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Painted Smooth Ceilings – Falling in Love with Your Home

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Welcome back. Many of you may participate or read a weekly WIWW (What I Wear Wednesday). Those women in blogland, they really know how to put an outfit together. I am seriously jealous because sometimes I feel wardrobe challenged. Maybe you can help me. Here is what I wore Wednesday:

Ladies, if you want to copy my looks, here is the breakdown:
1. Hooded Knit T-shirt Top bought 15 yrs. ago at Gap
2. Gap Jeans bought about 5 yrs. ago. Those are authentic knee rips!
3. Dansko Clogs with the heels worn down to a hollow core.
4. Latex gloves (the better to paint with.)

This Pretty Handy Girl can’t wear her good duds on a painting day (although I’ve been known to do that occasionally.)

Painting is a nice segue into the first secret for “Falling in Love with Your Home”. Our home started out dark and dreary on the inside. Most of the rooms had dark wall colors, but the biggest problem was the dingy white popcorn ceilings. Those suckers are light sponges! They absorb the natural light and keep it all to themselves.

Here is a good example of the light difference between a smooth ceiling and a textured ceiling:

Both pictures were taken minutes apart in adjoining rooms that have the same south facing windows. The rooms are identical in size. The room on the left (master bedroom) has popcorn ceilings and light blue walls. If you look closely, you can see how each pock has a shadow. The texture effectively stops the light from being reflected. Meanwhile the ceiling on the right is smooth but the walls are a dark blue (son’s room). Despite the darker walls, the ceiling appears lighter because the light is reflected due to the lack of texture.

As you can see, we are able to lighten our rooms about 10 – 15% by scraping and painting just the ceilings! (Imagine what painting the walls a lighter color will do!)

Two more benefits of a smooth ceiling:

  • A smooth ceiling will visually raise the ceiling, while the textured ceiling draws your focus to the texture and makes the ceiling feel lower. You’ll have to trust me on this one.
  • And, a smooth ceiling will not collect as much dust. I don’t have to tell you how important that is for allergy sufferers (ahhh- choo! I’m allergic to dust mites.)

In summary, why do you want a bright and smooth ceiling? Because, it will reflect more light and natural light is a mood booster.  And during the seemingly never-ending winter months, we all need more sunlight to avoid mild depression or gloom. Translated: Better mood = Loving Your Room!

This is how we do it:

We have the popcorn (textured) ceilings scraped. Notice how I said, “Have” them scraped. I am handy – as you know – but there are certain tasks that I won’t do. I successfully scraped the ceiling in our pantry, but my neck was in pain for a week afterwards. I vowed never again. It is also a good idea to pay a professional if you live in an older home. Textured ceilings may contain asbestos. (Thank goodness ours didn’t.)

Now, even if you don’t have textured ceilings, you likely can still benefit from adding a fresh coat of paint. Ceilings are usually neglected for years. They are often painted with a builder’s grade white paint. The builder’s white is a dingy off white color compared to an Ultra Bright Flat White. It also doesn’t age as well and will tend to yellow or dull over the years. Here is an approximation of how a builder’s white might look next to an ultra bright white color:

AND, let’s say you really don’t want to mess with those texture ceilings, if you buy a thick nap roller and repaint the ceiling with an Ultra Bright White, you will still notice a big difference. (One word of caution when painting textured ceilings. Paint over one spot and move on. If you go back over that spot while it is still wet it can pull the texture down.)

Tutorial for painting ceilings like a pro


  • Valspar Flat Ultra Bright White Latex Paint
    (this is the brightest white we have found. Valspar is sold only at Lowe’s)
  • Latex Primer
  • Paint tray
  • Paint roller
  • Roller extension rod
  • Edger
  • ScotchBlue Painters tape
  • Tarp
  • Fine grit sanding block
  • Car Wash sized sponge and bucket
  • medium size flat artist’s brush

Begin by covering every bare inch of floor with plastic or thick canvas tarps. And cover any furniture left in the room (although you should try to remove everything from a room when you paint, it is just easier that way, trust me.)

Remove blades on a ceiling fan, simply unscrew the arms from the motor:

Then cover your light fixture with a plastic bag and painter’s tape.

Next, apply painter’s tape around the top of the walls of your room. If you are going to re-paint your walls after the ceilings, you can skip this step.

Start with the primer (a must for newly scraped ceilings, but not necessary for previously painted smooth ceilings).

1. Use your edger around the perimeter of your room. I like this handy-dandy edger that has a hole for the extension pole (especially helpful if you have high ceilings or neck issues.)

