Orange Peel vs Knockdown: The 6 Differences You Need to Know

Over recent years textured walls have become increasingly popular amongst those looking to add spice and depth to their home decor.

There’s a multitude of different texture types that you can use that involve taking a drywall ‘mud’ mixture and applying it to the wall using various techniques that can range from trowelling, stomping, splattering, or spraying to achieve different effects. 

Two of the most popular drywall styles people like are called the ‘Orange Peel’ and ‘Knockdown’ styles.

The main difference between orange peel and Knockdown is that orange peel doesn’t require additional work to ‘knock down’ the texture to create its effect. It can be sprayed or rolled on and left to dry.

Orange peel is a little more durable than Knockdown due to having a shallower texture. But a knockdown is easier to repair without needing special attention to ‘match’ it to the previous finish. As long as you’re using the same mixture and application method, it’ll look great!

Let’s take a more in-depth look at each drywall finish type and their applications, and then we’ll put them head to head and see how they stack up against each other.

What is Orange Peel?

Of course, many common wall finishes might all look the same to the untrained eye. But in fact, they are quite different in terms of how they are applied, their visual look, and the properties they can bring to the wall in terms of durability and style.

You’ve probably already encountered finish types such as popcorn or stippling. However, these produce a finish that, while visually pleasing, wasn’t the most pleasant to touch. And because of the high bumps, they could easily break off or be squashed when furniture was placed against them.

So if that’s not ideal for you, Orange Peel offers a similar visual look, but it’s a little smoother and more pleasant to touch. That extra layer adds a lot of durability and can even hide minor nicks and imperfections.

What is Knockdown?

The knockdown wall texture emerged (at least in popularity) in the early 90s and was seen as a successor to the previously popular orange peel and popcorn finishes.

It’s generally considered a modern style and, as such, is commonly used with more contemporary decor, but that’s not to say it’s only appropriate for that.

Visually it has a mottled drywall texture which adds this uneven and random quality to the wall giving it depth, dimension, and intrigue. Its more random and messy style also makes it great for hiding imperfections in the wall.

And as a small bonus, the uneven texture helps slightly with sound diffusion by eliminating the first reflections from its surface.

What are the differences between Orange Peel and Knockdown?

Even if aesthetically you think you would be happy with either type. There are numerous differences in their application, durability, and repair difficulty that might make you lean towards one more than the other.

1. Application methods

Orange peel:

One of the biggest draws of the orange peel texture is that it’s one of the easiest to apply, requiring minimal equipment and no special skills to create a professional-looking finish.

It doesn’t use any chemicals, and there’s no need to use gloves or respiratory gear either, making it a true DIY project anyone can take on.

The only things you need to source are the drywall mix, a spray gun, and a hopper. Some people also say you can roll this on thickly, but we recommend just getting the spray gun as it makes the process much easier. And finally, some drywall sealer/paint primer to prime the walls and finish them after the texture is applied.

Start by preparing the walls. Remove any pre-existing wallpaper, sand everything down to a nice and smooth texture and then apply your primer of choice to present a nice surface for the mixture to adhere to. If you’re starting with bare drywall, you should apply a layer of drywall sealer to create a better adhesion surface.

Next, stir the dry mix wall powder with the correct amount of water as indicated on the package. Doing this by hand can be a bit tedious, so mixing it with a drill will make your life much easier.

Place the mixture into the hopper gun and set it to high pressure with the small nozzle. This will give you that dense yet flat orange peel-style texture. You might want to practice on a spare bit of drywall first to get a feel for how the sprayer works.

Once the texture is applied, apply a layer of sealer/paint primer over the texture to give it some additional durability and have an excellent surface for your chosen final paint finish to adhere to.


The knockdown wall texture is applied by, as the name might suggest, by ‘knocking down’ an already highly textured drywall finish to create its signature effect.

The process doesn’t require additional equipment than the orange peel, but it is a little more labor intensive as it’s done mainly by hand. But it’s not difficult in terms of skill and is something someone with even a small amount of DIY know-how should easily achieve.

  • Much like orange peel, start by preparing the wall by sanding it down to a smooth texture and applying a drywall filler to ensure you have a nice, even surface to apply the texture.
  • Next, mix up your mud/drywall compound as per the packet instructions, much like the orange peel drywall texture, and load it into the hopper.
  • Set the mix aside for about 15 minutes to ensure the water is fully absorbed, or it tends to thicken within the hopper.
  • Once you have the application consistency correct, apply it to the walls.
  • Next is where we achieve the knocked-down effect. One of the crucial elements here is waiting the correct amount of time before ‘knocking down’ the splatter. If it’s too dry, you knock it back to drywall. You end up smearing mud across the walls if it’s too wet.
  • An excellent general room of thumb is to wait about 10 to 15 minutes after application and when the wet reflective sheen starts to disappear from the splatter.
  • Drag the knockdown knife in a straight, smooth motion to remove the peaks and create the effect.
  • Once the correct finish is attained, seal it all in with your primer of choice to get ready for painting!

