What is the Difference between Drywall Textures?

Drywall textures not only add visual interest but also play a crucial role in creating unique atmospheres for interior walls. With various options available, it can be challenging to understand the differences between them. In this article, we will explore different drywall textures, their characteristics, and the associated labor costs. Understanding these factors will help you make informed decisions when choosing the right texture for your project. So, let’s dive in and discover the world of drywall textures!

What is Drywall?

Before we delve into the different types of drywall textures, let’s quickly clarify what drywall actually is. Drywall, also known as plasterboard or gypsum board, is a construction material used to create interior walls and ceilings. It consists of a core made of gypsum, sandwiched between two layers of paper. Drywall is widely used in residential and commercial buildings due to its affordability, ease of installation, and versatility.

What is the Difference between Drywall Textures?

Drywall textures come in a variety of forms, each with its unique appearance and application. Understanding the differences between these textures is crucial in choosing the right one for your project. Let’s explore some popular drywall textures, their characteristics, and the associated labor costs:

1. Smooth Finish

Labor Cost: The labor cost for achieving a smooth finish is often higher compared to some textured finishes. It involves applying multiple coats of joint compound and sanding it until it becomes seamless. Since it requires precision and attention to detail, hiring a professional might be necessary.

A smooth finish is the most basic and commonly used drywall texture. It offers a flat and smooth surface without any texture or patterns. This texture is ideal for those who prefer a clean and modern look without any visible texture.

2. Orange Peel

Labor Cost: The labor cost for achieving an orange peel texture is moderate. It can be achieved by using a spray gun or a roller with a specific texture pattern. However, it requires skill and practice to create a consistent and uniform texture.

The orange peel texture gets its name from its resemblance to the skin of an orange. It features small, lightly raised bumps across the surface, creating a subtle texture. This texture adds visual interest without being too overwhelming.

3. Knockdown

Labor Cost: The labor cost for achieving a knockdown texture is moderate to high. It involves applying joint compound or texture mud to the wall and then “knocking down” the raised portions using a trowel. The process requires precision and time.

Knockdown texture is characterized by its unique flattened and partially smooth appearance. It provides a textured surface with irregular patterns, adding a sense of depth and dimension. This texture is versatile and suitable for both traditional and contemporary settings.

4. Skip Trowel

Labor Cost: The labor cost for achieving a skip trowel texture is moderate to high. It involves applying joint compound in a skipping or sweeping motion using a trowel, resulting in irregular patterns and subtle texture variations. It requires skill and expertise to achieve the desired effect.

The skip trowel texture creates a handcrafted, artistic look on the walls. It adds a rustic and textured appearance, making it a popular choice for Mediterranean or Spanish-style interiors.

5. Popcorn

Labor Cost: The labor cost for achieving a popcorn texture is relatively low. It involves spraying a mixture of joint compound and other materials onto the wall using specialized equipment. However, the popularity of this texture has decreased in recent years due to its outdated look.

Popcorn texture, also known as acoustic or cottage cheese texture, features a rough and bumpy surface, resembling the texture of popcorn. It was primarily used for its acoustic properties

as it helped reduce noise. However, due to its outdated look and potential health concerns associated with asbestos-containing versions, popcorn texture is less commonly used today.

6. Swirl

Labor Cost: The labor cost for achieving a swirl texture is moderate to high. It involves using a brush or a trowel to create circular or semi-circular swirls on the surface. The process requires skill and precision to achieve elegant and flowing patterns.

Swirl texture is characterized by its elegant and flowing patterns that resemble gentle waves. It adds a touch of sophistication and elegance to the walls, making it suitable for formal or upscale settings.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQ 1: What factors should I consider when choosing a drywall texture?

When choosing a drywall texture, several factors come into play. Consider the size of the room, the overall style and theme of the space, lighting conditions, personal preference, and the associated labor costs. Keep in mind that more intricate textures might require higher labor costs.

FAQ 2: Can I change the drywall texture after it has been applied?

Yes, it is possible to change the drywall texture after it has been applied. However, it can be a labor-intensive process as it involves scraping off the existing texture, applying a new texture, and finishing it. Changing the texture will incur additional labor costs.

FAQ 3: Are there any health concerns associated with certain drywall textures?

Some older versions of popcorn texture contained asbestos, which is a health hazard when disturbed. However, modern popcorn textures are asbestos-free. It is important to consult with a professional and ensure the use of safe and certified materials during any renovation or removal process.

FAQ 4: Can I mix different drywall textures in the same space?

Yes, mixing different drywall textures in the same space can create a visually appealing and dynamic effect. However, it is essential to ensure that the chosen textures complement each other and align with the overall design concept. Keep in mind that incorporating multiple textures may increase labor costs.

FAQ 5: How can I maintain and clean different drywall textures?

Maintaining and cleaning drywall textures varies depending on the texture type. Smooth finishes are relatively easier to clean, as they have a flat surface. Textures like popcorn or orange peel can accumulate dust and require more care during cleaning. It is advisable to use a soft brush or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to gently remove dust without damaging the texture.

FAQ 6: Can I paint over different drywall textures?

Yes, it is possible to paint over different drywall textures. However, it is important to consider the texture’s porosity and the type of paint suitable for that particular texture. In some cases, a primer may be required to ensure proper adhesion and an even finish. It is recommended to consult with a professional painter or refer to manufacturer guidelines for the best results.


Choosing the right drywall texture involves considering various factors, including the desired aesthetic, labor costs, and maintenance requirements. Smooth finishes are cost-effective and provide a clean and modern look, while textured finishes add depth and visual interest to the walls. It is essential to balance your preferences, budget, and the overall style of the space. Consult with professionals to ensure that the chosen texture aligns with your vision and achieves the desired results.

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