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How to decorate a ceiling

Decorate a ceiling

Create a masterpiece on your ceiling with these simple steps.

You must have a solid platform from which to work when decorating a ceiling – scaffold board resting on trestles will do. If possible, construct a platform that allows you to paper or paint the length of the room without having to move it along. A ceiling surface should be prepared for papering or painting in the same way as walls.


papering a ceiling

Papering a ceiling

As with walls, it is particularly important to get the first length of paper absolutely straight. Ceiling/wall junctions are not usually true enough to use as a guide. It is better to mark a chalk line and then position the first length along it. Don't worry about a guideline for lining paper – just align the paper with the wall where you start and butt-join the edges (taking care not to overlap them).

Papering away from a window

Start next to the window wall, so that if the joins overlap slightly they will not cast shadows. If the room has windows on two walls, you may not be able to avoid some shadows, so hang the paper across the narrowest part of the ceiling, as this will be easiest.

1. Decide where to hang the first length, and at either end of the ceiling measure out from the side wall a distance exactly 25mm less than the width of the paper. Hammer a small nail a little way into the ceiling at each point. If your ceiling is obviously uneven, measure its width at each end of the room, calculate the difference, and at the narrower end move the nail towards the wall junction by half of that amount. This will avoid the final strip of wallpaper appearing skewed.

2. Attach a chalk line between the two nails. From the centre of the trestle platform, pull and release the line to snap on to the ceiling. Remove the line and nails. Measure, cut and paste the paper.

3. Position the edge of the first length of paper against the chalk line and smooth the other edge into the ceiling/wall junction to give a 25mm overlap on to the wall. If the junction is not straight, the overlap will be uneven rather than the paper on the ceiling.

4. Brush out the bubbles with a paper-hanging brush, and then run wallpaper scissors along the ceiling/wall junction to make a sharp crease. Gently pull back the paper and cut along the crease. Brush the trimmed edge back into place, applying extra paste at the edges if needed. Butt the next length of paper against the first. Run a seam roller lightly along the joins.

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Painting the ceiling

Paint a ceiling with a roller or a broad emulsion brush. To avoid having to stretch up continually, either construct a platform so that you can walk along the length of the room, or buy an extension pole to fit on to the end of your roller handle – some can extend to over 3m. If you are redecorating a room, you should paint the ceiling first.

Painting the edges

Either before or after you paint the bulk of the ceiling with the roller, you will need to paint into the edges of the room with a brush. If you are going to paint the walls after the ceiling, use a 25mm–50mm brush to carry a strip of paint on to the walls which you can later paint over. If you are not going on to paint the walls, bead the edges or use a paint shield.

Painting with the roller

Dip the roller sleeve into the paint and roll it firmly up and down the tray's ribbed incline to spread the paint evenly, then apply it to the ceiling at an angle of about 45°. Experiment with the amount of paint on the roller. Too much and you will spray paint everywhere; too little and you will take forever! Move the roller over the wall surface, using random strokes applied with a light, even pressure. Each time you dip the roller in the paint, move it to an adjacent unpainted area and work back to the painted area in overlapping strokes to blend in the wet edges.

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Fixing a plaster ceiling rose

When you have painted your ceiling, you can create an interesting focal point by adding a plaster ceiling rose. Lightweight ceiling roses can be secured with adhesive alone. If you want to fit a large one, you may need to use screws driven into the joists as well as adhesive. In that case, drill pilot holes for the screws through the rose into the joists above, then screw in place with brass screws.

1. Turn off the electricity at the mains. Then disconnect and remove the light fitting. Drill a hole for the cable in the decorative rose (don’t press down hard or you may crack it). Apply adhesive all round the edge on the back of the decorative rose.

2. Pass the lighting cable through the drilled centre hole. Position the rose on the ceiling and press it in place until the adhesive secures it.

3. Wipe off the excess adhesive with a damp sponge. When it has set completely, refit the light fitting using screws long enough to pass right through the rose and into the joist above. Drill pilot holes first. Reconnect the wires and then turn the power back on.

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