Anybody who has ever watched a professional Drywall Finisher will tell you that it's a piece of cake. Anybody who has ever tried to finish drywall themselves, however, will tell you that's not true. Finishing drywall is much like sculpting; it takes tremendous amount of time, patience, and practice to master. Not to mention the right tools and a great teacher!


Drywall professionals have codified a set of professional standards that breaks the process of finishing drywall into five distinct levels.

Level 0:

Level 0 implies that no finishing of any type has been done. The drywall is only fastened to the walls or ceiling. 

Level 1:

This level means that your drywall joint tape has been embedded in joint compound, and nothing more.

Level 2:

This next level means that you have skimmed a thin coat of joint compound over the tape and covered the drywall screw holes. You can stop at this level if you intend to cover with tile.

Level 3:

For this stage, you apply a coat of joint compound to the tape and screws. Walls that will receive a heavy texture, such as knockdown texture, can end at this level. It would be pointless to progress beyond this level, since texturing is rougher than level 3. 

Level 4:

This is the classic drywall finish. Here, you apply another coat of joint compound to the tape and screws and sand the dried compound.

Level 5:

The highest possible level of drywall finishing involves applying a skim coat, if applicable.


popcorn texture.jpg

The popcorn texture is generally reserved for ceilings. It works very well for covering uneven ceiling tiles or other flaws which are not easily repairable. One of the drawbacks to using this texture is that it is difficult to remove. It is applied with a compressor and texture sprayer.

Orange Peel
orange peel texture.jpg

The orange peel finish is one of the most common of drywall finishes in residential construction and remodeling. One of the features that drywall contractors like about it is that you just spray it on and let it dry. No additional labor steps are required, verses many other finishes that require extra labor. It is applied with drywall mud being sprayed on using an air compressor and a special nozzle.

knockdown texture.jpg

To create a knockdown finish, drywall mud is sprayed on the drywall, but the droplets are significantly larger than the droplets of an orange peel finish. After the droplets or globules have slightly dried a drywall knife is run across the tops of these droplets knocking them partially down, thus generating a knock down finish.

Stomp Brush
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The stomp brush technique involves dunking a large brush in a bucket of drywall mud, pressing it against the ceiling, then sharply pulling it back down to create a distinctive, ridged texture. Also called “slap brush” texture, the application tends to be somewhat random, as the point is to create a unique surface.

Hawk and Trowel
Hawk and trowel texture.jpg

Hawk and trowel texture can be described as layers of drywall mud flowing over other layers of drywall mud. It can resemble waves in water or more random circles of mud. The variation of texture style is controlled much by the thickness of the material used. This texture is done by hand and can vary among the tradesmen.