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How to Paint a Ceiling

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Staring at a badly painted ceiling as you lay in bed at night will drive you crazy! Drips and splatters can also destroy a room if the right steps are not taken. Follow our step-by-step guide to help you properly paint your ceiling with professional results.

Step 1

Prepare Area

Prepare Area

Remove as much as possible from the room including furniture, lamp shades and curtains. Cover the floor and any remaining items with a laminated dustsheet or tarpaulin. Gather all of your painting equipment and put on your protective gloves and some old work wear. Tip: When completely decorating a room, the ceiling should be the first task undertaken to avoid spoiling newly painted surfaces with drips and splashes. Tackle the ceiling first, then the walls and finally the woodwork.

Step 2

Inspect Ceiling Surface

Inspect Ceiling Surface

Taking time to do a thorough surface prep, and painting in an orderly and systematic way are the keys to getting professional results. This step is the most important as it will save you time and hassle in the long run. Carefully inspect the ceiling for any holes, cracks or other surface imperfections and fill them as necessary with a filler. When the filler is thoroughly dry, sand the surface smooth with sandpaper. Wipe the ceiling down with a damp cloth and allow it to dry completely.

Step 3

Apply Masking Tape

Apply Masking Tape

Protect any ceiling fittings you don’t want painted with masking tape, e.g. light fixtures, smoke alarms and coving. Apply the tape in short sections and press it down firmly.

Step 4

Cut In

Cut In

The painting process is the same for primer and for top coat. Use a cutting in paint brush to outline the room with a 3-4 inch border of paint. This border should go around all light fittings, smoke alarms, etc. It will allow you to use the roller to cover large areas without worrying about paint coverage in awkward to reach corners or edges.

Step 5

Loading Roller

Loading Roller

Evenly roll the roller in the paint in the roller tray, trying not to overload it as that would cause messy drips.

Step 6

Roll Paint

Roll Paint

Paint the ceiling in strips starting near the window. If there is more than one window in the room, begin near the brightest one. Remove any masking tape, starting at the same point you first started applying the tape. Do this just before the paint has fully dried so that the dried paint doesn't make the tape more difficult to remove. Close all paint cans securely, and thoroughly wash brushes, rollers and trays. Refer to our guide “How to Clean & Care for Paint Brushes” for tips on this task.