When it comes to redecorating and revitalizing a room, ceilings are an often overlooked or ignored component. With a little careful consideration, however, they can be used to make areas seem larger or more intimate, they can enhance the décor below and have a sizeable effect on a room’s appearance and presentation. Repainting a ceiling is a great way to change the look of a room without having to go to the trouble and expense of refurnishing, adding new carpeting or repainting the walls. Unless you have a particularly tricky or high ceiling, you should be able to handle the painting on your own with minimum fuss. Consider the following questions as you plan out the best method for giving your ceiling a new coat of paint and the entire room a facelift in the process:
• What kind of surface does your ceiling have?
• What color would best suit the room?
• How can a painted ceiling be enhanced by trim and borders?
• What materials do you need to paint your ceiling?
• What features or characteristics would you like?
Paint, Color, Preparation and Application
Contrary to what some people may think, there is a difference between paint used on walls and paint used for ceilings. Ceiling paint is thicker, which makes it more effective at covering spots, stains, watermarks and other flaws in the surface. It’s also slightly less durable than wall paint, since it’s not subjected to the same stresses and doesn’t need to be washed. Given those points, it’s important to remember that while paint normally used for walls can be used on ceilings, paint that’s specially designed for ceilings should not be used on walls, as it won’t provide the needed durability.
Paint: Paint designated specifically for ceiling use is designed to provide a uniform surface. It should have the ability to hide and obscure stains and spots so as to provide a clean finish. If you’re planning to cover a ceiling that has been previously painted or is made of drywall, plaster, masonry, stucco, acoustic tile or wood, you’ll need to find a paint that offers stronger adhesion qualities. Paint should be durable enough to resist peeling and blistering. Painting textured ceilings is often easiest if you use a sprayer or spray-on paint, which will prevent the texture from crumbling off, something that can happen if you roll or brush paint on. Glazes can be used to coat paint and create a reflective sheen, a quality that may be very desirable if you’re working with a darker color.
• Premium-quality acrylic latex formulation will ensure a high-quality finish
• Paint should be easy to apply regardless of what type of ceiling surface you have
• Flat-finish paint is ideal for applying to textured, popcorn or acoustic ceilings
• Eggshell and satin finishes offer a little bit of a sheen
Colors: Traditionally, ceilings have been painted white. White ceilings reflect light to brighten up a room and keep the focus on the walls, floor and décor within a room. They also offset boldly colored walls, making the walls appear brighter. If all you’ve ever had are white ceilings and you’d like something different, there are a number of options available. Ceiling colors can be used to link a room with nearby rooms or set it apart. Lighter, brighter colors can be used to provide the illusion of more space by visually extending the ceiling. Conversely, darker colors can be used to add a warm, cozy feel to a room by making larger spaces feel more intimate. If you’d like to create a uniform effect throughout the room but feel that using the same color on your ceiling that you used on your walls might be too much, try lightening the color you used on your wall by mixing in white paint and applying it to the ceiling. Colors can be used on ceiling trim and borders as well to provide accents. If you need a warm color, consider using gold, cranberry, cinnamon or toffee. Bear in mind, however, that you’re not likely to want to repaint your ceiling anytime soon, so choose a color that you won’t get tired of and will complement future redecorating projects. The chart below summarizes some of the effects of different shades of color.
Points to consider
|Dark||• Provides a cozy, intimate feel
• Visually shortens tall ceilings
|• Can dramatically after the appearance of a room|
|Light||• Makes rooms feel larger
• Brightens up rooms
• Offsets darker colors
|• Can be used on surrounding trim to offset white or dark colors
• Many neutral colors available to complement a range of décor
|White||• Brightens up rooms
• Reflect light
• Makes rooms feel larger
|• Sound insulation reduces noise
• Different styles and designs to match surrounding decor
Preparation and Application: Prior to applying new ceiling paint, you’ll need to remove existing loose paint and wash off dirt, grease, mildew and any other stains that may be present. If you are sanding and scraping paint in older homes, make sure you protect yourself by using a respirator as the dust created may contain hazardous lead fumes. You may need to apply a primer coat before painting, so consult the manufacturer’s instructions. Spot-prime water stains with a primer specially designed to remove them. While painting is a fairly easy process, working with textured ceilings will require a little more time and effort. If you’re planning to repaint the entire room, paint the ceiling prior to doing walls and woodwork. Use rollers or large brushes for the bulk of the job and small brushes for edges and corners.
• Glossy surfaces may need to be scuff sanded
• Use a damp cloth to remove dust, and let ceiling dry before painting
• Use a vacuum attachment to remove dust and cobwebs from textured ceilings
• Apply paint when temps are between 50°F and 90°F (consult manufacturer’s instructions for specific
• If using multiple containers of the same paint, intermix them to ensure uniformity
• Use tarps, plastic sheets and drop cloths to protect walls, floors and furniture
• Work from right to left if you’re right-handed and left to right if you’re left-handed
• The dryer a roller is, the less likely it is to spatter paint
Spatter Resistance: If you have a popcorn or acoustic ceiling, look for spatter-resistant paint. Using paint with a spatter-resistant formula will enable you to paint textured ceilings without accidentally spraying paint all over the place.
Color Changing Paint: Applying new white paint over old white paint can be a very challenging task. Fortunately, manufacturers have come up with a way to make white-on-white painting easier. To help you see more clearly which areas you have already covered, some white paints have a pink, blue or other non-white color when it is applied. As it dries, the color fades and becomes white. This saves you the trouble of having to do a lot of touch-up work after everything has dried.
Acoustic Ceiling Spray: Painting textured ceilings can be very difficult and time consuming. Textured spray paint makes it easy to cover an entire ceiling quickly and uniformly. You may need to rent a sprayer to make the job go more quickly.
Wallpaper: Wallpapered borders can be used in conjunction with painted ceilings to add an element of style to a previously plain room.