2. After the perimeter of the ceiling is done, edge around any light fixtures or vents.

3. Reach for your roller. I like to work in 5′ sections. Start by rolling out a letter “W”. Then roll back and forth, up and down and in random directions until you have that section of ceiling covered.

This will insure that you don’t have racing stripes on your ceiling.

4. Continue working next to the section you just finished. Try to work into the previous section while the paint is still wet. Otherwise, let that section dry before trying to roll into tacky half-dry paint.

5. Allow the primer to dry, then lightly sand your ceiling to remove any specks that got into the paint. Wipe the ceiling with a damp sponge.

Now repeat steps 1-5 using the ultra bright white paint.

Let your ceiling dry and then add a second coat of the ultra bright white (yes, definitely use two coats to leave your ceiling looking like it was painted by a pro! Don’t skimp.)

When you are done, remove the painter’s tape and pull out a small flat artists brush.

Pour some wall color paint into a small cup (I like to keep spare paint for each room in small jelly containers or jars. That way if one of my boys (adult and child alike) should happen to mar a wall, I can fix it in a jiffy.) Use the flat brush to create a smooth line at the top of your wall. Then finish by touching up any ceiling spots that were missed.

Take a look at the difference in our office! The top picture shows the room right after the ceiling was scraped. During the day!

And this next picture was taken of the same windows (different angle) at night!

Wow, brighten my world! View more pictures of this room HERE.

Okay, so I really like the ultra bright smooth white ceilings, but I did come across this gorgeous ceiling over at Not Just a Housewife, that would also make you swoon over your room if you were to try it. Check out Stacy’s tutorial HERE.

P.s. If you are renting, please don’t despair. I will have some tips that don’t involve painting your home.

I leave you with a glimpse of hope for those of you snowed in this week:

Daffodils Popping Through the Ground
Daphne Buds Getting Ready to Sprout

I just took those pictures yesterday, February 2nd! I live in Raleigh, NC, so thankfully spring is on its way. (Don’t hate me.)

5-Piece Nonstick Coated Paint Tray Set

00500 - Premium Paint Edger 00500 – Premium Paint Edger[635870] UPC: 022384005006 10L x 7.63W x 9.5H 0.2 LB 0.42 Cubes

37 replies
  1. Kathy@ Gone North
    [email protected] Gone North says:

    Don't hate you, BUT do envy you… : )
    SOOoooo much snow here, it will be a long time before we see anything popping up from the ground….
    Ceilings are BEAUTIFUL!!! I just said to husband that I would like to take down the texture & just paint & his reply was. "Do you KNOW HOW MUCH WORK that will entail"!!!!!
    I am putting it on the list though… : )
    ( And nice outfit…. very fitting & appropriate for your day & comfy looking : )

  2. The Pennington Point
    The Pennington Point says:

    Just the encouragement I needed! I've been going round and round about scraping the popcorn ceilings in the old part of our house. I hate them, but have been dreading the mess and the neck pain. You've convinced me. I need to hire someone else to do it. Did you have the scraped ceilings re-textured with an orange peel texture? Or just leave them smooth?

    It was so nice to meet you at Blissdom. You are as lovely in person as you seem on your blog. What a treat! Lisa~

  3. Lois@frugaldecormom
    [email protected] says:

    Hubby and I scraped all of the ceilings in the house while I was 7 months pregnant! HUGE MASSIVE MESSY NECK AND BACK BREAKING WORK! But, we saved a ton of money doing it ourselves. The difference is amazing! I'll have to share some pictures of the mess it made and how it all turned out. Thanks for sharing your painting info. I need to get me one of those edging tools.

  4. Momma Rhyne
    Momma Rhyne says:

    Haha. You are awesome. I love your outfit. I've wanted to do the same, my outfits are VERY similar to yours. For gifts people are always buying me "clothes that don't have paint on them". That doesnt' last long. Love your WIWW!!!

  5. That One Girl
    That One Girl says:

    Ooooh PHG!! I can't WAIT to take the popcorn off of the ceilings!!!! It started to fall in the kitchen so I took the majority of it down, and has started to fall in other places around the house as well. We're really trying to hold out on major renovations on our house until we get our debt paid off. (Which is about another year and a half away!!! *sigh*) Can I live with brick red and chocolate brown living room walls that long?! Lord help me!
    We haven't seen the sprouts yet down here in Jacksonville, but it shouldn't be too much longer now!! 😀

  6. Becky@Organizing Made Fun
    [email protected] Made Fun says:

    Goodness, I just did a post on this VERY topic last month! I had half our house ceilings scraped with the rest to get done in another month. Check it out:


    And her was my "how to not paint them":


    I'm now almost a pro, too! I can't believe how much higher are living room ceiling seems! It's quite remarkable!

