If you want to know how to paint a ceiling, you must first know how to properly lay the groundwork so
that you can paint the ceiling the correct way. After comes the actual painting of the ceiling. Painting a
ceiling involves a lot of work in just setting up the ceiling for painting. Without a correct set up, the
ceiling’s paint job will not look good. With your set up in place is when you can begin the ceiling painting
process. You should first start with a good quality primer, then paint.
Painting a Ceiling Summary
- Prep the ceiling
- Use a quality primer for the ceiling
- Paint the ceiling
Setting up a Ceiling for Painting
Performing the preparation work for painting a ceiling involves removing obstacles, protecting areas
from paint, cleaning the ceiling, drywall repair, fixing trim, sanding, and one final cleaning. To begin the
groundwork work for painting the ceiling, you need to first remove as much stuff as you can:
- remove any decorations from or near the ceiling (e.g., light fixtures)
- remove the furniture from under the ceiling
- remove the ceiling lights
- and anything else that comes to mind
After the obstacles are out of your way, protect the areas around/ under the ceiling you don’t want to
get any paint on. Then you can give the ceiling a cleaning job. When your ceiling is clean, you can repair
small and large damaged areas:
- Fix holes on the ceiling
- Fix raised areas on the ceiling (e.g., old paint drips)
Furthermore, you will want to also repair the trim along the ceiling (you might not have ceiling trim).
When all of this is done, you can give the ceiling a finial sanding. With the ceiling sanded, give it a final
cleaning. The last step will be to tape off the repaired trim. Now your ceiling is properly set up in order
to get an expert paint job.
Removing items out of your way will be a good first easy step in setting up a ceiling for painting. This
begins with furniture and decorations along with similar items on or near the ceiling. Before removing
the ceiling’s lights and outlets (if you have outlets on your ceiling), disconnect the electrical system for
the specific room you will be painting in. Now that the electrical areas are safe, you can cover them with
- Good professional painter’s tape will stick and not leave any residue.
To protect the floor and walls under the ceiling, tape their edges down along the ceiling. Then you can
cover the entire floor and walls near the ceiling with a protective material.
With everything well protected, you can begin cleaning ceiling drywall. First, vacuum the edges and
corners of the ceiling. Your ceiling is most likely drywall. Furthermore, drywall is sensitive, so using a
vacuum is a great way to avoid damaging the ceiling when cleaning it. After the edges are cleaned, you
can use a good quality dry dusting cloth to wipe down the ceiling and ceiling trim.
The next step after cleaning the ceiling trim will be repairing drywall damage on the ceiling. Ceiling
damage is rare. However, if you do have damage on your ceiling, you can get a repair kit to fix the
damage: small holes. The kit should include the tools you need with a patching material. For larger
damage on the ceiling, you will use drywall mud. For fixing raised areas, use a specific scraping tool to
start. After you scrape it down, use a coarse piece of sandpaper to smooth it as much as possible. Get
the raised areas as flush as possible.
You need to repair the ceiling before painting; however, you should also repair the trim that is running
along the ceiling. If your ceiling has trim, the most common repair you will probably need to do is fill
gaps between the trim and ceiling. You can use caulking for doing this repair. Caulk the gaps and then
use a soft 90-degree object to scrap off the excess caulking. You can also use a hard 90-degree object
such as metal and just cover it with a cloth to make it soft.
Now that your ceiling’s drywall is fixed, give the ceiling a finishing sanding job. A very fine grit sandpaper
works well for this. Sanding creates particles, so be sure to use proper protections:
- Use quality safety goggles
- Use a quality n95 mask
To get a nice even sanding on the wall, use a circular motion.
After the finishing sanding is complete on the ceiling, use a very damp cloth to clean the debris off the
drywall. Water and drywall don’t mix well, so the less damp your cloth is the better. When you are done
with the damp cloth, finish the job on the ceiling with a new completely dry cloth. Now your ceiling is
fully prepared for paining, after it is dried off of course.
But before you paint the ceiling, you will need to tape off the trim and wall around the ceiling. This
needs to happen after the repairs you did are dried and set. You’ll be painting the ceiling’s trim after you
complete painting the ceiling, this is way they need to be taped off.
With all this in place, your ceiling is ready to be painted. You will have set up the ceiling for painting by
removing obstacles, protecting areas from paint, cleaning the ceiling, drywall repair, fixing trim, sanding,
and the one final cleaning. An awesome paint job for your ceiling can only happen if the set-up work is
done perfectly and there is a lot of set-up work that needs to happen. If the amount of set-up work
overwhelms you or you really want the best ceiling paint job possible you should consult a painting
Painting the Ceiling
When you are done the set-up work is when you can begin painting the ceiling. This will involve using a
primer, then paint. A good quality primer will make the ceiling’s paint job look cleaner. Your first
painting step should be using a brush for edges, then a roller for the large areas of the ceiling (the
middle of the ceiling). Furthermore, you can use a ladder and roller extender to reach the ceiling.
A proper primer is a great start to your ceiling’s paint job. To get an even better paint job for the ceiling,
you can use a primer + sealer. A sealer has many properties. Two important sealer properties are its
ability to go over different types of ceiling surface areas and make them even:
Different areas could be un-damaged drywall and the repaired areas.
The second property is that a good sealer will make your paint bond strongly to the ceiling. To begin the
primer process, use a brush to get the primer on the corners and edges and a roller for the middle of the
ceiling. Then wait for the primer to dry and set.
Now that the ceiling has a coat of primer you can begin painting the ceiling. Before you get to the brush
work, mix the paint well to get an even color. For painting the edges of the ceiling, use a brush and put a
little paint on the tip. This works for the primer also. After you have painted the edges and corners with
a brush, use a roller for the large surface area which will be the middle of the ceiling. As with the paint
brush, don’t put too much paint on the roller. Let your ceiling’s paint job dry and then give the ceiling a
second coat. Now you know how to paint a ceiling. As mentioned before, for the best paint job possible,
using a painting professional is always a great option.