If you’ve ever tried to paint a ceiling, you’ve probably run into the issue of having visible roller marks on your ceiling when finished.

This can be horribly frustrating. You’ve taken your time, put in the work and the results don’t add up.

Luckily, there are a few simple ways to eliminate those awful roller marks and end up with a perfect looking painted ceiling.

Terms Used In This Post:

  • Sheen – The shine or luster of a painted surface. Flat = No sheen, satin = a little sheen, semi-gloss = medium sheen, gloss = high sheen (very shiny).
  • Nap – The thickness of a paint roller’s fabric. Typically ranging from ¼” to 1”
  • Stipple – The roughness of a paint surface. This is the texture left behind on a wall from the roller after it has been painted and dried.

Painting A Ceiling Without Roller Marks

There are a handful of things to try to eliminate your roller marks when painting your ceiling with a brush and roller.

Use a Flat Paint Sheen

The first thing is to make sure to use a paint with a flat sheen. Sheen is the amount of shine or luster that your paint gives off. When you use a paint with a higher sheen such as a satin, semi-gloss or gloss, those sheens will shine differently on the imperfections in the ceiling (such as the roller marks) and cause them to stand out from the rest of the ceiling.

Use a Thicker Roller Nap

If you go into a major paint store (Sherwin Williams, Home Depot, Etc.) they will usually tell you that a thicker roller nap will produce sloppier paint on your walls or ceiling and that the stipple will be thick and ugly.

This is simply not true.

It is true that with a thicker nap you CAN have sloppier walls and ceilings, but if you know what you’re doing, a thicker nap will speed you up and help eliminate roller marks.

I suggest using a thicker nap such as a ¾” napped roller. The key to using a thick napped roller is to roll out the area you are painting and then go back and re-roll it again before you dip your roller back into your tray for more paint. This will smooth down the stipple on the ceiling and even out the paint. It will also allow you to paint much faster.

The way this actually eliminates roller marks is that a thicker napped roller has softer rounder edges. A thinner nap such as a ½” or ⅜” roller has a more defined sharp edge and is far more likely to leave lines from the edges of your roller.

Use Less Paint On Your Roller

Another reason you may be leaving roller marks on your ceiling is that the edges of your roller simply have too much paint and are leaving a thick line behind.

To remedy this simply roll out the extra paint off your roller, re-roll the areas that have roller lines to smooth them out and then when you dip your roller in your tray for more paint, make sure that you do not get too much paint on your roller and over-saturate the roller.

Ceiling

Add Another Coat of Paint, In the Opposite Direction

This might be the most important fix in this entire article. When I am painting ceilings I always do two coats and each coat is rolled in a different direction.

For example, on my first coat I may paint the ceiling North to South, let that coat dry and then on my second coat I will paint from East to West.

Often times roller marks are due to bad coverage in the paint and unevenness in the finish coat. By adding a second coat you are making sure that you have 100% coverage and by rolling in the opposite direction you are making sure that your finish coat is as even as possible.

One Final Tip, Spray Your Ceiling

I know that spraying isn’t always possible. Your project may not allow spraying or your budget may not allow you to buy or rent a sprayer.

But, spraying will leave the nicest finish possible on your ceiling. By spraying an even coat at the appropriate distance from your work surface and overlapping 50% on every pass, you can have an even coat, with great coverage that looks fantastic.

I still do two coats, each in a different direction when spraying ceilings as well. Sometimes, I will even lightly backroll my sprayed ceilings with a ¾” nap roller in order to give them a really tight stippled texture that many people desire.

What Type Of Sprayer Should You Use

If you do plan on spraying your ceilings you’ll want to use an airless sprayer (definitely not an air or HVLP sprayer).

Graco Magnum Sprayer

My personal favorite for home use is the Graco Magnum Airless Sprayer. This little sprayer is perfect for the DIYer. It can easily handle spraying ceilings, deck stains and even exterior paints. It comes with a gun, hose and tip kit and will save you hours of work. This sprayer is not recommended for fine finishing such as furniture and cabinets.  

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