How to Match Ceiling Paint – As a professional house painter with over 10 years of experience, I’ve painted a ton of ceilings. And let me tell you – matching existing ceiling paint so it blends in seamlessly can be tricky! Nothing looks worse than a mismatched paint job. It sticks out like a sore thumb, flashing “shoddy work” to anyone who enters the room.
The key to nailing that perfect ceiling paint match is taking the time to properly assess the current paint color and prepare the surface.
With the right color matching techniques, high-quality tools, and a meticulous process, you can achieve seamless results that look professionally painted.
How to Match Ceiling Paint?
In this comprehensive guide on How to Match Ceiling Paint?, I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process I follow as a pro painter to match existing ceiling paint. I’ll also share some of my best tips and tricks to help you get those flawless, cohesive results. Let’s get painting!
Carefully Assessing the Current Ceiling Paint
The very first step is examining the current paint on your ceiling. There are several important factors to assess here that will impact the rest of the process:
Determine the Sheen Level
- Examine the ceiling and determine whether the existing paint finish is flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, or high gloss.
- The sheen level will significantly affect the appearance of the new paint once applied.
- So you need to match the sheen of the new paint to the old. Don’t just assume it’s flat – really look to identify the level of sheen.
Identify Paint Type
Figure out whether the current ceiling paint is water or oil-based. This affects the choice of primer and paint.
Check the old paint can for identifying markers like “latex” or “alkyd”. If you don’t have the can, here are some tips:
- Oil-based paint won’t bubble when denatured alcohol is applied.
- It will feel slick, while latex feels tacky.
- Oil paint also drips slower off a stirring stick.
Determine Surface Type
Identify what material your ceiling is made of. Common types include:
- Drywall – Gypsum board installed in sheets with seams. Most common in modern homes.
- Plaster – A thin, hard coating applied over lath or masonry. Has a textured finish.
- Concrete – Poured concrete ceilings in basements or commercial buildings.
- Wood – Typically tongue and groove planks or plywood. Found in older homes.
The ceiling type affects paint prep and selection. Plaster and concrete need special treatment compared to drywall.
Check Surface Condition
- Inspect the ceiling for any cracks, holes, water stains, or other imperfections.
- These will need patching and spot priming prior to painting.
- Also, check for any glossy areas or residue that require sanding for proper paint adhesion.
- Make notes on all necessary repairs and preparation so the ceiling is ready for repainting.
Thoroughly examining the current ceiling paint sets you up for success in the matching process. Don’t rush through this step! The details you uncover will inform the next phases of choosing and applying the new paint.
Gathering Paint Sample Chips
Once you have a solid understanding of the existing ceiling paint, it’s time to start gathering potential matching colors. Here are my pro tips for choosing paint samples:
Match the Sheen
- Only grab paint sample chips that are the same sheen as your current ceiling paint – don’t mix sheens.
- Many ceiling paints are flat, but match the exact sheen for the most seamless results.
Select Samples Formulated for Ceilings
- Only use actual ceiling paint samples rather than wall paints.
- Ceiling paints provide better hide and hold up better to repeated washing.
- Look for samples labeled as “ceiling white” or “ceiling paint”.
Get Samples in Similar Undertones
- Pull 3-5 chips that appear close to your original ceiling color.
- Match undertones like warm, cool, yellow, pink, etc as closely as possible.
- Variations in undertones will show obviously once painted on the ceiling.
Use the Same Brand as the Existing Paint
- Try to use samples from the same brand of paint already on your ceiling.
- Different brands have their own unique tint formulas and bases.
- The same brand improves your chances of finding an ideal match.
Bring Home Samples and Compare
- Once you’ve gathered several close options, bring them home to directly compare.
- Hold the samples up to the ceiling in different lighting conditions.
- This head-to-head comparison will reveal the closest match.
Cast a wide net with your initial samples – multiple options in the same sheen, tones, and brand improve your chances of finding the perfect match.
