Can you tell what I’ve been doing in the kitchen lately? Yup, painting the ceiling!
Painting your ceiling like a pro isn’t difficult, it’s just a pain in the neck, literally! But, these tips and tricks can help you get professional results for less money. This is definitely a DIY task, so let’s get this ceiling painting party started!
- Ceiling paint (I prefer Valspar Ultra White flat)
- 1/2″ nap roller (brand new, brand name)
- Paint roller
- Extension pole for paint roller
- Paint tray
- Paintbrushes (2″ and a small square artist’s brush)
- Wet rag or sponge
- Plastic tarps
- Step stool or platform
- Moveable light or lamp
- Sanding sponge
- Painter’s tape
- Drywall joint compound
- Taping knife
Are you all dressed up in your Sunday best? This is what I usually wear Sunday afternoon, how about you?
You will also want to remove any jewelry and a hat is a good idea unless you want to look like a reverse dalmatian (white spots are sure to appear when painting ceilings.)
Cover furniture and floors with tarps, plastic or remove it from the room. This is not the time to test how neatly you can paint.
At this point you’ll be itching to crack open that can of paint and start rolling. But, it is a good idea to assess the condition of your ceiling. This is the time to get your prep work done, not after painting. 80% of a professional paint job is in the prep work.
Grab a lamp or flashlight. Turn on the light and aim it at the ceiling. The harsh shadows will help highlight any imperfections. This is best done at night or in dark conditions. Use little bits of painter’s tape to mark any imperfections you see.
Go back to the marked imperfections and use joint compound to fill any holes or cracks. You can read more about mudding/spackling any imperfections in my “Painting Like a Pro – Prep Work” post.
After the joint compound has dried, lightly sand the spackled areas.
This is the most important step to a smooth professional paint job: Lightly sand your entire ceiling. Wipe off the sanding dust with a damp rag or sponge (Of course if you have textured ceilings, you won’t be sanding or wiping with a damp rag. You can use a brush attachment and vacuum the ceiling.) I found using a damp swiffer mop works great and cuts the time in half.
AND NOW, the moment you all have been waiting for — it’s time to crack open that can of paint!
Don’t use just any old paint for this job. First chose a flat finish, it will show less imperfections.
I prefer the Valspar Ultra White paint because it is the brightest white I’ve found. (Side note: Valspar has changed their formula to add primer to the paint. I don’t think the coverage is as good as the previous formula. But, it is still the brightest white I’ve found so I’ll still use it.) You can read more about which paint sheen to use and where in this post. (If you have newly drywalled or scraped ceilings, you’ll need to prime first.)
When choosing a roller use 1/2″ nap. It will hold more paint and therefore you will be able to paint faster. Also, don’t re-use rollers. Chose a brand name to reduce the risks of a shedding roller. Use a fresh roller for each coat. It makes a difference to have a new roller, trust me.
Start by edging around your ceiling. Use an edge roller or a paint brush to line the perimeter of the ceiling. You can use painter’s tape if you wish, or if you have a steady hand you can skip the taping. (And, if you are painting your walls or crown molding, you can skip the taping as well and paint the molding after you finish with the ceiling.)
Pour your paint into the paint tray and start painting in one corner. Paint in random directions. Now isn’t the time to practice perfectly straight racing stripes.
I like to paint a “W” and then roll the paint out and around. Work in four – five foot sections and always roll into the wet edge of the section you were previously painting.
Try not to stop and start, you don’t want to roll over areas of paint that have started to dry. Keep the lamp/spotlight aimed near where you are painting to highlight the edges of the wet paint. This will help you get good coverage.
After you finish the room, take a break. Pop some Advil and wait for the ceiling to dry completely. Ready to go again? In order to get a professional finish, you will need two coats of paint. (Unless the stars are aligned and you are using the exact same color that was previously used, there will always be spots you missed.)
Hop back up on the step stool and lightly sand the ceiling again (yes, I said again.) You need to knock down any areas that got too much paint or a piece of lint. Lightly wipe off the ceiling with a damp rag or sponge.)
Repeat the edging and paint rolling process.
After you are finished painting, get out the artist’s brush and use it to touch up any missed spots and get a sharp edge around the room.
And you’re done! You’ll have a whole new appreciation for Michelangelo at this point. And if you think painting ceilings is a pain in the neck, go ahead and pay a professional, but be prepared to pay some money!
A brief note about textured ceilings vs. smooth: Any ceiling that is textured will be darker because of all the shadows created by the popcorn, or texturing. If you have a dark room and it has popcorn ceilings, consider scraping them.
And of course, I have a tutorial for scraping your own ceilings!
You can also read more of my series on painting like a pro:
Have a great rest of your week!
Disclosure: I was not paid to mention any of the products or brands above, the are just the specific products I use for painting like a pro!