Home Painting Tips and Tricks for Painting a Ceiling

Tips and Tricks for Painting a Ceiling

Tips and Tricks for Painting a Ceiling

You’ve painted the trimming. You’ve painted the walls. Now, on to the task that you’ve been dreading — painting the ceiling. While this may be the task you’ve been looking forward to the least, we’re here to help. Look no further for painting tips for ceilings.

Whether you’re short or tall, an experienced or inexperienced painter, painting the ceilings is undoubtedly the least enjoyable part of any painting project. Even if you’re not painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the awkward angles of ceiling painting make creating a professional-looking end result rather challenging.

Painting your ceiling can also put a big drain on your body. The acrobatics of reaching all the right spaces and angles can do a number on your back, neck, and shoulders. And you’re painting your rooms to better enjoy them, not to spend the next three days on bed rest with your new friend, the heating pad.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Before you throw the towel in, consider these 6 tips and tricks for painting a ceiling. From choosing the best paint to reaching the ceilings, to applying the paint, we have got you covered. These tips and ticks are practical and painless. Most importantly, these painting tips for ceilings will make the most dreaded part of your project a breeze!

TIP #1: Get the Right Paint

You’re going to need the correct paint for these painting tips for ceilings. Picking the right paint can be pretty daunting. After all, it isn’t just the color that needs to be right. You also want to use high quality, high performing products. When picking out paint for your ceiling, one of the top tricks of the trade is to select specialized ceiling paint.

You may be wondering why you need special paint for your ceiling, but stick with us. Ceiling paint looks less glossy than regular paint does when it dries. Its flat and consistent tone helps draw the eye away from small errors by reflecting less light. Ceiling paint also has a higher viscosity (or thickness,) than regular paint does. This makes it less likely to drip into unwanted areas. We recommend Prestige Interior Paint, which is a reliable and high-performing product. As an alternative to specialized ceiling paint, you might consider using an interior latex paint with high viscosity (such as KILZ paint).

painting ceilings

TIP #2: Get the Right Roller

One of the biggest tricks to painting a ceiling correctly is to get the right type of roller. While a traditional 9” roller may be standard, many experts recommend painting your ceiling with an 18” roller instead. A bigger roller helps you finish the job faster, lessening the amount of time spent straining yourself. 

If you are using an 18” roller, don’t forget that you will need a larger paint tray! A gallon tray should do the trick, but make sure that it measures at least 18” in width. 
In terms of the roller’s cover, professional painters recommend using lambswool covers. Most painters agree the lambswool covers leave walls and ceilings looking their best. As an added bonus, they are faster and easier to paint with! We recommend using a reliable and highly rated  Wooster Wool Roller Cover.

TIP #3: Consider How You’ll Reach the Ceiling

There are two main tips and tricks for reaching the ceiling with your roller. 

The first tip? Get a step ladder! Whether you’re tall or short, professional painters always recommend painting with a step ladder. Decreasing the distance between your body and the ceiling will lessen the likelihood of straining your back, neck, and shoulders. But when it comes to using a ladder, safety always comes first. You don’t want to run the risk of hurting yourself by climbing a monumental ladder. Depending on the height of your room, a 4-6 foot Flip-N-Lite Step Ladder is a user-friendly and safe choice. But remember…you shouldn’t have to climb all the way up to reach the ceilings. If you can’t reach from the second step of the step ladder, we recommend sizing up.

The other key tip is to select the right size extension pole for your roller. You want most of the pole to be extended, not collapsed. If the pole is collapsed, its weight will increase the strain on your body. When selecting a roller, account for the height of the room (and of yourself!) For a standard 8-foot ceiling, a 2-4 foot pole will suffice.

6 painting tips for ceilings

TIP #4: Get the Right Tape Technique

Unless your walls will be painted the same color as your ceiling, you’re going to want to be careful to tape them off the right way. We recommend using Duck Blue Clean Release Painter’s Tape to cover the top edges of the walls. Many professionals even leave the tape on the walls when they paint the rest of the room! You can always free-hand the top edge of the wall with a brush when you finish (a technique known as “cutting in”).

TIP #5: Apply Your Paint the Right Way

One of the tricks to applying paint to your ceiling? Begin with the four edges of the room! Doing so will get you off to a nice and clean start. It will also help you get past the concern of dripping paint on your walls so that you can continue your project worry-free. 

As you continue applying the paint, move the roller in back and forth zig zags within 4-5 foot squares. By applying the paint in 4-5 foot “grid” squares, you will break the task down into smaller and more manageable chunks. Although you should try your best to maintain a wet edge on your brush, this can be difficult to do when painting ceilings. Therefore, we recommend feathering out the edges of each little square; doing so will reduce the appearance of cut-off lines. 

After your paint has dried, you may need to apply a second coat to create the “finished product” of your dreams…and that’s okay! To save your paint roller for future uses, pop it in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer. This will preserve the paint for your next use. 


TIP #6 Consider Alternate Methods

If you still aren’t confident that you can paint the ceiling yourself, there are non-traditional approaches to completing this challenge. Many people use (and highly recommend,) electric spray painter guns.

There are advantages and disadvantages to opting for this alternative method of painting. One major advantage of this method is that it allows you to apply the paint more quickly and evenly. Furthermore, the end result often looks more professional when a spray painter gun is used. As an added bonus, it is less strenuous to spray your ceiling than it is to climb up on a ladder and use an extension pole. 

But before committing to this alternate method of ceiling-painting, consider the drawbacks; spray painter guns can cost anywhere from $40 to over $200, making them significantly more expensive than traditional painting tools. On top of the expense of the spray gun, you may also need to purchase an air compressor in order for it to work properly. And although spray guns make paint application easier, they are more difficult to clean and maintain than rollers and brushes are. 

Pros and cons aside, spray painter guns are an effective and efficient tool for painting a ceiling — just make sure that this is the right choice for you before investing. Bravo! You’ve officially learned the most important painting tips for ceilings.

how to paint a ceiling

Frequently Asked Questions: Painting Tips For Ceilings

Should I paint my ceiling a color or stick to flat white paint?

Whether or not a ceiling should be colored or painted white is an age-old debate. The truth of the matter is that there’s no right or wrong answer here. A colored ceiling and a flat white ceiling both offer their own advantages. When deciding whether your ceiling should be colorful or flat white, consider the overall “vibe” you want the room to have; while a colored ceiling creates a more intimate and cozy environment, a flat white ceiling creates a more “open” look that will make a small room appear larger. You can also meet these two options right in the middle by painting your ceiling a slightly lighter shade than your walls. 

Should I prime the ceiling before painting?

Priming your ceiling for paint can be super time-consuming. To save on time and hassle, we recommend buying a 2-in-1 ceiling paint and primer. Prestige’s Paint and Primer in One is a reliable product that yields fabulous results. 


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