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Painting A Ceiling: Defining Your Space

Painting a ceiling can be tricky business, because it involves plenty of bending, stretching, and climbing a ladder. While your shoulder and neck muscles might hurt for a few days, it is worth the effort to take your time and get it right. Here's how to tackle this home improvement project.

Like any home improvement project, it is important to get all your supplies in order before you start. You need primer, paint, brushes, rollers, painter's tape, and a paint tray. When painting a ceiling, most people use flat paint, because it hides imperfections. Also buy paint specifically for ceilings because it is typically thicker and less likely to drip.

Painting a ceiling is a moderately easy project for a homeowner, depending on how much repair is needed. If your ceiling requires extensive repairs, consider hiring a contractor.

Before priming, repair any cracks and fill in holes with joint compound. Sand the repairs, then prime the ceiling and let it dry over night. (A painting contractor will tell you not to prime and paint a ceiling in one day--each coat needs time to dry.)

When painting a room, it is best to start with the ceiling. That way, paint drips fall on unfinished walls and can be cleaned as you go. You also don't need to mask the walls because stray paint will later be covered by wall paint. (In fact, painting contractors intentionally paint over the lines, knowing they can even them out later).

When you starting priming or painting the ceiling, do the "cut in" areas first--the corners and edges where the ceiling meets the walls. Use an angled brush that is about one inch thick.

Use your roller to apply the primer or paint. You want to overlap the roller primer or paint onto the cut ins and get as close to the wall as you can without letting the roller bump against it. Add a thick coat in each section and then move the ladder to the next area. Try to roll into sections that are still wet and use diagonal roller strokes to ensure even coverage and eliminate lines.

It also helps to paint during daylight hours so you can check the coverage, but contractor's lights also are helpful for shining a spotlight on the ceiling. Painting a ceiling can be plenty of work, but it pays off in the end. This is one home improvement project where detail work shows--and allows your whole room to shine.