How to Paint a Ceiling

One of the most disliked jobs in the DIY arena is painting a ceiling; the primary reason for which being that you are painting above your head. This is a particularly daunting task if you have never done it before and if you are decorating your first home then the task seems even more daunting because there are several ceilings to be painted.

Here we look at how to make the task easier without cutting corners.


For any DIY job it is important first off to make sure you have the proper equipment; nothing makes a DIY task seem more arduous than nothing have the correct tools and equipment to hand and making sure that you do will give you a good starting point.

To paint a ceiling you will need:

  • Interior Paint
  • Ladder
  • Dust sheets
  • Large Brush
  • Roller & Paint Tray
  • Small Brush
  • Sponge
  • Wall and ceiling filler and spreader
  • Scaffold (depending on height of ceiling)

Before You Begin (Preparation)

Before you begin to paint your ceiling there are a few things you must do in order to prepare. The most important is to remove curtains and wall fixtures so that they remain paint free. Place curtains in a bag or pillow case or simply remove to another room where they will be unlikely to gather paint.

Move all heavy furniture into the centre of the room and cover over with dust sheets; these prevent the furniture from being paint splattered and also save the hassle of pulling the furniture out of the room altogether.

You may need to wipe down the ceiling before you begin. Regardless of how clean our homes are the ceilings – and walls too – will gather dust and also cobwebs which may remain unseen to the naked eye. Wash the ceiling down with some warm soapy water and leave to dry for up to one hour; this ensures that when you begin to paint your brush is not carrying dust and dirt from one part of the ceiling to the other.

If there are any cracks or holes in the ceiling it is best to fill them in before you begin painting. There are many different kinds of filler available on the market; some of which take a few hours to dry, some of which a matter of moments.

Cutting In

‘Cutting In’ is the term used to describe the process of outlining the edge of your ceiling with a small brush. This gives a smooth finish from ceiling to wall and reduces the amount of drips that can run down the wall and harden, making it difficult to remove them later on.

Painting the Ceiling

Once you have completed the process of ‘Cutting In’ you can then begin the job in earnest of painting your ceiling. It is best to start in one corner of the room and work to the other in a horizontal motion so that you are completely covering the ceiling as you move from one side of the room to the other.

If possible paint the ceiling in natural daylight; this prevents shadows which are caused by artificial light and reduces the likelihood that you will have to paint it again. That said some ceilings depending on what colour they have already been painted and how long since their last coat of paint, may need to be covered twice.

One final note: if you need to reach a high ceiling it is best to hire the correct scaffold from a local DIY merchant rather than taking unnecessary chances with makeshift platforms.

One of the most common means of sustaining an injury during DIY is to try and climb or stand on unsupported platforms in order to reach high places.

You should be able to hire scaffold from your local DIY merchant on a daily basis but it is worth noting that if you hire it in a block booking the price should be less.