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An extension roller being used to paint a ceiling with a cut-out for a light fitting


Giving your ceiling a fresh coat of paint can help to transform any room in your home. We'll take you through the basic equipment you need, how to cut in, and the best way to use a roller to get a professional looking finish.


1Prepare your surface

If your ceiling has been painted before, you won't need an undercoat. Brush it down with a soft broom to remove any cobwebs. Remove any flaky paint, fill any holes and give it a light sand.

If the ceiling is new and has never been painted, just make sure it is clean. There's no need to use a special undercoat, you can go straight ahead with the ceiling paint. It has a flat finish that hides small imperfections. 

If you're not planning to paint the walls later, mask off around the tops of the walls with masking tape.

2Stir your paint thoroughly

Start by laying out some drop sheets in the area you need to work. When you open your tin of ceiling paint, you might notice that the paint has separated. Use the paint stirrer to stir the paint thoroughly, so that all of the pigments are blended back to together. 

A person stirring a can of white paint

3Cut in around the ceiling with your paint brush

Pour some paint into a bucket. This will make it easier than having to hold a full tin of paint when you're up on the ladder. Use the paint brush to cut in around the ceiling. This means painting the cornices and a section of the ceiling close to the cornices, where the roller won't reach. Move around the room until you have finished cutting in the entire ceiling.
A person on a ladder painting cornice with a paintbrush

4Fill up the tray and apply paint to your roller

Pour some paint into the roller tray until it reaches the bottom of the grate. Attach the roller to the extension pole and dip the roller into the paint. Pull it up the grate two or three times until the roller is evenly coated with paint. Makes sure not to put too much paint on the roller or it will drip when you use it. 

A person pouring paint into a roller tray

5Start painting with your roller

Place your roller about one metre out from the wall and make sure that the first stroke of is moving away from you. Paint with the roller in a W formation, so the paint is applied evenly. Keep painting until you have applied the first coat to the ceiling.
An extension roller being used to paint a ceiling with a cut-out for a light fitting

6Apply the second coat of paint

Once the first coat of paint has dried, repeat the cutting in process, then use the roller to apply a second coat of paint. Continue using the W formation when using the roller so that the paint is evenly spread. Once you have finished painting, clean the paint brush and roller so they're ready to use again when you need them.
DIY Step Image - How to paint a ceiling . Blob storage upload.

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Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.