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Drywall Texturing Styles

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Remodeling can be a tiresome process. Measuring and hanging drywall. Taping and mudding the drywall. It takes time and patience and it isn’t always the most fun of projects. But it gets a little more exciting when you start talking texturing. Sound crazy? It’s not! Texturing drywall is the first step in adding a little design and personality to your space. From skip trowel to popcorn, orange peel to swirl, each texture design alters the look and feel of your walls.

We all know what popcorn or an orange peel look like, but what exactly is a skip trowel? We’ve broken down a few of the most popular drywall textures to give you a better idea of the texture styles out there. The first thing you need to know is there are two different methods of applying texture – hand applying and sprayer applying. Hand applying can take a little more time but offers a lot of wiggle room in creating a truly interesting texture. Sprayer applying is speedy and easy but limits the creativity in your texture design. We’ve provided examples of each to give you a better idea.

Hand Applied Textures

Skip Trowel

The term skip trowel has become somewhat of an umbrella term for hand applied textures. True skip trowel is identifiable by its circular negative space created by skipping the texturing knife along the wall’s surface. Hand applied textures, specifically skip trowel have been growing in popularity recently due to the craft and artistry that goes into this texturing.

To achieve this look, you’ll need to purchase a special application knife 18” in length with a specific curvature to it. This knife can be tricky to find and may require some research. Using the knife to apply the texture compound, spread it out forming a thin layer initially, then go back over using a swift hand to skip the knife along the surface, creating the circular pattern. It may take a little practice!


Predominantly used on ceilings, swirl texture is a really basic and easy-to-do pattern with a lot of personality. It looks like several layered hand fans and is common throughout the midwest and eastern United States.

To achieve this look, load your putty knife with mud compound and spread it evenly over your drywall. Once you’ve created a thing to moderate covering of texture, use your knife to create a sweeping circular pattern. Start at an edge or corner. Plant one edge of your knife, gently, and sweep the length of the knife in a circular motion (much like using a compass in math). You don’t want to make full circles to avoid overlap, rather 2/3rds of a circle.

Sprayer Applied Textures

Splatter Knockdown

This texture style is a lot like it sounds. You simply splatter the texture compound on the wall and once it’s dried, you knockdown the points.

To achieve this look, you’ll need to use a drywall texture sprayer with a medium sized nozzle. Texture sprayers use compressed air through a handheld application gun to spray or splatter the compound which creates a very globular, random pattern. Once the applied compound has dried, you gently but firmly run a putty knife over the texture knocking down any points or sharp tips that may have formed during the spraying process. Doing this gives the wall a flat but textured look.

Splatter knockdown is most popular in the southern United States, but has recently grown in popularity in the Midwest. You’re likely to see it in everything from hotels to residential housing. It’s a classic.

Orange Peel

Incredibly similar to the splatter knockdown, orange peel gives walls a classic look. As you may have guessed, this style gets its name from its textural resemblance to the peel of an orange.

To achieve this look, use a texture sprayer. Again the impact of air compression will apply the mud compound in a splatter pattern. To get a true orange peel look, you’ll want to use the small nozzle setting on the texture sprayer gun. It will ensure your texture will apply in small, more condensed droplets. Once the texture is applied, you’re done. No need to knockdown this texture; it’s intended to be fuller.


This texture style was hugely popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s due to its sound proofing qualities. Today we still see it a lot on ceilings, but the unique texture (bumpy and rigid like popcorn) has become something most people try to avoid and even remove from their homes. For this reason, we don’t recommend using a popcorn texture in your house unless you absolutely love it and you aren’t planning on moving anytime soon.

To achieve this look, Styrofoam is added to the mud compound. Using a drywall texture sprayer with a large nozzle, the mix is spattered on the wall creating large bubbly globs similar to popcorn. It’s worth noting, popcorn texture can’t be effectively painted with a paint roller or brush. This texture requires an airless paint sprayer, like the Paint Sprayer ASM Airless.

Of course there are a number of additional drywall texturing techniques, but these basics should give you a general idea. Many of these styles require the use of a power sprayer – not a household item everyone has just lying around. If you’re ready to texture and in need of a drywall texture sprayer, check out the Texture Machine Zip Tex at Time Equipment. It’s easy to use, lightweight, allows for a spray range of up to 4 feet and holds 5x more compound than the average texture sprayer. Contact us for more information or head to 311 N. Campbell in Rapid City to get started today!

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