Learning Rules for Painting Ceilings is Not Difficult At All!

man painting the celing of a room

Learning Rules for Painting Ceilings is Not Difficult At All!

a couple painting the ceiling of their home

Painting might be one of the easiest DIY projects to spruce up your home. Even painting the ceiling can make a room appear bigger, brighter, or warmer, but while painting walls can be relatively simple, how the heck do you do the ceiling? 

You might be getting a cramp in your neck just staring at it, wondering how to tackle it. Fear not! With a little elevation and technique, you can get that ceiling painted quickly and efficiently!

Related: How to Modernize Your Home 

Gather Your Tools and Materials

To get this party started, first thing’s first: you have to have the right tools! Make sure you have all your paint tools ready to go— this includes paint roller frames, paint roller covers, paint roller and extension pole, paint trays and liners, paintbrushes, and interior latex paint and primer. 

To protect any surfaces you don’t want to get paint on, have your painter’s tape and canvas drop cloth ready. You’ll need a ladder to make sure you can reach the ceiling, and any safety materials like goggles, masks, and gloves. 

Prep the Room 

a couple covering up furniture

Before you begin, remove as much of the furniture as you can from the room. This just means there’s less for you to try to maneuver around (and helps protect it from getting paint on it). Anything that you can’t easily remove should be covered with drop cloths. 

To avoid getting paint splatters on the floor, cover the floor with additional canvas drop cloths. Why canvas? It’s less likely you and your ladder will slip on canvas. If possible, you should try to remove any ceiling fixtures as well, and be sure to turn off power to the fixtures before removing the hardware. Put them in a plastic bag and set them aside. 

Related: How to Get Rid of Textured Walls 

Tape the Edges

If you are just painting the ceiling, and not the walls, start using your painter’s tape to tape off the edges of the wall or the crown molding. We suggest using a wider painter’s tape, which will allow you to get your paint roller close to the corners without getting paint on the walls, and since you don’t have to be as precise, you can paint more quickly. 

Don’t forget to tape around any remaining fixtures or ceiling fans too! If you plan on repainting the walls and the ceiling, start with the ceiling! By starting with the ceiling, painter’s tape is less necessary, since you’re just going to paint over any splatters or brush strokes anyway.

Prime and Sand Before You Paint 

Over time and after many layers of paint build-up, bumps and debris can accumulate on the ceiling, so to start with a clean, smooth canvas, it’s best to sand the ceiling before painting it. The easiest way to sand a ceiling is with a sanding pole. 

After sanding is complete, wipe it with a damp cloth to remove any dust or residue. Once you have sanded the ceiling, it’s prime time! Do NOT skip the primer! 

Primer provides a protective stain barrier and in many cases, will make it easier for you to only need one coat of paint. Use interior latex primer and apply it with your roller and extension rod. Make sure the primer is completely dry before proceeding to the next step.

Use a Paintbrush for the Perimeter 

Once your ceiling is primed, don’t start rolling your paint on just yet! One of the cardinal rules of painting ceilings is that you have to start by “cutting in.” To do this, take a paintbrush and paint 2-3 inches in from the corner of the ceiling. 

“Cutting in” helps ensure that areas that might be missed by a roller still get painted. After you’ve made your cut line, get your roller ready and start painting while the cut line is still wet. This will help reduce visible lines and blend the paint better.

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Know How to Roll 

couple painting a ceiling with a roller

Ready to roll? Grab your roller and start rolling in the paint. Use the textured side of the paint tray to remove excess paint.

You might think that getting a lot of paint on your roller at once will mean you finish faster, but what it actually does is makes your roller heavier to hold up on your extension pole, and causes a lot of unnecessary drips and splatters

Start rolling in one corner of the ceiling, and when you roll, overlap the strokes to create a smooth and uniform finish. Roll slowly enough so as not to drip paint, but quickly enough to keep a wet edge so as to avoid streaks and lines. Allow your paint to dry completely before touching up areas that need it or deciding if you need a second coat.

Add a Second Coat if Needed 

Depending on what kind of paint you use and how well you did with the first coat, you might not need a second coat! If you do decide you need a second coat, make sure that you apply the second coat in one direction. The second coat should be applied quickly until the entire surface is covered.

Clean Up

Once the painting is done, the job isn’t quite over yet! Clean your painting materials with warm soap and water. Use a paintbrush comb and a painter’s tool with a notch to clean the rollers and squeeze out the rest of the paint. 

Keep rinsing with water until all the soap is gone and set out to dry. Remove your painter’s tape, clean up your canvas cloths, replace any fixtures you took down and put your room back together as you may see fit. 

Related: How to Master the Skill of Removing Paint from Wood 


a room with fresh ceiling paint

When we conceptualize a room, we usually think of fifth walls, but we typically forget that the ceiling is the fifth wall, and any paint project should devote just as much care and attention to a ceiling as it would to the walls. 

Most people can handle painting ceilings on their own, but if you have extremely high or vaulted ceilings, it might be best to contact a professional to get the job done!

Are you looking for some more design inspiration? If so, check out our portfolio

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