12 Different Types of Drywall Textures and How to ID Them

Amy Pawlukiewicz
Written by Amy Pawlukiewicz
Updated February 16, 2022
A bright living room with a white drywall
Photo: KatarzynaBialasiewicz / iStock / Getty Images

Popcorn makes a great snack, but did you know it’s also a wall design?

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Texturing your drywall can add a personal, unique touch to any room. Different tools are used to create different types of textures, and there’s a wide variety of techniques to choose from. Here are the different drywall types and textures—and the methods you can use to design them.

1. Smooth

Smooth drywall has a classic look that is done by applying a thin layer of drywall mud to the entire wall, smoothing it with a knife as you go. This technique is friendly to paint and wallpaper because you’re starting with a smooth finish, but is difficult to get right since it requires a completely even coat of drywall.

2. Popcorn

Named for its distinctive look, popcorn textured drywall became popular in the 1960s and ’70s, and if you’ve been in homes that were built during this period, you’ve probably seen many popcorn ceilings. You can choose from large, medium, and small popcorn texture, and it has the added benefit of sound dampening properties. This drywall look is applied with a hopper gun, usually using a mix of stucco and Styrofoam.

3. Orange Peel

A vintage furniture with orange peel wall on the background
Photo: Svante Berg / EyeEm / EyeEm Premium / Getty Images

Another food-inspired technique, orange peel drywall can be done in either fine, medium, or heavy styles. The heavier the style, the larger the pattern appears in the drywall. Orange peel is a spatter texture that has a smoother look than popcorn, and it’s a good option if you want to increase the durability of your walls. It’s not the easiest look to achieve, so it may be best to call in a local drywall contractor for the job.

4. Machine Brocade

Machine brocade technique is commonly used in modern design, and looks kind of like a map. You spray the drywall from either a large hopper or a hand-held machine in random formations to add textural variety. This technique is popular because it’s easy to patch a drywall hole and then cover it with brocade, leaving any dings unnoticeable.

5. Comb

A professional applying plaster on a wall with a comb
Photo: German S / Adobe Stock

Combing is done with a toothed trowel, and looks like a surface that’s been gone over with a comb. The most popular technique for this look is to do a half-fan design, where you do a half circle with the trowel, stop, then repeat. However, aside from the combed texture, the design is customizable, so you can let your imagination dictate the look of your room.

6. Spray Sand

Spray sand texture is one of the easiest to do, as it just involves mixing sand with your water and primer, letting it rest overnight, then spraying it on the wall or ceiling with a spray gun. The texture looks like wet sand—kind of like the orange peel look, just a little rougher. It’s another of the more durable choices for your walls or ceiling.

7. Sand Swirl

This is another texture that uses sand, and is a mixture of the comb technique and the spray sand technique. Sand is mixed in with the primer and water, then applied using the combing technique. You can use a medium or thick bristled brush or a wallpaper brush, and is usually applied in swirling shapes.

8. Slap Brush

Slap brush technique is also referred to as stomp brush or crow’s feet. You basically roll a layer of drywall onto your surface, then take a slap brush (a brush with stiff bristles) and slap drywall onto the surface. This might be a messier technique, but you can overlap your slaps and the end result looks flower petals.

9. Lace

Lace, sometimes called Spanish Lace, gets its name from Spanish lace fans. It resembles a lace fan and is an intricate design, and homeowners like it because you can easily cover cracks and dings. To get this look, drywall mud is slapped on the wall, or applied with a roller or spray gun, then you take a knife and carve in a design while the wall is still wet.

10. Knockdown

The knockdown technique is actually a combination of spray, stomp, or brushing with a dragging technique. Once you’ve applied your drywall using one of the three methods, you take a tool like a wallpaper smoother or a putty knife and create random patterns. There are many different looks you can achieve with this technique, depending on the thickness of your drywall and the method you start with.

11. Rosebud

Rosebud is akin to the stomp brush technique and will achieve a similar look. However, when you’re applying the drywall, instead of slapping it onto the wall, you slap, then brush in a long stroke so you’re left with a design that looks like long flower petals. In this technique, you shouldn’t overlap as you’re applying the drywall. It’s one of the more difficult types of drywall application to do, but if you can master it, the look is beautiful.

12. Venetian

Venetian application is definitely the most difficult in the list, and it takes the longest to master. For the Venetian technique, you mix plaster and marble dust together, then apply it to your surface in multiple thin layers. Once everything is dry, you sand and buff the surface, and the wall looks like an Italian painting. This technique leaves the surface completely smooth but textured looking, which is why it’s more difficult to achieve.

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