How to Spray Walls Without Hitting Ceiling


Last updated: September 8, 2023

A Guide on Spray Painting Walls Without Hitting the Ceiling

How to spray paint wall without hitting ceiling

If you’re looking to paint your wall, one of your biggest concerns may be smearing paint on the ceiling. It’s even a bigger problem if the paint is a different color from the ceiling.

The challenge comes when you consider how tight the space between the wall and ceiling is, which makes it almost impossible to reach with a paintbrush or cover with spray paint. In a moment of distraction, you can hit the ceiling and ruin several hours of hard work.

So, how do you keep the paint off your ceiling when painting the walls? That is exactly what we are going to address in this article.

How To Spray Walls Without Hitting Ceiling

Simply mask off the ceiling perimeter or edges closest to the wall. You can use painter’s tape to accomplish this task. Another technique would be to cut in along the edges before painting the wall. This requires more skill (a steady hand) and practice.

Can I spray paint my walls?

If you wish to spray paint your outdoor walls, it’s perfectly fine to do so, and it will save you time. However, when spraying indoors, there’s always the risk of overspray and inhalation. So, cover areas you’re not painting and ensure proper ventilation in the room.

Spray paint contains hazardous chemicals, including VOCs, that can be potentially harmful when inhaled or ingested. It can also cause irritation and burns if you allow it to get on your skin.

One way to mitigate the risk of using spray paint to paint indoor walls is to opt for brands with low VOCs and odor. Also, you want to keep the doors and windows open.

In addition, whether you’re painting indoors or outdoors, always protect yourself by wearing your safety goggles, gloves, mask, and proper clothing.

Do you spray paint walls or ceilings first?

So should you spray paint walls or ceiling first? Well, it’s recommended you start with the ceiling. This doesn’t only decrease the harm caused by drips but also speeds up your project.

By painting the ceiling first, you won’t have to worry about paint dripping down the freshly painted wall and causing a mess. Instead, the drips hit the crown molding, trim, and walls and are covered when you paint the walls later.

This approach also eliminates the need to tape off the top of the wall or crown molding, thereby speeding up the project. This makes sense since you’ll be painting those areas after you’re done with the ceiling. So, instead of using masking tape, you can just cut in.

Furthermore, ceilings are usually the most difficult to paint, so starting with them will make things easier moving on. Once you’re done with the ceiling, you can mask the ceiling corners or joints before you start spraying the walls.

How To Spray Walls Without Hitting Ceiling?

Cover Your Surrounding

The first thing you should do before you apply spray paint is to prepare the workplace. You want to cover all items around to avoid creating a mess. The last thing you want is for the flying paint particles to get on your furniture or some other valuable piece, as this can ruin the look.

Start by moving some items out of the room. These include furniture as well as hanging objects like clocks, picture frames, mirrors, and so on.

For heavier items or furniture such as sofas, beds, tables, and window corners, cover with a tarp, a thin sheet, or some old pieces of cloth. Make sure each of these is positioned away from the walls. If you don’t have a tarp or an old cloth, you can use a newspaper. 

Also, cover the floor to protect your feet from stains and splatters. You can either use plastic sheeting or rags; generally, anything absorbent will do. 

As earlier indicated, for the windows, only the corners need covering, not the entire window. You want to keep them open to allow proper ventilation in the room. 

Prepare The Wall

After covering the items in your workspace, the next thing you want to do is to prepare the wall to receive spray paint. This essentially consists of two steps: 

First, you must wash the wall, especially if it’s dirty. Dirt and contaminants on the surface can interfere with the quality of the paint job. To wash the wall, you will need soap, water, and a sponge. Scrub the wall to remove all dirt and grease, then rinse afterward with lukewarm water.

After washing the wall, the next step is to allow it to dry completely before applying spray paint. One way to reduce the time it takes to dry is to wipe with a towel or any other absorbent material.

Protect Yourself

Most people would normally skip this step, but it’s extremely important to ensure your safety and health. Spray paint fumes can be toxic when inhaled. Getting the paint on your skin can also cause several problems, such as burns and irritation. 

So, you must take steps to protect yourself. Ensure you have all the appropriate gear before commencing your project. Wear safety goggles to protect your eye; wear disposable gloves to protect your hands; wear thick cloth to protect your body; wear a respiratory mask to protect your lungs. 

Mask The Ceiling Edge

The next step is to mask the ceiling edge. This will give you a sharp line so you can paint the wall without hitting the ceiling. 

If the ceiling was recently painted, ensure it’s completely dry before applying the tape. Next, tape the corner at the intersection between the wall and ceiling. Apply the tape from one corner to the other until you cover the entire corner. 

Start Painting

Once you’ve covered the ceiling corners, you can start painting. Before you start, make sure you have all the proper painting gear. These include gloves, safety goggles, thick clothing, and a respiratory mask. 

