How do I Texture a Ceiling?

Susan Grindstaff

Most textured ceilings are coated in a material called spackle, and the two most commonly used application methods to texture a ceiling are hand application and using a tool called a texture sprayer. A texture sprayer is a type of blowgun that sprays the texture material directly onto the ceiling. Using a sprayer is usually a less labor-intensive way to texture a ceiling. Adding texture by hand requires the use of a spreading tool, such as a trowel. Texture sprayers typically require the use of an air compressor, and both of these tools can usually be rented from home improvement centers or companies that specialize in tool and equipment rental.

A trowel may be used to add texture to walls or ceilings.
A trowel may be used to add texture to walls or ceilings.

Before attempting to texture a ceiling, you need to be sure the surface of the drywall is clean and primed. Primer is usually applied just like paint and has about the same drying time. Applying spackle to raw drywall may cause the color to mottle when it dries. You should also be sure there are no loose pieces of drywall tape, because the weight of the spackle may cause it to further loosen and fall from the ceiling.

Ceilings are often stippled to create the appearance of texture with the paint.
Ceilings are often stippled to create the appearance of texture with the paint.

Spackle can usually be bought ready mixed, but you may be able to save some money by mixing it yourself. It is a dry powdery substance and you add water until you achieve the desired thickness. Ideally, mixed spackle should be about the consistency of soft mud. Once mixed, you can add foam beads or glitter if desired. Adding foam beads will allow you to create a bubbled texture, which is a good way to cover drywall flaws.

Trowels are often used to plaster ceilings.
Trowels are often used to plaster ceilings.

Using a texture sprayer saves time and usually achieves a more even finish. The sprayers come with a tank that holds the spackle. Once filled, you attach the sprayer to an air compressor and simply pull the trigger to dispense the material. You will need to experiment with distance and thickness until you get the look you want.

To texture a ceiling by hand, you will need to use a trowel for your initial application. After you slather on the spackle, you will need to go back over it and create the type of design you want. You can do this in a variety of ways, depending on the look you want. Using a sponge gives a rough stucco look, or you can create horizontal or vertical patterns using a wide brush or comb. It is usually important to work with one small area at a time, because if the spackle begins to dry it makes it more difficult to work with.

Texture paint is made to hold textured designs such as stippling, even after dry.
Texture paint is made to hold textured designs such as stippling, even after dry.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


I had no idea how to texture a ceiling, but I wanted to get that bumpy look that my parents' old house had, so I visited a home improvement store for some advice. They told me that I would need to use a sprayer.

They also said that I would need to wear goggles and cover my hair, because some spackle would inevitably fall on me. So, I bought some disposable protective clothing.

They also told me to apply several light coats of the stuff. They said that if I sprayed on too much of it at once, it would drip off.

I followed their advice, and I ended up with a good looking textured ceiling. I'm glad I didn't just dive into it without asking the experts first.


When my cousin moved into her new house, she couldn't afford to rent the equipment to spray on a textured ceiling, so she just used a plaster trowel instead. She got one with rows of teeth so that she could create an interesting texture.

Some people prefer to use a flat trowel to smooth out the spackle, but my cousin wanted a ceiling that wasn't typical. She used the trowel to create wavy designs extending from the lower right corner of the ceiling diagonally to the upper left corner.

She knew that it wouldn't all be uniform, since she was doing it by hand, so she purposely altered the height and length of the waves. This resulted in a ceiling like no other that is very mesmerizing.


@kylee07drg – I have seen a lot of textured ceiling finishes, but I've never seen a seashell spackled one. That would be very visually appealing.

The only issue I can think of would be the amount of time it would take. You would have to press each tiny seashell into the spackle once you applied it, because if you stirred it into the spackle, the white stuff would cover the shells, and you wouldn't be able to see their patterns and colors.

If you have the patience for it or a bunch of people to help you, then you should go for it. If it weren't so time consuming, I might try it out myself.


Has anyone here ever added small seashells to spackle to make a textured ceiling? I have a large bucket of thousands of tiny seashells that I have gathered over the years while on vacation, and I would love to cover my ceiling with them.

They are extremely lightweight, so I don't think that gravity would cause any issues. They weigh only slightly more than foam beads.

I think they would make a really unique and awesome textured ceiling. However, I wanted to see if anyone knows of any issues that using seashells might cause before I began.

Post your comments
Forgot password?