Applying Paint: Ceilings, Then Walls

August 27, 2012 4:27 pm Last Updated: April 3, 2013 8:59 am

 By Gordon Elliot/Epoch Times Staff

There are three basic steps to painting: Put the paint on the surface, spread the paint out, and then even out the surface, or what is called “laying out.” Before the plane of each surface is painted, corners and edges are painted with a crisp edge. We call this “cutting in.” It is the same steps with either a brush or roller. For this article, we will illustrate using a roller. 

If you are opening a new roller cover, try to preserve to plastic bag that it is sold in. When you stop painting, you can use this bag to keep your roller in—either wet with paint or after it is cleaned. 

Pour the paint in the roller tray. When you pour, keep a brush handy so you can catch the paint at the end of the pour, and keep it out of the can’s groove. Since there is potential for paint to go everywhere, work clean. This will make cleaning up easier and will help keep you from stepping in wet paint and tracking it everywhere. The new paints available today dry fast, so keep the brush wet, either with paint or with water, while you work.

Edges and Corners

Let’s say you are going to paint the ceiling and walls of your room with the same paint. In this instance, you can cut in the inside corners—where the walls join and where the ceiling and walls come together—with either a roller or a brush. To use a roller for this, you will need to use a weenie roller, which is a mini roller.

For cutting in walls and ceiling, it is best to use a velour cover with a rounded end. Put the weenie roller frame on your extension handle and roll both surfaces where they come together with the tip of the roller pushed in the corner as you go. 

To get to the top of the walls, stand on a ladder so that the handle is close to the ceiling. With this technique, it is possible to roll a 10-foot wall from one position in the middle of the room. 

Roll over each area several times to flatten out any lines left by the closed end of the roller. There is no better or faster way to cut in corners, since the velour roller leaves a stipple similar to the large roller. If there is no velour roller available at your supplier, just use a cover with a rounded end. 

Once you have cut in the walls and ceiling, you will still need to deal with the trim by either masking or cutting in with a brush. Once that is done, it is time to roll the ceiling and walls. 

First, the Ceiling

Start with the ceiling. Once you start to roll the ceiling, you may feel like you are taking a shower in paint. This can be caused by a few things. If you are using less expensive paint, it will tend to spray more than the more costly paints, which is due to the relative amounts of solids that are used in the formula. The second factor is the quality of the roller cover. Buy a good one and plan on cleaning it. The third factor is the speed you roll. If you are getting a shower of paint just slow down, which will at least lessen the splatter. Either way, try not to stand directly under the roller while you paint the ceiling. 

 Once you have loaded your roller, start on the ceiling near a wall but not up against it. This way you spread that extra thick paint out. Be generous with the paint on the first coat. If you are doing a drastic color change, you may even get away with one coat if you manage to apply enough paint the first time. But if this is your first time painting, plan on at least two coats. 

Always lead with the closed end of the roller frame. If you have cut in with a generous coat, it is best not to hit the wall, but if you do, it’s okay. Generally once your roller comes into contact with the surface, keep rolling continuously without lifting the roller until it is time to go back for more paint or go back and lay out. After you have covered about 4 feet, go back and roll over the whole section again to get the paint spread out evenly while it is still wet. Go back sooner if it is hot in the room and the paint is drying really fast. Go for another 4 feet or so and then go back to the very beginning and lay it out.

To lay out the paint, make sure you are leading with the closed end of the frame. That is where the pressure comes from and where you gain control of the roller. As you lay out, put pressure on the leading end of the frame and allow the open end of the roller to just lightly touch the surface. This will leave a feathered edge that will not show any lines or ridges. Keep in mind that it will not look perfect when it is wet. No matter what you do, there will be noticeable color variations and lines in the paint but, if you lay out well, when the paint dries it will look smooth and even.

Then, the Walls

Once you have finished the ceiling, it is time to move to the walls. Pick up as much paint as you can without dripping. The less reloading, the better. Start near the bottom of the wall and work up, again leading with the closed end of the roller. When you lay out the paint, try to be like a machine going up and down from the top of the wall to the bottom keeping even contact with the closed end of the roller.  

When it’s time to stop painting, slip the roller into its plastic bag while it is still on the frame to keep it from drying out. If you will continue painting the next day, grab the roller through the bag and pull it off the frame. Put it in a second plastic bag and keep it in the refrigerator overnight. Clean up the frame. To get the leftover paint out of the tray, tip the tray up to drain back in to the can and lean it against something while you use the brush to clean out the excess paint. 

Next week we will go cover cutting in, and brushing trim and woodwork. 

Gordon Elliot has over 30 years of experience in working on homes and is on a mission to arm people with the skills and confidence to do home projects they would not have otherwise attempted.