An Easy Textured Ceiling
Not just a cover-up for lousy drywall work, this approach creates the appearance of hand-troweled plaster using ordinary joint compound.
Here in California, you don’t see many smooth ceilings, and that’s okay with me. In my experience, no matter how carefully the ceiling is finished, today’s lighting can make even the slightest flaw painfully obvious. I guess that’s why sprayed-on “popcorn” texture is so common. Although I have no problem with popcorn in new construction, the older houses I work on deserve a more traditional texture. I’m not a skilled plasterer, but a few years ago — after a bit of trial and error — I came up with a way to create this effect using ready-mix joint compound. Whereas sprayed-on textures require dedicated equipment and experience, all I need is a rolling scaffold and modest facility with ordinary drywall tools.
One section at a time
If I’m working with new drywall, all I need to do is tape and mud the seams with a first coat; then I’m ready to go. I prepare existing drywall or plaster the same as I would for a paint job. Texturing a ceiling is a messy process, so before I start slinging mud, I wrap the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling with masking tape. Then I cover the floors with heavy drop cloths.
Unless I’m doing a very small room, I always apply this texture in sections. To make sure the finished ceiling doesn’t look like a checkerboard, I lay out each section as a radius rather than a square.
Starting from an inside corner, I draw a large arc freehand on the ceiling. Using an 8-in. drywall knife, I slap on joint compound, about 1/8 in. thick, throughout the area within the arc. An irregular pattern is the key to this texture’s appeal, so I smear the mud with haphazard strokes…