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How to Paint Ceilings

Updated on August 15, 2013
Freshly painted ceiling
Freshly painted ceiling | Source

This article will give you all the needed information to:

  • Purchase the right tools and supplies
  • Prep a room for painting
  • Figure how much paint you will need
  • Save time and energy!

You will be amazed when you see how huge of a difference a fresh coat of paint can make on your homes ceilings, especially if you have not painted them in a long time or if they are stained from smoke. There is no better time to paint your ceilings if you are already planning on painting the rest of a room, just make sure to paint the ceilings first and work your way down.

Required Tools

Source

Here's What You'll Need

Painting actually doesn't require that many tools. All that you will need for this job is:

  • Paint tray
  • Paint brush
  • Paint roller frame and cover
  • Paint
  • Painters tape

Safety First!

When gathering your painting supplies, remember that painting involves chemicals and fumes. Many older houses may also harbor lead or asbestos. I highly recommend purchasing a few safety items because of this. Here's a few items you may want to consider purchasing:

  • Organic respirator (or at least some kind of mask)
  • Safety glasses
  • Gloves
  • Protective clothing

Shopping for Painting Supplies

You can find most, if not all the needed supplies for painting a ceiling at your local hardware store. If you don't already have some of these items, you can actually buy a handy kit that includes a tray, a roller frame, roller cover, and paintbrush. If you are painting a tall ceiling, you may also want to consider purchasing a few paint roller extension poles. When it comes to painters tape, I recommend the green kind over the blue (you'll see why later on). Also, if you don't already have a large tarp or plastic sheeting for covering the floor it may be a good idea to go ahead and get one. Finally, choose your desired paint color and get the appropriate amount. If you're not sure how much you need, see the chart below.

How Much Paint Will I Need?

Ceiling Size
Measures
Amount of Paint
Small
5' x 8'
1 Quart
Medium
12' x 15'
1 Gallon
Large
20' x 25'
2 Gallons
You may need more or less paint depending on your ceilings texture and whether you plan on doing more than one coat.
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Floor covered with tarpThis ceiling light/ vent can be easily removed for easier paintingRemoving ceiling light/ vent coverRemoving ceiling light/ vent coverCeiling vent cover removed
Floor covered with tarp
Floor covered with tarp | Source
This ceiling light/ vent can be easily removed for easier painting
This ceiling light/ vent can be easily removed for easier painting | Source
Removing ceiling light/ vent cover
Removing ceiling light/ vent cover | Source
Removing ceiling light/ vent cover
Removing ceiling light/ vent cover | Source
Ceiling vent cover removed
Ceiling vent cover removed | Source

Preparing the Room for Painting

Once you've gathered all of your supplies and you're back at the room, it's time to get it ready for painting. Start off by removing or covering any furniture in the room. Next, cover the floor with a large tarp or plastic sheeting to protect it from any drops of paint. Remove any ceiling fixtures if you are able to. It may be more convenient for you to just cover any large ceiling fans with plastic, but it will make the painting easier if they are taken down. Next, it's time to tape up the room!

Time For the Tape

Painters tape
Painters tape | Source

Using Painters Tape

If you plan on painting the whole room then you can skip this step because your wall paint will cover any paint that gets on the walls while painting the ceiling around the edges. However, if you are going to paint just the ceiling then I highly recommend using painters tape. Painters tape will cover the edges of the room and give you very good paint lines around the edges. To use it, simply tear off each piece and, holding it as straight as possible, put it in place with the edge of the tape fitting perfectly into the corner between the wall and ceiling. Continue around the room until it is entirely covered. Next tape around any ceiling fixtures or openings to protect from paint overlapping.

The blue tape just doesn't hold up!
The blue tape just doesn't hold up! | Source
The blue tape just falls off as soon as you put it on!
The blue tape just falls off as soon as you put it on! | Source

The Blue Tape Disaster

When selecting painters tape for this kind of project, its good to get a nice sticky tape. At first, I went with the blue tape thinking it would do the job and it was cheaper. But boy did I regret it! After spending a while trying to get it all to stay up there, working around the room with it, it all just came undone! It literally just fell off the wall. I have the photos to prove it. So, frustrated about this, I went back to the store and got the good sticky green tape. I was so happy to find that when I used this kind of tape, it worked wonderfully. I put it up and it stayed there for as long as I needed it to.

