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The best method for painting ceilings with a roller

painting the ceiling

How to Paint Ceilings

Alright, it’s Learning time, and you want to paint ceilings, right?

Or do you want to be painting ceilings RIGHT!

You’re going to need some stuff. Get the good stuff, purdy paint brushes, Wooster paint brushes, corona paint brushes- we can tell you all about all types of paint brushes and extension poles, what we see as the best ladders or cheap ladders, drop clothes (a good painters drop cloth is a savings that starts from the first drop.. or drip)

So a list of goods needed as you show the world how to paint ceilings

  • Drop cloths (protect your floors and other surfaces)
  • Painters ladder (cheap ladders can be fine, but the best ladders are light ladders)
  • Paint pole (or extension pole) for your paint roller extension-unless you have very long arms…
  • Caulk gun (see our article How to use a caulk gun)for cornice gaps
  • Good paint brush (trust me, you pay for cheap paint brushes in hours)
  • Paint roller tray
  • Sand paper, spaka and applicator. Fill. And fix the cracks.
  • Foam paint brush if you aren’t paint confident.

We have another section in Paintsonladders to assist you with how to paint ceilings, so for real benefit I suggest you read both, you can’t get enough of a good thing…

Now. How To Paint Ceilings…

So, you take all unnecessary wall and room furniture out or have it covered with drop cloths.

You have filled and sanded any cracks, then caulked any cornice gaps (see Caulk guns). So all is now prepared that way.

Now, getting your best ladder, you will learn the easy way how to cut in paint. Cutting in paint when painting ceilings is easier because you will be painting walls next, right? So practise cutting in paint around the ceiling by doing all the cornices as close to the plaster line as you can possibly do on the wall side. You get On the ceiling side, ensure you go at least the width of your Wooster paint brushes ( or whatever types of paint brushes your using)toward the centre of the ceiling from the cornice. This allows for more streak free paint rolling as you won’t be bumping the roller on cornice. Next job for your cutting in brush is to hand paint around any light fittings, air vents and any other features on the ceiling area that won’t be flat and smooth to roll.

Keep the cutting in lines fine and close to the light or other fitting, it leaves a very fine and professional look you will be proud of for a long time. It’s still good to go wide on the outer or ceiling side of the fitting you’re cutting around, as you will find it easier and faster to roll later.

With cutting in, do not lean out or away from your painters ladder, even on a light weight step ladder. It’s a bad, dangerous practice. I move my Mennards ladders forward whenever my arm is forced to straighten. You keep brush control, and it’s safer.

Place your roller tray in a central and safe position on your painters drop cloth then put your painters ladder away and let’s apply the paint roller.

As a matter of course, you will have stirred your paint thoroughly. Fill the painters roller tray by no more than 1/3 of its deep point. Join your best paint roller to the paint roller extension pole and gently roll into the tray. Avoid as best you can getting the hooked end of the roller covered, it helps to ensure a cleaner roll off, but don’t over worry on it…

Roll off excess paint, and, starting usually furthest from any window, and roll from the ”cut in” edge of the ceiling cornice you did earlier. Work the roller from one full side of the ceiling right over to the other cornice edge, just overlapping the cut in area of the other end point. Try to provide an even, not heavy, coating. With each roll on (or application), make sure you cross over the last roll off point by an inch or two. Don’t try to squeeze extra milage from your roller- keep going back to the tray, coat up your roler, re-apply more to the ceiling and come back over again to smooth off.

Painting ceiling, like all best quality paint application, is about stopping and checking your work.

The best paint rollers action is smooth and damp (“full”), not overly “wet”, and even the best paint rollers can’t work well without good paint and a quality paint roller extension pole. When you use the best quality paint and all quality items you get the best paint roller action-


So don’t get a cheap paint roller or paint roller extension. The flimsy, rattly extension poles translate to the rolled end, and you get a bad, “railway line “effect. This will stay, unless you roll it out smooth when it’s still wet. So you have finished to the window side, now inspect the work, but almost certainly you will need to do a good end to end roll to finish. All this means is to make the roller “full” again and do the complete ceiling , end to end, one side to the other.

Of course, use your judgement, painting ceilings will reveal itself as to how it is going as it goes on, but understand the wet will probably dry looking even better than is does when  wet, so don’t overstress how to paint ceilings when they are not yet dry.

That’s how you become THE BEST PAINT ROLLER !!!

Now see our section on Clean-ups…

Painting the house as a home owner

Painting the house is a very exciting project for a homeowner and they usually don’t compromise over the quality of the paint. Some of the homeowners will go for the professional contractor’s services, while the others take it on for themselves as a DIY project, usually with great enthusiasm. Out of all the painting jobs, the painting of the walls is considered the most difficult job. It is mainly because of the reach required using a ladder and the difficulty of using a roller at a very weird angle. According to  experts, the inexperienced painters wastes a lot of time and paint on the ceiling area and this is something which they need to take proper control on. The heavier or larger ceiling painting jobs can be easily done using a roller which is far, far, easier to use on the ceiling instead of  brushes.

The tools that you will require for painting your ceiling with a roller:


ceiling paintingOther Considerations when painting the ceiling:

In the first step, you must cut in around any light fittings and other ornaments that may adorn the ceiling, such as air con vents or decorative plaster strips and points in older plastered ceilings. Make sure you have left a good 2 & 1/2 ” wide brushed on strip of paint to work the roller away from. You need to then  decide on to the direction in which you are going to roll. The purpose is to keep the direction consistent all through the ceiling, giving a seemless and streak free finish.  According to the experts, the best approach is to roll in the direction (as in parallel) along the side of prevailing natural light source (coming from the big window in the room.) This is good in the sense that no roller lines should show up.  All this talk  about the roller lines will only be an issue with the smooth ceilings. The textured ceilings are not really a bother for showing up the roller lines, particularly if s flat style of ceiling paint is applied.

After choosing the most suitable direction, you must start the painting project from the leftmost corner of the room. It is difficult to explain as how to roll the paint in the best form, but the bottom line has 2 crucial points. The first crucial point is to “roll the paint off”- that is, get a smooth and regular level of paint off the roller and onto the ceiling. It’s actually easier than it sounds, and you will quickly figure it out. Too much or too fast and it will be leaving spatter evey where, so go steady and don’t leave specks that you will require cleaning up’- Smart and lazy style wins…

The other crucial point is to really smooth it up with a final coat. This method is also known as the ‘laying it off’. It means that at all times you are keeping a wet edge. If possible, it is ideal for you to apply your roller strokes along the full width or full length of the ceiling, that is, start one side and go all the way to the other, as smoothly and continuously as you can. All that matters here is the steady pressure and control on the roller strokes for maintaining the quality/ quantity of the ceiling paint going on all through the project.


The use of roller for painting the ceilings require some technical expertise which can be learnt. In order to get the best finishing results, the roller must be rolled according to the type of ceiling and the flow of natural light in the room.