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Tips For Spray Painting A Ceiling With A Sprayer

Spray painting your ceiling is arguably the easiest way to achieve a great-looking finish in no time. It’s quicker than most painting methods and leaves you with enough time to do other home improvement projects.

However, painting a ceiling isn’t easy, and you’ll need all the knowledge you can get. While it's somewhat similar to painting walls, there are some minor yet essential differences. We cover some practical tips on how to make spray painting ceilings easier and more effective.

8 Tips For Painting Ceiling With A Paint Sprayer

Spray painting is an excellent way to create an aesthetic finish for your ceilings and impress visitors. Follow this guide for simple tips on how to paint ceilings with a sprayer: 

spray painting ceiling

1. Prepare The Area

Before you paint a ceiling, it’s necessary to prepare it in advance. This makes your work easier and reduces the likelihood of unwanted accidents during painting. 

Here is how to prepare ceilings for spray painting:

Protect light fixtures: If you have any bulbs, chandeliers, or other special light fixtures, you want to shield them against accidental paint spills. You can cover the lights with a plastic tarp or another protective material — or, better still, remove them altogether. 

Cover other areas: If there are any areas that you don’t want to be painted on the ceiling, seal them off with masking tape. Ideally, it would be best to mask the corners so the paint doesn’t blow anywhere, especially if you're not painting walls.

For better surface protection, consider hanging drop cloths or polythene dust sheets from the top of the interior walls. Use masking tape to hold the protective material in place. 

Clean the surface: Although ceilings rarely collect spills, they might have dried stains and other blemishes that distort the finish. To avoid that, clean the ceiling with water and trisodium phosphate detergent. 

2. Use An Airless Paint Sprayer

Paint sprayers come in different types — airless sprayers, electric pumps, and compressed air pumps. Airless sprayers are considered the best for spray painting indoors, so get one before you begin. 

Make sure you check the nozzle or gun attached to the sprayer. A wide aperture increases paint supply, which leaves you at the risk of over spraying the surface. For a controlled application, get an airless sprayer with a cup-shaped or wand-shaped gun; the tips restrict the flow of paint and limit the chances of over spraying. 

You can also use an airless paint sprayer if you plan to paint walls.

3. Wear Protective Clothing 

It’s vital to protect yourself from toxic substances, so wearing safety gear before painting is critical. Safety goggles, chemical-resistant clothing, ski masks, and head coverings are ideal garb for ceiling painting projects. 

A respirator mask can also be useful for preventing the inhalation of paint droplets when you paint a ceiling. Those substances contain toxic materials, and breathing them in can cause problems.

4. Cover Furniture And Floors 

covering furniture to paint

You don’t want paint staining your future, so it’s a good idea to move the furniture out before you paint the ceiling. Otherwise, cover the furniture and electrical appliances with a piece of waterproof material. 

Don’t forget to cover the floors. Spray paint rarely drips, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Placing tarpaulin or masking paper on the bottom keeps stains away and reduces your post-painting clean-up workload. 

5. Prepare The Paint Correctly

The paint needs thinning before application, although this may be unnecessary if you use an airless spray. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for thinning the paint. As a rule of thumb, avoid thinning past 20 percent to avoid dripping.

Also, figure out what type of paint you'd like to use. Semi-gloss is often a good choice for ceilings.

6. Use The Proper Painting Technique

The best advice for achieving outstanding results from spray painting is to prioritize efficiency over speed. Work your way slowly from the center to the outer corners of the ceiling, applying a light coat. 

From an aesthetic point of view, two light coats of paint look better than a single thick coat. It’s a good idea to put some time between the first coat and second coat — this allows for proper drying and prevents flaking.  

7. Check The Distribution 

The paint gun distributes paint evenly, but other factors, like badly thinned paint, may cause uneven distribution. Test the spray gun on paper and adjust the gun settings to correct distribution issues to know what you have. 

8. Clean Up 

Your painting project doesn’t end because you spray-painted the ceilings. Remember to clean the equipment used by running solvent through them. Then wash with water and dry with a rag afterward. 

Sprayer Vs. Roller for Painting Ceilings: What’s the Difference?

When painting your ceiling, you have two options: rolling the paint on the surface or using a sprayer. Both techniques have their pros and cons, which you need to consider before you make a choice. You can also use paint brushes, but that takes longer and often requires more skill.

Painting With Rollers

Paint rollers are a popular tool for homeowners for their ease of use and affordable pricing. Rolling paint is fairly simple and doesn’t require extensive knowledge, making it ideal for beginners. Once you know how to handle the roller, painting the ceiling only takes broad strokes of paint. 

If you’re running a tight budget, a paint roller is a more cost-effective option. For a low price, most stores will sell you a decent roller. You should avoid buying low-quality rollers, as they can shed lint into your paint and ruin your work. 

A roller works great for projects with flat surfaces, like painting a deck. However, paint rollers can be problematic if you’re painting rough surfaces. If your ceiling has a staggered layout, it can be difficult to reach some areas and ruin the final look.

Another problem with paint rollers is the uneven finish they create. You have to go over the same areas at least two times — and this won’t guarantee a smooth finish. In the end, the ceiling paintwork can look unappealing, especially if certain areas are not painted properly. 

You also want to consider the time rolling paint will demand. Unlike spray paint, rolling is time-intensive and isn’t ideal if you’re on a short timeframe. As you can imagine, using a paint brush will take even longer.

Painting With Paint Sprayers 

Spray painting is a worthy alternative to rolling paint if you can manage the drawbacks. For busy homeowners, an airless paint sprayer reduces the time spent on painting projects and allows you to do designs like a popcorn ceiling.

Spray painting is often the go-to for owners who have large painting projects or need to cover large areas around the home. These handy devices cover enormous areas quickly and save you time.

You don’t have to worry too much about creating a perfect finish. A paint sprayers ensures all areas have the same amount of paint, which helps achieve a uniform look. 

The major drawback of spray painting is that it requires more skill, which new homeowners might not have. With an airless paint sprayer emitting paint in rapid bursts, you need to handle it well or risk staining other surfaces. Paint sprayers also have a higher paint consumption, so you'll inevitably end up using more paint.

Cost is another factor that may discourage you from buying a spray painter. The cheapest models cost around $40, but the best paint sprayers can sell for $200 or higher. 

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Volodymyr Barabakh

Volodymyr Barabakh is the Owner and Project Director of Fortress Home. Fortress Home is a residential property development company based in Chicago.