5 Ceiling Painting Mistakes to Avoid

rolling primer onto a ceiling
  • 2-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-100

Ceiling painting can be one of those jobs no one wants to tackle. If you get it wrong, it can go really wrong! Make sure you read this list of five common mistakes to avoid when painting a ceiling before you climb up that ladder.

1. Waiting Till Last

Because it may seem like the hardest part of painting the room, your inner voice may tell you to save the ceiling for last. Don't listen to that voice, and instead, tackle it first. Waiting until all the walls are painted before painting the ceiling is a big mistake, as you can very easily ruin your new paint or paper job on the walls by applying paint to the ceiling afterwards.

2. Not Cleaning the Ceiling

painting a ceiling

The ceiling may look clean from the ground but once you ascend your ladder, you will be sure to see dust and debris, especially if you've got large lighting fixtures or if your ceiling has bas relief decorations or molding where dirt can get trapped. If your ceiling is not clean, that can prevent the primer and paint from going on smoothly and evenly. Wipe the ceiling with a damp cloth and allow to dry before commencing your ceiling painting.

3. Thinking You Don't Need to Prime

Since only your very tall friends will be seeing the ceiling close-up, you may think there is no need to apply primer before painting, but that can really ruin your nice paint job. Especially if your ceiling is directly below the roof, a bathroom, or a kitchen, primer will help seal the ceiling and can help minimize water damage, should that happen in the future.

4. Starting With the Big Space First and Then Working Towards the Edge

rolling paint onto a ceiling

It is tempting to start your ceiling painting in the biggest space so it feels like you get a lot done right away, but that is a surefire way to miss spots. Start at the edge of the ceiling and wall, using a small brush to get right up to the edge. Try to paint with as long strokes as possible but do one section at a time and then move over to finish that edge. Once all the edges have been painted, then proceed to any other delicate space such as where there is molding or any other intricate decorations. If you are painting the molding, make sure you use a small brush to get into all the crevices.

5. Not Applying Enough Paint to the Brush for Fear of Dripping

Of course we can all picture what would happen should too much paint be applied to the brush when ceiling painting. But going too far in the other direction - using too little paint - can leave streaks, bare spots and the annoying reality of having to re-paint certain areas of the ceiling. Make sure the bristles of the brush are half covered in paint when you begin. Also don't forget to let the brush drip over the paint can or tray before you start ceiling painting to remove any excess paint.