How to Paint a Perfect Ceiling Line

You’ve spent several days painting your bedroom to be your dream color.  You meticulously painted around the trim and windows and you are certain that every line is perfect.  Then, you get in bed, look up where the wall meets the white ceiling, and you see the blobs.

Paint seepage blobs.  Yuck!  Even though you’ve taped, the paint still ran under onto your white ceiling.  Most people just accept this as part of painting, but I’m here to give you a quick and easy solution to this one problem – and it doesn’t even involve paint.

How to Caulk Your White Ceiling to Create a Perfect Line

1. After your wall and ceiling paint is dry, apply a line of painter’s tape on the wall about 1/4 inch from the ceiling.  Also, apply a line on the ceiling about 1/4 inch from the wall.  We love the Scotch 3M Delicate Blue painter’s tape.

2.  Using a caulking gun, apply a bead of white caulk in a line about 18-24 inches long.  We generally use the white DAP Alex caulk, which can be found anywhere from Home Depot to Walmart.  Just make sure you use white and don’t accidentally pick up clear or almond.

3.  With a gloved finger, drag the bead of caulk down so that it fills in between the tape.  Keep dragging until the caulk is pretty flat.

5.  Repeat this process until your whole room is finished.  You’ll want to work a section at a time so that the caulk doesn’t dry before you get a chance to smooth it out.

6.  When the room is finished, peel off the tape before the caulk is dry.  You’ll have a perfectly straight line.

In the photos, the caulk line looks brighter than the ceiling, but it really doesn’t look that way in real life.

The next time you paint a room, take 30 extra minutes and try this caulking trick on your ceiling.  I think you’ll be so glad that you did.  Do you think this is a trick that you may try?




Filed Under: Paint Your Walls, Project Gallery 58 Comments

About Lindsay Ballard

Lindsay Ballard is a former college mascot turned political geek turned DIY fanatic who is conspiring to live in a Technicolor dream world. Her designs are bold and graphic, while her spirit is fun and full of color. Lindsay chronicles her projects and design ideas here at Makely, where she shares daily tutorials and inspiration. Lindsay lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband (Tom), children (Zack and Emma) and dogs (Jack and Duke).



Comments

  1. Oh, that’s a GREAT idea, Lindsay!!!

    • Benjamin moore will tint the caulk for you if you save 2 ounces of your paint color and blend it in with the caulk so so no taping necessary choose which one I perfer the ceeling color and un it around the wall about four feet at a time…dip finder in wATER..START AT THE CORNER AND SMOOTH ON OUT DOWN THE LINE…this creates the illusion that it is straight…I [aint each color as close to the line as possible and run the caulk in the center of the line and it joins the two sides perfectly….no tapinf off needed :)

  2. This is one of my favorite tricks and I am a total newbie. When a friend tells me they are painting their house I run over with a tube of caulk and tape and help them out.

  3. Oh, I am DEFINITELY using this!! When I painted my kitchen I had a heck of a time where the paint meets the ceiling and still I see blobs that just bother me so much — Great idea!

  4. What a FABULOUS idea! I will so try that on our next paint job!

  5. What a great idea. Unfortunately (and sadly) I do NOT have the patience to do this. It’s all I can do to clean the brushes and rollers after painting. Maybe I can get my husband to do it (or Michelle, the poster above)!

  6. I will be doing this over the weekend!!! Brillz!

  7. I wish I’d read this a few months back when I painted my living room! I found an old can marked “ceiling paint” in the basement and used it to touch up my goofs–only to find that it was different ceiling paint and doesn’t match the existing paint! Eeek! Fortunately you can’t really tell, but next time I’ll be using this tip for sure!

  8. Maybe instead of this extra step, use clear, paintable caulk at the beginning when you’re taping off the ceiling. I’ve read that trick on how to paint perfect stripes, so I’m sure that would work for a perfect line at the ceiling.

    • That Kari is a great idea, we use that idea for cutting in ceilings and for putting the finishing touches on baseboards too. Those darn textured walls and ceilings can be headaches!

  9. This is a brilliant technique! My hubby and I will definitely try this when we paint our bedroom. Thanks!

  10. Ok, you two are seriously brilliant people. How did you figure this out? I’ve been painting rooms for years and never thought of doing this. You can bet this will be a regular part of our painting routine in the future!

  11. Dumbfounded, this is great!

  12. Brilliant idea however I have popcorn ceilings, the sprayed kind. I don’t think the tape would lay flat enough : ( It’s a GREAT idea though

  13. Lindsay this is such a great idea! I have this same texture on my walls and to say that it is the bane of my existence would be an understatement!

    Anyway, just wanted to reach out and say Hi! I am really excited to meet you in person! I am a bit nervous- but hopefully it will be fun!

