How To Paint A Bathroom Ceiling

Painting your bathroom ceiling can be a tough job, and it can be difficult knowing how to execute it without the proper information. Any time mold or mildew grows, or paint starts peeling, it is essential to fix the problem by repainting your ceiling and tackling the initial problem. However, by completing the project correctly the first time, you can minimize the need to repeat the process. So, we've researched how to paint a bathroom ceiling to help you prepare and complete this DIY project. 

Follow these basic steps to paint your bathroom ceiling:

  • Prep the surface
  • Paint the surface
  • Ensure the surface has enough time to dry

These steps are all equally important, and each step has many smaller facets involved. Keep reading to find out how to complete each step, what tools are needed to complete this project, and more!

A house painter painting the inside of a house bathroom, How To Paint A Bathroom Ceiling

How do you prep a bathroom ceiling for painting?

The first step to painting or working on any type of ceiling is to lay drop cloth. Prepping and painting can be messy, and the easiest clean-up is with drop cloths. You will need to cover all surface and floor space, making sure to push the cloth into the corners of the room as well.

Scrape Old Paint & Sand (as needed)

The next step is to scrape off any existing paint. To be more specific, you are scraping off any peeling, chipping paint caused by the humidity in the bathroom. You will most likely want to wear a dust mask while doing this to avoid breathing in flakes or particles of old paint.

You will want to use sandpaper or a paint scraper to begin scraping the paint pieces off completely. Next, you will need to sand the ceiling. This ensures that the surface is smooth for the new layer of paint, which you can apply smoothly without visible creases or bumps.


After sanding the ceiling, you will notice there are many dust particles on the surface of the ceiling. The best way to get rid of this, and any other dirt or mildew on the ceiling, is to wipe it down.

Many different solutions can be used to clean the ceiling, but it is suggested you use three parts water to one part bleach for a clean surface. Be sure to wear safety goggles when applying so as not to get cleaner into your eyes.

Apply Painter's Tape

Now, you can begin taping off the corners of the ceiling. This ensures your ceiling paint does not drip onto your wall paint. If you plan to paint your walls after your ceiling, it may not be as important as covering up the ceiling paint after. To tape up, you will want to tape the walls on the perimeter of the ceiling, with the tape going completely to the crease of the corner.

Click here for painter's tape on Amazon.

Apply Primer

The final step will be to apply your primer. Apply primer just like you will apply the paint coats. You will want to cover the entire ceiling that you plan to paint and ensure it is completely dry before beginning to paint.

Click here for an interior primer on Amazon.

Do I Need To Prime My Bathroom Ceiling?

Yes, you need to prime your bathroom ceiling. Not priming will lead to potential mildew growth as well as mold that is difficult to get rid of. Primer also lays a foundation for a smooth surface finish and will protect the ceiling. When buying a primer, look for one designed for moisture, high humidity, and heat.

The only reason you would not need to prime your ceiling is if the paint you buy already has priming features in it. The paint canister should specify if it has primer already.

Painting The Ceiling

The first step in painting is choosing high-quality paint that works for your specific project. Your paint should be made to withstand moisture and mildew. You will most likely need to select a water-based latex paint. Keep reading to find out why this paint and what other things are important to look out for when buying your paint.

Start with Edging 

The ceiling is sanded, cleaned, and prepped, and the paint is ready. Now, for the actual painting part of this project. You will want to start painting in the corners, using a smaller brush to get the edges. This is just to make sure the edges get painted evenly, so when your roll the rest of the ceiling you will not miss the edges.

Click here for an edging tool on Amazon.

Other areas to spot paint with a brush instead of a roller include around light fixtures or a bathroom fan. After that, you should use a roller to get the rest of the open space evenly.

Apply an even coat

You should only need one coat of paint on the ceiling, especially if you used a primer first. Although, you may need two coats if the ceiling was stained extensively or was a darker color to begin with.

Hand painting ceiling in bathroom painting it with a roller

Ensuring Enough Dry Time

The third and final step to painting your bathroom ceiling is ensuring your bathroom is well ventilated and has time to dry. You should avoid showers in your bathroom for at least 24 hours after the paint is applied. This is to prevent humidity from getting into the paint before it has dried and sealed.

To speed up the process of drying the paint, you should have the exhaust fan on at all times, especially while painting, to avoid breathing in the fumes. Keeping the exhaust fan on will pull humidity out of the air to help the paint dry faster. Another option is to open any bathroom windows or set up a fan for cross ventilation.

Necessary Tools To Paint Your Bathroom Ceiling

You will need quite a few tools to paint the ceiling in your bathroom. Some of these tools may seem obvious, such as paint, a paintbrush, or primer. It is easy to forget some tools thought, and there is nothing worse than having to stop mid-project and run back to the hardware store.

You will need a paint roller and paint tray to paint the open spaces of the ceiling. You will need a smaller paintbrush for the edges of the ceiling and small areas around light fixtures. Also, drop cloths are important to protect surfaces from unwanted paint drips.

Click here for a paint roller kit with tray on Amazon.

To prep, you will also need sandpaper and potentially a paint scraper (for peeling paint), painter’s tape, and a step ladder to reach the ceiling. And, of course, you will need paint and primer.

You can check out this article on "17 Types Of Painting Rollers" for more information on specific painting tools.

What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On A Bathroom Ceiling?

You will want to be using high-quality paint for your bathroom ceiling, as stated earlier in the article. Lower quality paint means more work in the end, as you will probably have to deal with peeling and mildew in the future. 

The best paints for a bathroom ceiling (in a bathroom that may not have as much humidity, such as a half bath) will be water-based latex paints. This is because it will contain a tighter molecular structure that will keep water out of the ceiling.

Choosing a semi-gloss finish is best, giving the ceiling shine and repelling moisture and avoiding the growth of mold and mildew.

What Is The Best Paint For A Shower Ceiling?

There are three types of paint that work well for ceilings of bathrooms that will sustain the humidity of a shower.

  • Waterproof paint will provide an effective seal to prevent the ingress of water. Water will collect on the surface of the paint instead of soaking in and is easy to wipe off.
  • Gloss paint, another option, comprises all qualities required of a wet location, such as a shower. 
  • Antifungal paint contains a fungicide that will help to keep the ceiling mold-free.

This image is an example of how the mold will grow on your ceiling.

Moldy corner in a shower room

Should I PVA Bathroom Ceiling Before Painting?

No, you should not need to use PVA on your bathroom ceiling. If you are just applying a new coat of paint then you shouldn't need to worry about using PVA. The sealing should have been completed during the initial build and painting.

In Closing

Although painting a bathroom ceiling is a big job, given time, anybody willing to put in a little bit of hard work can complete it. You will need to prep your surface, paint it, and make sure you give it plenty of time to dry.

By following these steps, you can ensure a neat and professional finish. Read "11 Awesome Bathroom Ceiling Ideas" if you want more information on design aspects.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *