How to Paint Old Ceiling Tiles

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Things You'll Need

  • Drop cloth

  • Whisk broom

  • Painter's tape

  • Spray paint

  • Roller with extension handle

  • Oil based primer

  • Latex paint

Use spray paint to repaint the grid.
See More Photos

Drop ceilings are an easy solution to ugly pipes, wiring and other ceiling issues, but aging ceiling tiles can become discolored and stained. What was once a cover-up for ugliness becomes an eyesore in its own right. However, replacing a roomful of ceiling tiles can be quite an investment. Painting your old ceiling tiles is an affordable and quick option that can brighten up your space. Proper prep work is the key to a quality paint job.


Video of the Day

Step 1

Remove your tiles from the ceiling grid by lifting them up and turning them on edge, then sliding them down and out of the grid. Clean the ceiling tile grid with a sponge and a solution of warm water and dish detergent. If the grid has any chips or discoloration, apply a coat of spray paint in the color of your choice.


Step 2

Run a strip of 2-inch painter's tape around the wall up against the bottom of the grid. Use a piece of cardboard to shield the rest of the wall as you spray. Hold the can 8 to 10 inches from the grid, moving the can in short bursts. Avoid over-saturation, which can lead to puddling, runs and drips in the finish.


Step 3

Spread a group of ceiling tiles on a plastic drop cloth. Clean the dust and debris from the surface of the tiles with a whisk broom. Roll a coat of oil based primer onto the tiles with a medium nap roller. Cover the entire surface of each tile. Allow the tiles to dry for the time the primer label recommends before stacking the tiles and spreading out another group. Repeat the process until all of your tiles are primed.


Step 4

Choose a color for your tiles. Paint them in the same color as your grid for a subtle, unobtrusive look, or choose a complementary or contrasting color for a more dramatic effect. Lighter colors reflect light to open up your space. Darker colors will create a more intimate atmosphere. Roll two coats of semigloss latex paint in your chosen color onto the face of each tile.


Step 5

Use a medium nap roller and long extension handle to apply the paint. Allow adequate drying time between coats. Re-coating too soon will cause the first coat to lift, damaging the tiles. Allow the tiles to dry overnight before reinstalling them in the grid.