    Cassity

  14. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that before – great idea. We have nasty popcorn ceilings though and I’m not sure that would work.

  15. GREAT idea!!!!! I love it!!!!!!!

  16. Thanks for the tip. I will have to go around the whole house and fix my paint job!

  17. I will share this advice from my painter. If you use caulking right after you prime, that will facilitate the cutting job. Plus, you won’t see the caulking line since it will be painted over. That’s particularly important if your ceiling is not white.
    Great painting job!

  18. Love this idea, I am a fanatic about getting a perfectly straight line.

    One question, what happens with the caulk when you want to change paint colors? Do you remove the caulk, or is the line so thin it won’t matter?

  19. PERFECT TIMING! I have to paint my kitchen ceiling this weekend! Thanks a bunch for the tip. I’ll be linking as well.

  20. I think I might be alone in this, but I don’t like the idea. I come from a home where paint colors change regularly, and having a painted ceiling and wall wouldn’t work with the caulk idea. Sorry, but I’ll just stick to being meticulous about painting the line.

    • I completely agree with others. The house we bought someone did this and it was very annoying when we had to repaint the entire house. The best solution is to tape off the area, paint the color you want to protect first, let it try, then pain the color you are actually painting to connect over that and let it dry. This will ensure that the paint that runs under the tape is the same color as the wall, and the paint you paint over that will not run. Works like a charm.

  21. Painting big rooms is when I wish I still had white ceilings because this would be such a genius life hack time saver. I do what one of the other commenters suggested. I used the clear paintable after priming so that we could paint the color on it and not worry about bleed. Man, textured walls…those were so pain in the butt. Don’t miss those (smile).

    Bernadette
    http://www.b3hd.blogspot.com

  22. I am so using this in my bedroom. I have so many of these little globs of paint on my ceiling it needs to be fixed.

    Thanks for the tip.

  23. Yep, been there, got seepage. Thanks for this post. I am so fixing this as soon as I get home. :)
    Pam

  24. Yes, I think this is an idea I will try! This is my biggest problem in painting and I’ve tried everything with no real success. Thanks for the tip.

  25. What a great idea! I’ll be adding this to my helpful tips board on Pinterest. Thank you!

  26. Great tip…I like to paint without tape but this would work perfectly.
    xo jana

    • Me too! I have the hardest time with tape for some reason. It actually comes out worse if I tape off. Clearly I paint way too often :) I caulk everything, I mean every.little.thing! but didn’t think about the ceiling!! But I will try this to fix the blemishes I got on the crown molding!

  27. Genius!

  28. This is a great idea. I have some rooms I plan on painting and I’m going to try this.

    Thanks,
    Ruth

  29. As a professional, I have to sat that this does not look like a very good idea. While the calk may not show on your ceiling like it does in the picture, not everybo0sies ceiling is the same white a calking is. In addition, caulk soils and cleans differently than paint does. Take a look at the calk line around your vinyl windows. The white vinyl windows and the caulk start out the same color and they look great, however, a year or two down the road and suddenly the caulk is looking dingy and it doesnt clean off. ceilings will be more prone to this as grease and such tend to riise to the top of a room. If this was to be done prior to painting the walls and ceiling then it would make more sense but there is a easier solution. The reason that you can make a crisp line with the caulk is that it will not bleed under the tape. Blue painters tape is notorious for bleeding. If you use Frog Tape (avaiable at most stores such as Home Depot or lowes or Ace hardware) paint will not bleed under the tape. Frog tape has a chemical additive that gels the paint and prevents it from bleeding under the tape. Frog tape will make an ameture painter get professional results.

    • It actually works great! No, the caulk will never be the exact same color as the ceiling, but that’s okay. It’s close enough if you have a bright white ceiling, and I’ve never had a problem with it turning colors in the almost 10 years that we’ve been doing white ceilings this way. It’s great around crown moldings, too.

      I have had awful experiences with Frog Tape and will likely not use it again. I’m a Blue tape for delicate surfaces convert. :)

      I really do appreciate your professional opinion!

  30. Another way to avoid those “bleeds” is to put the tape up on the ceiling only and paint the ceiling color first along the line to seal the edge of the tape with the ceiling color so no paint will go under. Then paint as normal. Saves two tapings of the area ( the first one while painting the ceiling color and the 2nd lower line for the caulk).

  31. I agree with El. A much better and more attractive way of painting without the bleeding is to put the tape down on the ceiling and paint over it with your ceiling paint. This seals the tape with the same color as the ceiling, avoiding the potential bleeding from the wall color onto the ceiling. It’s a much better solution than caulk for a number of reasons (color-matching, different colored ceilings, texture, etc). Try it!

