Tricks on a Swirl Plaster Ceiling

Written by mona harte
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Tricks on a Swirl Plaster Ceiling
(Jupiterimages/ Images)

Once a common feature in homes built during the 1950s through the 1970s, the swirl ceiling texture is making a comeback in restored and new houses. Instead of opting to pay a professional's high rates, a homeowner can achieve the look with a bit of practice and patience. Be aware this procedure can be slightly messy. Anyone undertaking the task should take proper measures to keep the rest of the room receiving this ceiling treatment clean. Wearing clothes able to take stains is suggested too.


A bit of practice before climbing up a ladder to apply the plaster mixture to the ceiling will help. On a scrap piece of drywall, make several attempts at getting the proper amount of plaster mixture onto the trowel. Don't overload the trowel with the premixed texture compound. If a spare piece of drywall is not available, try a wall in an unobvious part of the house, like the garage or the back of a closet. A piece of plywood will also work.

Smooth the Surface

A sealed surface will let the plaster mixture swirl with ease. Applying a coat of drywall primer PVA

(polyvinyl acetate) will seal the porosity and create a smooth surface. Drying time is under four hours.

Tools and Technique

A trowel, wire brush or sponge can all be used to apply the plaster mixture for a variety of textures. Whatever tool is used, a common technique is overlapping the swirls, which gives the ceiling a consistent look. No broad strokes are required. Instead make them short and tight, which is achieved with a half circle flick of the wrist.

Work Area

Creating a swirl textured ceiling in a room or an entire house is a big job. Start in a corner and work either left to right or right to left depending on personal preference. Keep the work area small -- less than 2 feet square -- to allow the application of swirls in opposite directions without losing the overall uniform look.

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