When you’re painting a whole room, the ceiling should come first.
By Timothy Dahl
It’s easy to overlook the ceiling when you’re painting a whole room, but you shouldn’t ignore your fifth wall. It deserves the same amount of protection and design consideration that your walls do. So if you’re tackling a room in its entirety, start with the ceiling.
Prep the room, and the ceiling too
Before you begin painting your ceiling, remove all furniture from the room and lay down drop cloths from wall to wall. If you can’t completely remove the furniture from the room, try pushing it to the center and covering it all with drop cloths.
Remove lighting fixtures and chandeliers, so you have no obstructions and can paint the entire wall without worrying about getting paint on a lamp. If you cannot remove a ceiling fixture, then make sure it is taped and covered up before you get started.
Now prep your ceiling surface and walls by first dusting them. Then wash them using a mixture of water and a non-abrasive cleaning liquid. This will remove grease, grime, and dirt. Rinse and then dry your walls and ceilings completely before you start painting.
Cut in the ceiling
Since your average paint roller cannot reach into corners or paint right up to the woodwork, the first step is to cut in the ceiling—that is, apply about a 5 centimetre wide band of paint around the outer edge of the ceiling — using a 5 centimetre wide brush. Use an edge guard while cutting into the ceiling to prevent inadvertent marks on the walls and wipe that guard frequently to avoid getting paint on the wall or cornices. Paint the cut line as heavily as possible without dripping and keep a damp rag handy to wipe any excess off the walls.
If you’ve got two painters, one of them can continue to cut in while the other starts rolling on the paint. If your walls and ceiling are the same color, then you don’t have to be quite as precise while you’re cutting in. Any marks on the wall will get painted over in the same color anyway. Don’t let be an excuse to get sloppy, though.
Paint the ceiling
After you’ve finished cutting in around the edges, paint the rest of the ceiling using a 4-foot long extension pole screwed into a roller handle. Use a roller with a nap of more than 2 centimetres to paint rough surfaces such as stucco. Start painting at one end of the room, and work the roller back and forth, parallel to the longest wall. Work your way across the ceiling in 3 or 4 foot square patches and when you reach the opposite wall, start painting again back at the first wall. This will prevent lap marks.
To prevent drips, dip your roller into the paint without submerging it. Dip your roller often but with less paint than you might use when painting a vertical wall.
Once the ceiling is done, you can transition right into painting the walls in the afterglow of a job well done.
This article was originally written for and published by Popular Mechanics USA and has been adapted for South Africa.