Stomp brush texture is also called crows foot, slap brush, or stipple, and it’s easy to create this texture on drywall surfaces using “mud” or drywall compound. The resulting texture is a fan-like or sunburst effect that the brush’s fanned out bristles create. The technique is very straightforward, and you can get a host of different textures using a stomp brush by overlapping the patterns less or more as you work.
Altering the mud’s thickness or using a different brush to make more unique patterns also helps create variety with this texture project. How stiff the bristles are will usually determine the depth of the ridges it creates in the joint compound, and this dictates how defined your pattern is. We’ll go over how to use a stomp brush to texture your ceilings or walls below.
Supplies You Will Need
The easiest type of drywall mud you can use is all-purpose, premixed, lightweight compound that gets sold in buckets. You want to get an extra five-gallon bucket to mix your compound with water to thin it out to your chosen consistency. If you’re crunched for time, you can speed up the mixing process by using a power drill with a small mixing paddle attached, or you can mix it by hand.
You’ll also need to get a paint roller with a ½-inch nap roller cover and an extension pole unless you plan on getting on a ladder and going up and down a lot to get the compound on the ceiling or walls. Finally, pick out a stomp brush to give you your desired pattern. There are many variations to choose from, including irregular, round, double, or single brushes in small or large sizes to give you a slightly different pattern.
Stomp Brush Texture Considerations
Stomp textures give you the look of a hand-applied plaster texture that you see on ceilings in older homes. This gives you a nice change from the standard spray-on textures, like the knockdown effects or orange peel texture you use in modern homes with drywall. However, it’s easy to overdo it with a stomp brush and apply too much mud, and this creates a really deep, heavy texture. In extreme cases, the texture can form dripping peaks that look a little like stalactites when they dry. You don’t want this on your ceilings, so you want to keep the mud on the lighter side and apply an even, smooth layer to get the best results.
Another thing to consider is that applying any texture to drywall mud requires practice. The textures you see and love in older homes were made by skilled contractors who worked everyday with this medium. So, don’t assume you’ll get professional-grade results the first time you pick up your stomp brush. Spend a little time practicing the technique on a piece of spare drywall, or plywood or cardboard. You can practice over and over by scraping it off before it dries and reusing it.
Before You Start – Practicing Using a Stomp Brush
Different drywall textures will obviously give you different looks, so you want to really take the time and decide which statement you want your finished ceiling or wall to make. Completely smooth texture is a very timeless look, and it’s very appropriate to have in modern homes since it doesn’t produce internal shadows, and this matches the open, bright trend that modern home design embraces. The downside of this texture is that the smooth finish is very labor-intensive and challenging to get.
If you make any mistake with your smooth finish, no matter how small it is, it will be very obvious in the finished product. So, you want to leave the smooth finish to the professionals. Almost every other texture technique is very forgiving for beginners, and some textures give off a very strong aesthetic choice that you associate to a certain era, so you have to figure out which one will match your design aesthetic the best. Heavier, thicker textures can also work to save you a decent amount of time because you won’t need to skim coat your drywall. In turn, this reduces an entire step, and this may be an important consideration if you’re pressed for time.
A lot of drywall textures like stomp brush are simple to apply, but they can be time-consuming and difficult to correct once the drywall mud dries. Depending on which technique you settle on and the products you use to get the look, the drying time can be very short, so it’s important to practice before you start on your walls or ceiling. It’s easy to practice any technique on a big piece of cardboard until you get a feel for it.
- HappyDIYHomeTip – The drywall mud’s consistency will make a huge difference in how the final texture turns out. Along with practicing to learn the proper technique for using a stomp brush, try out a few different consistency levels to see which works best. You should know whether you want a thicker or thinner mud and what the final product will look like when it dries before you commit to doing a whole ceiling or walls with it.
Any drywall texture project you take on will require practice to get better results, so take a few days to perfect your technique before you start on the ceilings or walls. Popcorn Ceiling by Casey at the Bat / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
First Steps – Setting Up Your Space
Make no mistake, drywall texturing of any type can be a very messy project, no matter how large or small your space is. Before you start with your texturing work, you want to get your space set up. Lay out drop cloths to cover the whole floor around your work area. If you’re doing a ceiling, consider protecting the entire floor if you can. Remove anything that you can like furniture pieces or rugs, and mask any wall sconces, fixtures, or anything that you can’t easily move out of the room to protect them from the mess.
Once you protect your room from accidental splashes, prepare your tools. Some techniques require that you only need hand tools, while other techniques will require you have a spraying tool to apply the texture. The sprayers you use to apply the mud can be an electric or compressed air model. Some textures even come in disposable cans, very similar to spray paint, if you don’t have to go out and rent a sprayer but need one.
Second Step – Mixing up Your Medium
As with any texture project, you want to use an all-purpose topping compound or joint compound because these mud types have more glue-like properties to them, and this allows it to adhere correctly to your drywall surface. The consistency of the drywall mud you end up using is key to creating a good stomp brush texture. You use water to thin the mud out to the consistency you want, and stomp texture actually requires a much thinner drywall mud consistency than other drywall finishes.
