How to Make Swirls on a Plaster Ceiling

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What You'll Need
5 gallon bucket
Joint compound
Drop cloths
Wide paintbrush
Safety glasses

Making swirls on a plaster ceiling can be an excellent way to decorate when you want to add texture to spice things up a little in any room. It can also be a good way to repair a cracked ceiling. Rather than paying someone to do it for you, you can do it quite easily by yourself if you follow these step by step instructions.

Step 1 - Preparing the Room

Before you start, you need to clear out all the furniture to avoid damage from splashes. Cover the floor with drop cloths, overlapping them so none of the floor is exposed. If there are cracks in the plaster ceiling, use sandpaper to smooth the edges.

Step 2 - Mixing the Paint

Pour your paint into a 5-gallon bucket and add joint compound before stirring. You want the mix to be thin enough to apply with a paintbrush but thick enough so the texture will show through. The ideal viscosity of the mixture should be about the same as peanut butter.

Step 3 - Applying the Paint

You will need to be on a stepladder in order to have proper control while you apply the paint. Remember stepladder safety and make sure the arms are properly extended with the braces locked. Do not stand on the top step when you paint; you can easily fall off. You should also wear safety glasses to keep paint out of your eyes.

Coat the wide brush in paint and apply to the ceiling in swirls. These can be as long or as short as you wish, but you should keep a consistent size to them for the best effect. Start from one corner of the room and work your way across. You can also overlap swirls. How you complete your design is essentially up to you.

Step 4 - Adding Designs

As an alternative to making swirls with your brush, you can apply the paint to a section of the plaster ceiling then use other objects to make the swirls. If you want very fine swirls, use a comb. Wider, longer swirls can be made with a number of instruments, including the tines of a garden rake. Think creatively and you will easily come up with new types of swirls. Work in small sections to ensure the paint does not dry before you can make your swirls.

Step 5 - Finishing

Allow the paint to dry on the plaster ceiling but keep the drop cloths on the ground. When it’s dry, inspect your work. Inevitably, some of the swirls will be thicker than others and some areas may have pieces of texture which hang down. To enhance the appearance of any unattractive areas, sand the texture where necessary. Make sure to sand very lightly. When you feel you have finished, climb down from the stepladder and check from the ground. Only when you are completely satisfied should you begin the clean-up process.