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How to Paint Around Ceiling Fixtures

Glenda Taylor

Painting your ceiling probably isn't a frequent occurrence, but when you're ready to paint it, you may not want to remove the ceiling light or other attached fixtures, such as vent covers or smoke detector bases. Fortunately, you can paint around these items if you take steps first to protect them.

Protect light fixtures before painting the ceiling.
  1. Apply painter's tape to the outside edge of all ceiling fixtures. Use a paper-edge tape that you can fit around the perimeter of the fixture with the paper hanging down vertically. Only the top edge of the tape should touch the ceiling.

  2. Cover a large, wide light fixture, such as a chandelier, with a plastic drop cloth, and tape around the fixture's base. The drop cloth will protect the light from paint splatters from above.

  3. Cut in around the taped fixtures with a quality paint brush, applying a thin coat of primer to the ceiling around the fixture. Although the fixture is taped off, try not to get a lot of paint in the crack between the tape and the ceiling; this will prevent stray paint from running down inside the tape.

  4. Prime the rest of the ceiling with a paint roller, rolling as closely as possible to the taped fixture without touching it. Let the primer dry.

  5. Use at least two coats of paint over the primer. Use the same technique around the fixtures, brushing the paint on first, then rolling the rest of the ceiling as closely as possible.

  6. Cut the painter's tape away after the final coat of paint dries. Use a razor knife and cut carefully in the seam between the tape and the ceiling. If you try to pull the tape off without cutting it first, you may pull some of the new paint off the ceiling.