How to Fix an Uneven Painted Ceiling

Follow simple techniques to even out your ceiling before painting.
Follow simple techniques to even out your ceiling before painting. (Image: Gary Houlder/Lifesize/Getty Images)

If you have an uneven ceiling with ridges and bumps, simply painting over it will not fix the problem. Since painting a ceiling can be hard on your arms and shoulders, don't just start painting and hope for the best. Instead, follow a few simple techniques to even out your ceiling, then apply new paint to a flat, prepared surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Drop cloths
  • Stepladder
  • Sandpaper
  • Razor knife
  • Lightweight joint compound
  • Taping knife
  • Dust mask
  • Painter's tape
  • Ceiling paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint tray
  • Roller

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Cover the floor of your room with painting drop cloths.

Stand on a stepladder so you can reach the ceiling. Sand or scrape any raised areas, dried paint drips or bumps off your ceiling using sandpaper or a razor knife.

Apply a thin layer of lightweight joint compound to the ceiling using a taping knife. Allow the compound to dry overnight.

Put on a dust mask. Sand any rough edges or raised spots.

Repeat Steps 2 and 3 one or two more times until you are satisfied with the smoothness of the ceiling.

Tape the walls at the edges of the ceiling using painter's tape. Use a paintbrush to paint around the edges.

Pour ceiling paint into a tray. Use a roller to apply it to the ceiling. Let dry for 24 hours, then apply a second coat if desired.

Tips & Warnings

  • Using several layers of thin drywall compound will give a smoother finish than one layer of a thick compound.
  • Use caution when standing on a ladder.


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