How to Paint Suspended Ceiling Tiles

several paint cans in different colors with paint brushes on top
  • 5-24 hours
  • Beginner
  • $50-150
What You'll Need
Paint roller
Small paint brush
Drop cloth
Paint thinner
Paint rags
Painter's tape

Suspended ceiling tiles serve many purposes including enclosing ductwork, hiding wiring, and lowering the height of the ceiling for energy conservation. But when it’s time to update the look of a suspended ceiling, the tiles require a bit of a different approach than standard solid ceilings. One option is to remove the tiles and paint them in a designated area. This article will focus on painting them without removal. This method is an easy way to complete your suspended ceiling tile painting job.

Step 1 - Purchase Paint Materials

You should start by collecting the needed supplies. Measure your space and then head to your paint store. Ask the sales associate about the type of paint that works best for suspended ceiling tiles. Also ask about the amount of paint that you need to purchase based on the size of the space being painted. In order to paint suspended ceiling tiles in place, you need a paint roller with an extension rod. It will allow you to reach the tiles without interrupting your work to move a ladder. Also, purchase paint rollers and paint thinner to use to clean up any paint drips. Buy a large drop cloth to put underneath the suspended ceiling tiles and to cover any objects that cannot be moved.

Step 2 - Prepare the Area for Painting

Ceiling tiles

Once you’ve collected all your needed supplies, remove all movable items from the room containing the suspended ceiling tiles. Place the drop cloth on the floor and over all furniture and other items that you cannot remove. Tape off adjacent walls using painter’s tape. Decide whether you want to paint the support grid holding up the tiles as well. If not, put painter's tape over the grid as well.

With the area prepared, pour the paint into a roller pan and apply some to the paint roller.

Step 3 - Paint the Ceiling Tiles

Roll the paint onto the suspended ceiling tiles. Apply the paint to the ceiling tiles evenly. Use long, even strokes when spreading the paint on the suspended ceiling tiles. When you complete the process of putting paint on the tiles, allow it to dry thoroughly before applying the second coat.

TIP: Put on safety glasses and a hat before you start painting to keep paint out of your eyes and hair.

Step 4 - Clean Up and Inspect Tiles

paintbrush in water

Clean the area where the suspended ceiling tiles were painted. Use paint rags to wipe up any drips that may have fallen from the ceiling and clean up any tiles. Take a ladder and inspect the individual tiles to determine their coverage. Use a small paint brush to touch up any spots and areas that you missed while painting. This step will complete the process for painting your suspended ceiling tiles.

Note: Be aware that when painting the tiles you will need to take care not to push the tiles upward into the suspended ceiling tile grid. You should be able to cover the tiles with the use of the paint roller. You can also use a ladder and a paintbrush to paint the suspended ceiling tiles. You will need to move the ladder into position in order to reach the different areas of the ceiling.