Tips for Drywall Ceiling Stippling

Updated February 21, 2017

A stipple texture on a drywall ceiling or wall usually involves small peaks and valleys of a drywall joint compound. This textured finish provides visual interest and adds some minor soundproofing as well. Stippling an even pattern onto a whole ceiling can be tricky, but with the right tricks and tips, you can accomplish the procedure.

Use the Right Tool

While almost anything, including your fingertips, can be used to create an interesting texture in drywall mud, only a few tools will create the pattern most commonly known as a stipple. The experts at HomeTime say that a stiff brush is the most recommended tool for the job. The stiff bristles push some of the mud down while leaving peaks in other places. A sponge with large cells may create a smaller and less dramatic stipple pattern if you press it into a thick layer of wet mud and pull it away quickly to create peaks. Some rollers are designed to create a stipple pattern as they pull away from the wall, which may be the easiest tool to use on a ceiling.

Thin the Mud

Drywall joint compound, or drywall mud as it is commonly called, is a rather thick material when it is mixed for spreading along the joints of drywall or patching holes. The website recommends adding a small amount of water to thin the mud before using it to create a textured finish. The thinner substance is easier to spread and shape with tools. Start out by adding a few tsp of water at a time. If the mud becomes runny enough to drip off of the putty knife or trowel you are using to scoop it out of the container, you've added too much water and it will drip right off of the ceiling.

Fix Your Mistakes

The drywall mud can be dissolved or softened with water as long as it has not completely hardened, according to Use this to your advantage to fix small mistakes or redo sections that don't match as you apply the stipple texture to the ceiling. Climb down from the ladder after you finish each square foot to survey the texture, or it may dry before you get a chance to fix it. Use a damp sponge or misting bottle to dampen the drywall mud without completely removing it.


The best way to determine what size and style of stipple looks best on your ceiling is to experiment. Use different tools and methods to do a few inches of the ceiling in the corners or other inconspicuous places, and compare the results. It is a waste of time and energy to apply drywall mud with a small brush to the whole ceiling just to find out you don't like the large peaks left behind by the tool.

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About the Author

Jessica Kolifrath is a competent copywriter who has been writing professionally since 2008. She is based in the Atlanta area but travels around the Southeastern United States regularly. She currently holds an associate degree in psychology and is pursuing a bachelor's degree in the field.