Tips for Painting Your Ceiling

a paint roller adding white paint to a ceiling

Sometimes in order to achieve an updated or simply a refreshed look in your home, you only need to paint a particular area or part of your house. Each different piece does need to be approached in slightly different ways and requires different tools in order to get the best results possible. The ceiling is one of the easiest places to paint, especially if your surface is simply flat with no molding or chipped paint to contend with.

Most often ceilings are painted white, and this is certainly a good choice, but think carefully about the kind of white you decide to go with. There are many hues available, from a warm-toned white to whites with more of a cool blue. Be sure the hue compliments the color of your walls and décor by bringing paint chips or color swatches with you when choosing your ceiling color.

If your ceilings are low, make sure you paint them a shade or two lighter than your walls to add height, and a shade or two darker if you have high ceilings. However, white doesn't have to be your only choice. Given the proper room and architecture, painting your ceiling in a contrasting color can add some excitement to your room.

While painting the ceiling is an easy task, you do need to make sure you tape your walls and cover them with a drop cloth or something of similar weight and thickness. Due to drips, painting the ceiling can be a messy job. Because of this, it is also important to remove all curtains and pictures from the walls (or cover them) and remove as much furniture as you can so you have clear access to the ceiling from all points in the room. Heavier furniture can be moved to the room's center and covered with a drop cloth.

Painting the walls and ceiling at the same time is somewhat easier, although if they are to be different colors, you will want to make sure you protect one from the other as if you were painting only the ceiling. In the case of painting walls and ceiling together, start with the ceiling and work your way down. You should also take some extra time to tape around lights and other fixtures on the ceiling if it is not possible to remove them.

To begin, "cut in" the edges and any other odd areas, such as woodwork, lights and ceiling fans. Use a small brush, 1" or less, for this task. Some experts will recommend painting first, but I find it is easier to do that first, then touch up as needed. If you are painting the walls it is OK to paint onto the wall a little, but not if you do not intend to repaint your walls! In that case, use a small handheld shield or pre-tape your walls. The problem with using only tape to shield your wall is that tape can sag under too much paint. If you are properly removing excess paint from your brush this shouldn't be a problem, but mistakes do happen.

If your ornamentation is to be done in a different color than the ceiling, you should leave this for later. If the color is different enough - for example, so light that a mistake with the ceiling paint will show - you may need to spray the areas first in order to protect them.

After this is finished, you can begin rolling the ceiling. It is simpler to use a roller on the ceiling than to use even a large brush unless your area is exceptionally small. Even a textured ceiling can be rolled, although this may take a little more time to be sure you have adequate coverage. I prefer using a roller pan, but be sure to have the area around your pan well covered. If you do not like using roller pans, you can also use an empty pail and a roller grid. This is a wire or plastic grid that attaches to the rim of your container. You roll your roller on it to remove excess paint, dropping it all right back into your container. If your ceiling is low enough you won't really need a ladder, but painting this way can really wear out your arm unless you use an handle extender.

Work in small section, beginning in a "W" across your section. If you are right handed, begin at the right edge and work your way across the ceiling. Go back over the pattern, slowly working the paint evenly across your section. If you work toward the window across from the entry, the light of the window will hide your roller lines and give you a much smoother finish.

If your room is large, you will not need to wait for the paint to dry to start your second coat; however, do make certain the first coat is dry so you avoid flaws. Usually only two coats are needed, but if there are stains or other imperfections in the surface you are covering, you may want to see how those dry and go over it again.

With these simple tips, painting your ceiling like a pro can be a snap and save you a bundle of cash.