Types of Ceiling Finishes

By PropertyClub Team
May 17th 2023
If you’re planning to redo your ceiling, it’s best to consider all your options. While you might be tempted to go with the same type of finish you have right now, there are plenty of great ceiling finishes that can bring new life to your home. 

hash-mark7 Types of Ceiling Finishes

  1. Flat/Smooth
  2. Swirled
  3. Knockdown
  4. Orange Peel
  5. Skip Trowel
  6. Dropped 
  7. Popcorn


The most common type of ceiling finish is flat or smoothed ceilings. There’s nothing special to a flat or smooth ceiling, but that’s exactly the point for many people. If your home already follows a minimalistic design style, this is a great way to emphasize that and shift focus to the more important parts of your decor.

The great thing about flat ceilings is that they are highly universal. You don’t need to follow a particular design style in your home to make a smooth ceiling a suitable choice. Just make sure that you invest in high-quality work when ordering this type of finish. The main problem with a smooth ceiling finish is that small mistakes can be very obvious. 


Another one of the most popular types of ceiling finishes is swirled ceilings. Some people associate swirled ceilings with outdated interior designs, but that’s far from the case. Swirled ceilings have a unique appeal that can fit certain interior styles very well. It’s not easy to implement either – in fact, it’s one of the easiest types of ceiling finishes out there.

This makes its price more attractive compared to most alternative options as well. So if you’re looking for something affordable that can easily match the design of your house, no matter if it’s old or new, look no further. As a bonus, you won’t have to search long to find a contractor who can handle this type of ceiling, as it’s pretty popular on the market.


If you are drawn to rougher textures and want to have more variety on your ceiling, a knockdown finish may be what you need. This type of ceiling finish features an unevenly distributed texture with a lot of topographic variety. It’s not difficult to create either, although it should be done by a contractor with specific experience in that area.

To create a knockdown ceiling, the contractor would first apply the material to the ceiling in an uneven manner and allow it to drip down for some time. This will create small structures on your ceiling. When these are removed, you’re left with the underlying pattern, which can have interesting and unusual shapes.

hash-markOrange Peel

Orange peel ceiling finishes get their name from their characteristic appearance, which resembles the texture of an orange. This finish is created by spraying an appropriate material onto the ceiling and spreading it around in uneven patterns. The process is somewhat similar to the one behind knockdown ceilings, but less material is used, and nothing is scraped off afterward.

The final result is a ceiling that looks like it’s been randomly covered with bits of the corresponding material. This goes great with painted ceilings and unusual lighting. The right combination can create fascinating shading effects that will immediately make your ceiling stand out.

hash-markSkip Trowel

Skip trowel ceilings are a bit similar to knockdown finishes. The main difference is in how the material is applied and distributed across the ceiling. Typically, less material is used to avoid dripping. The ceiling is then finished by smearing the compound around until the whole ceiling has a randomized look.

Some people love skip trowel finishes, while others are very much against them. It comes down to personal preference, but it’s important to note that this type of finish goes very well with more advanced decoration.


A dropped ceiling allows you to combine a bold design statement with convenient functionality. Part of the ceiling is recessed, allowing you to conceal things like wiring and other structural elements which should not be visible. This makes this type of ceiling perfect for lighting and other fixtures.

Dropped ceilings require more planning and additional work from your contractors, but the final result is well worth it if you have the right type of interior design.


Popcorn ceilings resemble orange peel finishes, but the texture is coarser and more evenly distributed. This is a popular ceiling finish in low-cost homes due to its simplicity and availability. But unfortunately, it also comes with some negative associations for the same reason.

Don’t let that discourage you, though. If you believe your home is a good fit for a popcorn ceiling finish, don’t be afraid to experiment with the idea, especially if you plan on painting it.

hash-markCeiling Finishes Comparison





$1 - $2 per sq ft



$1 - $2 per sq ft



$1.50 - $3 per sq ft


Orange Peel

$0.50 - $1.50 per sq ft


Skip Trowel

$1 - $2 per sq ft



$1000 - $3000 per room



$1 - $2 per sq ft


hash-markCeiling Finishes Bottom Line

Choosing the perfect ceiling finish for your home can take a while, but it’s worth the extra effort if you want to give your home a more finished look. While the universal smooth ceiling finish is generally a suitable option for most homes, there are many more exciting designs you can explore.