How to Paint a Ceiling


If your space needs a pick-me-up, painting the ceiling may be the perfect solution. Whether you’re freshening up a coat of white paint or going bold with a bright color or pattern, a fresh coat of paint will make a big difference in any room. The best way to paint a ceiling is a bit different than the process for painting a wall. Here is an overview of the process plus some helpful ceiling painting tips.

How to Paint a Ceiling (Pixabay)

Step 1: Choose the Best Ceiling Paint for Your Space

Once you’ve decided to paint your ceiling, the first step is to determine the best type of paint for your particular ceiling. If you have a smooth ceiling that is already painted, then you have the most options. There are specially formulated ceiling paints that have a particular viscosity and sheen that allows for a drip-free application, but they are pricier than regular interior latex paints. If you decide to go with regular latex paint, try to pick a paint with a KU (Krebs Units) measurement that is 106 or higher (you can find this on the back of the can). The KU measures the thickness of the paint. These paints will stick better to the ceiling, preventing unwanted drips during the drying process. Opt for a no- or low-luster sheen to minimize the appearance of imperfections. If you are going from a dark paint color to a light paint color, then you’ll want to start with a coat of primer before painting.


Many people think of white as the sole color option for ceilings, but there are many other hues that can be used to add character to your space. Other colors will heighten drama and create contrast. Be sure to choose a color that picks up on similar hues throughout the room to create a cohesive look. Patterns are also an option if you’re interested in stenciling a design on your ceiling.


Please note that there is specially formulated ceiling tile paint for rooms where acoustics are important, and there is another process altogether for painting popcorn ceilings (see step 6).

Ceiling Paint (Jennifer Allwood)

See post: Jennifer Allwood|My Painted Black Ceiling


Step 2: Decide on a Pattern (If You’re Stenciling)

If you have decided to tackle stenciling your ceiling, then you’ll want to figure out what type of pattern to use. First, think about what kind of style you’re typically drawn to – do you like more traditional patterns? Or perhaps modern geometrics are your thing? Use these preferences to begin your search for the perfect design. You will also want to consider scale. If the ceiling you are stenciling is tiny, then you will want to avoid large scale patterns and go for something a bit more intricate. Now is the time to consider the color combination of your pattern as well. Make sure that the main ceiling color is the lighter color in your combination. For example, if you want to have a gray and black pattern, then the ceiling should start out gray and you will stencil the black over it. To make it easy on yourself, use your existing ceiling color as one of your two hues.

Painting a Patterned Ceiling (Cutting Edge Stencils)

See post: http://www.hometalk.com/3346230/enhance-your-ceiling-with-a-stencil" target="_blank">http://www.hometalk.com/3346230/enhance-your-..." rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank">Cutting Edge Stencils|Enhance Your Ceiling with a Stencil


Step 3: Choose the Best Supplies

Next it’s time to figure out what supplies will work best for your particular project. You will need a paint tray, tray liners, a roller handle, and a couple of roller covers for the main part of the ceiling. Be sure to choose a roller cover with the appropriate nap for your ceiling – they come in different naps for different ceiling textures. You will also need a paint brush for the edges. Jeff of Home Repair Tutor recommends Purdy ClearCut Stiff brushes, which have angled edges that will simplify painting the corners, so much so that he claims that you won’t even need to tape off the edges. Even so, a roll of high quality painter’s tape is great to have on hand in case you decide to mask off the edges of your ceiling. He also prefers using a bucket and wire grid instead of a paint tray for the edges, but this is a matter of personal preference.

Paint Supplies (Home Repair Tutor)

See post: Home Repair Tutor|Conquer Painting Straight Ceiling Lines (Without Tape)


Step 4: Prep the Area

Once you have chosen your colors, materials, and supplies, it’s time to prepare the ceiling for its first coat of paint. Dampen a clean rag and wipe down the surface of the ceiling to remove any dust or residue. Kitchen and bathroom ceiling paint will get especially dirty so pay particular attention to these. If you have popcorn ceilings, vacuuming with a brush attachment may work better than wiping. Apply painter’s tape to the entire perimeter of the space, pressing down firmly to ensure that there are no air bubbles between the wall and the tape. Tape around lights and vents as well. 

Paint Preparations (Melissa Rainey)

See post: Melissa Rainey|Blue Project: Bathroom


Step 5: Start Painting!

It’s finally time to start painting! Because you’re reaching upward to paint a ceiling, it can be a physically demanding process. Not to mention messy, any drips that do fall will most likely fall on you, thanks to gravity. So be sure to take plenty of breaks, and wear old clothing and protective eye wear. You may need to apply more than one coat of paint, depending on the type of paint you choose and the difference in paint colors between your old ceiling and your new one. If this is the case, let the paint dry thoroughly between coats.  

How to Paint a Ceiling with a Roller (CreekLineHouse)

See post: CreekLineHouse|How to Paint Your Ceiling Without Losing Your Mind!


Step 6: A Note About Painting Popcorn Ceilings

Often, the best way to paint a ceiling depends on how it’s made. Popcorn ceilings are difficult to remove, so simply repainting them may be the best option. If your popcorn ceiling has never been painted, then you might want to consider using a ceiling spray paint instead of using rollers and brushes. If you decide to go this route, you will need to cover the entire room in plastic and secure it with painter’s tape. Be sure to wear a respirator-style mask to avoid breathing in the harmful fumes. 

How to Paint a Textured Ceiling (Les and Gina)

See post: Les and Gina|How to Paint Popcorn Ceilings


Step 7: Finish

Whether you have spray painted or used traditional rollers and brushes, you will finish the job in the same way – by removing the painter’s tape. Wait until the paint on the tape is dry enough so that it doesn’t accidentally transfer to the walls while you’re removing it. But do not wait any longer than that. If you let the paint cure completely, you run the risk of the tape peeling some of the new ceiling paint away.

Ceiling Paint Finish (Jennifer Allwood)

See post: Jennifer Allwood|My Painted Black Ceiling


So if you’ve decided to paint a ceiling in your home, be sure to follow our foolproof steps above to complete your project with amazing results. Freshening up a dingy white ceiling with a bright new coat of paint will make it feel more open and inviting, while adding a bold color or pattern to your ceiling will give it a whole new look. And be sure to keep this article handy by saving it on Pinterest!


Written for the Hometalk community by: Faith | Design Fixation

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Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Lisbon Lion 67
    on Feb 18, 2020

    Can you please advise me on how to "Remove" a bit of "Spray Paint" from my "Bath", I made a silly mistake while "Spraying" the Board at side,the "Bath" is Fibre Glass". Thank you.

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