How to Paint a Wooden Ceiling

By Mary Smith. July 13, 2021
How to Paint a Wooden Ceiling

Whether you have a wooden ceiling which is unpainted or you want to repaint one, it is important you know what to do before applying any old paint to wood. Using the wrong paint and using the wrong technique can damage the ceiling. In extreme cases, it may require the wood to be replaced, something which is not easily done if it is your roof. Wood paneling may be a little easier to replace, but it still needs care and consideration before we can even think of painting it. We also have practical considerations when painting a wooden ceiling. The height makes it both trickier to paint and easier to have an accident.

At oneHOWTO, we explain how to paint a wooden ceiling. By providing tips to paint timber roofs, we can show you the easiest way to pain a tongue-and-groove ceiling without causing any damage to the wood or yourself.

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Steps to follow:

Before beginning the process of painting a wooden ceiling, you must prepare the home. This means protecting the furniture and anything else below with cloth throws or tarpaulin. In some cases, it might be best to remove all of the room's contents. This will below prevent staining on the objects as well as help you have better access to the ceiling. We also need to protect the floor as the paint will stain carpets and other types of flooring.

Our article on how to remove paint from the floor will help if you do end up with some stains.

How to Paint a Wooden Ceiling - Step 1

Prepare the wood to be treated. The first thing you have to do is get a duster long enough to reach the ceiling without too much effort. Pass it over every part and corner, making sure you remove all the dust and cobwebs that may have collected.


Once dusted, outline the edges of the roof with masking tape to make sure the color fill is perfect. Sometimes, we trust our steady hands, but it is so easy to accidentally paint the wrong thing. With the masking tape method, it is practically impossible to paint the wrong thing, especially when using a roller. You can learn how to prepare interior walls for painting if you are doing the whole room while painting the wooden ceiling.

How to Paint a Wooden Ceiling - Step 3

If you are going to paint a varnished wooden ceiling, you have no choice but to sand the wood before painting. For this, there are easy-to-apply products in the form of an aerosol that act by forming a film on the wood. This is needed for the subsequent application of the paint.

If you prefer to sand manually, one of the best tips for painting a wooden ceiling is to get yourself a scaffold to lie on, a mask and some goggles. You can use ladders, but they can fall much more easily. This is especially important if painting the timber roof on your own.

How to Paint a Wooden Ceiling - Step 4

Now we have the surface ready, let's see how to paint a wooden ceiling. To begin, you are probably wondering if you can paint a wooden ceiling with plastic paint. The answer is yes. However, first you will need to apply a wood primer base coat. This is a process that will allow us to seal the pores of the wood to prevent the paint from being absorbed. If we don't, we can make the wood damp and even cause structural damage.

To carry out the sealing, they sell some primer paints in specialized stores. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and apply to the wood with a roller. We advise you not to paint it any more than necessary. Move the roller slowly over the ceiling and go until it is completely covered.


Take a step back to review the work done so far from a wider point of view. Look from the center and then move from one corner of the room to another to make sure there are no empty patches or globs when you look from any perspective.


Now you can start painting with a special paint or wood varnish of your choice. To do this, do not forget to review different ideas and colors to paint a wooden ceiling: white, dark brown, light brown, etc. Anything is possible! If you already have it, be patient and, when the foundation is completely dry, follow the same advice as in the previous step. Especially, do not overload the roller and work slowly.


In many cases, it is best to apply a second coat of paint. To do this, lower yourself back to the ground and look up to make sure you haven't missed any parts. Wait for it to dry and simply apply another coat as you did with the first one.

There are some cases where we are painting a wooden ceiling because it has been damaged. In this case, you may also want to take a look at our article on how to remove scratches from wood.

How to Paint a Wooden Ceiling - Step 8

Finally, you should know that there is also the possibility of painting a wooden ceiling with a spray paint gun. These utensils allow us to point to the ceiling from the ground, achieving a professional result in a short time. However, they require a lot of practice and handling. You may want to hire a professional in this case. They not only have access to spray paint apparatus, but they know how to use them.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Paint a Wooden Ceiling, we recommend you visit our Interior Design and Decor category.

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