How to Texture a Ceiling by Hand. Texturing a ceiling by hand is tiring work, but yields dramatic results. Your ceilings can make as bold a statement as your walls or furnishings. Here are a few steps to enhance any room and create a textured ceiling.
Purchase a large bucket of premixed drywall joint compound from your local home improvement center, lumberyard or hardware store. Also buy a wide-bladed taping knife or straight-edged trowel (8 to 12 inches wide) for spreading a thin coat of compound on the ceiling. (Spreading directly with your hand is perfectly acceptable if you're going for a rough look.)
Clear as much furniture as you can from the room to be textured. Cover any remaining furniture and the floor with drop cloths.
Strip any wallpaper from the ceiling rather than texturing over it. The high moisture content of the drywall compound can cause the paper to "let go" - and leave you with a time-consuming mess. The drywall compound should adhere to most painted ceilings without a problem.
Start by edging the entire ceiling with a thin layer of the compound. Apply a layer of about 1/8 of an inch (unless you want a very rough texture - in which case you will want to go thicker). It doesn't have to be exact - after all, a varied texture is what you're looking for.
Achieve the texture you want in wide assortment of methods: use old paintbrushes, wallpaper brushes or sponges to stroke or swirl on the wet surface; use your fingers to make all kind of designs; use stencils to apply a pre-created design.
Alternate between applying the compound and texturing it until the entire surface is covered.