November 21

How To Paint a Ceiling

Many DIYers aren’t afraid to tackle a small paint job but often skip painting a ceiling. Knowing how to paint a ceiling will make a freshly painted room look complete. Selecting the right tools and following the right techniques can be time-consuming, but the results are worth the effort.

Ceiling Painting Tips From The Pros

Paint the Ceiling Before the Walls

A common question is whether to paint the walls or the ceiling first. Most professionals agree that it’s usually best to paint the ceiling first. Any paint that ends up on the walls will be covered with the new wall paint.

Clear the Room

Remove as much furniture from the room to be painted as possible. This will protect the furniture and allow for more room to work. Cover the flooring with paper or canvas drop cloths. It’s important to avoid using plastic sheeting on floors as the plastic creates an unsafe surface for ladders. Protect all furniture that can’t be relocated elsewhere with plastic or heavy cloth sheeting. Removing all pictures, mirrors, and decorative items from the room’s walls is best. If you cannot remove an item, cover it to protect it from damaging paint splatters and mist.

Remove Ceiling Fixtures

Turn off the power and remove any lighting fixtures or other items from the ceiling. Wrap them in heavy paper or other protective material and store them safely. It is crucial not to apply paint over fire sprinklers, smoke detectors, or carbon monoxide detectors since paint can interfere with their operation. Fire sprinklers can be carefully painted around or gently covered with plastic for protection.

Repair and Prep the Ceiling

Repair any small holes or cracks in the ceiling and allow the putty to dry completely before sanding. Sand any other rough areas on the ceiling. Vacuum the ceiling to remove dust so the primer and new paint can better adhere to the surface.

Purchase High-Quality Ceiling Paint

Ceiling paint is different from wall paint. It’s formulated to be thicker and stickier than paints made for walls. Using ceiling paint will eliminate most drips that occur when using thinner wall paint, so select a ceiling paint formula to make your project easier.

Flat or matte white ceiling paint is still the most popular type for ceilings for two important reasons:

  • Flat and matte finishes will help hide imperfections on the ceiling. Satin and glossy paint finishes will highlight every flaw on a surface.
  • White ceiling paint reflects more light in a room, creating a brighter space and making rooms appear more spacious.

Choose the Proper Roller Nap

Painting overhead is less of a strain on your body when using the right-sized nap roller cover. Thicker nap roller covers pick up more paint than is needed and add weight on the end of the pole leading to neck, shoulder, and back strain. Thicker nap rollers are also more challenging to roll across the ceiling, so choosing the nap thickness best for your ceiling surface will make the job easier.

Apply a Stain Blocking Primer

Using a primer designed to block stains is an important step that will help hide flaws, provide better coverage, and prevent any stain bleed-through. Use an angled brush or paint edging tool to cut in the edges of the ceiling with the primer about 2 to 3 inches wide around the edges of the ceiling. Use a paint roller to apply the rest of the primer. Do not let the primer around the room’s edges dry before beginning to prime the rest of the ceiling. Painting over wet edges helps to blend the sections seamlessly and will give better coverage.

Box Your New Ceiling Paint

Box your new paint for a more professional result. To box paint for a project means taking all the paint and mixing it in a large, 5-gallon bucket. This ensures color consistency because the paint will come from the same large bucket.  The most negligible color differences will stand out and leave you frustrated and less than pleased with the results.

Get a Work Platform

Use a work platform to help reduce the strain on your neck, arms, and back. It will help you get closer to the ceiling and make painting easier. Ladders can work, but you’ll constantly be climbing up and down them, increasing the risk of accidents. Extension poles are essential even on a work platform. Use the shortest possible pole extension to minimize the pole’s weight and help avoid strain on your neck, shoulders, arms, and lower back.

Start With the Edges

Remember to put a new roller pad on the roller frame and use a new tray liner before applying paint to the ceiling. It may seem unnecessary, but using the same roller pad and pan liner used to apply the primer will not create the best-looking results.

After the primer is dry, use an angled brush or paint edging tool to cut in the edges. Apply the new ceiling paint about 2 to 3 inches wide around the edges. Use a paint roller to apply the rest of the paint. Do not let the paint around the edges dry before beginning to paint the rest of the ceiling. Painting over wet edges helps blend the sections and create a seamless appearance.

Paint the Ceiling in Grids

Paint the ceiling in small sections to help keep track of where fresh paint has been applied. 3-foot by 3-foot sections usually work well to avoid permanent roller marks. Overlap each new section by starting on the completed area while the paint is still wet. Painting in grids will make the process faster and help blend sections seamlessly. After the first coat dries, check it closely for any issues. Apply a second coat of paint if necessary.

Painting Is a Lot of Work!

Most DIYers are surprised at how long an interior painting project can take. There are numerous steps to a successful paint job which can be time-consuming and physically demanding. Moving and covering furniture, cleaning, making repairs, sanding surfaces, and then applying primer and paint can take several days from start to finish. If you plan to paint several large rooms, completing your interior project can take days or even weeks.

Painting can be a physically demanding and potentially dangerous job. There are many reasons to hire a professional painter. Most professional paint contractors offer free estimates. They can often take care of the job quickly, efficiently, and for far less money than you might anticipate.

Trust The Painting Pros to Deliver High-Quality Results

The Painting Pros, Inc. is a high-quality, award-winning painting contractor. Since 1978, we’ve served homeowners, business owners, and property managers across the San Jose area. When it’s time to update your property, call The Painting Pros at 408-418-9912 to discuss your needs. Our team of painting professionals handles jobs of all sizes, and we’re ready to help you transform your property with a new paint job.

The Painting Pros use environmentally-conscious products and methods. We were the first painting company in Silicon Valley to be “certified green” by Green America. We use only low-VOC paints and recycle all eligible materials. The Painting Pros is a “Lead-Safe Certified Firm” with the EPA, meaning we have the training to safely take the necessary precautions to work with lead-based paint surfaces.


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