Are you planning to give your home a DIY makeover it truly deserves, but aren’t sure where to start and which steps to take? If that’s a solid “yes” I hear, you’ve come to the right place. I have the answers to your most important painting questions, including the ultimate dilemma: should you paint the ceiling or the walls first?

People often tend to ignore ceilings while repainting their rooms. The wear on them isn’t quite as obvious as on the walls, so they believe they can skip them. Yet, over time, the paint can go yellow and wear off, especially if they haven’t been touched for years or even decades. To prevent that, it’s necessary to strategize a bit.

Prepping the Room

Now, I could resolve the main dilemma now and call it a day. But I do believe it’s important to learn more about the whole process of painting. I will get to the answer soon. First, let’s get your room ready for the makeover.

Before grabbing the paint and throwing it onto the walls, it’s best to repair damaged surfaces first. Otherwise, you might need to fix all the issues later, which, in turn, could ruin your paint job and force you to redo some of it.

I’ve already written about this process, but it never hurts to throw in a good reminder. Here’s a simple checklist that you can use to make sure you’ve prepped well:

  1. Get the right tools. It is important to have both a paintbrush (you may go with a bigger kit, too) and a roller at your disposal. When painting the ceiling, an extension handle will also come in handy.
  2. Get the room ready for the reno. Your furniture is precious, so make sure to get it out of the way, cover it with a drop cloth, or, if possible, get some of it out of the room. The final option is the safest one; you’re unlikely to ruin your furniture or spend hours cleaning every surface once the painting is done.
  3. Patch up the cracks. Also, fix loose power outlets and try to replace broken or damaged wooden trims if there are any.
  4. Get some sandpaper and sand off wooden surfaces. Additionally, remove dust or dry paint if any have gotten on them previously. You may find dust in unexpected places!
  5. Don’t forget to protect your trims with tape. You don’t want splashes of paint ruining ornate details or shiny wood.


Now, technically, you are still in the prep phase. Previously, I mentioned that you should repair damaged wall elements, such as loose outlets or cracks. Priming the surface you’re about to paint should be the next step in this process.

There are different primers you can choose from, depending on your needs and types of damage you need to cover. In general, priming the surface should stop smoke stains, bad odors, and paint damage from coming through the fresh layer of paint.

Once you lay on the primer, you’ll have to wait for it to dry. You ought to wait anywhere between two and 24 hours, depending on the primer’s formula.

Painting the Ceiling

And there you have it — I would always recommend painting the ceiling first, and here’s why.

The main reason for painting the ceiling first is to prevent some issues that may ruin the end result. While you’re painting the ceiling, you may drop or splash some paint onto the walls or other surfaces. If you’ve already painted those, you’d have to do it all over again!

Furthermore, painting the ceiling simply takes less time. All this considered, you are saving yourself time and trouble by taking on the ceiling first.

A roller with a long handle, or a handle extension, is the best tool to use here. However, you should still get a ladder, especially when painting around light fixtures, where you’d need to use the brush.

Consider dividing the surface area into chunks that you can then tackle separately. Remember to be patient, though — take your sweet time to achieve even coverage.

In the end, painting the ceiling may seem trickier than painting the walls, especially if there is not enough light. However, once you are done with it, you probably won’t have to worry about it for a while, provided you’ve listened to my advice.

Painting the Walls

After your ceiling is once again freshly painted, it’s time to get the walls done.

Overall, I’ve found that it’s best to use a brush around doors, windows, and power outlets, as well as any other elements that require precise coverage and smaller strokes, such as wall ornaments.

Once you’re done with those, it’s time to get the roller. Carefully apply just enough paint onto the walls to create a uniform look. Allow the roller to go over the previously painted areas so that it all blends together seamlessly.

Roll in long strokes, following the W pattern. Then, after you cover all the walls and the paint has dried, apply a second layer.

Once the second layer dries, you can add some finishing touches. For example, if you are remodeling a kids’ room, you might want to paint some fun patterns or illustrations.

You may also like: Painting Electrical Outlets (Everything You Should Know)

Painting the Trim

With the bulk of the work done, you can now pay more attention to the wall trim.

You can use a spray to freshen up the trim. If done correctly, this will make it look all shiny and new. However, that may be a bit complicated to manage, as spraying requires more patience and precision. In general, when it comes to trims, a paintbrush will be your best friend.

To get a better view of the trim, get a lamp to shine some light onto it. Painting the trim requires accuracy and slow, meticulous strokes. Therefore, seeing all the details in better lighting could make all the difference.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • I don’t recommend going with cheap paint. It may seem like a better option at first — less money spent and looks the same, right? Not necessarily. It may look just fine right after you apply a layer of it. However, cheap paint often wears off much faster or even ends up looking unfinished or non-uniform after it has dried down, and some time has passed. Look for higher-quality paint, and if you can get eco-friendly one — even better.
  • Similarly, don’t pinch pennies when it comes to brushes and rollers. Even if you get the best paint, it might not mean much if the tools used to apply it are of poor quality. If you are shopping online, it would be a good idea to read a few reviews and consider other users’ experiences.
  • Don’t ignore your ceiling if it hasn’t been touched up for a long time. People often don’t notice any wear or yellowing on the ceilings and tend to ignore them while repainting their rooms. However, this can make your DIY home remodel look incomplete, not to mention that the rooms will most likely seem a bit grimy.
  • Don’t paint in random order. Start from the top, from the ceiling, and slowly work your way down. Following a set pattern allows you to master your DIY remodel without losing your patience or getting upset.
  • It’s best to clean up and wash your tools as soon as possible to avoid spending hours cleaning stained brushes and rollers later on. Think about all that crusty, dried-up paint. I am sure you would certainly want to avoid dealing with that, so don’t be lazy — clean everything as soon as possible or face dire consequences!

Final Thoughts

Overall, a DIY makeover won’t be too difficult if you’re patient enough to prep in advance and willing to start at the highest point. In my experience, painting the ceiling first is always the best choice and can save you from turning a simple paint job into a days-long nuisance. Hopefully, these tips have also helped you learn how to approach the task and ensure the greatest outcome.

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