How to Paint a Ceiling

Always paint the ceiling before walls or woodwork.

As long as you don’t have a lot of furniture to clamber over, painting a ceiling is fairly straightforward.
Firstly sheet up everything which is in danger of getting paint on it. No matter how careful you are, paint splashes have a way of finding exposed surfaces.
Use a stepladder, preferably one with a platform to hold tools or a paint container. If you haven’t got steps, strong plastic milk or beer crate or a wooden chair should be adequate.

The golden rule, whether using proper or improvised scaffold, is NEVER to over-stretch.

If you are right-handed work from right too left and vice-versa.
Painting a ceiling is easier if you use a roller, unless the ceiling is very small in a cupboard or toilet, especially with artexed or wood-chipped ceilings any ceiling with a rough patterned surface).
When painting with a brush, use a large flat brush 6 to 8 inches wide.
You can also use a small brush 1 to 2 inches wide to get into corners,
Cut along the edge of the ceiling and for cutting round the light rose and any other awkward bits.
Starting in one corner on the window side of the room, paint in sections about 2ft square.
Work across the ceiling doing a strip at a time.
When using a roller it is a good idea to use one with an extension handle. Most roller handles have an open end into which you can push an old broom handle, which will do the job.
Using a small brush (about 2″ size will do) cut in all round the edge of the ceiling and round the ceiling.
Starting in one corner roll about a Metro Square and work across the room in strips the same as with a brush.
If you are using a long handle on your roller it means your paint tray or scuttle “a square bucket wide enough for your roller size” can be kept conveniently on the floor at all times.

Paint a Popcorn Ceiling

Texture-sprayed ceilings with the appearance of “popcorn” or “cottage cheese” are very difficult to keep clean; cobwebs and dust around vents can be removed by holding the wand of a vacuum about an inch from the surface of the ceiling; however, more forceful action such as sweeping can remove the loose “popcorn” like texture. If an acoustic ceiling is discolored from age, however, there is really no way to “clean” it.

It’s not recommended to roll paint on an acoustic ceiling, as it is very porous. It will absorb a great deal of paint and it’s nearly impossible to achieve even coverage. Often, the entire layer of the “cottage cheese” texture will come right off on the roller, leaving a bare strip of drywall.

The most efficient way to paint a textured ceiling is with spray paint — a flat latex. It’s a difficult job, best left to a professional. One possible complication is the fact that asbestos was widely used in textured ceiling spray prior to 1980.

Service professionals can usually respray the acoustic ceilings in the average sized home in less than a day for about the same price as materials alone to paint it. It is also possible to have the entire acoustic layer removed and retextured like the walls, leaving them much easier to maintain, sweep and paint.

Painting tips & tricks of the day

The easiest way to paint a ceiling is with a roller and an extension handle. This allows you to stand on the floor while you paint. If need be, you can use a stepladder, but it is much slower going and awkward. Start in the corner of the room and work your way across the narrowest dimension of the room with a band about 4 feet wide. Continue back and forth across the room until you are finished.

When the ceiling is dry, you can start painting the walls. Start by using a brush to paint corners, ceiling lines and areas adjacent to woodwork. Paint one entire wall or area at a time.

Rub petroleum jelly on the hinges and door knobs before you start to paint a door. If you get paint on them, they will wipe off easily.

To keep white paint from yellowing, add 2 drops of black paint to each Gallon of white.

When painting ceilings, cut a child’s rubber ball in half and put your paint brush in one of the halves to catch the drips.

An old pair of swimming goggles will protect your eyes from paint splatters and drips when painting ceilings.

When painting, protect your hands and face with moisturizer. Cleanup will be easier and the moisturizer will prevent paint from seeping into the pores.

To stop paint from dripping, punch a few holes in the rim of the paint can. When the brush is wiped against the edge, the paint flows back into the can. The lid covers the holes so the paint won’t dry out.

Before pouring paint from a can, cover the rim with masking tape. After pouring, remove the tape — the rim will be clean and the cover will fit tightly.

To remove lumps from paint: Cut a piece of screen to fit the inside of the paint can. Set it on top of the paint and let it float down to the bottom of the can. It will take all the lumps with it, trapping them at the bottom of the can.

When painting a room, dip a small card into the paint so that you have the exact colour with you and can match accessories in store.

When painting inside corners, trim the paint brush bristles to a V to save strokes and spread paint more easily.

When you poke a paint brush into corners or allow it to rest on the bottom of the paint can, the bristles curl and stray. To straighten natural bristles (not synthetics), try wrapping the brush in a couple of thicknesses of damp cloth and press gently with an iron. The steam and cloth binding do the job. Only light pressure is needed. Let the bristles cool before you unwrap the brush.

When painting old woodwork fill in the holes or cracks with a mixture of flour and some of the paint you are using. It hardens like cement and matches perfectly.

How To Applying Primer onto a Ceiling

Brush (Cutting In)

1. Using a stir stick, thoroughly stir the primer.

2. Load a 2-3″ wide brush by dipping 1/3 of the bristle length into the primer.

3. Remove excess primer from the brush by tapping the bristles against the inside of the bucket.

4. Starting in the top corner of the ceiling, cut in a 3-4″ wide area around the perimeter of the ceiling.

5. Brush primer from the non-primed area to the previously applied areas.

6. Reload the brush as necessary to maintain a wet edge, approximately every 4-6″.

7. Repeat steps until all ceiling edges are complete.


1. Pour the primer into a paint tray or a 5-gallon bucket.

2. Place an appropriate nap roller onto a roller frame.

3. Dip roller cover completely into primer covering the entire nap area.

4. Remove excess primer from the roller cover by rolling onto the ribbed section of the paint tray or bucket grid.

5. Starting in the corner of the ceiling, place the loaded roller approximately 3-4″ away from the cut in area.

6. Working in a 3′ X 3′ area, roll a “W” onto the ceiling. Roll into the cut in area.

7. Continue rolling up to the edge of the cut in area, filling in the “W”.

8. Reload as necessary.

9. Continue applying, starting with the “W” technique 3-4″ away from the last section applied. Work from corner to corner, being careful to back roll the width of the roller into the last section applied.

10. Continue until the ceiling is completely covered.



You can paint a ceiling working from a stepladder or a work platform (make sure yours is stable) or from the floor using a roller or paint pad with a handle extension. If you are standing on a platform, leave at least 3 in (7.5 cm) above your head, Divide the ceiling into sections of about 1-1/2ft (30-45 cm) wide and work each section away from the main light source.



If you intend to divide an area horizontally into two colors or to paint around an object such as a switchplate, it is helpful to stick down low-tack masking tape to create a straight line between the different color divisions. You can use tape along the edge of the floor to keep it free of paint when you decorate the baseboards. Also use masking tape to attach stencils to a wall.

1. Mark the line between the two colors with a soft pencil and a ruler. Check the alignment of the horizontal line with a level and the vertical line with a level or plumb line.

2. Stick down the masking tape along the line, making sure that the pencil line is still visible. If your dividing line is vertical, stick the masking tape along the far edge of the line.

3. Apply paint from the middle of the masking tape downward with a small decorating brush. Once you have covered the immediate area, paint the rest of the surface with a large brush.

4. When you have finished painting the wall and the paint is completely dry, you can pull off the tape. The use of low tack masking tape keeps the paint from being peeled off at the same time.