One great way to know whether the drywall mud has a thin enough texture is to watch the drywall paddle create a vortex as it spins the mud in your five-gallon bucket. If you get an electric spade handle drill and spin it at 500 rpm, the drywall mud should form a vortex that extends roughly three quarters of the way to the bottom of your bucket.
Third Step – Create a Stomp Brush Texture
You can apply a stomp brush texture over a new bare drywall, painted drywall, or plaster, but a painted surface should get thoroughly cleaned first to remove all dust, dirt, and oils on the surface. If you have a glossy paint on the ceiling or wall, you may want to sand it to scuff up the surface or wash it with TSP (trisodium phosphate) to lightly etch the paint so your drywall adheres to it. To start this project, you’ll:
- Add some drywall compound to your empty five-gallon bucket before adding a small amount of water and mix it thoroughly to get the consistency of a rollable but thick paste.
- Prepare your paint roller with an extension pole. You can also use an extension pole hooked to a stomp brush.
- Dip the roller into the thinned out compound, coating your roller completely. Allow the excess mud to drip off.
- Roll the mud onto your drywall’s surface in an even, thin layer. Roll it in one direction, then come back with your roller and go in a perpendicular direction to even it out. Cover a workable section, roughly four feet by four feet.
- Stamp your newly muddied surface using your stomp brush, working from one side to the other. It’s usually best to stamp only once in your fresh drywall mud, but you can overlap your pattern if this is the look you want.
- Repeat the process to complete your stomp brush texture. Don’t let the textured mud dry before you roll out the next area. Fresh mud will adhere to the dry, but it’s hard to get the textures to bend between fresh and dry sections.
When you finish, allow your ceilings or walls to sit for 24 hours before you prime and paint them.
How To Maintain Stomp Walls or Ceiling
Clean residue from the surface once a week using a vacuum with a very delicate brush or with an electrostatic duster. Never apply grating scour brushes or brush heads to the wall as this can slowly remove the texture. Drywall compound can also take on sediment and smoke stains after time, so make a point not to smoke. Also, if you have a chimney in an active fireplace, make a point to clean it annually.
To get rid of stains and grime, you can soak a paint roller in four cups of warm water and a teaspoon of liquid dish soap. Very carefully, go over the messy areas. The clammy roller is perfect for getting rid of any buildup in your stomp brush texture. Make a second pass with a dry roller to help remove most of the moisture.
Whether you’re putting your ceiling or wall texture in for the first time or maintaining and repairing it, knowing the consistency to mix your drywall mud to is critical. Drywall Mud by Jesus Rodriguez / CC BY 2.0
How to Repair Stomp Ceilings or Walls
This isn’t a comprehensive list on how to repair stomp brush textured ceilings or walls. However this is a good overview to help you keep it looking nice if it cracks or something happens and a chunk comes out.
1. Soak Your Stomp Brush
With the exception of popcorn ceilings and orange peel, any other texture requires the use of a joint compound and a brush to create the pattern. For brush textures, soak your brush in warm water for at least an hour to overnight. This will soften the bristles and help get the correct texture for your ceiling.
2. Prepare Your Surface
Remove any of the loose texture from the wall or ceiling and repair any holes. If you can get under it with a putty knife, it tends to peel off pretty easily. If you spot any water damage as you work, you should consider using a stain blocker to keep the water damage from bleeding through.
- HappyDIYHome Tip – The one thing we do when you patch a textured ceiling or wall is to make sure that you don’t have any narrow, long, straight lines between the new and old. Having an irregular edge makes it much easier to hide the patch.
3. Apply Joint Compound
This technique will vary slightly, depending on which texture you want to match. But, the basics are as follows. Joint compound is a common bricklaying tool, but it’s critical here. Start the process by mixing your joint compound with a drill and paddle, or you can mix a smaller portion using a paint stick to help remove and loosen any bubbles. Test out your stomp brush pattern on a spare board or an extra piece of drywall to ensure you have the correct texture. Working the compound into your stomp brush will make the pattern more even when you apply it.
Once you’re ready to go, move back to your wall or ceiling area and spread the joint compound using a putty knife across the area you want to patch. Try to blend any edges with your existing texture. You don’t want to create the texture yet, but you’re trying to get it to the spot relatively smooth. Put it on roughly as thick as the existing texture to get a better match.
Using your texture brush, stomp your texture into the applied joint compound in the same way you did on the practice board. If you have a knockdown ceiling, you’ll have to get a bigger scale putty scraper to go across the texture to smooth it down to this texture. Wait a few minutes after the applied texture sets before knocking-down.
Once you manage to get the pattern or texture you want, allow it to dry overnight before you prime or paint it.
- HappyDIYHome Tip – White ceiling paint can be very hard to match perfectly, so you want to paint the whole ceiling unless you don’t mind a mismatch where you applied the patch.
