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Painting the ceiling can give a room a fresh look. And it’s the perfect place to start when your project calls for repainting an entire room. In this video, we’ll provide the know-how to make sure you get started on the right track before moving on to the walls and trim.

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Now that the room has been properly prepped, it’s time to start our painting project by painting the ceiling before starting the walls. There is always a logical order that suggests where you should start any painting project, and it usually means working from top to bottom. So before you get started, think it through carefully, and always let gravity be your guide.

Today, we’re going to start by painting the ceiling so that any drips or paint roller spatter that ends up on our walls will be covered by a fresh coat of paint. Like many typical painting projects, our ceiling doesn’t need a full coat of primer because it doesn’t encounter the same type of abuse that walls are subject to. We’ll just spot prime some of the problem areas.

First, we’ll need to remove anything on the ceiling that might be in the way, such as the heat register and this light fixture. To learn more about this project, be sure to watch our video Installing a Light Fixture. With the electrical supply to the room turned off, we’ll need supplemental lighting to see our work area clearly. This halogen work light with an extension cord plugged into an adjacent room will work nicely.

Now that I can see what I’m doing, it’s time to get started.

With the fixture removed, we can now spot prime the yellow stains around the light with our primer and a roller. Here I’m using a stain blocking primer which will prevent the stain from bleeding through the finish coat. To choose the right primer for your paint project, see our list of Frequently Asked Questions specific to this video.

For cutting in the border, I’ll use a 3” wide brush and a paint pail with a hand strap for convenience.

Now that I’ve cut in my border, I’ll use my telescoping paint roller with an extension pole to roll on the rest. This makes painting easier because you can work safely from the floor instead of being on the ladder the entire time.

Since our ceiling is textured, I’m using a roller cover with a thicker nap than what I would use if the ceiling were smooth. The type of roller cover you use will depend on how rough the surface is. Since our ceiling is just mildly textured, a roller cover with a 1/2-inch nap will work just fine. If your ceiling is more textured than this, you may need a roller cover with a ¾-inch nap like this one. For non-textured ceilings, a roller cover with a 3/8 (three eights) inch nap will provide a smooth finish.

To start rolling, I’ll work in smaller 3-foot squares, rolling in a series of angles that resemble the letter “M”. Finish one section before moving on to the next. Once you get in the rhythm, it doesn’t take long to finish the ceiling. Just take your time and be careful of falling drips and paint spatter. Since gravity is not your friend when painting a ceiling, you may want to wear a hat or a scarf for this part of the project to keep paint out of your hair.

After the first coat dries, you’ll need to assess the situation to determine whether or not you’ll need a second coat. This will depend on the color and quality of paint you are using, as well as the existing color of the ceiling. One coat should be fine for this project. But if your ceiling looks like it could use another coat, do it now. You don’t want to go back and have to repaint the ceiling after you’ve finished painting the walls and trim.

That should just about do it. Now all we need to do is re-install our light fixture and we’ll be ready to start priming and painting our walls.

Good luck with your project and thanks for watching.


  1. 1.remove wall coverings

    Remove any coverings on the ceiling, such as vents and light shades.

  2. 2.turn off power

    If you are going to remove the light pan from the ceiling, turn off the power to that room from your fuse box. You may need an alternative light source for the rest of your project.

  3. prime

    Spot prime on top of dark stains.

  4. 4.paint band

    Paint a band around the room where the paint roller can’t reach.

  5. 5.use extendable paint roller

    Use an extendable paint roller or a ladder to reach the ceiling. For textured walls and ceilings, use a thicker roller cover.

  6. 6.paint with roller

    Paint in small sections with a series of angles resembling an ‘M’.

  7. 7.let it dry

    Let it dry. If the color isn’t even, apply a second coat.


Project Faqs « back to project

I have textured ceilings. What nap of roller cover should I use?

It depends on how textured the ceiling is. If it’s slightly textured, a 3/8-inch or a ½-inch nap roller cover should work well. If it’s... More »

What type of primer should I use on ceilings?

It depends on factors such as whether or not there are stains that need attention and if you are painting the ceiling white or giving it some color.... More »

Do I need to prime my ceiling before painting it?

While it’s always a good idea to prime before painting, unless you ceiling has stains, you probably don’t need to because it doesn’t take the... More »

The inside of my grill needs painting. What type of paint should I use?

If you need to touch up the paint on the non-porcelain surfaces of your grill, such as the endcaps or the cook box, use a high heat-resistant... More »


Where do I start when painting an interior wall?

Use an angled brush to trim the perimeter of the room and around door and window... More »

Can I avoid scraping the peeling paint off the exterior of my home by using a pressure washer before painting?

It is not advisable. Pressure washers should only be used for removing dirt, mildew and algae that can lead to premature paint failure. Flaking... More »

I’m going to be painting a table that has a gloss finish. Do I need to prepare the surface?

You should use a liquid deglosser, which works without sanding and also produces a slight tack for better adhesion of the new... More »

Once I mix the epoxy base with the hardener, when can I start painting the floor?

It varies by manufacturer, but some of the more common products require a 30 minute set up time minimum before using. They, you have 2½ hours... More »

What type of masking tape should I use before painting?

Use tape that is designated as painters tape. This tape is usually blue or green in color. It is designed to provide excellent masking capabilities,... More »


What type of caulk should I use on trim before painting?

Use siliconized acrylic latex caulk. It tends to be more flexible and has better adhesion. This will prevent cracks later... More »

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