Is it hard to paint a ceiling? Not really. Especially if you have some simple tips and tricks on how to paint a ceiling in seven simple steps.

Repainting your ceiling not only spruces up a room but it can also add value to your home by making it look newer and fresher. Learn how to paint a ceiling with these step-by-step instructions.

how to paint a ceiling

This is our living room.

You might have seen it before.

I’ve actually photographed it 497,000 times.

But when I took this photo the other day I changed something. Something that I’ve never done before. I went all transparent and ceiling vulnerable and left something in this photo that you’ve never seen before because I usually edit it out of all the photos.

If you came over for sweet tea, I’d sit you down in the chair on the right and try to distract you with conversation and stories so you wouldn’t notice it.

Can you see it?

It’s kind of hard to figure out at first, but when I show you. YIKES. You will not be able to unsee it.

Let’s take a little closer look at our ceiling shame.

And then?

I’ll show you how to paint a ceiling and fix it.

how to paint a ceiling living room

Can you see it?

The white blob in the center of the room.

The ceiling is actually a darker cream and the blob is white.

When I edit the photos it kind of goes away, so I’ll zoom in a little closer.

how to paint a ceiling before

Here’s a better view.


Shamity shame shame shame.

We moved the light fixture over a year ago and when we did it left behind a hole in the ceiling that needed to be mudded and it was filled in with drywall mud and sanded and then that giant white blob sat there for a YEAR.

I can’t even show you how truly shameful it was because these pictures don’t really do it justice.

Because the ceiling is a dark cream, the white blob showed up EVEN MORE.

It took everything I had to not apologize for it with every guest that entered into our living room.

But now?

It’s fixed.

We painted the ceiling and fixed it and now the ceiling is bright and white and shiny and new.

How to Paint a Ceiling

Here’s a video that showed how we did it.

I filmed everything in fast action and you can see how we took the room apart and painted the ceiling and then put it all together again.

Learning how to paint a ceiling is so much easier than it looks.

Let’s walk through the steps that we took and answer a few questions.

how to paint a ceiling with roller

Q: Is it hard to paint a ceiling?

Painting a ceiling sounds so much more intimidating than painting a wall, but it’s actually not. The key to painting the ceiling is prep work. You want to make sure to take everything down off the walls, roll back the rug and place the furniture together in the center of the space. Next, cover the furniture with a plastic dropcloth to prevent spills from occurring. You can also add a drop cloth to the floor to prevent spills as well.

Q: How do you paint a ceiling with a roller?

You’ll need several tools to paint the ceiling. First, you’ll need a brush with an angled edge is perfect for cutting in around the corners. Also, you’ll need a roller to cover the main spaces in the room. Lastly, adding a long extension to your roller makes it easier to cover the spaces from the floor and gives you more flexibility with painting.

Q: How can you avoid roller marks?

This was something we were worried about when we first learned how to paint a ceiling. There are several tips that you can use to avoid roller marks. Use a roller with a thicker nap and apply less paint when rolling. This helps prevent paint from making roller “tracks” on the ceiling. Using a flat sheen when painting the ceiling also helps avoid roller marks. And lastly? Paint one coat of paint on the ceiling in one direction and paint the other coat in a different direction.

Q: In addition to getting the room ready to paint, what type of prep work do I need to do?

We used FrogTape to tape off all the corners of the ceiling as well as the fixtures in the room. When applying the FrogTape, it’s important to press firmly in place to create a seal to prevent paint from bleeding through. Here you can see how we’ve taped off the light fixture in the space. We used an angled brush to cut in around the light fixture and applied the paint in one direction when painting next to the ceiling.

Q: What type of paint do I use on a ceiling?

I always recommend using flat paint on the ceiling. We live in an older house and the ceilings are a little rough in places. Using flat paint on the ceiling deflects light away from the ceiling and hides imperfections. Paints with more of a glossy sheen can highlight the imperfections in the ceiling surface. In addition, when choosing paint for the ceiling, it’s important to remember that the paint color on a ceiling can look slightly darker than it appears when painted on a wall.

Q: Does a ceiling need two coats of paint?

I highly recommend two coats of paint. When you are painting the ceiling (especially when you are going from a darker color to a lighter color like us) it’s so easy to miss patches of the ceiling. Painting two coats ensures a more even coverage and gives you a little grace to catch all the spots you might have missed on the first coat.