Carefully Comparing Chips to Find the Best Match
Here comes the fun part – holding those sample chips up to the ceiling and analyzing the colors:
Check in Different Lighting
- Natural daylight often shows colors differently than artificial light.
- Hold samples to the ceiling with windows open, then repeat under lamps or installed lighting.
- Make sure to check the match in the same type of lighting the room will usually be used.
- Beyond just surface color, look at the undertones in the samples vs your ceiling.
- If the existing paint has warm yellow undertones, cool grey options won’t match.
- Pink, orange, and green undertones can also subtly clash with the original paint.
Evaluate Tone and Value
- Compare tones – does the sample skew darker or lighter than the ceiling color?
- Slight differences in value will show after painting a large area.
- Hold samples at an angle to better detect differences in lightness/darkness.
Find the One That Disappears
- Once you narrow down 2-3 closest options, look for the one that “disappears” most when held up to the ceiling.
- The sample that blends in seamlessly with no discernible edges is likely the winner!
- If none disappear fully, adjust the tone and try more samples.
Don’t rush this step – spend time thoroughly evaluating and comparing in different light until the absolute closest match is determined.
Test Painting the Closest Match Sample
Before committing to a full gallon, it’s crucial to test out the closest matching sample:
Paint a Test Patch
- Use the paint sample to paint a small, inconspicuous area of the ceiling.
- This will show you exactly how it looks dried at scale on the actual surface.
- Test areas like above cabinets or closets, or behind lighting fixtures.
Allow Paint to Fully Dry
- Give the test patch ample time to fully dry and cure before evaluating.
- Often the sheen will shift slightly between the wet and dried paint.
- Recheck the match once dry – if the sheen changes, it can alter the appearance.
Confirm It’s a Perfect Match
- If your test area blends in seamlessly, you’ve found the ideal matching ceiling paint!
- Purchase a full gallon of the sample color to proceed with painting the entire ceiling.
- If it’s not quite right, use the insights gained to guide trying more sample pots.
Don’t skip directly to buying a whole gallon – test with samples first to ensure color accuracy and sheen before committing.
Properly Prepping the Ceiling for Painting
With the perfectly matched paint now selected, the ceiling needs proper prep before painting can begin:
Fill Any Holes and Imperfections
- Use a spackle or joint compound to fill any cracks, holes, and blemishes in the ceiling surface.
- Allow adequate drying time per the product instructions.
- Once dry, sand smooth for an even finish.
Sand Glossy Surfaces
- Use 220 grit sandpaper to lightly scuff and dull any glossy areas.
- This helps the new paint bind better for maximum adhesion.
- Try to sand evenly to avoid sheen variances.
Clean Away Dust and Debris
- Wipe the ceiling with a microfiber cloth to remove dust pre-sanding.
- Follow up with a tack cloth to pick up any remaining dust or grit after sanding.
- Paint won’t adhere as well to dusty surfaces.
Tape Off Trims and Edges
- Use painter’s tape around ceiling edges, lighting fixtures, vents, etc.
- This keeps paint off surfaces you don’t intend to paint.
- Remove the tape promptly after painting before the paint dries and adheres.
Spot Prime Bare Surfaces
- Use the appropriate primer on any bare drywall, plaster, or other surfaces exposed during repairs.
- Priming provides a uniform surface for the paint to stick to.
With the ceiling prepped, you can proceed confidently knowing any problem areas are addressed for a flawless paint job.
Carefully Applying the Matching Ceiling Paint
Now comes the fun, rewarding part – actually painting the ceiling with your perfectly matched color! Follow these tips:
Cutting In With Angled Brushes
- Use high-quality angled brushes to carefully “cut in” along all edges and corners.
- Angled brushes make it easier to maintain a crisp, defined line near walls and trims.
- Work slowly and steadily for the cleanest edges.
Rolling Ceiling Paint Using Crisscross Motions
- Once edges are cut in, use a roller with a 3/8″ nap to roll on the ceiling paint.
