Painting Ceiling Trim for a Decorative Contrast

The corner of a ceiling with double crown molding.
  • 3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-100

Usually, people paint ceiling trim as the last phase of a larger project, so there's not a lot of thought put into it. With planning, patience, and a willingness to test new techniques, however, you can have a great-looking ceiling that starts at the trim.

1. Draw the Eyes Upward

When people enter the room, you want their eyes to be pulled up toward the ceiling trim. You do this through creating an eye-catching contrast. A soft blue trim bordering a white ceiling is an example of the kind of contrast you're trying to effect.

2. Use Large Trim

Small ceiling trim is easily overlooked. If you use wider trim with some decorative elements it certainly won't be.

3. Use Smaller Brushes

paint brushes dipped and laying on top of open paint cans

You don't need rollers to paint trim. In their place, use one-inch paint brushes. These will allow you to control the amount of paint you're using. You can also limit or eliminate brush strokes by controlling the amount of pressure you use on the brush.

4. Use Thick Paint

Thick paint on the trim will contrast with flat or glossy paint on the ceiling and walls. It's also more resistant to wear, so your paint job will last longer.

5. Paint the Trim With a Sponge

To give your trim a distinctive appearance, dab the paint on with a sponge. This works especially well with multiple colors. For example, you could create a fun family room by painting the trim a dark color and then adding lighter colors randomly with a sponge.

6. Distress the Trim

Ornate white ceiling trim

Another great way to make your trim stand out is by using the dry brush technique to spread some metallic paint. Prime the surface with a darker color, such as a rustic red, and then create some contrast with streaks of metallic paint applied with a dry brush.

7. Personalize It

A fun way to liven up any room, but especially a children's room, is to personalize the ceiling trim with hand prints. Use some washable paint and have the kids apply their hand to the trim. This can create an interesting contrast to a white ceiling, but be careful not to get paint all over the wall.