2. Its appearance 

Orange peel:

One of this finish type’s biggest appeals is its incredible versatility. It’s as appropriate for a cutting-edge contemporary designed room as it is a classic, warm and homely feeling room.

Because of this, it’s perhaps a more ‘safe’ option when compared to Knockdown, which is generally associated with more modern and contemporary decor only.


As mentioned, the appearance of a knockdown wall finish is a little more dynamic and modern than the more safe and even finish of orange peel.

While it’s generally considered a ‘newer’ type of finish, you shouldn’t be afraid to use it with any decor you wish as it’s still versatile to use in more traditional styles.

It looks great regardless of its use case!

3. Durability

Orange peel:

Orange peel is considered one of the most durable finishes around. This is because although it’s textured drywall, there is nothing that overly protrudes that might get knocked off or damaged easily.

Yet, in the event the wall does get damaged in some way, most of the time, it’s barely noticeable as a small ding or nick will blend into the style of the wall.

Orange peel finishes can essentially last indefinitely, combined with the fact it works in so many decor styles making this the single longest-lasting wall finish you can use.


While not considered weak or easily damaged by any means, when compared to orange peel, a knockdown finish is more susceptible to breaking and damage as it has more exposed flat areas and a larger surface area.

4. Cleaning and maintenance

Orange peel:

Generally, a textured wall will always require more cleaning and upkeep than a simple, flat wall design. This is because the textured finish allows dust and dirt to accumulate.

Also, because of that even surface, cleaning is a little bit more time-consuming. This is because simply wiping the wall doesn’t get into all those nooks and crannies the texture creates, meaning you need to be extra careful and spend extra time ensuring you clean everything thoroughly.

So is an orange peel drywall texture more or less work to finish than other texture styles?

Orange peel is considered a less complex texture to clean as the pits and protrusions in the texture are very shallow compared to something like a popcorn texture.

For that reason, orange peel is probably your best choice if you want something easy to maintain and clean!


A knockdown finish is considered quite a bit more challenging to clean than an orange peel finish.

In terms of the peaks and valleys, the depth difference is quite a bit higher than the shallow effect of orange peel. This means it’s more susceptible to dust or dirt accumulating in the crevices, requiring extra time and attention to clean thoroughly.

So while both need a good deal of care and attention to clean, Knockdown is a little bit more time-consuming to clean.

5. Repair difficulty

Orange Peel:

Orange peel finishes have a very stylized look, and while they do an excellent job of masking minor dings, you will seldom find yourself needing to make any simple repairs to it. This can be pretty troublesome if you experience some damage and need to finish part of the wall.

You need to ensure you are using the same drywall compound mixture and apply it with the same spray pressure, nozzle size, and technique as you did on the first application, or it will not blend nicely with the original style.

For that reason, orange peel is one of the more complex and less forgiving styles to repair.


The repair process for a knockdown finish is identical to that of orange peel. You will need to sand the area down and re-apply the finish like you did the first time.

However, the slightly more random and messy aesthetic of a knockdown finish is a little less demanding regarding how accurate you need to be with its reapplication.

This makes repairing a knockdown finish a bit easier than the orange peel.

6. Removal

Orange Peel:

Many of the more textured finishes can be removed with a scraper or trowel because they protrude enough that it has something to catch onto.

Unfortunately, orange peel is just too ‘shallow’ in its texture depth which makes removal using this method essentially impossible.

To adequately remove orange peel, the best method is to sand it down, which is time-consuming and laborious. So picking an orange peel finish is something you will need to stick with for a while as it’s so difficult to remove.


Because of its slightly denser texture than orange peel, removing a knockdown finish can be a little easier as you can remove most of the finish with a trowel or scraper.

This reduces the sanding that needs to be done after—making it a far less laborious process than orange peel.

Orange Peel vs Knockdown: Are they the same?

While they are both very beautiful wall finishes that can be appropriate for many different decor styles. Some fundamental differences between them should be taken into account.


Because it doesn’t need additional hand work after the mud has been sprayed, orange peel is a little easier to apply than Knockdown and requires less time to complete.

Visual aesthetic

While both finishes can be used for any decor style, it’s purely up to your preference. Generally speaking, Knockdown is associated with more modern and contemporary styles since its popularisation was a little bit later in the 90s. At the same time, orange peel is considered more ‘classic.


Orange peel is a little more durable and less prone to damage due to its shallower texture and lower surface area.

Cleaning and maintaining

Knockdown finishes are a little more challenging to clean and maintain when compared to orange peel due to its denser texture with more profound valleys in which dust and dirt can accumulate.


Knockdown finishes are a little easier to repair as they are not quite demanding when matching everything up perfectly. An orange peel finish must be blended using identical methods, or it will stand out.


An orange peel finish is a little harder to remove as it’s too shallow to be drawn using a scraper, so it just needs a lot of sanding. Knockdown finishes have the added benefit of being primarily removed using a towel which reduces the amount of sanding required.

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