Buying Guide

How to Texture Walls

Types of Wall Texture Paint
A person sponging texture onto a beige wall.

The first consideration in learning how to texture walls is the paint you’ll use. Texture grades range from very fine to coarse. While many texture paints can be used on both walls and ceilings, some are designed specifically for one or the other.

  • Smooth texture paint is slightly lighter and offers a subtle effect.
  • Sand texture paint features an extra-heavy bodied finish that can be used to add a gritty texture to both walls and ceilings.
  • Knockdown texture is tough and durable and can be painted over with virtually any color.
  • Popcorn texture is very heavy and effectively deadens sound. It’s often found on ceilings.
Creating Faux Finishes
A close-up of a texture on a white wall.

Add texture to your wall manually to create a one-of-a-kind look with a faux finish. Start by applying a base coat of paint, then add one or more accent colors with the use of a sponge, paper, comb or other object. Latex- and alkyd-based paint and glazes can be used for applying accent paint colors

Try any of these common techniques for your faux finish application:

Combing: Use a comb to create patterns such as zigzags, checkerboards, wavy lines or swirls in wet paint.

Rag rolling: After the base coat is applied, dip a rag into your accent paint, wring out the excess, wad into a ball and roll it along the wall.

  • Try different rag materials such as cheesecloth, lace, linen or burlap for different looks.
  • You can change directions as you roll to create a random pattern, or go over areas multiple times for deeper impact.
  • This technique can be done with regular or textured paint.

: Apply a glaze to a wall then place a plastic sheet against the wall before it dries. Remove the sheet to create a marbled pattern.

  • Smooth, rub or wrinkle the plastic with your hand before removing from the wall to create different patterns.

Sponging: Soak sponges in paint then dab or twist onto walls to create random, textured patterns.

  • Sea sponges create irregular, more natural patterns while synthetic sponges create uniform, rectangular patterns.
  • This technique can be done with regular or textured paint.
  • Cut a sponge into narrow strips to paint in corners.
Application Tips and Tools
A person using a paint sprayer to apply wall paint texture.

Existing texture must be stripped prior to applying new texture. It is recommended that you practice your techniques on a board or the wall of a seldom-used closet.

Safety: If you have a popcorn ceiling that was sprayed on many years ago, you may need to have it tested for asbestos prior to removing it.


  • Smooth texture paint has a heavy-bodied finish and can be used on walls and ceilings.
  • Powdered texture is best for heavy-duty texturing jobs.
  • Texture additives may be mixed into most oil-based and latex paints.
  • Spray texture paint is economical and makes applying texture to ceilings much easier.
  • Touch up spray is available for repairing acoustic or popcorn ceilings.
  • Use joint compound and a knockdown knife to create knockdown ceiling texture. 

Spray gun: If you decide to apply a wall texture spray, rent a spray gun. This will make it easy to cover large sections of walls or ceilings quickly, helping you obtain high-quality results efficiently.

Stencil roller: To apply patterns over large spaces, use a stencil roller, which can be dipped in paint and then rolled across the wall.

Wood graining: This process gives walls the look of wood. After a base coat of glaze is applied, use a wood graining tool to complete the process.

Grab your brushes, paint rollers, paint roller covers and dip into this interesting DIY paint project. When determining how much paint you need, don't guesstimate, calculate. Know exactly how much you need with our project calculators
Once you’ve mastered how to texture walls, you can apply the techniques and try out wall texture ideas anywhere in your home you want to create some decorative interest.