Seven steps to paint a ceiling

You can see how we painted the ceiling in the video, but here are the basic steps we took to paint the ceiling:

1. Prep the room: Take everything down off the walls, roll back the rug and place the furniture together in the center of the space. Then cover the furniture with a plastic dropcloth to prevent spills from occurring. You can also add a drop cloth to the floor to prevent spills as well.

2. Tape off the room: Use painter’s tape to tape off all the corners of the ceiling as well as the fixtures in the room. When applying the FrogTape, it’s important to press firmly in place to create a seal to prevent paint from bleeding through.

3. Tape off the fixtures: Tape off the light fixture and any other ceiling fixtures in the space.

4. Check to make sure your tape is applied properly: When applying the FrogTape, it’s important to press firmly in place to create a seal to prevent paint from bleeding through. Make sure everything is taped off and ready to paint.

5. Start painting: Use a brush with an angled edge that is perfect for cutting in around the corners. Next, use a roller to cover the main spaces in the room. You can also add a long extension to your roller, making it easier to cover the spaces from the floor. Let the first coat dry and then paint a second coat.

6. Remove the tape: You’ll want to remove the tape from the edges of the room. Pull tape away in one direction to prevent paint from getting on the walls.

7. Put everything back in place: You’ve finished. You’ve learned how to paint a ceiling. And now? Put artwork up on the walls, roll the rug back, and put the furniture and accessories back in the space.

And now here’s our ceiling.

The white blob is GONE.


It’s hard to tell from pictures, but now? The room looks so much fresher and cleaner and more exciting and ready to party.

And when all this is over?

My living room ceiling and I are throwing the party of the CENTURY.

I can’t wait.

Until then you can find me here with coffee.

Without a blob to keep me company. 🙂

PS Here’s one of my other favorite tips, too.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Martha woods Martha woods

    How to paint a ceiling? Hire a professional!!! I have "changed fixture " blobs everywhere. I'll paint a wall if needed ( or spot paint) but a ceiling is a whole different ballgame.

  2. Image for Cynthia L Rogers Cynthia L Rogers

    Your room is spectacular in every way! I am smitten with it all. We have old horsehair plaster walls that I have learned to embrace. Someone once mentioned that to hide their imperfections, including uneven ceiling/wall lines and a plethora of other small irregularities, use the same FLAT paint on the ceiling as on the walls. So for us, Benjamin Moore Linen White it is. Oh sure - there's still brush AND roller work but since the walls and the ceiling are the same color, there's no stress! And pure joy after as the rooms feel warm and cozy.

    1. Image for Sue Sue

      Oh, I have horsehair walls in my living room and tv room in my 1880 Upstate NY home. Previous owners did a sort of textured mud all over it, and I gave it a coat of white. Yes, uneven ceilings (why did my curtains always look uneven? lol) I kind of like it too. Perfection is over rated. Visitors keep touching them. I also have balloon ceilings, with canvas stretched across to moldings and painted, to hide pipes, electrical work, etc. Any ideas about those?

  3. Image for Karen Mary Karen Mary

    Your living room ceiling looks terrific! So fresh and clean! My main challenge when I paint ceilings is telling where I've already painted/not painted, especially on the second (and third) coats! Makes my neck tired remembering it! :) I just bought some wallpaper to put on a ceiling (in a little piano area). Now that I think I may hire out (as soon as I can get someone in here)!

  4. Image for Sue Sue

    My 1880 upstate NY house has what is referred to as "balloon ceilings" in two rooms. Back in the 1920's, 30's, whenever, people took canvas cloth and stretched it to cover pipes, electrical, old plaster above a room, and attached it to molding. Basically, they hid the mess. When the canvas was painted, it shrunk up, became taut and looked like a real ceiling. Having it all taken down and replaced is more than I can afford now. Also, in a couple places, chunks of old plaster have fallen down on the canvas, so there are lumps and bumps in my ceiling. Any suggestions? Since these are historical, and my house might be one of maybe 3 in my small city, I'd sort of like to keep it.

