How To Paint A Ceiling Without Roller Marks

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Last updated: March 24, 2023

Using the wrong amount of pressure and a thick coat of paint on the entire ceiling on the first coat may lead to unwanted roller marks. The best way to have a successful paint job is to use just enough paint to prevent an unwanted wet edge that will be unsightly and annoying. Paint strokes should use less paint to ensure the paint has a flat finish the next day. Thicker areas and patchy areas on fresh drywall, for example, will require the use of a sanding block to remove the unevenness and is perfect for large flat surfaces.

Learning how to use foam rollers properly is the secret to achieving smooth ceilings without any traces of excess paint. If you paint the entire room, make sure you paint the entire ceiling first so you can cover any roller spatters and the occasional errant brushstrokes on the wall later.  Your best friend will be painter’s tape because it will ensure clean, crisp lines with a fresh coat of paint and is a good idea with corners of the ceiling to ensure an even coat.

Follow my tips below for a successful painting project and fool your friends into thinking it was a professional painter for a long time. 😉

Table of Contents

  1. Supplies You Need for Painting Your Ceiling 
  2. Start Painting
    1. 1. Prepare the Room
    2. 2. Clean the Ceiling
    3. 3. Paint the Nooks and Corners 
    4. 4. Continue to Paint the Rest of the Ceiling 
    5. 5. Apply the Second Coat of Paint to Finish the Job 
  3. How to Paint a Ceiling with Popcorn Texture 
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
    1. Do ceilings need two coats of paint?
    2. In what direction should you paint your ceiling?
    3. Why do ceilings look patchy after painting?
    4. What causes roller marks when painting? 

Supplies You Need for Painting Your Ceiling

Before you proceed to paint your ceiling, start by gathering all the supplies you will need to complete the job, such as:

  • Dead flat paint (consider a different color for walls and a light color for your choice of ceiling paint color)
  • 9-inch roller brush
  • 2-1/2- or 2-inch angled brush
  • Ladder
  • Large drop cloths
  • Microfiber rollers
  • Nap roller covers
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint tray 
  • Paint sprayer or airless sprayer
  • Newspaper or plastic
  • Putty knife
  • Sanding block
  • Paint brush
  • Paint roller cover
  • Spackling compound
  • Primer

Once you have all these materials handy, it’s time to start painting your ceiling. Just remember that the right tools (use of the roller and even a new roller for that matter), quality products (quality, different paint), and roll paint will make a big difference in avoiding uneven paint absorption.

Woman Painting the Edges of the Ceiling

Start Painting

1. Prepare the Room

Make sure you prepare the room first before you start painting the ceiling. An important thing is to use drop cloths to cover your floors and furnishings and other surfaces from routine hazard issues like paint splatters. It might even be better to relocate your furnishings to a different part or room in the house. This way, you can freely move around the space without any obstructions. Open your windows in open areas for airflow to dilute toxic fumes and limit inhalation.

Use painter’s tape to protect the crown molding or the upper portion of your wall unless you also plan to paint your walls. You can slightly overlap with your wall to paint this over later. With the painter’s tape, you can also protect the corners of the canopies or rims of light fixtures touching the ceiling. This will avoid paint roller marks and brush marks from white ceiling paint on a larger surface area.

You can unscrew and slightly lower the canopy from your ceiling, making it easier to paint a flat finish closer to the previous section and opening. 

After you finish painting, put the canopy back to its initial position. Secure newspaper or plastic using tape to protect the ceiling fan blades. 

Two professional painters with long paint rollers and tools painting ceilings and wall

2. Clean the Ceiling

You can now start cleaning the ceiling. See that the stepladder you use is steady, sturdy, and safe enough for you to use. Try shining a light on your ceiling to spot imperfections, then fill them with spackling compounds.

Allow the filler to dry first and sand it smooth. If there is a popcorn ceiling texture in the room that you want to remove, make sure you also fix it. Just be careful since it may contain asbestos. The good news is that your house might already be asbestos-free if your builders constructed the home after 1980. 