Wearing a respirator
Wearing a respirator | Source

Get Ready to Paint

Before you get started painting, go ahead and equip yourself with your safety gear. Also, be sure to wear some clothes that you don't care about getting permanently messy as paint is really hard to get out of clothes. Put on your mask or respirator before opening the paint can.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Carefully pry off the lidLids off!Remember to stir the paint!Paint poured into tray
Carefully pry off the lid
Carefully pry off the lid | Source
Lids off!
Lids off! | Source
Remember to stir the paint!
Remember to stir the paint! | Source
Paint poured into tray
Paint poured into tray | Source

Get the Paint Ready

Next, using a can opener or a screwdriver, pry open the paint can working your way all the way around until the lid comes off. Carefully remove the lid and set to the side. Remember to stir the paint to make sure you get a smooth color and consistency. Carefully pour the paint from the can into the tray and clean up any excess paint off the can once you're done pouring.

Painting the Ceiling

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Use a brush first around the edges of the room and around any ceiling fixturesPaint around the edgesFilling in the rest using a roller makes the job go easier and fasterPainting using a rollerPainting using a rollerPainting using a rollerMaking progress!  Here is a good example between the old color and the newProgress shot
Use a brush first around the edges of the room and around any ceiling fixtures
Use a brush first around the edges of the room and around any ceiling fixtures | Source
Paint around the edges
Paint around the edges | Source
Filling in the rest using a roller makes the job go easier and faster
Filling in the rest using a roller makes the job go easier and faster | Source
Painting using a roller
Painting using a roller | Source
Painting using a roller
Painting using a roller | Source
Painting using a roller
Painting using a roller | Source
Making progress!  Here is a good example between the old color and the new
Making progress! Here is a good example between the old color and the new | Source
Progress shot
Progress shot | Source

Remember!

Remember when painting a ceiling that it is much easier and safer to do it from the ground by using an extension pole. These usually aren't very expensive and will save you time and energy by not having to go up and down a ladder while you're doing this project. Most of these simply screw in to the end of the handle of your roller.

Finished Ceiling
Finished Ceiling | Source

Painting the Ceiling

Okay, now you're ready to paint! Here are a few simple steps to painting a ceiling:

  1. Start by painting around the edges first - Using the paintbrush, dab it into the paint and remove any excess paint by wiping it on the slanted part of the tray. You want the brush to be saturated with paint, but not dripping. Carefully move the brush over to the ceiling and begin painting around the edges of the ceiling using smooth, even strokes. Make sure to get into the corners good and don't worry about getting paint on the wall if you plan on painting the rest of the room anyway. If you're not, just remember to use the painters tape which should block any paint from getting on the wall. Work your way around the room until you have completely painted around the edges.
  2. Paint around any ceiling fixtures - After you are finished painting around the edges of the room, paint around any lights or fans that are in the ceiling. Doing this will make it easier to paint using the roller which will be used next.
  3. Fill in the rest of the ceiling - Using the paint roller, dip the cover into the paint and make sure to wipe it a few times on the slanted part of the tray to remove any excess paint. If it is too saturated, the paint will drip all over you so remember to do this. Now, using smooth and even movements, begin rolling the paint onto the ceiling, filling in the inside of the ceiling.
  4. Allow the paint to dry - Put away your tools and clean your brushes. The paint will need to dry for a few hours.
  5. Clean up - If you don't need to apply a second coat, then you're all done! Clean up the room and remove the painters tape.
  6. Enjoy!- Stand back and admire your work. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!

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    • Austin Enfroy profile image
      Author

      Austin Enfroy 3 years ago from United States

      Thank you anndango and duchess!

    • Duchessoflilac1 profile image

      Rebecka Vigus 3 years ago from Johns Island, SC

      Have just painted three ceilings.

    • profile image

      anndango 3 years ago

      Oh yes! Great hub. I need to paint my living room ceiling so these tips are good reminders. Voted up, useful and shared.

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