Posted on: 11.08.2022 Posted by: Редакция Comments: 0

Almost everyone has experienced looking up at a ceiling only to discover patterns in the color or tiles above them. I know I can spend hours looking at all the different patterns I can find in a ceiling, whether it’s painted or not. However, have you ever wondered why some ceilings have patterns?

Some ceilings have patterns due to textures with specific purposes. In other cases, the pattern is purely decorative. Textured ceilings are often used to save time and reduce costs when finishing a room by avoiding ceiling plaster and sanding.

In this article, I will explain more about why some ceilings have patterns. This includes clarifying the different patterns and textures that ceilings can have.

Ceiling Patterns: Intentional vs. Unintentional

The first thing to figure out when trying to determine why a ceiling has a pattern on it is whether the pattern is intentional or not.

Humans tend to find patterns in things even when they don’t exist. That’s why you can see shapes in clouds or people saying they see a pattern on the moon!

In other cases, patterns are obvious and intentional, such as when you see a painted artwork or printed design.

Painted ceilings or color patterns can be classified as intentional patterns.

This means that when the ceiling was finished or renovated, the pattern was intentionally placed there for you to see later on.

Instead, textured ceilings or speckled ceiling panels can be considered unintentional patterns.

This means that the layout of the “pattern” you see is completely random.

The reason for an intentional or unintentional ceiling can vary, so it’s good to know which one you’re dealing with when asking this question.

Types of Intentional Ceiling Patterns

Not all intentional ceiling patterns are the same and do not necessarily serve the same purpose.

The only thing intentional ceilings have in common is that the pattern you see is not just a trick of the eye, but part of the ceiling’s appearance.

The reasons why you might have an intentional patterned ceiling can vary. However, these ceilings are primarily decorative.

You may want to cover up unsightly stains or discolorations, or you may enjoy the look of a patterned ceiling.

Even if you use your building materials to create a pattern, the pattern itself serves only the purpose of interior decoration.

Fresco Ceilings

The most obvious example of an intentionally patterned ceiling is a fresco ceiling.

By fresco, I mean a ceiling with an intricately painted design on it. One of the most famous examples of these ceilings is the Sistine Chapel.

Having a ceiling like that almost goes without saying in most places.

However, any painted picture or intricately painted design can be considered a fresco.

Painted Patterns

A similar example of an intentionally patterned ceiling would be a ceiling with a pattern or design painted onto the plaster.

This differs from a traditional fresco because these designs are usually less detailed.

For example, you can use a sponge paint design to create a pattern on your ceiling, or you can use wall stamps or stencils to design your ceiling without the hassle of a freehand design.

However, I would also include wallpapering your ceiling in this category, even though it is not “painting”.

Using wallpaper on your ceiling would give it an intentional pattern but is not as labor-intensive as a fresco.

Tile and Material Patterns

The final way to intentionally pattern a ceiling is by using your building materials.

If you are using solid color ceiling tiles, you can create a deliberate color pattern by alternating your tiles.

This method can be as simple as alternating black and white tiles in a checkerboard pattern or as complex as creating more dynamic color patterns resulting in a quasi-mosaic effect.

You can create an intentional pattern using almost any type of ceiling material. Even wood ceilings are partly intentional in their patterns.

If you alternate the type of wood or the arrangement of beams on your ceiling, you are creating some kind of pattern.

This is also true if the wood grain still creates a randomly occurring intentional pattern.

Types of Unintentional Ceiling Patterns

Now that you know how to create intentional ceiling patterns, it’s time to look at the more common types of patterns you will encounter.

Patterned Tiles and Ceiling Materials

The first unintentional pattern you may come across is the random pattern you find when using certain types of ceiling panels or materials.

In the previous section, I mentioned wood beams being used for intentional patterns on ceilings. Wood ceilings would also be considered unintentional patterns.

This is because wood does not have a smooth or uniform color.

Woodgrain has a natural pattern that you cannot cover up, no matter what type of stain or finishing products you apply to it.

This pattern is unintentional but often noticeable.

Your ceiling panels may cause a different unintentional pattern on your ceiling.

You may have looked up in a school or office building and noticed the ceiling panels had a speckled or swirling pattern. Like wood, these patterns are created randomly when the ceiling panels are manufactured.

This means that the pattern you see on the ceiling is completely unintentional.

Textured Ceilings

Textured ceilings are the most common type of unintentionally patterned ceilings.

Unlike the other types of ceiling patterns mentioned in this article, the reasoning behind a textured ceiling is often not purely decorative.

You may be familiar with the term “popcorn ceiling” to describe some types of textured ceilings. However, there are several types of textures you can find.

Textured ceilings are often considered patterned because they are not completely smooth.

Since you can see the texture, it often looks like a pattern on the ceiling, even though that’s not quite accurate as a description.

While you might think you can see designs or more consistent patterns in a textured ceiling, that is most likely your brain trying to make sense of the random texture layout.

