Heads Up: How To Paint A Ceiling

Painting the ceiling is an awkward job, but you can reap the rewards of a brighter, more spacious-feeling room. With proper preparation, painting the ceiling doesn’t have to drive you up the wall – here’s everything you need to know for a perfectly painted ceiling.

1) Prepare The Room

Despite the thickness of ceiling paint, it’s inevitable that you’ll get a few drips and splatters. Nobody wants to turn their new sofa into a veritable Jackson Pollock, so before you get started you’re going to need to try and remove as much of the furniture from the room as possible.

Whilst painting with rollers produces less splatter than using a sprayer, you can’t eliminate all the mess. Anything that you can’t remove from the room you’ll want to protect by covering it in plastic sheets or painter’s drop cloths to protect it from splatter and drips. Lay these sheets across the floor to protect your carpet – ultimately you want this room to look like Dexter’s prepped it for his next victim!

2) Reduce Obstacles

To get a neat and clean finish you’ll need to paint close to light fixtures. Turn the electricity off at the fusebox in your home, and remove bulky light fixtures. Replacing these afterwards will give you a clean and flawless finish. Remove smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms and replace these later – painting over these items can block the receptors, damaging the device and putting your family at risk.

3) Cover The Walls

Painting the ceiling is an unpleasant job and so most people won’t undertake it unless they have to as part of a broader redecoration project. Often, this means you’ll be painting the walls in your room as part of the project – if so, leave the walls till last as it gives you more freedom to paint on the ceiling without worrying about the walls. However, if you’re not repainting the walls, or have already undertaken this job, you’ll need to protect them from devastating ceiling drips.

Hanging plastic sheeting over the walls, secured to the place that the walls meet the ceiling with painter’s tape, will mean that any drips are caught on these sheets. Remember to cover and tape over the door frame, and to ensure nobody comes barrelling into the room while you’re up a ladder!

4) Prepping Your Surfaces

For a perfect paint you’ll want to prepare the ceiling surface. This means you need to remove any lumps, bumps and imperfections in the ceiling which could lead to an uneven paint job. First, vacuum your ceiling to reduce the dust and dirt that’s climbing to the surface, and then examine your surface for cracks and flaws. Often, small cracks can be painted over, producing a smooth and flawless surface, but larger imperfections may need to be spackled using putty. If you’re doing this, let it dry then sand your ceiling smooth.

Finally, run the vacuum over your ceiling once more – after sanding your spackle you’ll have left microscopic particles across your ceiling that may prevent the paint from sticking well. Now you’ve got a perfectly smooth ceiling, you’re ready to paint.

5) Primed And Ready

Before you start painting, assemble all your tools – there’s nothing more frustrating than realizing you’ve forgotten something and having to rush out to the hardware store halfway through. Put your paint, rollers, brushes and paint tray in one corner of the room, where you won’t trip over them, and double check you have everything you need.

If you’re painting a light color onto a darker surface, you may need to prime the ceiling first. In this case, apply your coat of primer. For many ceiling jobs, however, you’ll be painting white on white so you can skip the primer and get straight to it.

6) The Perfect Paint

For a meticulous paint job, start with the tricky edges first. Using an angled brush (or an edge painting tool) paint from the walls in. Ensuring that this band is around three inches wide lets you take the roller to the ceiling without venturing too close to the walls, risking splatter and disaster.

Lastly, dip the roller in the paint tray and begin to apply your first coat to the ceiling. If you;re painting white on white you can easily lose track of where you’ve painted, so break the ceiling down into a grid and work your way through it systematically. If you’ve primed the surface you may only need one coat – but allow it to dry before inspecting it to see if a second layer is worth applying.

Wrapping Up

It’s incredible what a difference a newly painted ceiling can do. Simultaneously brightening your room and making the space seem bigger, this is a big job that’s always worth the effort.


Katherine Rundell is a home designer and writer at Dissertation Writing Services and Thesis Writing. Katherine learnt every home improvement trick on the job, as from an early age she would help her father renovate old houses for resale. 

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