How to Paint a Concrete Ceiling

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Many urban lofts and other spaces have unfinished concrete ceilings. Concrete is a practical ceiling material, but it isn't always the most aesthetically pleasing. The gray tones can look dull, and the rough texture can impart a utilitarian vibe.


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Knowing how to paint a concrete ceiling can help you make your entire room seem more inviting. It requires prep work to look professional, and it's important to take safety into consideration when painting overhead and using harsh chemicals.

Safety Tips for Painting Ceilings

When you're painting a ceiling, paint drips are a big concern. You should remove as much furniture from the room as you can and then cover the floor and any remaining items with drop cloths. Apply painter's tape around the edges of your ceiling to help you get a clean line. It's also a good idea to remove any ceiling fixtures if there are any in place.

You also want to make sure you have the correct gear for the job. Wearing goggles and a hat helps minimize paint freckles and protects your eyes. You should wear older clothing that you don't mind becoming stained by paint. Keep the room as well ventilated as possible and wear a respirator to protect yourself from paint vapors.

Prepping Concrete for Painting

Ceilings tend to be less prone to scuff marks and uneven texture than walls or floors, but even so, it's worth checking the surface before starting. Fill in any dents with patching compound and allow it to dry.

You should next fully clean your concrete ceiling using trisodium phosphate (TSP). This will dissolve any grime or grease and ensure your paint can properly adhere. Dissolve half a cup of TSP in 2 gallons of warm water. Apply the TSP using a firm-bristled brush and work it into the concrete's surface and let it sit for 20 minutes. Rinse your ceiling thoroughly with warm water and let it dry for at least two days before applying paint. Always wear gloves when handling harsh chemicals like TSP.

Once dry, run over your ceiling with 150-grit sandpaper to rough up the surface and help the paint to adhere. Wear a dust mask while sanding to protect your lungs. Then wipe down your ceiling to remove any dust or other dirt.


Depending on the paint you choose, you may wish to apply a primer beforehand. This can help with your paint's adherence and ensures a more even, opaque finish.

How to Paint a Concrete Ceiling

Start by painting a layer of your concrete paint using a brush and focusing on the perimeter of the ceiling. A brush will help you get paint into harder-to-reach areas.

Next, using a 3/8-inch nap roller, apply the concrete paint to your ceiling, working from the perimeter to the center. You'll likely need a special extendable roller to reach the more difficult areas. Allow the first coat to dry for at least 16 hours and then look for any areas with a bumpy texture and go back over them with the sandpaper. You can then apply the second layer of paint.

Once you're happy with the coverage, give the ceiling at least 24 hours to dry. Then move your furniture back into the room, remove the masking tape and enjoy your ceiling's new look.