Learning how to paint a textured ceiling can be a daunting task, but with the right materials and technique, you can achieve excellent results while minimizing the hassle. This guide will walk you through the process of painting a textured ceiling, from choosing the materials to patching, cutting in along the edges, and more.
Let’s face it; painting ceilings may not be the most enjoyable DIY task. The constant up and down on ladders, the need to hold a paintbrush overhead for extended periods can be quite challenging. However, with some valuable tips and tricks acquired through experience, you can make the process smoother and more manageable.
In this project, we’ll be focusing on painting the ceiling in our open kitchen/family room, which was recently revamped with new lighting fixtures. We had old light fixture holes to patch and needed to refresh the entire ceiling, which had accumulated gray smudges and a dingy yellowish tint.
Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about painting a textured ceiling, including the necessary materials, room preparation, seamless patching of textured ceilings, cutting in techniques, and more. Additionally, you’ll find a video tutorial at the end of this guide if you prefer visual instructions.
Materials You’ll Need
- Paint: Special ceiling paint isn’t mandatory; good flat interior paint works well. Flat finishes are ideal for ceilings as they help conceal imperfections. Common bright white flat paint off the shelf will suffice. For our project, we used Valspar Ultra interior paint in ultra white. One gallon typically covers 350-400 square feet with one coat, but multiply the room’s length by width and double that number since most ceilings require two coats.
- Paint roller and paint tray with a roller cover for textured surfaces: Textured ceiling rollers have a thicker nap (1/2-3/4″) to reach the texture’s crevices effectively. We used a Purdy Colossus paint roller cover.
- Paint roller extension pole: A must-have for ceiling painting, it extends your roller’s handle length to reach the ceiling without a ladder.
- High-quality angled paint brush: Essential for clean lines along ceiling edges. The Purdy 2.5″ angled brush is a top choice for cutting in.
- Ladder: Necessary for cutting in along the edges of the room with your paintbrush.
- Plastic cup or small paint bucket: Helpful for carrying smaller amounts of paint on the ladder.
- Painter’s tape: Used for taping off light fixtures before painting and potentially for easier cutting in along the ceiling’s edges.
- Drop cloth: Essential to protect furniture and fixtures in the room.
For Patching the Ceiling
- Spackling and a putty knife: Used to patch small holes in the ceiling.
- 220-grit sandpaper: For smoothing spackling.
- Paint texture additive and a chip brush: Necessary if your textured ceiling has larger holes or patched areas, to match the texture before painting.
How to Paint a Textured Ceiling
Clear the Room
Begin by safeguarding everything in your space. Protecting your furnishings and flooring is essential, especially when painting the ceiling, which hangs above everything else in the room. Consider moving small items out of the room, while larger furniture can be covered with drop cloths, and rugs can be rolled up. Use drop cloths on the floor to safeguard it from any splatters. Covering surfaces like carpet, tile, or wood floors, particularly if they’re absorbent, is a good idea.
Protect Your Light Fixtures
Ensure your ceiling light fixtures are protected, as well. Using painter’s tape, carefully secure your lights where they touch the ceiling. For chandeliers or pendant lights that are difficult to paint around, consider wrapping the fixtures with lightweight plastic drop cloths to shield them from stray paint.
Patch Any Holes
Use spackling and a putty knife to patch small holes in the ceiling caused by nails or hooks. Larger holes can be patched using a combination of drywall, drywall tape, and spackling. Once patches are dry, sand them to achieve a smooth finish.
Matching the Ceiling Texture
For textured ceilings, patching can be a blessing and a curse. While texture effectively conceals imperfections, patched areas might not blend well. To match the texture, use paint texture additive, which comes in various grits to match your ceiling’s texture. Mix it with your ceiling paint, and apply it to smooth patches with a small roller or chip brush, following the texture’s pattern.
Painting the Ceiling
Start by painting around the room’s edges (cutting in) before using the paint roller. For medium to large rooms, it’s more efficient to work one ceiling section at a time, rather than cutting in the entire ceiling before filling it in. A typical approach is to cut in a six-foot-wide ceiling section, then fill it in with a roller before moving on to the next section.
Cutting In with Painter’s Tape
To paint clean edges where the ceiling meets the wall or trim, you have the option to use painter’s tape. Though it requires upfront work in taping, it ensures neater edges. Place the tape precisely and press it firmly along the painting line. For a dramatic color contrast between the ceiling and walls, consider sealing the tape with a bit of your wall color. Remove the tape when the final paint coat is still wet to avoid peeling off fresh paint.
Cutting In without Painter’s Tape
Alternatively, you can cut in along the ceiling’s edges without using painter’s tape. Here are some tips to achieve clean, crisp paint lines:
- Avoid overloading your brush with paint; you want it wet but not dripping.
- Start painting a half-inch away from where the ceiling meets the wall and move the brush toward the line.
- Apply gentle pressure while painting to prevent paint from squeezing out uncontrollably.
- Maintain a steady hand and take your time, avoiding any rushed strokes.
- Keep a wet rag handy to quickly clean up any mistakes, as wet paint is forgiving and can be wiped up easily.
Cutting In Around the Ceiling Edges
To cut in around the ceiling’s edges, you’ll need a ladder and an angled paint brush. Pour a small amount of paint into a plastic cup or a small paint bucket to make it easier to carry while working on the ladder. Start cutting in the edges of the ceiling, and after that, use the roller to fill in the rest of the section.
Using a Paint Roller Extension Pole
The roller application stage is typically much faster and easier after the laborious prep and cutting in. Use a paint roller designed for textured surfaces, which has a thick nap to ensure the paint reaches the textured areas. A paint roller extension pole is crucial for ceiling painting. It allows you to paint without continuously getting on and off the ladder, making the process more efficient. If you don’t have an extension pole, a broom handle can serve the same purpose, as long as it fits snugly into your roller handle.
Painting Your Ceiling with a Paint Roller
Ensure your roller is evenly coated with paint, and then gently remove excess paint onto your paint tray. The roller should be adequately wet but not dripping. Rolling the paint onto the ceiling is quicker and more straightforward than cutting in. Overlapping the paint strokes helps create an even finish, even if you don’t follow a literal “W” pattern as advised for wall painting. As you paint, avoid pressing down hard on the roller to prevent paint from dripping onto other surfaces.
Second Coat of Paint
Upon completing the first coat, your ceiling may look uneven and splotchy, which is normal, particularly with light colors like white. For most ceilings, two coats are sufficient unless you’re transitioning from a very dark to a very light color. The second coat is typically faster to apply and evens out the finish.
After two coats of fresh white paint, your ceiling will have a renewed look, making your space appear fresher, cleaner, and brighter. The effort put into painting the ceiling is undoubtedly worth it, despite the challenges of working overhead.
Painting a ceiling may not be your favorite DIY task, but with the right materials, techniques, and some patience, you can achieve a beautifully painted textured ceiling that transforms your space.