How to Add Some Color to the Most Overlooked Wall in Your Home

published Apr 14, 2020
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Credit: Kristan Lieb

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to add color to your home? Paint the walls. And once you’ve done that, we’ll bet you’ll be tempted to take on other things too, like painting the doors or painting the trim. But let us pitch you another project you may not have thought of yet: the ceiling.

Often called “the fifth wall” by designers, ceilings offer a huge canvas that’s usually overlooked for adding color. One reason for that? It looks darn intimidating! And we get it: Painting a ceiling, unlike painting a wall or door, involves extended time on a ladder or holding a long-handled roller. That doesn’t mean it’s a job best left to the pros, though. Armed with the right tools and a generous amount of patience, this is something you can do yourself over a weekend. Here’s how. (Note that the below instructions apply if you do not have a popcorn ceiling; if your ceiling has a popcorn finish, you’ll need a different set of instructions for how to paint a popcorn ceiling.)

Supplies you’ll need to paint a ceiling:

  • drop cloths
  • painter’s tape
  • paintbrush
  • roller and cover
  • paint tray
  • extender pole
  • primer (optional)
  • paint

Directions for how to paint a ceiling:

Credit: AT Video

1. Prep your workspace

Move all the furniture out of the room that you’ll be painting. If you can’t move the furniture, cover it with plastic drop cloths or garbage bags to protect it from paint spills and splatters.

Credit: AT Video

2. Tape the edges of your ceiling

If you’re not painting your walls, you’ll need to tape off the ceiling to make sure color doesn’t make its way outside the edges. Use painter’s tape around the entire ceiling, making sure to also tape off any vents.

3. Prime the ceiling (optional)

If your ceiling has never been painted, or has a dark color on it already, you’ll probably want to use primer before painting. If your ceiling is currently painted white, you can skip this step.

Credit: AT Video

4. Paint the edges

Use a paint brush to feather the paint at the edges of the ceiling. This way, you’ll get the spots that the roller is likely to miss.

Credit: AT Video

5. Paint the ceiling

Go over the rest of the ceiling with a roller attached to an extender pole, rolling in parallel lines to make sure paint gets to the whole ceiling. Wait until the paint dries to see if you need a second coat; if the paint looks splotchy or bare in parts, go over the ceiling with a roller again.

Credit: AT Video

6. Remove the tape

While the second coat’s still wet, remove the tape at a 45-degree angle. That’s it! Relish your new pop of color overhead.