- Work in 3′ x 3′ sections using overlapping “W”, “X”, or crisscross motions.
- Roll in all directions to ensure thorough, even coverage.
Maintain a Wet Edge
- As you work, maintain a “wet edge” where new paint meets still-wet painted areas.
- This prevents lap marks, flashing, and abrupt sheen changes when the paint dries at different rates.
- Work systematically and avoid long breaks between paint applications.
Apply Two Coats
- For best hide and coverage, apply two coats of the matched ceiling paint.
- Allow the first coat to fully dry per the manufacturer’s specifications before adding the second.
- Two coats provide extra hide and durability.
Remove Tape Promptly
- Carefully peel off all painter’s tape immediately after completing the painting.
- If left until fully dry, the paint may adhere to the tape and pull off freshly painted edges.
Allow Proper Cure Time
- Let the freshly painted ceiling fully cure for at least 48 hours before making any final judgments on the match.
- Color, sheen, and tone can continue shifting as the paint dries and cures.
With care taken prepping the surface and applying the matched paint, you’ll achieve professional-quality results.
Achieving a Seamless Ceiling Paint Match
If you meticulously follow the steps I’ve outlined, you can definitely achieve a perfect match with your new ceiling paint. Here are some final tips:
- Proper surface prep and using a high-quality roller are vital for avoiding lap marks and uneven textures.
- Carefully cutting in edges and maintaining a wet edge prevents abrupt shifts in sheen.
- Checking the match in the same lighting the room is used in ensures it blends when it matters most.
- Allowing adequate cure time lets the paint fully settle before making a final call on the match.
- Be willing to do multiple rounds of sampling and testing if needed to nail the color. Don’t rush it!
With the right tools, careful prep, and color matching techniques I’ve shared here, you can match existing ceiling paint like a pro. Let me know if you need any assistance getting that flawless finish!
Frequently Asked Questions About Matching Ceiling Paint
Matching ceiling paint well requires answering some key questions. Here are some of the FAQs I often receive:
How can I tell if my ceiling is made of drywall or plaster?
Drywall ceilings have visible seams where 4′ x 8′ sheets meet. Plaster has a more textured finish and solid sound when gently tapped. Older homes likely have plaster ceilings.
Can I paint over a glossy ceiling without sanding it first?
Lightly sanding glossy ceilings is highly recommended so the new paint can properly adhere. Quickly go over it with 220 grit sandpaper to dull the sheen.
What type of primer should I use on my ceiling?
For previously painted drywall, a quality latex drywall primer is best. Use oil-based primers for plaster or concrete. Acrylic bonding primers work well for wood ceilings.
How long does it take ceiling paint to fully dry and cure?
At 70°F and 50% humidity, flat ceiling paint will dry to the touch in 1 hour but takes a full 48 hours to fully cure. Cooler temps and higher humidity equals longer cure times.
What causes lap marks, and how can I avoid them when painting?
Lap marks are caused by inconsistent application where paint layers dry at different rates. Maintain a wet edge, use quality rollers, apply paint generously, and keep a consistent pace and pressure.
Conclusion and Key Takeaways:
Matching ceiling paint may seem like a daunting task, but it can be done with professional-quality results by following the right process:
- Thoroughly assess the existing paint sheen, type, surface, and condition.
- Grab a variety of same-brand, same-sheen samples close to the original color.
- Carefully compare undertones and values in different lighting to find the closest match.
- Test the potential matching sample on a small ceiling area before fully committing.
- Properly prep the ceiling by patching, sanding, cleaning, and priming.
- Apply two careful coats of the matched paint using proper cutting-in and rolling techniques.
- Allow adequate dry and cure time before making final judgments on the match.
With the right tools, materials, color matching skills, and diligent process, you can achieve a seamless ceiling paint match that looks professionally done. Let me know if you need any other pro painting advice!