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How to Paint a Ceiling (the 5th wall)

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Repainting a room is a quick way to brighten, change or liven up a space in your home. But what about the ceiling? Even though you don’t often stop and look up at your ceiling, painting it can change the feel of your space.

Painting a ceiling, however, is different from painting walls. There are things you can do to make the project easier. First of all, you’re going to want extended handle paint rollers in addition to a brush or two—it’s much easier on your back and neck to paint most of your ceiling while standing on the floor than when awkwardly craning your back and neck up while painting with a brush. The roller cover should match the type of paint you’ll be using – look at its label to check if it’s appropriate for semi-gloss or eggshell versus a flat paint. If the ceiling is flat you want the nap of your roller to be short, but if it’s textured the nap should be longer, ¾ “ to 1 ½”. You may want to spend a few more dollars to get a professional roller cover, which holds more paint.

When choosing the color for your ceiling, consider the size of the room. A smaller room might seem roomier with a neutral—perhaps a neutral that’s two or three tones lighter than the walls’ color. If it’s a large space, using an earthy color to add warmth or an interesting shape to visual interest might add a unique element.

At home, make sure you place enough drop cloths to cover and protect everything in the room from paint drips and accidental spills. Clean the ceiling with the brush accessory of your vacuum. Patch any damaged areas. If your ceiling has any discolored spots, you should apply a stain blocking interior latex primer.

Next up is painting! Start by painting the edges of the ceiling in a two-inch strip. Then switch to the long-handled roller. Using the roller tray, dip the roller into the paint well and roll it back onto the ribbed portion until a uniform load of paint has been absorbed in the cover. The roller should be full but not dripping. Roll a vertical “W” shape, two feet by two feet onto the ceiling. Paint from dry areas into wet areas to avoid “lap marks.” Don’t keep squeezing the last bit of paint out of the roller; instead refill it for a smoother finish. Keep up the good work until your ceiling is complete.

Clean up and voila!—a new ceiling and a new look.

Categories: Painting Tips, Selecting Colors

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