Painting Ceilings

Painting the ceiling can give a room a fresh look. And it’s the perfect place to start when your project calls for repainting an entire room. In this video, we’ll provide the know-how to make sure you get started on the right track before moving on to the walls and trim.



  1. Painting Ceilings - Step 1

    Remove any coverings on the ceiling, such as vents and light shades.

  2. Painting Ceilings - Step 2

    If you are going to remove the light pan from the ceiling, turn off the power to that room from your fuse box. You may need an alternative light source for the rest of your project.

  3. Painting Ceilings - Step 3

    Spot prime on top of dark stains.

  4. Painting Ceilings - Step 4

    Paint a band around the room where the paint roller can’t reach.

  5. Painting Ceilings - Step 5

    Use an extendable paint roller or a ladder to reach the ceiling. For textured walls and ceilings, use a thicker roller cover.

  6. Painting Ceilings - Step 6

    Paint in small sections with a series of angles resembling an ‘M’.

  7. Painting Ceilings - Step 7

    Let it dry. If the color isn’t even, apply a second coat.

Read Video Transcript

Now that the room has been properly prepped, it’s time to start our painting project by painting the ceiling before starting the walls. There is always a logical order that suggests where you should start any painting project, and it usually means working from top to bottom. So before you get started, think it through carefully, and always let gravity be your guide.

Today, we’re going to start by painting the ceiling so that any drips or paint roller spatter that ends up on our walls will be covered by a fresh coat of paint. Like many typical painting projects, our ceiling doesn’t need a full coat of primer because it doesn’t encounter the same type of abuse that walls are subject to. We’ll just spot prime some of the problem areas.

First, we’ll need to remove anything on the ceiling that might be in the way, such as the heat register and this light fixture. To learn more about this project, be sure to watch our video Installing a Light Fixture. With the electrical supply to the room turned off, we’ll need supplemental lighting to see our work area clearly. This halogen work light with an extension cord plugged into an adjacent room will work nicely.

Now that I can see what I’m doing, it’s time to get started.

With the fixture removed, we can now spot prime the yellow stains around the light with our primer and a roller. Here I’m using a stain blocking primer which will prevent the stain from bleeding through the finish coat. To choose the right primer for your paint project, see our list of Frequently Asked Questions specific to this video.


For cutting in the border, I’ll use a 3” wide brush and a paint pail with a hand strap for convenience.

Now that I’ve cut in my border, I’ll use my telescoping paint roller with an extension pole to roll on the rest. This makes painting easier because you can work safely from the floor instead of being on the ladder the entire time.

Since our ceiling is textured, I’m using a roller cover with a thicker nap than what I would use if the ceiling were smooth. The type of roller cover you use will depend on how rough the surface is. Since our ceiling is just mildly textured, a roller cover with a 1/2-inch nap will work just fine. If your ceiling is more textured than this, you may need a roller cover with a ¾-inch nap like this one. For non-textured ceilings, a roller cover with a 3/8 (three eights) inch nap will provide a smooth finish.

To start rolling, I’ll work in smaller 3-foot squares, rolling in a series of angles that resemble the letter “M”. Finish one section before moving on to the next. Once you get in the rhythm, it doesn’t take long to finish the ceiling. Just take your time and be careful of falling drips and paint spatter. Since gravity is not your friend when painting a ceiling, you may want to wear a hat or a scarf for this part of the project to keep paint out of your hair.

After the first coat dries, you’ll need to assess the situation to determine whether or not you’ll need a second coat. This will depend on the color and quality of paint you are using, as well as the existing color of the ceiling. One coat should be fine for this project. But if your ceiling looks like it could use another coat, do it now. You don’t want to go back and have to repaint the ceiling after you’ve finished painting the walls and trim.

That should just about do it. Now all we need to do is re-install our light fixture and we’ll be ready to start priming and painting our walls.

Good luck with your project and thanks for watching.

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3 responses to “Painting Ceilings”

  1. Great post…enforces the thought that I will never paint a ceiling. But then, my husband gets hired by people to do their homes, so I have my own pro! Thanks!
    Connie 🙂

  2. Do people still paint ceilings with a roller??? Certainly not my cup of tea!! Sprayer all the way 😀 Carly xx

  3. Wow what a great way to paint the ceiling. I used to call electrician for this but now I guess I don’t need him.

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