    Becky B.
    Organizing Made Fun

    P.S. I'm in So. Cal and my daffodils are in full bloom as of the first week of January…weird, huh?

  7. Colleen @ MuralMaker&More
    Colleen @ MuralMaker&More says:

    Wonderful, fabulous post! Having painted a ton of ceilings, I can attest that these are great tips. Oh, btw, your wardrobe? Same as me, Girlfriend! I used to try and wear 'un'painted clothes (which are few and far between now) but a faux finish friend says she gets more biz wearing her work clothes out than by passing out biz cards!

  8. Ali
    Ali says:

    Wooo look at you! SEXAY!! I am digging your look, pretty much similar to me lol. I always wondered what the point was to the textured ceilings, they are ugly! Thankfully we have smooth ceilings in our house now. Great post! Oh and my sister lives down in NC too so I get to hear all about the nice weather….too bad I am stuck in Ohio! Enjoy it! =)

  9. Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal
    Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal says:

    We have popcorn in certain parts of our house. I may try doing just the hallway ourselves. The familyroom has it but it's a cathedral ceiling. I considered covering it up. But it doesn't bug me as much as the lower hallways. Did you have them resurfaced after they scraped them?

  10. maroion
    maroion says:

    Hi, I am still scraping my ceilings, I lightly spray them with water and it comes right off with a plastic putty knife. my question to you is what color is the wall paint, love the color.

  11. l
    l says:

    your ideas are so helpful. We have an old house and we are little by little making it look 2011. Our old kitchen ceiling 4 ft floresent lights just went bye-bye-. So we had the job to paint the ceiling. We began with putty an sanded the cracks then we purchased a quart of Zinsser primer sealer stain killer and went over the area where the lights were. There were 2 4 footers on the ceiling. Then we patched other areas sanded and put zinsser on. You can not tell lights were once there 28 yrs. because the electric box and hole was too big for the smaller track lights. We went on Lowe’s web site and found track lights with a flush mount bronze base with 3 tiffany lamp shades in a track light unit. We put 2 of those up. then we turned the lighting to where we needed them in the kitchen. What a difference! Then we put in a new lighting in the dinning room in a goldish brown color and it just flows. You walk from the kitchen over to the dinning rm . So paint or new lighting makes a difference. We are on a tight budget so we plan out our small project one month or longer out and do one project. We are getting there! Thanks for all the tips! Great web site

  12. Kristin
    Kristin says:

    Did you have to refloat and/or sand any of the drywall after removing the texture? I also want flat ceilings but Im worried about lines or imperfections showing through. I’ve finished scraping the popcorn off and I’m ready to start painting but I dont want to miss any necessary steps. Thanks!

  13. Staci P.
    Staci P. says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! I just finished scraping and priming my living room ceiling! 🙂 Have two questions for you…#1 – did you attempt to correct any imperfections (nail holes, joint line issues) after the first coat of primer. I have a few imperfections that I missed and wondering if I can go back and correct before I paint? #2 – what grit sandpaper did you use to sand the primer coat? Thanks!

    • Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl)
      Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl) says:

      Staci, yes, you can still fix the imperfections. If it is only a small spot of spackle you can paint right over, but if it is larger, you should put some primer on after the spackle dries or the paint might not stick.

      I just lightly sanded with a high grit 220 sanding paper to knock down any bumps or (gasp) dog hairs that might have stuck to the ceiling.

      Best of luck! You are gonna love it!!!

  14. Donald's Garden
    Donald's Garden says:

    Why am I having so much trouble painting the W on my ceiling. I end up going in every kind of direction and getting dizzy. Is there an easy way to do this? It seems like it would be easy-as-pie, but maybe I’m W challenged!

  15. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    After you scraped, how did you prepare the surface to paint on the smooth paint? I’ve been told that it’s near impossible to do a flat/smooth look due to the joints and putty on the drywall already. Thanks!

