How to Use Joint Compound for a Textured Ceiling

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Things You'll Need

  • Joint compound

  • Electric drill

  • Drywall mixer attachment

  • Wooden extenders for round paint brushes

  • Flat paint brushes

  • Paint rollers

  • Paint roller pan

  • Putty knife

  • Old rags

  • Plastic or drop cloths

  • Soap

  • Water


A long-handled extender that screws into a brush handle or paint roller will enable you to work without having to stand on a stool or ladder. A standard flat paintbrush can help you reach into corners with the compound. It's easy to clean joint compound off brushes or yourself with liquid soap and warm water.


Turn off your power, at least to the room in question before removing or replacing light fixtures. Very few people can create a good design without practice. Use an old piece of drywall or plywood to practice your technique for doing the ceiling. Putting up a textured ceiling is a project you want to complete all at one time. If you let part of the compound dry--and go back later to finish up--you cannot blend the edges properly.

Improve the look of any room by adding a textured ceiling. Refresh old designs with a different texture or create one from scratch using drywall joint compound. Buy joint compound in 5-gallon buckets. You will need to add water to thin it for application to a ceiling. You don't even need to add paint if you want a white ceiling, and it will look good for many years.


Step 1

Prepare the room from top to bottom. Remove molding from the perimeter of the ceiling. Use a putty knife to gently pry molding loose, then remove nails. Remove any ceiling fixtures and wrap exposed wires with electrical tape or cap them. Place drop cloths or plastic sheeting across the floor to catch drips.

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Step 2

Mix 2 quarts of water into a 5-gallon bucket of joint compound. Use a drywall mixer attached to an electric drill to blend thoroughly. The mixture must be just the right consistency, or it will drip from the ceiling.

Step 3

Pour some of the mixture into a paint roller tray. Screw a handle extender onto the roller you will use. Roll the compound onto the ceiling with a three-quarter inch nap paint roller. Roll an 8-foot square at a time in one direction. Next, cross roll it to give the finished look. Do another 8-foot square and try to erase any visible lines between the two squares. Alternatively, you can use a round brush on an extender to press circular designs into the compound after it's rolled on. Blend the edges between each section by "stomping" a design with the round brush along borders of each section.


Step 4

Finish the ceiling by going around the edges to roll or stomp a pattern all the way to the walls. Use a flat paint brush to work small corners or blend in stubborn places around floor-to-ceiling bookcases or near a fireplace chimney. Dampen a rag with water and carefully wipe along the edges to get all compound off the walls or woodwork.

Step 5

Let the ceiling dry for 24 hours. Reconnect the light fixture and replace any type of molding you removed during the process.


references & resources

Judi Light Hopson

Judi Light Hopson is a national stress management expert and psychology issues writer. Her column on relationships, co-written with a nurse and a psychologist, is distributed by McClatchy Newspapers to over 300 major publications worldwide. Ms. Hopson has written for employee assistance programs that serve over 15% of America’s Fortune 500 companies. links provided below.