To be safe, you can send a sample of it to a laboratory and have it analyzed. To get a selection, use a mixture of liquid detergent and water to wet some small sections. Use a putty knife, carefully scrape one square inch of the material, and place it in a plastic bag. 

You can then block the stains you saw. Cover these stains on your ceiling first using a primer that blocks stains to ensure that the color will not trickle to the finish coats of paint, whether these spots are from a leaky cover, smoke, or grease. 

3. Paint the Nooks and Corners

Using the 2-1/2- or 2-inch angled brush, you can now cut in the band of paint at three up to 4 inches wide around the ceiling’s edges. It will let you roll on the paint afterward with no need to get too near the walls and unintentionally have the edges of your roller paint on them. 

Begin in one ceiling corner, then paint outward in the opposite direction several square feet before applying paint to the ceiling’s next section when the edge is wet. If there is someone who can help you cut in, follow your helper right away and apply wet paint to your ceiling using a roller. 

Professional painter work with an airless painting sprayer covering ceiling in white 2

4. Continue to Paint the Rest of the Ceiling

Use the 9-inch low nap roller with the nap measuring ½ inch for holding a generous amount of paint. You can use the extension handle to let you roll the paint on your ceiling with no need to get on the ladder. While rolling, avoid using too much pressure, and instead, apply moderate pressure to prevent the paint from splattering. 

It would be best to roll the paint in relatively small sections in back-and-forth movements. Start in one part of the room, then work your way diagonally. 

Avoid rolling the paint in W-shape or zigzag patterns. 

5. Apply the Second Coat of Paint to Finish the Job

When working across your ceiling, ensure you position the roller from the wet edge at a distance of one foot, then roll the subsequent section to the damp edge with slight overlap marks. Continue to move until you cover the whole ceiling. Dry paint first, then apply the second coat, again cutting in like before and rolling perpendicularly on one more coat to the initial coat to achieve the smoothest finish and best coverage. 

How to Paint a Ceiling with Popcorn Texture

If you want to maintain your ceiling’s popcorn texture, use a screwdriver’s flat tip to remove the thin texture band where the wall meets the top. You will achieve a much cleaner edge once you paint the edges of the ceiling, whether you use your steady hand or painter’s tape. 

Once it is time for rolling on the topcoat, you can use a 3/4-inch or thicker roller nap or a segmented foam roller. To ensure that the texture doesn’t oversaturate and peel away, use your hand lightly when applying the paint and avoid rolling back over the area after you apply the paint. Allow the ceiling to dry before you apply a second coat. 

Professional painter work with an airless painting sprayer covering ceiling in white

Frequently Asked Questions

Do ceilings need two coats of paint?

A single layer of little paint should be enough when you prime beforehand or use flat ceiling paint or a high-quality product with a primer included. Additional coats might be necessary for a ceiling surface with dark color, porous, made of drywall, or severely discolored. 

In what direction should you paint your ceiling?

Choosing the direction you will roll in is the first thing you need to do. You want to retain consistency in large areas of your ceiling. Most experts agree on using the best strategy of rolling to the dominant natural light source, such as a large window, to hide any roller lines. 

Why do ceilings look patchy after painting?

Your ceiling may have a patchy appearance if you don’t use enough or too much paint. When you apply the paint thickly, it will settle in certain areas that form an uneven appearance. The color may accumulate on the edge of the roller, creating irregular regions. Once applied insufficiently, on the other hand, it will lead to a thin coat of paint with a spotty appearance.  

What causes roller marks when painting?

Roller marks are a common problem if you buy paint from discount stores. However, when using low-quality rollers, you may encounter roller marks—painting your ceiling for the first time? The easiest way to prevent roller marks and achieve a smooth finish or medium textured surfaces is to use quality paint, use the proper amount of paint, and apply the appropriate pressure when painting. 

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