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March 2008

Ceiling Ideas
That Drywall Guy: Try something different with that ceiling finish

by Myron R. Ferguson

I like textured ceilings, but I don't like them in every room in every house I tape. I don't ever texture a ceiling or even suggest texturing to cover up my company's poor taping job.

I texture ceilings because it looks good. It helps bring some life to a plain ceiling. However, if every ceiling I tape is textured, then to me, textures become plain ceilings that would look better smooth.

Ceiling finishes can be as different as customers, whether they are owners or building contractors. And of course we all know how different drywall contractors can be.

I'm a drywall contractor, so when I leave a job, I want people to notice that I have been there. I want them to say, "Wow, that looks good. Who did this work?"

I work for some contractors who don't even want the word "texture" mentioned because they have stigmatized it as cheap and they believe a smooth finish is what signifies a quality job.

I applied a nice medium knockdown texture to a friend's family room addition. Around the ceiling fans and recessed lights I used a brush to create a nice design. Everyone that walks into that room notices that ceiling and loves the look. It is somewhat unique, it looks great, and it was done to decorate. And yes, it does hide some slight imperfections, such as a popped screw or a paint-roller mark. So it is a win-win.

I know a flooring guy will notice the flooring when he enters a room, and a person who hangs doors for a living will notice how well a door latches every time they close a door. I notice drywall work. And I want other people to notice my work too, because it looks good, not because there are problems.

One of my favorite drywall ads shows a couple standing there looking at a freshly painted wall. There is no trim-work or textures, just a plain wall. The drywall contractor is standing there gesturing toward the wall, as proud as can be. The ad says, "Most art is appreciated when it's seen … yours is when it isn't." I like this ad because it shows a contractor showing real pride in his work. I want to be the guy in that ad because I want that feeling, and I want those customers. Yes, maybe it is the smooth wall they want, but it could just as easily be the textured ceiling.

As I sit here in my office, I don't see too many walls because the desks and shelves and pictures cover and break up the surfaces. I think a nice Venetian plaster would look good, but it wouldn't be worth the cost because too much is hidden. The ceiling is a different story. I have a nice stomp texture painted flat white with some layers of drywall capped with a chamfer bead. I painted these edges the same color as the walls. Customers come into my office and don't notice the messy desk so much because the ceiling catches their attention.

I live in upstate New York where the tradition has always been mostly smooth walls and ceilings. So offering a texture is something unique, and I usually don't mention texture at first. I want the customer to know that I am a good finisher first and not just selling a texture because I am hiding something. But ultimately it is about the customer, and they often like something different, something that will set their home or one room apart from the others.

This magazine will be a great place to see first-hand what you may not otherwise see or hear about. I want this column to help get you thinking.

When times in the building trade get a little hard it may be the time to explore other options. Try something new or different.

Both of my boys played high school basketball. Whenever they were having a losing streak or just some poor games I could always have said, "Well, just try a little harder." But we found that what worked best was to try something different, like maybe using your left hand more often when shooting or providing a better target for a teammate to pass to or always trying to be the first man down the court. So mix things up a little. Try some texture instead of smooth or smooth instead of textured. Get the ladies talking.

Archives: That Drywall Guy
Spring 2009
Building the best arches and curves
by Myron R. Ferguson

Myron R. Ferguson is a drywall contactor from Galway, N.Y. He is the author of "Drywall Professional Techniques for Great Results" (recently revised) and has appeared in videos about drywall techniques. He travels throughout the country putting on drywall clinics at trade shows and lumberyards. He also provides hands-on training for companies and technical schools.

The Plaster Zone >
Ornamental considerations
by Robin Raymer

The Preservation Plasterer >
How to repair historic plaster
by Rory Brennan

That Drywall Guy >
Building the best arches and curves
by Myron Ferguson