Painting a ceiling is pure routine for a professional painter. For us mere mortals, it’s an apparently simple yet demanding task that requires special preparation. Physical fatigue and the real difficulty of reaching the surface can challenge even the most experienced DIYer.
Even if the ceiling has the same physical configuration of the adjacent walls and even if the paint used for the job is essentially the same, what changes is the modus operandi, which means defying traditional gravitational laws.
And because mistakes can lead to a poor result, damaged furniture or floors, and a hard-to-clean mess, we asked our experts to share their top tips for painting a ceiling at home. Here’s what we found out.
- Check the Surface
At a first glance, your ceiling may seem perfect. But fine cracks and weak stains can’t always be noticed unless you take a closer look. Before soaking your brush into the paint, inspect the general conditions of the ceiling and identify all potential problems.
Humidity, stains and cracks can negatively influence the outcome of your project. The presence of any listed elements requires preliminary treatment with adequate products.
- Choose the Colour
Choosing the colour of the ceiling is as important as the painting job itself. Traditional ceilings are characterised by a uniform colour, often white or ivory. Modern interior design, however, has introduced the use of bright or dramatic shades on all surfaces, ceilings included.
There are also some fundamental principles to keep in mind. First, decide whether you want to contrast or complement the colour of the walls. Then, consider the size and exposure of the room.
A black ceiling, for example, may look awkward in a dark environment but can highlight the beauty of a large and bright room. A low room may benefit from the use of cold hues, such as violet, blue and green – which give the impression of a higher ceiling.
On the contrary, warm hues such as yellow and orange can “lower” a very high ceiling.
- Pick the Right Tools
The easiest way to paint the ceiling at home is with a quality roller. Equip this tool with an extension stick and you can completely avoid using a stepladder.
The roller also allows the spreading of paint on a large surface in an even layer without too much hassle. But because a roller can’t reach the corners and edges, you’ll also have to invest in a decent set of paintbrushes.
Our experts suggest investing in high-quality rollers and brushes to avoid the hassle of picking up bristles and roller fluff from your newly painted surface.
- Wear Protective Equipment
The vast majority of wall and ceiling emulsions available on the market are water-based – and advertisements have told us that water-based paints are non-toxic. What most people don’t know is that this is true only for the dry product.
Wet paint can cause severe skin and eye irritation, it can stain clothes and even damage your washing machine.
Preventing all this is easy with protective equipment. A painter’s suit, mask, gloves and goggles can protect you and your clothing during the job.
- Use A Sturdy Stepladder
Reaching the ceiling, either to inspect it or for the finishing touches, require you to climb on a support. The most common support is a stepladder but there are a number of homeowners who use unstable structures made of tables and chairs to reach the high surface.
It’s obvious to say this poses a high risk of injury by fall. And the same risk is posed by a rusted, wobbly, old, or too low stepladder.
If you don’t have a suitable ladder, borrow or buy one. A folding ladder made of aluminium may be the best choice and try make sure the steps are covered with non-slip rubber.
- Prepare the Room
The desire to beautify your home can push you to rush things, but this can jeopardise the success of your project. We’re not talking about safety anymore, but about the proper protection of your home environment.
If possible, remove all furniture and decorative objects including any wall art and carpets. Dismantle any ceiling lamps and sconces, or wrap them tightly in plastic drop cloths. Protect the floor and any large furniture with fabric drop cloths.
Drips are unavoidable when painting a ceiling, so make sure everything’s wrapped and covered to prevent damage.
- Protect Metal Surfaces with Vaseline
Wrapping the whole room in drop cloths and masking tape is often impossible. But a great trick to protect metal surfaces is by covering them with Vaseline.
Vaseline is hydro-repellent and will keep the paint away from these surfaces. Once you’ve finished the project, just wipe the Vaseline away – a quicker way to clean the room than scrubbing dry paint off the objects.
- Soak the Roller in Water
A simple trick to improve results is by soaking the roller in warm water before loading it with paint. This will help the roller to absorb more paint and the result is a smoother finish with less effort.
- Start from the Corners
When painting a ceiling, our experts also advise to begin by painting from the corners. Use a high-quality brush, work in small sections at a time and avoid overloading the brush with paint to prevent drips.
Once you’ve painted all corners and edges, switch to the roller to coat the rest of the surface.
- Have Patience
Interior decoration works are exciting and we all want to enjoy the results as soon as possible. But wait for the paint to dry before removing the drop cloths. Wet paint may hide imperfections and at this stage, it may be impossible to tell whether your ceiling needs a second coat.
When the paint is dry, inspect the ceiling again. Fix any issues and apply the second coat if needed. If the result is as desired, remove the masking tape and drop cloths, bring the furniture back into the room and enjoy the flawless results of your work.