How to Apply Knockdown Ceiling Texture

How to apply knockdown textured ceiling

Just for hiring out scraping popcorn ceilings alone runs along $1-2 per square foot. And that is just the scraping. That doesn’t include spraying the knockdown and painting. So, to help save a ton of money, today we’re going to show you how to apply knockdown ceiling texture. I’ll admit, in the first investment home we had we hired it out, we were a little bit nervous about what damage we’d do. In our 2nd renovation home, we decided to take on the challenge ourselves and sprayed the entire house and we loved it 100 times more.

So today we want to share with you how we applied knockdown texture throughout our entire home and how you can do it too in just five simple steps.

First things first, your materials…


  • Plastic Sheeting (to cover walls and flooring)
  • Masking Tape
  • Paddle Mixer
  • Drill
  • Pre-Mixed Joint Compound OR 5-gallon bucket & All-Purpose Drywall compound
  • Hopper Gun – (ceiling sprayer)
  • Compressor
  • Knock-Down Knife

Step 1. PREP

Proper prep is the first step to any DIY project. You’ll want to move or cover all furniture in the rooms you are going to apply the knockdown texture to. Use a large piece of plastic to cover the entire floor, taping the sides to the walls or trim. Be sure that all surfaces are clean and covered before you start any work. Once the floor is covered and taped, apply the sheeting to all the walls overlapping the sheet from the floor to ensure full coverage.

Mix Your Product

Fill your 5-gallon bucket half full with the all purpose drywall compound. Attach your paddle mixer to your drill and add two cups of water to the compound. Place the paddle mixer into the mixture and slowly begin mixing your drywall. Stir continuously until the mixture is thoroughly blended, adding more water as you go until the consistency resembles that of thin pancake batter.

If you want to simplify your project, and are concerned about getting the right consistency, you can purchase a premixed all-purpose joint compound. You can find a premixed bucket of about 60lbs of “mud” at most home improvements stores or hardware stores for about $10. We recommend buying two buckets to start to make sure you don’t run out halfway through your project.

Let It Fly

Once your drywall product reaches your desired consistency, fill your spray gun with the mixture and set it to the orange-peel or fine particle texture. Unless you do a lot of painting, you most likely do not own a spray gun, but you can easily rent one from a paint store or rental company for about $25-$30 a day.

How to apply knockdown textured ceiling

Before you begin spraying your ceiling directly, be sure to test the spray on a scrap piece of wood or plank. Start with your gun set to the highest amount of air pressure and if the mix comes out too thin when you test it, decrease the setting and test it again until your spray resembles the texture of an orange peel.

When you have finished testing your consistency and are ready to start spraying your ceiling, hold the gun about three feet from the ceiling and begin spraying side-to-side with long even strokes one layer at a time covering the whole ceiling. Allow first coat to dry for at least eight hours before you apply your second coat. Once your first coat is completely dry, you want to add larger chunks of the mixture to enhance the texture.

Repeat the same process as the first coat, this time with the sprayer set to a higher setting creating those larger pieces and holding the gun about a foot further away from the ceiling. Again, cover the entire space with long, even strokes across. Scan over the areas and apply more mixture where you need to fill in the gaps or uneven spaces and let sit for 15 minutes.


The final step to completing your DIY knockdown ceiling project is to the scrape across the textured compound with a knockdown knife. You want to be sure that you are just flattening the texture and not completely removing it. This is controlled by the amount of pressure you place on the knife as you pull over the ceiling. The knife smooths out the textured peaks, creating a random maze design. Once all of the peaks and large mounds are smooth and flattened across the entire ceiling, allow the space to dry for at least 48 hours before you begin painting.


Spray versus rolling is always the big question. Either way, make sure you’re wearing old clothing and your floors are covered, becuase it’s going to get even messier. Painting overhead leaves you covered from head to toe. If your home isn’t in full on construction mode, I would suggest rolling. We are fans of rolling. The more we spray the more we end up having to go back to fix and repaint. When you’re rolling you’re literally up there looking at all the details, so we’ve quickly realized this is just the better option for us.

Using a paint sprayer covers the ceiling surface quicker, which also makes you go through more paint. If you don’t own a paint gun, you can always rent one from your local home improvement or hardware store. We have always been fans of rolling our ceilings. Using a sprayer, multiple light coats are better than one heavy spray.

If you’re going the rolling route, I would strongly suggest getting an extension pole for your paint roller. One of us usually cuts in along the edges while the other comes behind and rolls. We also always buy the paint that has the primer in it. Trust us, when you’re done with your first coat, your neck is going to hate you if you have to do it all over again. Haha!

And regardless, make sure you are wearing a mask! Those paint fumes can be dangerous.

Jamie has been known to throw up in the past. haha- yikes!