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How to Paint a Ceiling?

We know you probably don't spend much time looking up at your ceiling, but take a moment to give it a glance. It takes up a sixth of your space, so why not give it some tender care?

If the mere thought of painting the ceiling makes your neck hurt, we hear you. But it's a necessary step to make a freshly painted room look complete. To ensure the process is as easy and pain-free as possible, follow these tips to get the job done fast and efficiently. From starting with the correct supplies to adopting the best technique, here's how to paint a ceiling the right way.

It’s all in the prep!

All good projects begin with good preparation. So clear your area, lay down a drop sheet, then grab yourself a ladder, brush, tape, roller and extension pole, and tray. Begin by cleaning your ceiling. Remove cobwebs with a clean broom and wash the area. It’s true, no one enjoys cleaning but missing this step could lead to trouble later on.

Sand it all

Over time, and as the layers of paint build up, bumps and crud can get stuck to the ceiling. On untextured ceilings, it's a good idea to start with a quick once-over sanding with 100-grit drywall sanding paper. This helps ensure a perfectly smooth paint job and increases paint bonding. The easiest way to do this is with a sanding pole. When you're done sanding, wipe the ceiling with a damp sponge to remove the dust.

Prime it!

Using a roller with an extension pole, apply a coat of interior latex paint primer. Don’t cut corners and skip this step. The primer will provide a stain barrier and, in most cases, make it possible to use only one coat of paint to finish.

Allow the primer to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions before you continue. In some situations, it’s a good idea to paint a second coat of primer before painting.

Get to painting!

You’re going to have to Cut in Before You Roll!!

1. Cut in:

Similar to painting a wall, you'll want to start by "cutting in," or using a paintbrush to paint around the perimeter of the ceiling. Using a 2- to 3-inch brush, start at the edge of the ceiling and paint into the ceiling a few inches. You'll want to feather the strokes so the edge will blend in seamlessly once you use a roller to paint the rest of the ceiling. If you're planning to paint the ceiling and the walls, skip the painter's tape and cut in on the ceiling and the wall as you work your way around the room’s perimeter.

Cutting in before you roll allows you to cover most of the brush marks with the roller. Carefully brush paint along the edge of the ceiling one section at a time. This method has a couple of advantages over cutting in the entire room at once. First, the cut-in section will remain wet until you roll so it blends in better. Also, it's simply less boring to alternate between cutting in and rolling.

2. Roll it:

To paint the ceiling, use the fully extended, paint-filled roller to create a zigzag pattern measuring 3 to 4 square feet. Next, go over the same area using straight, controlled strokes to even out the paint. Avoid leaving paint lines from the edge of the roller. Since you need to work while the paint is still wet, tackle smaller sections and be sure to feather the edges to reduce distinct, visible lines between sections.

Wait for the first coat to dry thoroughly for the time recommended on the can. Depending on the paint and coverage, you may need to repeat the process.

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