Interiors: How to paint a ceiling

Rosemary Sadez Friedmann

With spring here, it might be time for some sprucing up at home. A newly painted surface always exudes a sense of cleanliness and freshness. Let's explore some ceiling-painting techniques.

Do you have an old-fashioned popcorn ceiling? Those seem hard to paint. But let me try to ease the job a bit.

First, prepare the room. Cover everything -- everything -- in the room. Those little popcorn points in the ceiling will spray paint all over the place. Wear a dust mask, safety goggles and also cover your hair. A long-sleeved old T-shirt would be wise to wear, also.

Next, dust the ceiling with a feather duster. Even though you might not see the dust up there, it's there hiding inside all those bumps.

The paint-roller brush should be of segmented foam. This looks like a regular roller brush but has little slits to hug those bumps in the ceiling when rolling the paint.

When you paint, don't roll the brush back and forth. Only roll in one direction. The reason for this is that once the popcorn gets wet, it will peel easily. So the front stroke is fine, but the deadly backstroke causes the peeling. If there are stains on the ceiling, first spray with a paint of the same color as the ceiling. Let that dry thoroughly before continuing to paint the ceiling. If you feel you need a second coat, let the first coat dry completely before painting again.

For a non-popcorn, smooth ceiling, still cover everything, wear a mask, goggles and cover your hair, but the brushing can go back and forth without worry. And the roller should be the same as for a wall.

What if you want to paint the ceiling a new color? It is best to test the colors first, but not directly on the ceiling. Paint a color or two or three that you are considering for the ceiling onto different pieces of construction paper. Pin those choices on the ceiling so you can see the effect of the color(s) in the different lights of the day.

Don't pin the different colors too close together because one color will influence your view of the other. After a day or two of looking at your choices, you should be able to pick your favorite. If none works, start again with new palettes.

Well, there you have it. And now you can spring into action.

Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, Fla., is author of "Mystery of Color," available at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and