How to Paint a High Wall Without a Ladder

Benna Crawford

High ceilings give a room a sense of spaciousness and grandeur that may belie its actual square footage. However, painting high walls can be a challenge.

A ladder makes painting a high wall a lot easier but you can get the job done without one.

If you don't have access to a ladder, or if the only ladder you have is too short, there are some tricks you can use to get the new paint all the way up to the ceiling. Use a lot of drop cloths and prepare for a stiff neck. You may develop a new appreciation for cave-like spaces -- or just invest in a ladder before it's time to paint again.


Use a painter's cap to protect your hair, if desired. Look for extenders that telescope if you have a very high wall. But be aware that an extender at its farthest telescoped length tends to be slightly bendy or flexible in the middle. Try to use it less than fully telescoped open to make painting easier. If you have a solid piece of furniture with a flat top, it can become a makeshift scaffold. A wardrobe that will easily hold your weight and isn't wobbly makes a great painting platform that you may be able to reach with a step ladder or by climbing on other furniture. Move it along the wall as you paint but cover it with a drop cloth so it doesn't end up painted as well. Be extremely cautious if you try this to avoid any accidents. Be sure the platform will support you safely before trusting it.

  1. Clear the room of all furnishings, light fixtures and anything that might get in the way or risk acquiring an unwanted coat of paint. Lay drop cloths on the floor under the wall you want to paint.

  2. Tape the baseboards and any trim you can reach without a ladder to make the job easier. Use blue painter's tape, which pulls up quickly without grabbing the paint or leaving an adhesive residue.

  3. Attach a screw-on extender pole to an angled cut-in brush for work along the ceiling edge of the wall. The brush should have a threaded handle that will connect to the extender. Purchase these in any hardware or home improvement store.

  4. Pour paint into the tray and begin carefully painting the border of the ceiling and wall. If you have chosen a wall color that is very close to the ceiling color, any inadvertent smears or streaks on the ceiling will barely show. If the colors contrast, be very careful and resolve to live with slight imperfections. Take consolation from the fact that they will be up high enough to be nearly unnoticeable.

  5. Switch to the roller and attach the extender pole to it by screwing the threads on the pole into the connector at the bottom of the handle. Roll paint on the wall from the top down, being careful to blend the brush-painted area along the ceiling border with the rest of the wall to avoid any "seams" showing when the paint dries.

  6. Use the cut-in brush on the extender to fill in high corner areas and a regular paintbrush or the cut-in minus the extender pole for the lower part of the corners. Paint the section along the baseboards, blending it into the paint you applied with the roller. Remove the tape as soon as you are finished painting to avoid any risk of paint adhering to the edge of the tape and creating a ragged line.