Knock down ceiling was a successor to the popcorn ceilings and the orange peel finishes of the 80s and 90s. This finish is a great way to cover up drywall and ceiling surface imperfections, just like the popcorn texture was. This wall and ceiling texture also saw widespread popularity in the early 90s, and since then, has remained a firm favorite among many homeowners.

What is the knockdown texture?

If you sprayed, trowelled, or applied drywall joint compound, or drywall mud, using a paint roller onto a surface, you are left with a distinct texture featuring static peaks across the surface. When these peaks are flattened using a knockdown knife, what you see is a mottled, almost unfinished texture that adds visual impact and dimension to the room. This is the knockdown texture.

The knock down texture is sought after not just because it hides imperfections in finishes, but because it has an appeal by itself. In addition, it is also very efficient as a sound muting material.

While there may be some visual similarities between the orange peel finish and knock down finish, the major difference is that the knockdown texture is more blotchy, while the orange peel texture is more bumpy and uniform.

How many kinds of knockdown textures are there?

knockdown ceiling

There are three different types of knockdown textures.


This wall texture is popular because it resembles Spanish lace stucco. About 40% of this finish is raised while the rest of it is flat. This is the most popular texture among homeowners.


You can tell a stomp knockdown finish by the peaks. This finish has the highest peaks of the main surface among the three types of knockdown textures.

Mud trowel

This knockdown drywall texture has the flattest surface of the three textures, and this is achieved by using a curved blade trowel. Getting this right needs plenty of experience, patience, and high-grade materials.

Advantages of knockdown ceilings

  1. Finishing a wall or ceiling using knockdown texture is a great way to add character to the room. It’s also a great way to accentuate a wall and draw attention to it.
  2. It is a great way to hide imperfections, repair as well as refinish walls and ceilings. This, however, should not be mistaken for structurally reinforcing the wall or ceiling. This is purely a cosmetic cover-up.
  3. A knockdown wall or ceiling is both affordable and easy to do, which means homeowners can handle it as a DIY activity.
  4. The extra layer acts as a great soundproofing agent. However, while it does reduce how much sound travels out of the room, it is not a complete soundproofing solution.

Disadvantages of knockdown ceilings

  1. While it is popular with some homeowners, a lot of others find the design dated and unimpressive.
  2. The perception of the texture being dated makes it difficult sometimes to sell homes with knockdown ceilings and walls unless the buyer likes the retro look.
  3. Removing any textured drywall is a difficult process. Chances are, the structure beneath it may get damaged while trying to remove the texture.
  4. Cleaning and painting textured drywall is also a very tedious process.

How to apply knockdown texture

Here are the materials you need and easy-to-follow instructions to apply knockdown texture, particularly the splatter finish.

What you’ll need

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  1. Masking tape
  2. Tarp
  3. Spackling compound
  4. 18-inch knockdown knife
  5. Drywall knife
  6. 150 grit or higher fine grit sandpaper
  7. Drywall hopper gun kit
  8. Air compressor
  9. Power drill with a paddle attachment
  10. A 2-gallon bucket
  11. A scrap of drywall
  12. Rags

The process

  1. Empty the room of all movable furniture and removable light fixtures. Cover the floor with tarp. Apply masking tape over baseboards, electrical covers, and ceiling or wall joists.
  2. If the ceiling has any blemishes, smoothen it out by applying a spackling compound. Make sure to wear protective goggles and gloves. Once the compound has dried, sand it using fine-grit sandpaper.
  3. Assemble the drywall hopper gun. Make sure the nozzle is at least 8 to 12 inches. This is the ideal length for knockdown textures.
  4. Add water into the bucket (about two inches) and add 1.5 gallons of the drywall mix into it. Be sure to choose an unaggregated drywall pre-mix since the quick-dry varieties aren’t ideal for knocked down textures.  Use the paddle attachment on the power drill and mix it until the compound is lump free.
  5. Let the mud sit for around 15 minutes for the water to be absorbed completely. When it feels like it has the consistency of pancake batter, you know it is ready.
  6. Turn on the air compressor and set the air pressure to 30 to 40 psi. From at least 18 inches away, test spray the mud onto the drywall scrap. Set the spray speed as you test, keeping in mind that the slower you spray, the more pronounced the texture will be.
  7. Once you’re confident about your technique, spray the ceiling from 18 inches away, working in three-foot sections.
  8. It should take 10-15 minutes for each section to dry up enough to lose the wet shine. Then, glide the edge of the knockdown knife in a straight line down the surface. The purpose is to flatten the peaks in the wall structure, but not to smoothen it. Keep wiping the edge with the rags.
  9. Continue alternating steps 7 and 8 in three-foot sections until the ceiling is done. Then, let it rest until it dries up.
The easiest way to apply a knock down ceiling was last modified: November 10th, 2022 by Narayan Shrouthy
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