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How to Paint a Ceiling with Light Fixtures

How to Paint a Ceiling with Light Fixtures

Painting your ceiling is a great way to freshen up a room, giving new brightness (and possibly new color) to a space that needs it. In some ways, painting a ceiling is easier than painting interior walls, since there are not usually windows, doors, and baseboards to work around. However, painting around light fixtures is definitely a complicating factor. No one wants to have a freshly-painted ceiling with a partially-painted light fixture!

Not to fear! There are two good ways to paint around a light fixture so that the ceiling looks amazing, and the light fixture avoids the acquisition of new “character!”

Method 1: Tape and Plastic

Use blue or green painter’s tape to create a clean line where the light fixture meets the ceiling, so that paint gets on all the ceiling surfaces, but it can’t get on the light. This protects the light from brush and roller “oops” moments. Next, use the tape to stick painter’s plastic in place over the rest of the light fixture to protect it from splatters and splashes.

When you paint the ceiling, use a medium-sized brush with bristles that are in good condition. Dip your brush about ½ an inch into the paint, then scrape off the excess against the inner rim of the paint can. You don’t want globs dripping back down on you as you paint! Carefully apply the paint around the fixture. It’s normal to get a little paint on the tape, but you don’t want big, gloopy drips on it.

Paint a perimeter four to six inches around the light fixture with the brush, then start your paint rolling. Use the paint roller to get as close to the fixture as you reasonably can, without risking getting paint on it. Remember to keep your paint roller going in the same direction for each roll, like you would with brush strokes.

Wait until the paint is dry, then remove the tape. If there is any sign that the paint is being torn by the tape removal, use a utility knife to gently cut a small seam at the edge of the tape. That way, the tape comes away clean without pulling at the new paint on the ceiling.

Method 2: Remove the Light Fixture

Removing the light fixture can make your ceiling painting much easier, if you are able to do so safely. Never remove a light fixture without first making sure the power is turned off at the breaker. Many kinds of smaller fixtures can be partially removed with just a couple of screws, and they reinstall in just minutes when you are done.

In the case of recessed canister lights, most of them have a trim ring that is removable. If they have springs holding them on, you can try pulling the trim rings a little bit downward, and wedge them in place with a small object. Then you can use your brush to paint around the light and get just a little bit of paint in behind the trim ring. Other types of trim rings are held by a simple set of wire hooks. You can pull these down several inches and they stay that way, or you can remove them completely for the painting process.

Again, brush first, then roll for best results.

Safety Considerations for Painting Ceilings and Working with Light Fixtures:

- Use an appropriate ladder for the height you are trying to reach. Don’t stand on stools or chairs, and don’t climb a ladder higher than the intended top rung.

- Don’t get yourself involved with anything electrical unless you have turned off the breaker and you know what you are getting into.

- Wear safety glasses as you paint a ceiling. Even when you use eco-friendly paint, you don’t really want it in your eyes!

Ceiling Painting in the San Francisco Bay Area

If you need a ceiling (on anything else) painted in your home, MB Jessee Painting Inc. would be happy to serve you. We provide exceptional interior and exterior painting at a fair price, and we can take care of painting around those light fixtures, so you don’t need to worry about it.

Serving Oakland and the San Francisco Bay area for over 25 years, MB Jessee Painting Inc. is your best choice for a local house painter. Call us today, or contact us online.

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