Now, shake the aerosol can and start spraying. Keep the nozzle at least 6 inches away from the wall and spray up and down. After spraying up and down, flip to 90 degrees and spray side by side or left to right. You will have gotten two solid coats by the time you’re done. 

How to spray paint walls without hitting ceiling

Try to maintain a steady pace while moving the sprayer across the workpiece. 

If you’re using a paint sprayer, ensure you thin the paint before use. 

Allow Paint To Dry

After spraying, give the wall enough time to dry before you remove the tapes. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. Don’t remove the masking tape immediately after painting, as that will scrape off some of the paint and ruin the finish. 

How Do You Fill A Gap Between The Wall And Ceiling?

Use Caulk

One of the best ways to seal gaps between ceilings and walls is to use caulk. Caulk is a flexible, waterproof material used in building projects and repairs to fill and seal gaps, seams, cracks, and joints. It usually has a white or off-white color.

The steps for using caulk are listed below:

Start by tapping the section of the wall and ceiling closest to the gap. The tape on the ceiling should be ¼-inch away from the wall, and vice versa.

Next, run the caulk along the gap between the paint strips. The line should be about 18 to 24 inches long.

Now, smoothen the caulk line with your finger. You can also use an ice cube. While doing this, try to push the caulk into the gap instead of dragging it. This helps it to stick to both surfaces.

After filling all the gaps with caulk, go ahead and remove the tape. Please don’t wait for the caulk to dry before doing this, or you might find it difficult to remove.

Use Expanding Foam

Another product you can use to fill gaps between walls and ceilings is expanding foam. This is particularly recommended if you have a considerable gap between the wall and ceiling.

Like caulk, expanding foam insulates open spaces, such as gaps or cracks, and prevents air intrusion. While it’s mostly used for hardware, it can also be used to fill cavities and gaps in walls, ceilings, and windows, that are normally difficult to reach. The foam usually comes in white and yellow shades, which makes it suitable for most projects.

Start by preparing the area. Remove anything that can cause obstruction, and wear your gloves and mask.

How do you paint a straight edge between wall and ceiling?

If you’re more experienced, you can use an angled brush to paint a straight edge between the wall and ceiling. This is particularly recommended when painting uneven lines. However, it does require a steady hand, so it may take a little practice. 

The steps are as follows:

  1. Dip a good-quality angular brush into the paint. Use it to paint the ceiling about ¼” down from the wall. We recommend using a 2″ angled brush. 

  2. Using the same brush (without reloading it with paint), push the paint you applied in the previous step to the ceiling line. Either paint the line right to left or left to right. Try getting the tips of the brush right where the ceiling and wall meet. 

Can you paint ceiling and walls same day?

This depends on a number of factors.

If you plan to use the same color on the wall and ceiling, then YES, you can paint both on the same day. In this case, no masking tape is required, and you can complete the surfaces in quick succession. For walls and trim with crown molding in-between, it is expected that the same color will be used on the molding; otherwise, you can do it at a later date.

If you choose to use different colors for the walls and ceiling, you should start with the ceiling. This way, any paint that bleeds from the top edges will be covered by layers of wall paint.

Usually, to prevent such bleeds, you will need painter’s tape. But in most cases, you have to wait at least a day before you can apply the tape to a freshly painted surface. Otherwise, the paint may not dry properly, and the tape may take off some of it when removed.

It may not be possible to complete the project in a day if you use masking tape.

You can still paint different colors on walls and ceilings without taping along the edges. But you will need an edger or be skilled at cutting in the paint with an angled brush.

Do you tape the ceiling when painting walls?

If you are painting the walls a different color from the ceiling, then you need to tape off the ceiling. This will make it easier to paint the corners and ensure you get a sharp color line at the point where the wall and ceiling meet. To get a cleaner job, you may need to cover the ceiling area with film paper while spray painting the wall. If you’re using a paintbrush, this may not be necessary. Cover 2 to 3 feet of the ceiling with the paper.

If you don’t want to tape the edges, you can use the “cutting in” technique. As the name suggests, this method involves painting the edges with free-hand. This requires a lot of care and practice and may be difficult for beginners.

On the other hand, taping provides more leeway and doesn’t require a lot of practice. But that doesn’t mean you should rush the job!

Best paint sprayer for interior walls

There are two types of sprayers you can use for interior walls – airless paint sprayers and HVLP sprayers. 

Airless sprayers, as their name implies, do not use air. Instead, paint passes from a container through a hose to a spray gun, where it’s pushed out. The size of the spray nozzle and the pressure determines how much paint is released from the sprayer at any point. The main benefit of using an airless sprayer over an air spray is that it’s fast, versatile, and delivers an even coat. In fact, it’s ten times faster than using a paintbrush.

The other type of paint sprayer is HVLP (High Volume, Low Pressure). Unlike an airless sprayer, an HVLP sprayer doesn’t feature a hose. Instead, it uses air to push out paint from the attached container. HVLP sprayers are best suited for small-scale projects such as painting a small piece of furniture. 

