Learning how to do a knockdown ceiling without a sprayer is a practical way to alter your room’s look and cover any surface defects on the ceiling. The textured look can be achieved by troweling or rolling the joint drywall compound to achieve stalactite-like peaks, then flattening them using a knockdown knife. 

Starting to become trendy from the 90s, the knockdown drywall finish has remained a hit with homeowners for its impressive appearance and practicality. Although this style is typically applied using a sprayer, you can install it by hand. Read on to achieve a knockout effect in your home.

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Types of Knockdown Texture

Different types of knockdown texture have a distinctive look and require different tools and techniques to achieve, including:



Splatter is the most common knockdown texture with the classic look with patterns influenced by lace veils. You can get this look by spraying the ceiling using a drywall hopper gun loaded with pre-mixed wet drywall mud or joint compound powder mixed with water. Then you can flatten the peaks with an18-inch or wider knockdown knife to get a low-profile raised texture that covers 40 percent of the surface, while the rest of 60 percent remaining flat. 

When you do this look, because you have to work with the ceiling, it can be messy due to downward splashback. Besides, with the need of using a drywall hopper gun, this technique requires more initial setup time than stomp and mud trowel. 

However, this look can be achieved quickly with the right tool and technique. The time request for this type of knockdown texture depends on the size of the area you plan to work on.



Stomp is the most prominently textured look of knockdown ceiling textures, featuring a higher elevation of the surface than splatter or mud trowel. 

The look is made by thinning premixed or ready-to-mix drywall mud with water and then applying it to a wall or ceiling using a paint roller. Next, we stomp the mud with a stiff-bristled crowfoot brush and then, we flatten the mud using a standard knockdown knife to leave a finger-like texture on 60 percent or more of the ceiling surface. 

We may have to do another stomping step before doing the knockdown because the drywall is previously applied by roller to fully cover the entire surface. This entire process can take about twice as long as splatter.

Mud trowel

Skip Trowel2

Mud trowel, or skip trowel, is another technique of doing knockdown ceiling texture that provides a flatter and subtle look than splatter or stomp. We can get this mud trowel look by applying mud to the drywall using an 18-inch curved-blade drywall trowel, then skimming the mudded area again with the cleaned trowel. 

Because of the curved trowel, the mud skips across the ceiling and leaves a sparse texture of round globules on the surface. Hand troweling takes a lot of time; therefore, you may need to be patient. In general, this technique is more time-consuming than splatter.

What To Prepare

  • All-purpose joint compound
  • Water
  • Electric drill
  • Paddle
  • Crowfoot texture brush
  • Knockdown knife
  • Step ladder

How To Do Knockdown Ceiling Without A Sprayer?

Step 1

Firstly, we add one to two cups of water into the bucket of the joint compound.

Step 2

We start installing an electric drill with a paddle that is an attachment used to mix the compound. We hold the electric drill and dip the paddle into the bucket of the joint compound, then squeeze the drill’s trigger carefully to mix the compound. To transform the joint compound to a thick milkshake texture, we may need to add more water in the process.

Step 3

We hold the handle of the crowfoot texture brush and then dip the brush into the compound. We need to put the brush into a 90-degree angle position to the ceiling surface we plan to work on, and then dab the brush onto the surface to form peaks with the joint compound. We then continue this process across the surface. We need to wipe the brush off when the compound accumulates on it.

Step 4

After doing step 3, we need to wait for about 20 to 30 minutes, then we hold the knockdown knife at a 45-degree angle to the surface and glide it over the compound. 

Using the knockdown knife, we can knock down the high spots across the textured surface as if we were knocking the tips off of icicles, and smooth out the surface to a degree. If we plan to apply the knockdown texture on a large area, we need to dab with the crowfoot brush in one section for around 20 to 30 minutes, and then we use a knockdown knife to follow behind before applying the compound to the next section.

Step 5

In order to reach the high area, we need to place a step ladder right in front of the working surface. We stand on the ladder and if we are applying the texture to a wall, we glide the knockdown knife from the ceiling to halfway down the wall. Then we use the knockdown knife to glide from the bottom to the remaining half of the wall.

Step 6

Finally, we use the crowfoot brush and follow behind it with the knockdown knife after 20 to 30 minutes until you complete the entire surface. 

Final Words

After this guide on steps to do a knockdown ceiling without a sprayer, you may now apply this lovely textured layer to your house’s ceiling with these simple steps, some skills and a few affordable tools and materials. 

Knockdown texture is a good way to give your house a much better look and some practical results because, with time and daily life activities, the ceiling in your house can wear down from its best condition. For the DIY lovers, this look can be achieved quite easily for a fantastic effect you desired.