How to Paint a Plank Ceiling

A plank ceiling.
  • 3-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100-250
What You'll Need
Wood putty
Sanding block
Cleaning agent
Drop cloths
Painter's tape
Paint roller

A plank ceiling can be difficult to paint. Between the difficulty accessing it, and the normal difficulty of preparing and painting any surface, it may be tempting to abandon your plank ceiling to life without paint, no matter how desperate the situation is. However, there is hope. By using the proper techniques and strategies, it is possible to paint a plank ceiling yourself using only commonly available materials and tools. You can even have it looking as good as any wall in your home. The following instructions should get you started with everything you need to paint a plank ceiling.

Prepare the Ceiling

Before you can apply paint to your ceiling, you will need to make sure it is ready to be painted. While going straight to painting may seem like a time-saver, it will lead to a paint job that does not last in the long term, requiring extra work from you in the future.

First, repair any imperfections in your plank ceiling. Use wood putty to fill any cracks or damaged sections. Once this is complete, go over the entire ceiling with a sanding block and sandpaper, paying particular attention to areas you have had to repair with wood putty.

Next, use a sponge and a cleaning agent to clean your plank ceiling. Ammonia will work very well for this, but if you use it be sure to open all doors and windows to ventilate the area so you avoid breathing harmful fumes.


Before you begin painting, you will need to protect the area you are painting in. Clear out anything that can be moved, and use as many drop cloths as necessary to protect anything that cannot be moved, such as the carpet.


Now that you have prepared your ceiling as well as your work area, it is time to prime the ceiling. Choose a primer with anti-stain properties, as this will help the primer do its job of preventing the original color of the planks from being visible. Alkyd primer is also a good choice for this. Once you have selected the primer you are going to use, get out your paint roller and apply it. Obviously, one with a long handle will be very helpful here. If you wish to protect your walls from primer, use painter's tape over the edges of your walls where they meet the ceiling. When you are done with both painting and priming, you can remove the tape and have a nice neat line separating your walls from your ceiling without having to go over the edges by hand with a brush.


Once your primer is dry, the next step is applying paint. You should select latex paint of the color that you choose, and be sure to pick the highest quality you can—after all, this paint job should stay for a while.

Use your paint roller to apply your latex paint to the ceiling over your coat of primer. Once it is dry, you can remove the drop cloths, duct tape, and replace your room's furniture.