How to create Swirl Drywall Texture

Swirl Drywall Texture

Swirl drywall textures have been around in the midwest and eastern United States for decades. This texture is used most often on ceilings but occasionally is seen on the walls of apartment buildings. A swirl texture, as it's name implies, leaves a swirled pattern of half circles across the ceiling. Generally the pattern moves across the ceiling as a collection of circles laying on one another until the circles end into the wall on the other end of the room. A variation of this texture uses silica sand to create a rough look to the swirled drywall mud.

How to do a Swirl Drywall Texture

Click on the image below for a larger picture
Picture of swirl drywall texture

Step 1 - Prepare the surface well

To produce a swirl texture the drywall surface must be prepared well. A light sanding is needed to remove any large imperfections. Swirl texture will not cover many imperfections so all pockmarks, humped seams, and tool marks need to be removed before applying swirl texture

Step 2 - Mix the Mud

The drywall mud needed for swirl texture must be thinned considerably. The consistency of this mud is thinner than any other mud used in the drywall taping and finishing process.

Step 3 - Apply a thin layer of drywall mud evenly

Generally a tradesman will roll the mud on to the ceiling with a paint roller using a heavy nap roller cover. For larger jobs a heavy duty airless paint sprayer is used to spray the mud onto the surface of the drywall.

Step 4 - Plan the pattern before you begin

Care must be given to overlapping the circles in such a pattern that no bare spots remain. It is helpful to first lay out the direction and distance of swirls desired before starting. This ensures an even pattern and distribution of swirls across the ceiling.

Step 5 - Create the swirl pattern

Once the mud has been applied in a thin layer on the drywall, the swirl pattern is created with a medium bristle brush. A wallpaper brush works well. Some tradesmen have used the bristles from an old ice scrapper. The length of the brush will determine the diameter of the circles created.

Step 6 - Allow to dry and then paint

Once the pattern has been created, there is nothing more to do but wait for it to dry. Once dry, you can apply a good quality primer and flat white paint or whatever color you prefer. The large picture above shows a swirl texture with a semi-gloss paint. The extra sheen helps to bring out the pattern. However, a semi-gloss or gloss paint on the ceiling usually detracts too much from the design intended for the rest of the room. Flat paints usually work best on ceilings.

Random Swirl pattern on a high ceiling:

Photo of a random swirl drywall texture on a high ceiling

See how the swirl pattern creates the look of water on the ceiling:

Photo of a random swirl drywall texture on a high ceiling