  32. Not sure I understand the last comments – (El and Mike).

    Do I paint the ceiling, let it dry, put tape on the ceiling, paint the corners with ceiling paint, let it dry, paint the walls, then remove the tape?

    Doesn’t the tape stick and lift the paint?

  33. I just did this in our master bedroom and it looks freakin sweat! Thanks for the tip! Does DAP Alex caulk have more of a chalky/flat finish? I used the same caulk that I’ve been using for our bathroom projects – just regular kitchen/bathroom white caulk – and it has a lot of glossy shine to it. I don’t think it looks bad necessarily… I just notice it. Was wondering if yours is shiny too. Thanks again!

    • Yay! Yeah, mine has a slight shine to it, but you really can’t tell at all. If your house is like my house, once there’s dust on it, it won’t be shiny at all! LOL

  34. Thank you for this!! I have orange peel textured walls and could never figure out how to correct the paint line.

  35. I have been a professional painter for 22 years now, never have used tape for any cutting, and have perfect results every time, if i had to spend all my time taping and caulking, I would be out of business, practice makes perfect, and not to mention, this would only “work” if you had flat ceilings, most room are stuccoed in one form or another.

    • tracerbullete says:

      @ Mick Wenga 28 Sep 5:43:

      For pros you have a point. This site is geared towards the DIYer, and the system provided is spot on for such users.

      It takes more than a weekend of painting to be able to cut in like a pro; so if you’re an amateur, do as the article suggests.

  36. tracerbullete says:

    Hello Miss Lindsay, that’s a great tip that others will find speeds up their work while it increases the quality and provides for a more satisfied client (myself!).

    I have twenty five years in commercial construction, with fifteen as a commercial superintendent. I picked this up awhile back and insist on its use in my projects. Just do as she says and caulk only enough that you can get back to before it dries.

    Other similar uses:

    Instead of drywall mud, caulk all inside corners of drywall with a paintable caulk. Fast and neat and less prone to cracking.

    Do the same with ceramic tile in bathrooms or other areas (works best when grout line is more narrow). If you still like the look of grout, a more experienced person could fill the bottom half of the gap with caulk (remember, a crack is a leak you seek to seal), and grout over the remainder.

  37. it works even better when you first caulk and after that paint. if you don’t have a steady hand use tape, otherwise only a tassel

  38. Tape in my case pulled off ceiling paint. *Cry*

  39. This is so simple and awesome. Thanks for giving the product names that is a huge help.

  40. Thanks so the awesome tip! I was just at our new house today and the painter told me there wasn’t anything they could do about the lines where the wall meets the ceiling. I guess I will be caulking those lines myself! I was so glad to hear there is a solution!

  41. Tabious Holsey says:

    Awesome Tip. Thank you Thank you. !!! Painting a nursery and those blots are driving me insane. Thank you again

  42. The caulk dries very fast. I would recommend doing one wall at a time. I did all the walls and by the time I came back to peel them off (about 20 minutes) was way too long and the walls looked horrible. So needless to say I am having to re-do my walls and peeling the tape after about 5 minutes which too is almost to long.

  43. Elizabeth says:

    @Julia, THANK YOU for giving timeframes, I didn’t see another post about that. I have my caulk in hand and everyone says “before it dries”, but uhh… I don’t caulk things in my spare time! I appreciate the heads up, I was gonna do one wall at a time, based on your advice I am sticking with that plan.

  44. As a interior designer, I’m always looking for great ideas to pass on to my clients that want to do there own DIY projects. This is one for sure that’s going on the list with the following “how to paint a straight line”……After your ceiling is painted and completely dry, put your painters tape over the paint as close to wear the ceiling and wall meet. Then go over the painters tape with your ceiling color again making sure you get enough color on the edge of tape that meets the wall. After it completely dries, paint your wall including about 1/4 inch on the tape. Again it’s important to wait until it’s dry. Then pull off the tape and presto!!! straight lines.

  45. Wow this is a great article, caulking like this really makes a room feel complete. in the process of re-doing a couple rooms myself. *re-blogging*!

    also- if anyone is interested we have colored caulk, and we also color match ; ) http://www.sealantsdirect.com/colors.php

  46. Sasha Hardy says:

    I have a question, not a comment. Do you still use a white caulk, if you have a pale yellow ceiling? Thank you

  47. I don’t know… what happens when the caulking ages?

Trackbacks

  1. […] many), really completes the project. Tape off the line where you are going to caulk. Here’s a good tutorial with photos on how to do that. The key to the caulk gun, from what we found, is to try and run it […]

  2. […] it generally extends into a forth day for touch ups and maybe a fifth day if I need to go back and caulk ceiling lines or add other finishing touches.  It takes ALL weekend…and most of the next […]

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