We often forget about them, but interior designers will tell you that the ceiling is the ever-important fifth wall in a room. It can be tempting to leave a ceiling in classic white, but painting it in a different shade can completely transform a room.
When choosing a color, choose a shade a few shades lighter than the walls to elongate the room and give it a polished, purposeful finish. Or, for smaller rooms such as study rooms or cozy areas, a dark ceiling can create a feeling of coziness.
If you want to be bold with your interior design choices, a colorful ceiling and matching trim is a fun way to really make your walls pop. Plus, it’s a DIY paint trend that many interior influencers have tried out online, with coveted results.
Whether you choose pastel blue to give your room a calming feel, or sunshine yellow for an optimistic twist, this trend transforms a ceiling into a design element in its own right.
Painting the ceiling may feel like a big job, but these tips will help you get ready quickly and cover the floor to give your chosen room a fresh feel.
Find your inspiration
While the style of a painted ceiling and wall trim can be quite simple, I like to look at different color combinations for inspiration. For example, shades of the same color can look very effective, as can clashing bright colors.
Rachel from Inspired By Kindness and Style, for example, opted for a multi-tonal pink look, which impresses with an almost neon hue on the ceiling and trim. While Richard from House Homo has used light green for a modern edge.
What you need
Once you’ve decided on the look you want to achieve, it’s time to get the right tools. Here’s all the materials you’ll need to paint your ceiling and add a border:
- Paint roller with paint tray – B&Q, £12
- Small roulade – B&Q, £3.50
- Extension Pole – Wickes, £21
- Paint Brush – Wickes, £5.50
- Masking Tape – B&Q, £5
- Duster – Amazon, £9.99
- Laser Level or Spirit Level – Amazon, £48.90
- Pencil – Amazon, £2
- Fabric Sheets – B&Q, £18
- Stepladder (at least five steps) – Amazon, £72.99
- Paint – Graham & Brown, from £46; Farrow & Ball, from £52
Step 1: choose your color
One of the golden rules of painting a ceiling is to finish it before your main walls to avoid splashing fresh paint. So it is worth considering whether to choose colors for the ceiling only, or whether to give the whole room a new look and, if so, hold on until the ceiling is finished.
My walls were already painted Farrow & Ball’s Nancy’s Blushes, which is a warm rosy pink. I liked the idea of a calming sky blue ceiling, so I chose two liters of Bali Blue from Graham & Brown in an eggshell finish on the inside.
Step 2: measure your border
First determine the depth of your border and measure down from the ceiling. As you can see from the inspiration references, the depth of your border determines which hues are most dominant in the room, so consider how prominent you want it to be.
If you live in a historic property and have crown molding or a picture rail, work with this and use it as your boundary marker. Otherwise, depending on the height of your room, anywhere from 5 to 10 cm is a good size.
Using a ruler, make a pencil mark where you want the border. The old-fashioned way to do this is to simply move your stepladder around the room and mark in pencil along the way, keeping the dots close enough that you can easily connect them with tape. An easier method is to use a laser level that you can align with your pencil mark. It creates a laser beam line all the way across the room, eliminating the need for marking.
Step 3: Protect the floor
Painting a ceiling can get quite messy, so it’s important to put dust sheets over floors and furniture. Keep the fabric sheets as level as possible – moving a stepladder across the room with flapping edges of unweighted fabric sheets is a recipe for tripping.
I recommend using small objects to weigh down the dust sheet and keep the edges close to the floor and baseboard. This is also a good time to tape off any light fixtures in the ceiling.
Step 4: Start painting
Lightly moisten a medium-sized roller with water – this will help the paint adhere and reduce splattering. Attach it to an extension pole and start in one corner of the room, moving it in a W motion. Work in sections across the room, avoiding the headlamp.
Don’t worry if the roller hits the top of the walls, you’ll tidy up this area later when you paint your border.
Step 5: Tape off your edge
Whether you penciled your border or used a laser level, your masking tape should be applied to show the line of your border. High quality masking tape is crucial for a clean edge. Be sure to press the edge down gently to prevent paint from seeping underneath.
Ensure continuity in the room by always placing the masking tape just below or directly on top of the mark – not just above it. Otherwise, you’ll lose track of where the marker is and end up with a weird line.
Step 6: Paint the rim
Fill your smaller, portable paint tray with paint and place your stepladder in place. Start by painting the border with a medium paintbrush and fill in any areas where the wall and ceiling meet that the roller couldn’t reach.
Make sure to spread a thick coat of paint over the masking tape so the line is sharp when you pull it back.
All light fixtures in the ceiling should be outlined with a brush. This is also a good time to do this.
Step 7: Let it dry
Allow the first coat of paint to dry for four to six hours before applying a second coat. Your ceiling can look patchy in the light, so it’s important to wait for the paint to dry before starting over.
Step 8: Second Layer
Apply a second coat with the roller and extendable pole. Touch up the edge with a thin layer of paint using the paintbrush.
Step 9: Remove the tape
Pull back the tape while the paint is still wet for a really sharp edge. Slowly pull the tape off at a 45-degree angle, being careful not to tear it.
Step 10: enjoy
Let the room dry for a good 12 hours, preferably overnight, then schedule a gathering with your friends so they can admire your fresh new look.