7 Types of Wall Texture that Can Dress up Any Wall

Add visual interest or mask imperfections with these 7 types of wall texture.

Textured walls are a great way to add depth and interest to your home without breaking the bank. As well as injecting a unique sense of style into a space, the extra layer of texture works as a clever disguise for imperfections in a drywall finish. But while there's plenty to appreciate about different wall textures, it is just as important to recognize their downfalls. Namely, they are hard to clean, paint, restore, and remove, should you regret the decision later on. Textured wall decor may not appeal to everyone, so bear this in mind if you are preparing the house to sell or rent.

There are several types of wall textures, each with its own features that influence the look and feel of a space. Read on to learn about the basics of seven common types of wall texture.

loft bedroom with textured walls
Tria Giovan

7 Common Types of Wall Texture

Comb Texture

Add a sense of movement with comb texture. Created using a toothed trowel on a wet drywall compound, the design can be personalized depending on how you comb the walls. The most common design is the rainbow-like arc, repeatedin a series along the wall, though you could also experiment with swirls, waves, stripes, or zigzags. Comb wall texture creates a highly personalized and stylized look and is a great option for a feature wall. Plus, the design is usually simple enough to be able to fix if you make a mistake or if it needs repairing. You can make the texture even more noticeable by painting the wall a bright color.

Popcorn Texture

A technique popular in the 1970s, popcorn texture is often considered out-of-date by today's standards. Also known as acoustic ceiling, the texture was originally reserved for use on the ceiling, as it has sound-dampening properties that make it a functional decorative detail for a studio or workshop. The rough texture is made up of a mix of drywall compound and small polystyrene chips that expand when mixed with water, creating the popcorn-like effect to which it owes its name. The mixture can be bought at the store and it is applied with a compressor and texture sprayer, so it makes a straightforward DIY project. However, this type of wall texture can present a time-consuming challenge to paint, and over time, it tends to accumulate dirt in between the lumps. Cleaning is an equally arduous task, as it's easy to break off bits of the texture in the process and it is a difficult texture to repair. Tone down this wall texture with a lick of matte finish flat paint.

Orange Peel Texture

Orange peel is a classic wall texture that is distinguished by its smooth, dimpled look, similar to the fruit rind that inspired its name. It is a common choice among homeowners, as it is affordable and easy to apply. The subtle effect is created with two coats of drywall mud. The first layer is applied, left to dry, and then sanded down. Then, the second coat is applied with a compressor and sprayer and rolled over with a thick nap roller to create a gentle bumpy effect. This is a great choice for a light, understated wall texture, as it can only be detected close up, and it is just as successful as heavier textures at disguising blemishes. While the effect is generally easy to maintain, it can be a challenge to clean thoroughly between the tiny gaps, so it is best avoided in the kitchen or bathroom.

Knockdown Texture

A casual, rustic texture, knockdown can typically be found adorning the walls of Mediterranean-style properties. It is often likened to a stucco finish, thanks to its flattened effect. The application follows a similar method to the orange peel texture but with an additional step. After applying the roller, a wide trowel is used to knock down the bumps, resulting in a smooth surface. Despite it having a flattened finish, the layered effect is voluminous and adds great dimension and style to a contemporary space. The spongey wall texture is a trendy way to add warmth, depth, and character to a living room setup.

Sand Swirl Texture

Incorporate the gentle movement of the waves into a bedroom or bathroom with a sand swirl wall texture. Made using perlite primer and sand, the mix is applied to the wall and manipulated using a thick bristled brush to create the mesmerizing swirl pattern. Go for orderly rows of half fans or a loose, freestyle series of interlocking C shapes or arches. Though similar in style to arched comb textured walls, the sand swirl wall texture has a softer and more subtle finish that is easy to maintain and restore. Satin paint will show off the curved shapes and it is a good option for bathrooms and kitchens, as it resists damage from moisture and heavy use.

Slap Brush Texture

Also referred to as stomp brush, crow's foot, and stipple ceiling, slap brush texture refers to a series of irregular sunburst-shaped imprints created by the brush's long, fanned-out bristles. Once the wet drywall compound has been applied to the wall with a roller, have some fun with a thick slap brush and slap more mud onto the wall in a random succession. Create an interesting effect by overlapping slap patterns and varying the mud thickness, brush size and shape, and the 'slapping' technique. The splattered pattern adds an effortless sense of energy and dynamism, making it ideal for spaces used for entertaining.

Skip Trowel Texture

Skip trowel wall texture has a distressed and uneven finish suited to a rustic and rural decor. The finish is created by applying drywall mud with a curved-blade drywall trowel and 'skipping' it across the surface. Though the effect is similar in appearance to a knockdown texture, the skip trowel is more spaced out. By varying the ratio of rough to smooth areas, you can establish different looks and feels in a space. For example, a texture with a predominantly smooth surface will evoke a sense of calm, whereas a high ratio of rough texture can inject movement and vigor into a room.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are textured walls outdated?

    While certain types of wall texture are considered outdated, it would be unfair to call all textured walls out of step with modern trends. Like many things with interior design, textured walls are what you make of them, and they can certainly take on a more modern spin when paired with of-the-moment decor.

  • Which kind of wall texture is most modern?

    Plaster walls—or the effect of them—are a very popular textural option these days for home owners looking to add an old-world patina to their design scheme. It lends a chalky, imperfect finish to the wall surface that will subtly reflect light and add gentle movement.

  • Do textured walls decrease home value?

    Textured walls are a very personal—and polarizing—choice among home owners, which make them something that can decrease the value of your home, depending on the buyer. Typically though, the impact textured walls have on your home's value are seen on a case-by-case basis.

  • Why do builders use textured walls?

    At their core, textured walls are often used to disguise imperfections or faults in the building process, such as seams in drywall or uneven walls. Builders may turn to textured walls to do just that or to add visual interest to a builder-grade home.

  • Why are textured walls less expensive than smooth walls?

    Smooth walls—that is, those with zero visible imperfections in the finish or drywall—are more expensive than textured walls because they take more time and finesse to achieve correctly. Not every subcontractor can achieve the desired look, and those that can may be more expensive to hire.

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