Different Types of Textured Walls

By Amanda Lutz Updated April 4, 2024

While furniture and decor can catch your eye in a room, walls are the backdrop of any interior. If you’re looking for a way to enhance the visual interest of a room, consider a change in texture instead of statement wallpaper or bold hues.

Wall textures provide multiple opportunities to change the ambiance of a room with depth and dimension. They can also be an affordable and attractive option for hiding architectural issues. No matter your reasons for decorating with wall textures, there are many options to choose from and a variety of do-it-yourself (DIY) methods that will enable you to achieve professional results. Our guide shares an overview of wall textures and the benefits of each.

Introduction to Wall Textures

Adding texture to a room or single wall can change the personality of a space and highlight interior decor items in a whole new way. Textured surfaces can evoke different emotions and be used to create a specific aesthetic. For example, some wall textures create a rustic appearance while others heighten the depth of colors.

Textured walls also have practical applications. Textures with depth can hide imperfections such as cracks and uneven surfaces. The materials used to create a textured wall can absorb sound, reducing noise travel from one room to the next.

When choosing the right wall texture, consider your goals and the results you hope to achieve. Some textures offer a subtle change, while others create unique patterns to add elegance or mimic natural materials. Before choosing the wall texture for your interior decor project, explore the most common wall texture types and how they’re most frequently used.

Comb Texture

If you’re looking for a modern look that’s fairly easy to achieve, comb texture could be a good option. Inspired by the Art Deco movement that flourished in the U.S. during the 1920s and ’30s, comb texture is often used in vintage-inspired rooms and to create accent walls in kitchens and bathrooms. It can be applied to an entire wall or used as an accent in specific areas.

The texture is created using drywall compound (drywall mud) and a toothed trowel to create rows of designs with texture. The most common design is a rainbow-like arc, repeated in a series. However, you can achieve an original and personalized look by experimenting with straight lines, swirls, or zigzags.

Popcorn Texture

Typically seen on ceilings, this texture was developed in the 1970s to hide imperfections and absorb sound between floors. As the name suggests, popcorn texture has a notably ridged and bumpy surface (like popcorn or cottage cheese) for a heavy texture. The appearance is achieved by mixing a drywall compound and polystyrene chips and applying it with a compressor and texture sprayer.

While this wall texture technique was once very popular, it’s often considered dated in modern homes. Yet, it can be ideal for noise-dampening properties, and it requires no painting or refinishing when applied. Its heavy texture also makes it ideal for covering obvious architectural mistakes. Before you commit to popcorn ceilings or walls, it’s important to understand the drawbacks of this texture:

Orange Peel Texture

If you’re seeking a more subtle look, turn to orange peel texture. Popular for its easy application and understated look, orange peel wall texture is created using thinned drywall compound, a spray gun, and a paint roller. You’ll spray small amounts of soupy drywall compound onto the wall without fully covering the primed wall beneath. Roll a roller over the still-wet surface to reach the desired texture before allowing it to dry. Once the walls are dry, you can paint them any color.

As the name implies, the final result is similar in appearance to the texture of an orange peel, with a uniform bumpy pattern. The light texture is less impactful and easier to clean than many wall textures, making it more suitable for larger spaces. It’s often used in bedrooms, living rooms, and play areas.

Knockdown Texture

With some similarities to orange peel and skip trowel textures, knockdown texture is ideal for adding subtle texture that isn’t overwhelming. Reminiscent of stucco, this method is used for a slightly rustic appearance that blends easily with various decor styles. It’s recognizable by its flattened peaks, which create a unique and varied surface. An extra step during application gives you a higher level of control of the depth of drywall texture.

To apply knockdown texture, begin with a thick drywall compound mixture to supply texture you can partially smooth out during the process. The mixture can be sprayed on or applied with a textured roller. Once you’ve created a textured wall, allow the mixture to dry for about 15 minutes before attempting to flatten the peaks. Gently smooth the highest peaks to achieve a subtle texture using a trowel or wide drywall knife. Make sure the compound is completely dry before flattening to ensure you don’t completely wipe away the texture. If you notice the edge of your trowel leaving marks, allow the walls to dry a few minutes more before trying again.

Since this method’s pattern is subtle and understated, it can be used in practically any contemporary space that will benefit from warmth and depth. Consider applying it in kitchens, dining rooms, and living rooms. Unlike most textured walls, its subtlety suits an entire room.

Sand Swirl Texture

This technique forms gentle swirls, similar to the fans in comb-textured walls, but using a brush for a softer texture. Sand swirl texture is created using primer and sand (a mixture you can buy at your local home improvement store) instead of drywall to produce a soft texture that adds character without overwhelming a room.

To get the look, dip your paintbrush a few inches into the compound, swipe it on the can’s edge to remove any excess, and make an arch at the top of the wall. Create similar swirls across a 5-foot section, then drop down and start the next row by making swirls that cover the bottom of the row above. Continue the process until the wall or room is complete.

Since sand swirl texture doesn’t require the use of drywall compound, it’s not affected by moisture and can be used in bathrooms or other areas where humidity is typically a concern. The softer finish means it can be used in large areas without overwhelming the space, making it easier to maintain and restore.

Slap Brush Texture

Sometimes referred to as stomp brush, crows foot, and stipple, slap brush texture offers a unique and natural look. It’s developed by applying wet drywall compound to the wall with a roller and adding random splotches with a thick brush for added texture. Dip the brush into drywall compound and press the bristles firmly against the wall before pulling it away to create dramatic ridges. These ridges can overlap or be applied in random patterns. The result is flowerlike or sunburst patterns that are appealing and useful for covering irregularities.

Slap brush texture can be used on interior walls or anywhere you want to add depth and visual interest. It can also be used to create an accent wall or draw attention to a specific focal point.

Our Recommendation

Textured walls and ceilings often get a bad reputation because certain patterns can overwhelm small areas or diminish the impact of lighting. However, when textures are chosen based on the space’s purpose and applied with a specific goal in mind, they can amplify your style and make your decor pop.

When choosing the right wall texture for your upcoming interior decor project, consider the room size and which textures will work best with the overall decor design. Determine whether your desired effect will be better achieved with an accent wall or a full room remodel. If you’re unsure of your ability to create a textured wall, contact a professional for assistance.

Different Types of Textured Walls FAQ

What is the most popular wall texture?

The most popular wall texture is the one that works for your style. Although popcorn textures are considered dated, practically any wall texture can add depth to a room when used with intention. Knockdown texture and orange peel may be used more frequently due to their subtle textures.

What is the best wall texture to hide imperfections?

The best wall texture to hide imperfections is one with plenty of depth. Comb texture, popcorn texture, and slap brush texture are all useful for hiding imperfections.

What is a timeless wall texture?

Due to their subtlety and natural appearance, orange peel and knockdown textures are considered timeless.