roller nap, the rougher the finish.
  • Spray On - A special spray gun is used to apply this finish. The look of a sprayed on finish can vary widely, depending on the thickness of the texturing material, the size of the spray orifice, the amount of air pressure and the use of additives such as sand or polystyrene.
  • Trowel On - To achieve a plaster-like look, texturing material is applied using a standard trowel. Trowel on finishes can vary depending on the consistency of the texturing material.

Textured Ceiling Design Tips

  • Keep a sense of scale. Textures can be used to break up large areas, but avoid using them in small rooms where the look can become too busy and chaotic.
  • Dark can be cozy, or depressing. Rough textures absorb more light than smooth textures Avoid rough textures in low-light areas like basements or north-facing rooms.
  • Too rough? Rough textures can create a rustic look, but will trap dust and generally be harder to clean.
  • Smooth can be cool. Smooth ceilings are still very popular. It's a classic look, but sometimes a smooth ceiling can be hard to achieve if there are flaws or damaged portions of the ceiling.
  • A day at the beach. Sand can be a nice way to enhance your texture. Look for sharp, white coarse sand available at masonry/building supply centers. Grain size is measured by "mesh"; for ceiling texture, you'll want 30 or 70 mesh sand.
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