What is the purpose of having a patterned or textured ceiling?

While intentionally patterned ceilings are primarily decorative, unintentionally patterned ceilings can serve multiple purposes.

The purpose of a patterned or textured ceiling may be to improve sound insulation or to hide imperfections. Removing ceiling texture is also time-consuming, so opting for a textured ceiling can save you a lot of time in some cases.

Below, we take a closer look at each of the different reasons for having a patterned or textured ceiling.

Sound Insulation

The structure of ceilings or ceiling tiles can absorb sound just like a carpet does. This can help reduce echoes and also contribute to soundproofing a room.

Soundproofing is an important reason why textured ceilings are commonly used in schools, office buildings, and hotels.

Hiding Imperfections

While it may not always be their main purpose, textured ceilings can effectively hide imperfections on the ceiling.

Unlike intentional patterns that can hide discolorations, the ceiling texture is often used to hide uneven areas that are not color-related.

This is because discolorations are less noticeable when your ceiling has a uniform color. Concealing them with this method is not as effective.

However, your ceiling can have many non-structural flaws.

The plaster on your ceiling may be uneven, or there may be natural or accidental depressions or indentations in the ceiling that do not affect the structure but may be unsightly.

A textured ceiling helps to hide this.

Even though you may still see the imperfections upon close inspection, the pattern and texture help to mask them.

Time Savings

The final and most common reason someone would opt for a textured ceiling in their space is time savings.

With a non-textured ceiling, you or your contractor will need to plaster and sand your ceiling to make it smooth and beautiful. The same goes for plastered walls.

This process is time-consuming in any situation but is further complicated by the texture of ceilings.

You have to stand on a ladder, often at awkward angles, as your arms are more prone to getting tired and gravity will feel like it’s working against you.

All of these less-than-ideal conditions will lead to plastering your ceiling taking much longer than any other surface.

The same goes for the sanding process.

A lot of the headache in this project can be avoided if you opt for a textured ceiling.

By using a texture for your ceiling, you will finish much faster and with much less hard labor than you would for a smooth ceiling.

Types of Textured Ceilings

There are various types of textured ceilings you may come across. It would be impossible to list them all, but here are just a few of the most common ones:

  • Perforated Tiles
  • Traditional Popcorn Ceiling
  • Orange Peel Ceiling

All of them can serve similar purposes, but some may be better suited for certain purposes than others. Here is a closer look at each type.

Perforated Tiles

Textured ceilings or perforated tiles are some of the most common types of textured ceilings you will come across.

Unlike most other textured ceilings, the texture in perforated tiles is “reversed,” not raised. By reversed, I mean that the texture is created through small holes punched into the tiles.

Instead, you will often find that ceilings have a raised texture, which means it is created by material protruding from the ceiling.

These tiles are often used in drop ceilings to conceal pipes or wires that are not present. They do not need to be concealed by the building structure because they are lightweight.

This means they often serve an aesthetic purpose. However, the small holes also help absorb sound, making them a great soundproof ceiling.

Traditional Popcorn Ceiling

The commonly known popcorn ceiling is primarily found in older buildings but is still very familiar to the general population.

This is because with this type of ceiling, you do not smooth the plaster but intentionally brush it to create the raised and uneven pattern you get as a result.

As this is the most commonly used type of textured ceiling that you can find in buildings of all kinds, its purpose falls into all three categories mentioned in the last section.

The ridges and valleys created by the texture help make a room soundproof, which makes it a popular hotel and apartment option, especially in buildings constructed in the 1970s to 1990s.

It can also help hide some imperfections that may form over time during the construction process, especially in buildings that are subject to a strict schedule for completion, such as an office building.

Lastly, this type of ceiling is often used in large construction projects with many areas of ceiling that need to be completed.

In these cases, the additional time required to smooth a ceiling can mean additional days or even weeks before the ceiling is finished.

These textures do not affect the physical condition of a ceiling, and speeding up the final touch gives all parties involved time and money savings.

Orange Peel Ceiling

While not as exaggerated as a popcorn ceiling, an orange peel texture can still be commonly found on ceilings.

This is because the orange peel appearance is still not smooth but is less pronounced than textures with larger or sharper patterns.

This texture is often achieved through spraying, which saves a lot of time once a ceiling is ready to be finished because you can complete the project much more quickly.

You will still be able to absorb some sound with this texture, and you will be able to hide some minor imperfections.

However, if those are your two main motives for wanting a textured ceiling, this may not be the best option.

That’s because its more subtle appearance makes it less effective in these two areas.


You may come across a ceiling with a pattern for several reasons. Some ceilings have intentional patterns that are part of a room’s decor.

In most cases, the pattern on a ceiling is caused by its texture. From sound insulation to time savings, textured ceilings can serve multiple purposes. The unintentional patterns caused by textured ceilings are just a byproduct of the texture itself.

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