No Need to Call in a Pro: Here's Exactly How to Paint Your Home's Ceilings

Follow these easy steps to transform the overhead walls in your house.

Are you looking for a way to upgrade your home? Start by looking, well, up. Your ceiling, like an accent rug or a new piece of artwork, can actually function as a décor moment in a space. If painted, this underestimated wall can come alive and completely transform a room from its original state; go white for a fresh, expansive take (this is arguably the most popular option) or opt for the modern approach and cover it in the same hue as the room's four vertical walls. Whichever option you choose, you will need to know how to successfully paint a ceiling, which come in all different surface types.

Prep your ceiling and scope out water damage.

Karyn Womack, the regional sales and development trainer at BEHR, says the first step in the prep phase is to tape off the sections where the ceiling meets the walls with painter's tape. Next, remove vents so paint doesn't drip onto the coverings and fill in nail holes with spackle, so the ceiling is smooth. If you have water stains on the ceiling, use a primer—like the Kilz Original Aerosol Interior Primer ($6.98,—on any problem areas before you grab your paint. Of course, it's imperative to make sure that you know where the source of the stain is coming from to avoid future damage, which would render your efforts moot.

woman painting ceiling with roller brush
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Prime the area—and mind your ceiling's texture while doing so.

If you're simply attempting a refresh job—and not covering water damage—scrape loose or peeling paint from the ceiling and prime the surface with a liquid, oil-based interior primer, such as the Kilz Original Interior Primer ($16.98,, with a half-inch nap roller; for this, we like the Wooster Nap Roller ($5.86, This method works for most ceiling types, with the exception of a sprayed popcorn ceiling. If you're working on this surface, Womack says you will need to prime it and use a three eighths-inch roller, which is better suited for a ceiling with more texture.

Paint the ceiling.

After you complete your prep, you're ready to paint the surface. Matt Kunz, the president at Five Star Painting, a Neighborly company, recommends using a brush for cutting in corners and then painting in areas closest to the wall. Another pro tip? Womack notes to work in from the walls, around the tape. For the majority of the ceiling, use a roller with an attached extension pole. "Start painting away from one corner in a straight line until the entire ceiling is covered," she says. "If a second coat is needed, then apply paint in a perpendicular direction." Continue by removing the tape while the paint is still wet—and then let everything dry.

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