Six steps to paint a wooden ceiling

Six steps to paint a wooden ceiling

Some people love the natural look of a knotty pine ceiling whilst others prefer to have their ceilings painted a uniform colour. Painting a ceiling white can lighten up a room significantly and can even create the illusion of a bigger room. Whatever the reason for wanting to update a wooden ceiling we have step-by-step instructions to guide you through the process.

Painting a ceiling is not much different to painting a wall. The difficulty comes from accessing the area, due to its height and painting upside down!  If the ceiling is made from slatted wood it takes a bit more effort and preparation to make sure that all the gaps between the slats get primed and painted properly. You also need to make use of a primer to ensure that the paint sticks to the wooden / varnished surface and that the colour of the paint you use afterwards does not discolour.

Because of the preparation involved in this project, it will take a few days to finish as each layer needs to dry properly before you proceed to the next step. It’s worth taking the time as the finished result will look more professional and last longer.


How to paint a wooden ceiling

What you will need

  • Sanding paper and safety glasses
  • White acrylic sealer and silicone gun
  • Paint brush
  • Roller
  • Roller extension or broom stick
  • Roller tray
  • 5l Plascon Universal undercoat
  • 5l Plascon One Coat in Brilliant white
  • Drop sheets
  • Masking tape
  • Ladder
*Remember that you might need more or less of the quantities specified depending on the size of the room / area being painted. The quantity of acrylic sealer used depends on the size of the gaps in between the slats.

Steps to paint a wooden ceiling

  1. Preparation is key – you inevitably get splotches of paint on yourself as well as other surfaces when you paint a ceiling. Make sure that you cover up the ground using drop sheets and move other items into other rooms that you want to protect from possible paint marks. If you have walls that you don’t want to re-paint cordon off the ceiling with some masking tape just below the cornicing.
  2. Prepare the ceiling surface – dust the ceiling for cobwebs and other particles. Make sure that you sand all the rough spots on the ceiling, especially the knots in the wood, remembering to wipe afterwards again to remove the dust. It is important to make use of safety goggles to ensure that you protect your eyes. We would strongly suggest also painting with goggles.
  3. Priming – Read the instructions on the tin thoroughly. Using a roller, apply the universal undercoat thoroughly making sure that every inch of the wood gets covered. You might also need to use the paintbrush for the outer areas. Both priming and painting needs to happen in the same direction as the grain of the wood. You always need to paint in a well-ventilated area, the smell of the primer is quite strong, so make sure that all the windows and doors are open when you apply it.


  1. Fill the gaps – After priming you will be able to see where the gaps are in between the slats that are too deep for the roller to reach. You can now fill these gaps, after the primer has thoroughly dried, making use of a silicone gun and acrylic sealer. Make sure that you read the directions on the tubes before you start.
  2. Painting – After the acrylic sealer has dried completely (as per the instructions on the tin) you can start to apply the first coat of paint. Again, make sure that you read all of the application and drying instructions on the tin before you start painting.
  3. Inspect your work – After completing the painting take a step back to see whether you covered the whole surface area. You might have to repeat step 5 again once or twice to ensure a flawless finish.
You may also want to make use of some cornicing as it can make a dramatic difference to the look of the ceiling and the room.



All the items used for this make-over are available from your closest TrenDIY store. There are also experts in-store that will be able to assist with any questions you might have.