  5. Image for Susan Susan

    Looks so much brighter and fresh! But where was everyone when it came to emptying the room? lol Or does hubby prefer to work alone? Great job! I would never let my husband paint a ceiling with my drapes still in place, he is willing but not the neatest painted if you know what I mean! I like to use the pink tinted ceiling paint which lets me know if I missed a spot and it dries to bright white. I also remember a tip I got long ago from a painter- make sure the you always finish by rolling in the same direction. It can change how light reflects if you have any texture at all on the ceiling (like sand paint) especially in rooms that get a lot of sun. Thanks for inspiration- I think I hear my dining room ceiling calling me!

    1. Image for Martha Woods Martha Woods

      I wondered about those drapes also. That is an example of confidence if I ever saw it - - to be that sure you were not going to drip paint!!! Ha! I never thought I would be having so much discussion about painting a ceiling when I got up this morning. Life is so funny!

  6. Image for Eileen Eileen

    Shamity shame, shame, shame!!??? I cracked up at your new phrase. So funny. We all need a husband who moves at the speed of light!! I happen to have fallen 180 degrees out of a hammock 20 years ago and landed on my neck so the thought of that kind of looking up makes my neck ache. Your room is fantastic and you are sooo cute!!! Thanks for the video.


    I found the shadow in the pictures, but thought it was a shadow. The new paint on the ceiling really brightened up the room. Nice job!

  8. Image for Leslie from Fairview Leslie from Fairview

    The colors in the whole room look much lighter and brighter with the new white ceiling. Even more beautiful than it already was! Great job!

  9. Image for Christine Christine

    My husband and I have painted the ceilings in the last three houses we have owned. I've learned something each time and would like to pass this on to dyi's - tape off the roller for any lint "fuzzies" before starting whether rolling a ceiling or wall.

  10. Image for Janice Byrd Janice Byrd

    I, too, was concerned about the draperies. I think it's easier to put a plastic or cloth over the rod and over the drapes than it is to take them down. Sometimes the chandelier can be a problem, too. Individual shades need to be removed, and I like to cover the rest of the fixture with plastic, as well.

  11. Image for Linda Linda

    Your hubby did an amazing job. Not only painting but putting the furniture, wall decor and PILLOWS back!! He’s a keeper! Thanks for the video KariAnne!

  12. Image for PJ PJ

    Oh yes, I have one of those "blobs" in my kitchen ceiling where we took down a ceiling fan. Time to add painting that ceiling to my to-do list!

  13. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    I love the definitive "we" - hahaha - you married a knight for sure. I need all my ceilings refreshed - I don't have correction blobs but they're just getting dingy. I hire it out tho- I can't do because of an old arms (both) injury and Mr. Finch Rest can't cuz he isn't perfectionist enough for my pickiness. I love shamity shame shame - hahaha - hardly - but omg you are so funny, I love your videos- your sweet voice and friendliness is just so nice. And it feels like a visit as we are stuck home not "visiting" like normal. Hugs.

  14. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    Oh, Miz karianne! My grandfather used to crook his finger and wiggle it at me when he said, shamity shame, shame, SHAME ! And of course I had to use it on my kids, and my grandkids, but either they improved a lot or I just quit using it. Not sure why or when it happened, but this made me laugh out loud and fondly recall some old memories. Thank you. And thanks for a great ceiling painting tutorial.

  15. Image for Beth Minger Beth Minger

    We too once moved a light fixture - when the electrician punched the new hole in the wall I saved the piece of drywall he cut out. We took the piece to our local hardware store and they were able to analyze the color and give us a matching color. It worked great we covered the old spot and were able to touch up a few other blotchy areas without having to paint the entire ceiling! You have the best helper ever - my hubby would have no idea where everything was supposed to go afterward - he might remember where to put the sofa - that would have been it!!!

  16. Image for Michele Michele

    we painted our kitchen/diing area ceiling just before this lockdown glad when i look up it makes me happy...whatever make home more enjoyable! thanks!

  17. Image for MD MD

    What a pleasure it is to have a nice clean white ceiling! Just a painting tip from working with my husband painting our wooden boats, if the frog tape is overlapped in one direction, it can be pulled off as one long strip saving time and less moving the ladder. Thanks for making this video, it's very inspiring.

  18. Image for Suzanne Suzanne

    This looks AMAZING!!! Do you have any suggestions on what to use when painting a ceiling that has a water stain on it? Thanks in advance!

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