In my years of working for a professional painter, and as a diehard DIYer, I’ve learned there’s an important order to changing the colors in your house. One of the dilemmas home decorators face is where to begin painting when they have a whole room to tackle. Starting with the big expanse of walls, which makes up the bulk of the painting, might seem like the logical plan. Before you pick up that paint brush, however, consider the painting rules that point you toward the ceiling.
Avoid the Splatter
Even the most skilled painter can’t avoid the splatter from using a roller on the ceiling. The combination of the rotating sponge full of paint and the effects of gravity mean a fine to heavy mist of ceiling color will end up on your walls. If you put on a fresh coat of dark green on the walls first, just imagine it now speckled with white ceiling paint. This is a potential nightmare to try and fix, as even a fresh coat of paint over it can still show the texture of that spattered paint. Avoid the extra work and start with the top of the room and work your way down.
Lighter Colors First
Another guideline professional painters follow is to begin with the lighter color. This allows you to be freer with cutting in that first color, as any smooth brush strokes on the wrong walls can be easily covered over with the second, darker paint. Fanning a dark paint onto the adjoining surface and then trying to color over it with white could take several more coats to fix. Since the ceiling is, in most cases, a lighter shade than the walls, this is another reason to start at the top of the room.
Hard Work First
Painting requires cutting in first, painting all of the edges, corners, and any areas the roller can’t properly reach. Perched up on your ladder or scaffolding, cutting in the ceiling is not an easy task. Even Michelangelo complained that his spine was “all knotted from folding myself over” when he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The awkward positioning means that a straight line along the wall can be difficult to achieve. Begin with painting the ceiling, and any jagged line can be corrected when you cut in with the wall paint later. Try it in reverse, and you’ll end up with noticeable waves of ceiling paint on the wall and another project trying to fix it.