Paint Your Ceiling

Paint Your Ceiling

Level: Beginner

When painting a room, many homeowners direct their attention to the walls, but often forget about another surface in the room that should be painted — the ceiling. Because painting your ceiling can redefine an entire room, it should be a part of the painting project for any room.

Even if you're not planning on repainting walls, painting your ceiling is a simple do-it-yourself home project that will make an impression and it easily can be finished in a day.

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Project Steps
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    • Step 1: Choose Your Color
      can of paint

      When it comes to picking a color, think about your options. White is a popular choice, but it can actually make ceilings appear lower in rooms with low ceilings and more distant in rooms with high ceilings. If you have a low ceiling, try a shade or two lighter than the color of your walls. When painting a high ceiling, paint it a shade or two darker. These tricks can create the illusion of space in a low-ceilinged room, or bring a feeling of coziness to a room with higher ceilings. Some decorators suggest using a tint that is a half or a quarter shade of the color on your wall so the ceiling won't sharply contrast with the walls.

      Your local True Value hardware store's Certified Color Experts® can answer any questions you have about paint color and point you in the right direction, based on your preferences. Pick up a Custom Mixed Color Sample to try out different colors on your ceiling or walls. You can also pick up one of our helpful Idea Cards to help you choose your palette. In addition to visiting your local True Value hardware store, you can go experiment with our interactive Color Visualizer which allows you to preview paint color and furniture according to six different moods. Experimenting with the color wheel on the Color Selection Tool is also an option for selecting paint color.

    • Step 2: Prepare the Room
      ceiling rollerpaint brushperson paint rolling the ceiling

      Ceiling paint can drip, so you'll want to protect the floor and any furniture in the room. It's best to move all the furniture into another room. If that's not an option, cover everything with drop cloths or tarps. Remove any wall hangings and decorations. Take down any ceiling fans and light fixtures.

      Safety Alert!

      Before you remove any electrical fixtures, turn off power to the room by turning off the breaker for that circuit at the main electrical panel. Mark the switch with a warning tag (a simple piece of tape will do) to make sure no one flips it back on while you're working. Remove the light bulbs before you remove the fixture. Bring in portable work lighting if needed to help you see properly.

      Fill any cracks or holes in your ceiling. For holes larger than a dime, use premixed drywall joint compound and a roll of adhesive mesh tape. Scrape off any flaky ceiling pieces and use an old paintbrush to dust away any loose drywall dust. Wet the hole with a damp sponge and press in the compound with a putty knife. Smooth until it's flush with the ceiling, let dry overnight and then sand using fine-grit sandpaper and dust until smooth.

      Safety Alert!

      Wear safety goggles when filling in ceiling cracks and holes. You don't want any loose particles to fall into your eyes.

      Once everything is cleared from the room, wash the ceiling using clean cloths, mild detergent and warm water. Let dry for at least one hour.

      Helpful Tip

      If you are working on a very high ceiling, it's a good idea to rent the appropriate scaffolding or use a ladder. It will make your job easier and help prevent injury.

      If you will be working from the floor, use a roller applicator with a long extension handle. If painting a textured ceiling, be sure to use a thick-nap roller to ensure full coverage over bumps on the surface.

    • Step 3: Paint the Ceiling

      Mask the perimeter of the ceiling with painter's tape where it meets the walls. It's also helpful to "cut in," or outline the edge of your ceiling with a small, angled paintbrush before painting the whole ceiling. Begin by priming the ceiling first with True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Interior Primer/Sealer. After the primer has dried, paint with True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Ceiling Paint.

      Dip the roller in paint, in the deep section of the tray. Roll it back and forth in the shallow end to get rid of excess paint. When the roller is evenly covered, begin rolling out 6-ft. square sections on the ceiling. Use a series of overlapping "W" strokes from right to left, then back from left to right using horizontal strokes. Make sure to "feather" the edges of the squares, using less pressure when you get to the edges. This prevents creating a line when the paint overlaps from another square. Keep working with the 6-ft. squares until the entire ceiling is painted. Use a small brush to cover wherever a roller can't reach. You may need to apply a second coat of paint depending on color and coverage. The ceiling should dry in a few hours.

      Helpful Tip

      When doing brushwork along the perimeter, it's easier to use a smaller paint container. Pour paint into a coffee can, jar or a small paint cup to lighten the load.

    • Step 4: Clean Up

      Pick up your drop cloths or tarps and close up your paint cans. Dispose of used paint cans appropriately. Clean your brushes and other tools with warm, soapy water. Thoroughly rinse your roller covers and brushes in water (if you used latex paint) or paint thinner (for oil-based paint) until the solvent runs clear, then place them in a brush/roller spinner, if you have one, to remove excess liquid. Store in their protective sleeves or hang them on nails or hooks.

      Pick up drop cloths or tarps carefully, making sure you don't spread around any paint that may have gotten on them. Remove painter's tape at a 45-degree angle to avoid removing any fresh paint. Remember that the longer it stays on, the harder it is to remove.

  • Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

    Before you begin, use the shopping list below to uncheck the tools you already have to complete this project.

    Then, print or save your updated list and bring it to your local True Value hardware store, where an expert Hardwarian will give you the remaining tools and expert advice you need to complete this project.

    You can also shop online for these project items at and receive FREE shipping to a participating store.

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