It is possible to use a paint sprayer to paint the walls and ceiling in your room, and this can cut your time spent roughly in half. Your arms may ache spray painting your ceiling, but it’s much quicker than using a roller.
Other Popular Types of Drywall Textures
Along with stomp brush texture, there are other popular types of drywall texture that may suit your space better. Each common drywall texture gets formed using a combination of technique and a tool, and the most common are:
This technique is a very nice way to dress up your ceiling or wall in a more elegant environment. Put down a layer of drywall mud and use a toothed trowel to get tidy, neat ridges in the mud before it dries out. It’s most commonly applied in a “half-fan” motif that lends a very art deco style to the space.
Not exactly a technique by itself, but you can apply knockdown to other textures to create a much more subtle look. WIth this style, you’ll apply your pronounced texture like stomp brush before smoothing it part way over with your trowel using very gentle pressure. This will give you a very subtle version of the original pattern, and you’ll get a lot less shadowing on the surface. If you decide to use this finish, you’ll need to use thicker drywall mud than you would otherwise use for whatever texture you want to knock down. Make sure you let it set before you knock it down. So, the drywall mud shouldn’t be hard at this stage, but it needs to be at least partially dry so you don’t wipe the texture away completely.
In some ways, orange peel is very similar to popcorn ceilings, but it offers a much less aggressive look. You’ll get a wrinkled, dimpled appearance with this texture that mimics the look of an orange peel. Unlike popcorn texturing, it uses thin mud to give you this texture without any added foam. It also requires you use a sprayer with the correct nozzles, so you’ll have to take a trip to your local hardware store to discuss the project before you start. It’s a very popular option to put on your ceiling, but the gentle curved surfaces and softer look make it better suited for use on walls than the popcorn texture.
Orange peel texture is very subtle, and this makes it a nice choice to apply to your walls where you don’t need a huge amount of texture to snag your clothing or scratch you as you go by. Orange Peel by O. Williams / CC0 1.0
Much less popular in modern styles but once hugely popular, this texture is a very heavy, aggressive one that features rounded lumps you apply to your ceiling or wall. You achieve this effect by adding small pieces of styrofoam into the drywall mud. The biggest advantages of this texture is that it can easily cover very obvious mistakes and patches while giving you light acoustical insulation. It was actually originally made to help dampen sounds in restaurants before making its way into residential homes.
The downsides of this texture is that it’s an extremely strong look that may or may not gel with your home. Also, the popcorn texture gives you very heavy shadowing that can visually darken your space and make your paint colors look dull. This is especially true if there isn’t a lot of natural light in the space. It requires a compound sprayer to apply it. For larger-scale projects, you want to consider renting a refillable sprayer while smaller projects allow you to get away with spray cans of popcorn finish that are ready to use. Typically, you’ll only use it on ceilings because the heavy texture can catch on your clothing to scratch you if you rub up against it.
Skip trowel is a dramatic technique that you can use to cover surfaces like ceilings or walls that have had a lot of repairs. It’s also a great one for beginners to try with a creative eye because it requires a great deal of aesthetic sense than more difficult techniques like stomp brush. All you have to do is apply a smooth layer of drywall mud over your sheetrock.
Once it’s in place, put your trowel almost flat against the ceiling or wall and swirl it to create raised, random patterns in the mud. The height of your pattern will depend on how much mud you put on the first layer and the pressure and angle you apply to your trowel as you work. When you work on a team or in pairs, only one person should be applying the final texture to ensure you get consistent results. Heavier patterns are nice for ceilings, but you want lighter textures on the walls as more pronounced and deep ridges can wear down or catch on clothing.
Splatter is the single most popular type of knockdown texture you can create, and it gives you the classic look you get with Spanish lace stucco with an intricate pattern of splotches that look a little like lace veil designs. You get this texture by spraying the surface of your drywall using a drywall hopper gun that you loaded with a pre-mixed wet drywall mud or a joint compound powder mixed with a little water.
The peaks that get formed then get flattened using a knockdown knife that is 18-inches wide or wider to give you a very low-profile, raised texture that will cover 40% of the surface. The other 60% will stay flat. Also, the application process can get messy, especially due to splashback when you spray a ceiling.
Finally, one of the most simple techniques you can do is to thin your drywall mud to a consistency of thicker pancake batter and apply it using a trowel, sponge, or a deep-nap roller. This will give you a very stippled look that mimics stucco, and it’s one of the most forgiving techniques you can do because there isn’t a clearly defined pattern. Typically, this look isn’t great for walls that have heavy patching because it’s not deep enough to cover the lines the repairs left.
Walls or ceilings that are filled with dirt and grime or offer a very uneven surface won’t look good no matter how well you try and maintain them. So, it could be necessary to give your ceilings or walls a brand-new look. Using a stomp brush is one of the most effective ways to do so. If you’re on a tight budget and can’t repair your ceiling or wall, using a stomp brush would be a great bet. We’ve outlined how to use this technique to get a new look for your space, and you can enlist the help of your family and friends to pull it off in a weekend.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.