Easiest Way to Paint a Ceiling

One of the most difficult parts of any house to paint is a ceiling.   When I speak to some of my students about the easiest way to paint a ceiling, I often ask them what type of ceiling they plan on painting.

When it comes to painting a ceiling there are many variables involved before the actual painting takes place.   The type of tools that you will use  (sprayer  vs. roller),   the type of ceiling (many),  the prep work needed  and any other issues that may come up.

We have divided up the article into many sections on how to paint a variety of ceilings.   While all of these are not set in stone,  these are the easiest ways to paint a ceiling for a beginning painter.  Before moving into the various types of ceilings, let’s take a look on finding the right tools to fit your needs.

What sprayer do I use to paint my ceiling ?  

As I am a huge advocate of using a paint sprayer on ceilings, many people don’t have the money to purchase a paint sprayer for a small job.  With that being said,  the money you invest in a decent paint sprayer will easily pay for itself in just a few jobs as the time and effort that you save will make the paint sprayer well worth the purchase.    Depending on the job,  let’s take a look into some paint sprayer choices that we recommend.   

Best Paint Sprayer for small ceiling jobs:   Wagner Control Spray Max HVLP Paint Sprayereasiest way to paint a ceiling

When it comes to small ceiling jobs, my choice for the best sprayer is the Wagner Control Spray Max  HVLP Paint Sprayer.   Because of the smooth application that it gives when painting,  the Wagner is an easy choice as the best paint sprayer for small spray jobs such as popcorn ceilings or drop ceiling panels.   

Best Paint Sprayer for large ceiling jobs:   Fuji Gravity HVLP Spray System 

When doing a large cathedral ceiling or several ceilings in a home or business, my choice would be the Fuji  Gravity HVLP Spray System.   The choice of the Fuji is easy for me as it is something that I not only use myself, but several of my most trusted contractor friends also use on a daily basis.

The Fuji Gravity HVLP Spray System is a great choice for almost any job, but I especially love it for ceilings.  Due to the speed of the sprayer and the lack of overspray that the Fuji gives off, it is a great choice for anyone looking to get a large project done in a little amount of time.   

Picking the right sprayer

Whether you are using a paint sprayer for a small job or a large job, it is important to find one that best fits your individual needs.   Remember to check and see everything that comes with a sprayer, as some sprayers will require you to buy more accessories if you are painting a ceiling.   Always check online reviews to make sure that you get everything that you need.   


Depending on what type of ceiling that you have, prepping to paint can be very easy or very hard.  Since each ceiling is different we will give you a checklist of things to look for before you paint.  

  • Always clear everything from the room when painting a ceiling
  • Always have good eye protection when painting ceilings ¬†
  • Make sure to invest in a quality primer
  • Always thoroughly clean your paint sprayer when switching from priming to painting
  • Besides using a paint sprayer, it is wise to have a few small brushes for the corners
  • Are you painting the whole room or just the ceiling?
  • Use tarp and/or plastic with painter‚Äôs tape to cover every inch of the floor ¬†
  • Follow safety measures if using a lift or scaffold ¬†
Easiest Way to clean a ceiling before painting

Cleaning a ceiling before painting is often one of the hardest parts of the job.  Many people who are new to painting ceilings often complain of lower back pain and other body aches.   Because most people will use a small step ladder to paint,  they must move around and put themselves into awkward positions.   

For a majority of ceilings the easiest way to clean the ceilings is using Lysol wipes or damp rags.  If you have a cathedral ceiling or another type of ceiling that is hard to reach,  we recommend using an extension pole with something on the end to clean.   

Painting Various Types of Ceilings

Painting a ceiling can be something that is very easy to do or very hard to do depending on a number of variables.  First and foremost it is important to know what type of ceiling that you will be painting, as some ceilings are harder to paint the others.  Once you know the type of ceiling, the second most important consideration is the amount of time of prep work that needs to be done.  Let’s take a look at both of these factors in various different ceilings.       

What is the Easiest Way to Paint a Popcorn Ceiling

A favorite among homes built in the 1960s and 1970s, popcorn ceiling are very popular in a large number of homes around the United States.   Painting a popcorn ceiling with a roller is something that I strongly discourage, as the roller will often cause bits and pieces of the ceiling to fall off.   By far the easiest way to paint a popcorn ceiling is slowly and with a quality paint sprayer.   

Prepping:  While sanding is something that we recommend before most painting jobs, popcorn ceilings are generally a no-no when it comes to sanding.  In fact touching a popcorn ceiling in any way is something that we don’t encourage as they tend to break into little pieces very easily.  Also, it is hard to duplicate many old popcorn ceiling textures unless you are an expert.  

Painting:  Like any ceiling ,it is wise to take your time to paint a popcorn ceiling.  Even more so, due to the nooks and crannies that a popcorn ceiling may have, it is wise to  cover every area with your paint sprayer.  We recommend a square painting pattern in which you will paint the edges first and then go row by row in the middle until you complete all of your squares.  One thing to make sure of when painting a popcorn ceiling is to avoid making contact with the wall at all as this can mess up the texture.  

What is the Easiest Way to Paint a Drop Ceiling  

Painting a drop ceiling with a paint sprayer is by far the easiest type of ceiling to paint in my opinion.   Mainly due to the fact that you will not have to spend a lot of time in the prepping mode as these squares are painted independently of one another

Painting a drop ceiling with a paint sprayer:  Painting a drop ceiling with a paint sprayer is very easy to because of how the panels are painted separately from one another.  Here are 5 simple steps to painting your drop ceiling with ease.  

  1. Utilize your garage or an outside area for your ‚Äúspraying station‚ÄĚ. ¬†This usually involves laying down a tarp or plastic on the ground, ¬†usually not any bigger than twice the size of the panels that you will be painting. ¬†
  2. Create a drying station.  Usually a large area with tarp where you can place your painted panels.  
  3. Remove all panels from the drop ceiling and take them to your spraying station.  
  4. Paint your panels one by one in your painting station and transfer each to the drying station immediately after painting.  
  5. Let your panels dry overnight and replace them in the morning.   
What is the Easiest Way to Paint a Cathedral Ceiling  

Painting a cathedral ceiling is easily the hardest type of ceiling to take and the most difficult due to the need of a scaffold or lift when using a paint sprayer.  Let’s take a look into the easiest way to paint a ceiling that is high with a paint sprayer.  

Rent a good lift-  It is important to rent  a lift system that will help you the best.   While some people use the traditional painter’s scaffold, we recommend investing in an electronic lift system of some kind to help cut down on problems that you may have.   

Save time primingРWe recommend priming with a paint roller to cut down overall paint time.   Priming and painting with a paint sprayer can result in several days, thus making your job even harder.  

Follow safety rulesР Practice safety when on a lift system.  Many people will start painting and then get distracted causing harm to their tools or themselves by not realizing where they are on the elevated system that they use.   

Paint EarlyРPlan to get your lift as early as possible from the store you are renting it from because time will be against you when painting a cathedral ceiling.   Remember plan early and get your materials ready early so that you can maximize your time.   

How to Paint an Exterior Ceiling 

Many outside recreational areas,  sheds and other places will require a little different painting due to them being outside.  If you are planning on painting outside there are a few different factors that need to be accounted for such as weather, humidity, wind and other variables.  For ideas on how to paint outside, take a look here.

Wrap Up on Painting Tips  

Painting can be easy or hard depending on the tools that you have on hand and how much prep work is involved.   Using a paint sprayer will be the easiest way to paint in all circumstances and is something that we highly recommend.  Also, planning ahead of time and following the steps above will help you find the easiest way to paint a ceiling.   

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