When you have a lot of wall space to cover or some other large project, an airless paint sprayer is the way to go. And for the best airless sprayer, we highly recommend the Graco Magnum X5. Not only does it work on many surfaces, but it also doesn’t require thinner and can be used upside down. 

Tips for spray painting walls

Follow the tips below to get the best possible results when spraying walls:

Wear Proper Protective Gear

Before handling spray paint, ensure vital parts of your body are properly covered to protect them from the paint. This is a must because spray paint contains toxic chemical fumes, which can be harmful when ingested.

Wear proper clothing and gloves to protect your hands and skin respectively. Likewise, wear a respiratory mask to protect your lungs from the fumes. Cover your eyes with safety goggles. Wear slip-resistant shoes if you have to climb a ladder to extend your reach.

Opt for an airless paint sprayer

Except you’re painting a small accent wall, it’s best to use an airless paint sprayer for wall projects. These include both interior and exterior walls. It is more efficient and will ensure you finish faster. Otherwise, you can use your preferred aerosol spray can.

Use high-quality masking tape.

Avoid using ridiculously cheap painter’s tape, as that can damage the paint job. Such tapes tend to “take off” some of the paint when you try to peel them off. Instead, you want to invest in high-quality tape to protect intersections, corners, and areas you don’t want to paint. It does this without slicing off the paint underneath or ruining the paint job.

Don’t use tape on highly-textured ceilings such as popcorn. Such ceilings are better painted using cutting in technique.

Don’t remove the paint until it’s fully dry.

If you’re using masking tape, make sure the paint dries completely before you remove the paint. Removing it sooner can ruin the paint job. Most tapes are removable for one night. If you plan to use the tape for a longer time, make sure it’s one you can remove for up to two weeks.

If you find the tape difficult to remove, use a utility knife to score along the edges. Then, easily remove the tape as the seal breaks.

Use An Accubrush

As the name suggests, an accubrush helps you to achieve better accuracy when cutting in along ceilings, corners, and moldings. It gets the paint exactly where you need it and nowhere else! So, it’s a good substitute for masking tape or angled brush.

However, the brush is best used to apply paint onto the ceiling areas nearest to the wall. Using it to paint the entire ceiling would be time-consuming. Also, we found that the brush works best when the surface is perfectly smooth, low-textured, and without any imperfections.

Remove all items from the room.

The more vacuum you create in the room, the more “allowance” you have to paint. This makes it much easier to keep the paint off the walls. So, before you commence your project, remove everything you can from the room. Also, use a drop cloth to protect the floors.

Use light coats of paint.

Using heavy coats of paint is the major cause of runs and drips on projects. To avoid this, use multiple light coats and paint in sections to achieve even coverage.

How to spray walls without hitting ceiling

In addition, try painting at a slower pace. Rushing can easily lead to mistakes.

FAQs – How to spray walls without hitting ceiling

Do you paint between walls or edges first?

As a general rule, it’s recommended to paint the edges first before the walls. The same applies to dashboards, ceilings, and other surfaces. Painting the edges first ensures you don’t miss any part and helps you to avoid lap marks. You can use an angled brush, but a paint edger device will also work fine. Make sure to maintain a stray hand and keep your eye on the area while painting.

Does spray paint damage walls?

As long as you use high-quality spray paint meant for walls, you don’t need to worry about any damage to your wall. You will work at a faster rate and will be able to cover more area in less time. However, you need to be careful not to overspray or waste the paint.

Can I mask before painting the walls?

Yes! Before painting walls, you should always mask off areas you don’t want to paint to prevent overspray. These include floor trims, ceilings, windows, door frames, and other surfaces. This is extremely important, especially if you don’t want these surfaces to be the same color as the wall.

Do you tape the ceiling when painting walls?

Yes, you should if you don’t want to mess up the colors. If you’re painting the walls a different color from the ceiling, then tape the ceiling edges. Having said that, it’s a lot easier to mask walls than ceilings, so when you can, paint the walls first.

Can you use canned spray paint on interior walls?

Yes, it’s OK to use canned or aerosol spray paint on interior walls. By doing so, you can finish in less time and achieve a more refined finish than using a paintbrush. However, you want to opt for low-VOC and low-odor spray paint and ensure the room is well-ventilated. Also, cover furniture and other items in the room to avoid getting paint on them.

Do paint edgers really work?

Yes, paint edgers really do work. They can be used in place of painters tape and produce neat results around trims, baseboards, and ceilings. The good thing about using a paint edger is that you don’t need to worry about taping off the surface when you’re done. Choose a paint edger that is suited for your project.

Content Summary

There you have it – how to spray walls without hitting ceiling. Whether you painted the ceiling before or you’re starting out with the wall, following the steps above will help you prevent drips and achieve an impressive finish.

Remember to cover the ceiling corners with masking tape and remove or cover the items around. Protect your lungs by wearing a respiratory mask. Also, wear disposable gloves and get rid of them when you’re done.

Did we leave anything out? Let us know!

Leave a Comment