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How To Paint A Ceiling

Part 1

While painting a ceiling may sound relatively simplistic to many, for others having a guide to painting the ceiling makes the project much easier. If you are painting the entire room, walls and ceiling – the ceiling should be painted first. By painting the ceiling first any splatter that may hit the walls will be covered by the wall paint.

painting a ceiling

Figure 1 - Painting a ceiling

Most of the time required to paint a ceiling will be used in preparing the room for painting and in returning the room to functionality.


It is important that you purchase or collect everything that you will need prior to starting. Having to run out in the middle of the project, because you forgot an item may lead to problems.

  • Paint:
  • Depending on the current ceiling color and its wear level will determine how many coats of paint you will need. If your ceiling just needs a bit of refreshing, and you are painting with same color, then one coat of high quality paint should suffice. I prefer to use a latex (water based) flat or satin finish on the ceiling.

    If you are covering a deep paint color, or it the ceiling is badly stained, you should consider using a paint that is designed as an undercoat. Make sure that the paint you choose is compatible with your finishing paint.

    Additional information on paint primers and undercoats.

  • Solvent:
  • If you are using an oil based paint, ensure that you have a quality solvent available for cleaning brushes and to wipe up any droplets or splatters that may appear.

    If you are using a water based paint have a small bucket of clean water available to clean-up any unwanted paint drops or splatters.

  • Application Tools:


A textured or pop-corn ceiling should be painted using a thick nap roller. Buy quality rollers and DO NOT USE FOAM ROLLERS.

Additional information on choosing the correct paint rollers.

It is best to purchase an extension handle for the paint roller, as shown in Figure 1. The extension handle will make the job go quicker as you will not need to go up and down nor constantly be moving a ladder.


Purchase a 2 inch cut-in paint brush, as shown in Figure 2. A cut-in paint brush has the bristles cut at an angle which makes it much easier to paint along the edge between the ceiling and the wall.

Natural bristle paint brush for oil based paints

Figure 2 - Natural bristle paint brush for oil based paints

Make sure that the paint brushes you choose are made for the type of paint base that you are using - oil or water based. DO NOT USE FOAM BRUSHES!

Additional information on paint brushes.


Part 2

Part 3