  16. NFL
    NFL says:

    Howdy! I realize this post is old, so not sure you’ll be reading/responding to this question, but…curious as a cat, I am! Given the painstaking (emphasis on ‘pain’) work of scraping ceilings (not to mention which, in addition, ours definitely do contain asbestos – makes me a scared-y-cat, and concerned about possible lingering effects!), would it not make sense to have the ceiling completely removed and replaced with completely new sheetrock (that would contain no traces of asbestos)? Only looking at one small bedroom, approximately 10 x 12 and, while I realize the prepping of the space, etc., would need to be the same as if it were being scraped (sealed off, negative pressure, etc.), I would think the time factor of taking down the board vs. scraping off its applied texture, would be significantly less – no? And no issues with possible damaging of the ‘rock during scraping, although certainly it would need taping, mudding, etc. I value your opinion highly as I am an absolute novice and only know enough to get in over my head and then need to call in a professional! If you can respond that would be fantastic and if not, no worries – I know you’re incredibly busy. I love and read your blog every day (often RE-reading posts multiple times!) and especially appreciate your post today about the ‘walls’ holding us back. So true and applicable to so many situations in life. Bravo and THANK you! Cheers!

  17. NFL
    NFL says:

    Thank you so much for responding! I absolutely agree – since our ceiling definitely has asbestos, and as I was planning to hire a professional abatement company anyway, I thought while they were at it, rather than have them scrape, I’d just have them take the ceiling completely down. I worry about the possibility of asbestos still being present on the ceiling even after it’s been scraped – or possibly even scraped into the underlying sheetrock – and I’m not even 100% certain that whatever ‘wallboard’ was used to create the ceiling doesn’t contain asbestos itself! Our house was built in 1952 and I don’t know whether or not it was ever ‘remodeled’ (it does have horrible fake paneling in the same bedroom that has to go, too – lol!) Am I being paranoid?! I’ve read so much conflicting info about asbestos, I’m almost paralyzed about what to do, but I truly trust and value your opinion.! I’ve also read that covering up the old ceiling with new drywall is an option, but our ceilings are already only 8′ – and wouldn’t installing that disturb the *old* (i.e., asbestos-filled) popcorn underneath? Leaving it alone is not an option – a piece about 3″ in diameter (and almost a perfect circle – I think it was where a nailhead is coming through) just fell off without anyone disturbing it at all – I’m worried about what might be falling from it without our knowing, since the asbestos fibers are too small for us to detect. Thank you for any suggestions you may have!

    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      I think your best option that will give you piece of mind and leave you with the best outcome is to have the abatement professionals remove it. Having been through the process myself, it took them one day to remove (flooring in our case.) And another day to get the air test results back.

      If you choose not to remove the asbestos, but cover it up instead, by law you have to disclose that there is asbestos in your home when you go to sell it.

      For your safety, I’d have it removed especially given the fact that it is already flaking off. Sorry, I wish I had a better alternative for you.

  18. NFL
    NFL says:

    Oh, please – no apologies! I sincerely appreciate your advice and opinion – that is why I asked! As I say, I am a complete novice and I respect and admire your depth of skill, knowledge and experience, and no less so your artistry – you are an amazing and inspirational woman – thank you so much for your help! I’ll let you know how the abatement and repair goes! Cheers!

  19. NFL
    NFL says:

    Oh, please – no apologies! I sincerely appreciate your advice and opinion – that is why I asked! As I say, I’m an utter newbie, and I so respect and admire your depth of skill, knowledge and experience, and no less so your artistry – you are an amazing and inspirational woman! Thank you so much for your help – I will let you know how it goes – cheers!

  20. Suzanne
    Suzanne says:

    Thanks for all the great tips. I just bought my first house and I need to paint all my ceilings. Thankfully no popcorn to remove. I love the wall color you chose. Do you happen to remember the brand and color?

  21. Grna
    Grna says:

    I just removed the popcorn and I like a flat surface but my husbund think is not going to look good only with primer and paint he wants to do texture which I don’t like. Please any advice? Thanks


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] my last post I talked about scraping and painting your ceilings to help reflect more natural light into your home. As we learned, more light can boost  your […]

  2. […] under ceiling of being cold and winter . And looks neat room for skeletal structure composed hiddenAs the barrier between roof and walls , ceiling having the function hold heat to indirect pincushion…is also looks modern , the look and " clean " . This form much you possibly find in dwelling . Used […]

  3. […] Paint the ceiling with two coats of a flat paint in your color choice. If you want a more thorough tutorial on painting ceilings, read this post. […]

  4. […] Valspar Flat Ultra White for maximum light reflection. (Read more about bright white ceilings HERE.) So, unless you are painting ceilings, don’t use flat, it is too chalky and hard to […]

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