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The Absolute Best Way on Earth to Paint a Ceiling

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Most painters, professional, amateur, and otherwise, dislike painting ceilings. Ceiling painting is messy and hard on your arms, legs, and back. Not only that, but if you are simply re-painting your ceiling flat white, the payoff for all of this work is minimal!

So should you get on a ladder and roll the ceiling? Build scaffolding? Use a roller extension? Spray it?

Scaffolding? Dream On...

Scaffolding would be the best bet, except by the time you built up a room's worth of scaffolding (or moved around a smaller portion of scaffolding to follow your painting), you would already have been done by using a roller extension pole.

Drips Happen - Prepare for Them

Just try painting a ceiling without creating drips. Even the most fastidious professional will create drips when painting ceilings. Yes, you can get by without drop cloths (if you want) for walls and other vertical areas, but this is impossible to do with ceilings.

Ask Yourself 3 Times - Why Am I Considering Anything But Flat White Ceiling Paint?

If you're thinking about being wild and crazy by painting your ceiling some type of color other than white, and some type of finish other than flat, think long and hard about this. Usually, ceilings are not the place for nutty paint schemes. We say this not to dissuade you from being creative, but if you look at books and TV shows, you will notice that flat white is still the preferred finish for 99% of all ceilings.

Flat white ceiling paint has the advantage of:

  1. High degree of light bounce, giving your entire room more light.
  2. The limitless vista of white. In other words, when you look at a blue surface, it appears to have a stopping point. However, when you look at a well-painted flat white surface, it appears to go on infinitely. This gives the room the feeling of having more space.
  3. Flat, as opposed to satin, eggshell, glossy, or otherwise, further enhances the appearance of a limitless vista. Reflections of light on a ceiling, due to any type of gloss, will tell the eye that this is where the surface "stops."

Tips for Painting Your Ceiling

  • Paint rollers will give you the best coverage with much less splatter than paint sprayers.
  • Look at ceiling painting as a project unto itself. Devote an entire day or afternoon just to the ceiling.
  • Use a roller extension, but be sure to use the shortest possible extension to minimize the weight of the pole. For example, if you have a 17 foot extension to paint an 8 foot ceiling, that means that nearly ten feet of aluminum pole are collapsed into the handle and are creating more weight for you, thus greater strain on your shoulders, arms and lower back.
  • Work in (imaginary) 3 foot by 3 foot sections. If you work larger areas than that, the weight of the pole increases exponentially.
  • Start at the intersections between walls and ceiling with a brush. Trying to paint these 90 angles with rollers will only damage your walls.
Related Video
How To Paint A Ceiling
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