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Decorative Painted Ceiling

Top off any room with a decorative ceiling treatment that introduces colors and patterns to an otherwise bland surface in a weekend transformation.

Decorative painted ceiling

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 day

Estimated Cost


Tools and Materials


  • Tape measure
  • Straightedge
  • 2-in painter's tape for delicate surfaces
  • Kraft paper
  • Painting supplies


  • Ceiling medallion, #391874
  • Liquid Nails general-purpose adhesive, #239057
  • 1 gallon Valspar Signature satin paint, Tranquility (#CI-183)
  • 1 gallon Valspar Signature paint (base coat), Bee Pollen (#EE2044B)
  • 1 gallon Brilliant Metals paint, Pale Glow (#EE2069)
  • 1 quart Valspar Signature satin paint, Polar White (#7003-16)
Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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This technique works best on a smooth ceiling. If your ceiling is slightly rough -- just enough so that paint could seep underneath the painter’s tape after you press it in place -- start with a coat of paint the same color as the base coat or existing surface. Then switch to the color listed in the instructions. Any seepage from the first coat will blend with the base color. With slight modifications, use the ceiling border painting technique to create a square color accent above a light fixture.

Paint a Colorful Ceiling Border

Step 1

Paint the entire ceiling (Tranquility shown) and let dry at least four hours. Then apply painter's tape to the walls or crown moulding surrounding the room.

Step 2

 Mark a line 10-1/2 inches from the wall
Measure out from the wall or crown moulding 10-1/2 inches and make light pencil marks. Connect the marks using a straightedge.

Step 3

 Paint the white border
Apply tape beside the pencil line -- let paint cover the pencil marks. Press the tape firmly against the ceiling for a tight seal. Using a 4-in roller, paint a roughly 4-in strip just overlapping the tape (Polar White shown). Let the paint dry to the touch and apply a second coat. Then remove the tape.

Step 4

 Mask to protect the border
Measure and mark a line 2-1/2 inches from the taped edge of the white border. Apply painter's tape so paint will cover the pencil marks.

Step 5

 Paint the border color next to the wall
Apply a base coat of paint from the tape to the wall (Bee Pollen shown). Let dry to the touch, apply a second coat, and let the second coat dry for four hours. Then apply two coats of the metallic paint (Pale Glow shown).

Step 6

 Remove the masking tape
After the last coat of metallic paint is dry to the touch, remove the tape to expose the border. Touch up any mistakes by hand using a small brush.

Paint a Ceiling Fixture Accent

Step 1

Turn off power to the room light and remove the fixture.

Step 2

Cut a piece of kraft paper or cardboard 32 inches square and draw diagonal lines from corner to corner to find the center of the paper. Tape the square to the ceiling centered under the fixture opening with the edges parallel to the walls of the room. (It helps to have a helper hold and rotate the square while you measure from the paper edges to the wall in several places.) Using the edges of the paper as a guide, stick strips of painter's tape to the ceiling and press it firmly in place to create a square. Remove the paper pattern.

Step 3

Paint the white stripe as you did in Step 3 of the previous section. After the paint dries, remove the tape and measure 2-1/2 inches from the taped paint edge. Lay tape strips and paint the center section of the design with a base coat and metallic topcoats.

Step 4

 Finish the project with a chandelier medallion
Paint the ceiling medallion to match the white band or the chandelier and fasten the medallion to the ceiling using a construction adhesive such as Liquid Nails. Check that the medallion edges are parallel to the white band and tape in place until the adhesive dries. Then reinstall the light fixture. (We refurbished an old fixture with fresh spray paint.)