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 Amazon. 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?
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 🙂
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.
I’ll be your friend…come on over! I’ll buy the caulk and the wine fo after!
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!
What a FABULOUS idea! I will so try that on our next paint job!
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)!
the Blah Blah Blahger says
I will be doing this over the weekend!!! Brillz!
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!
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.
Cut N Crown says
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!
This is a brilliant technique! My hubby and I will definitely try this when we paint our bedroom. Thanks!
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!
Dumbfounded, this is great!
Deanna Rio says
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
This is an old post but the issue is still relevant. Short of having the popcorn ceiling removed, you can flatten out just the edges with caulk before you paint (then let it dry, of course). Paint your walls, let them dry and apply more caulk in corners like was done in the video.
One thing that wasn’t mentioned is that white caulk tends to take on the color of the adjacent surfaces so it isn’t very noticeable in the end. Clear caulk will look dirty and colored caulk will simply show it’s color. I would not “tint” caulk.
I did this with popcorn ceilings and it came out great
Cassity @ Remodelaholic says
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!
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.
GREAT idea!!!!! I love it!!!!!!!
Thanks for the tip. I will have to go around the whole house and fix my paint job!
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!
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?
PERFECT TIMING! I have to paint my kitchen ceiling this weekend! Thanks a bunch for the tip. I’ll be linking as well.
Kate C says
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.
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).
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.
Yep, been there, got seepage. Thanks for this post. I am so fixing this as soon as I get home. 🙂
Jenny (@ The Housewife Project) says
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.
What a great idea! I’ll be adding this to my helpful tips board on Pinterest. Thank you!
Jana @ The Summer House says
Great tip…I like to paint without tape but this would work perfectly.
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!
This is a great idea. I have some rooms I plan on painting and I’m going to try this.
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!
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).
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!
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?
both el n mike are absolutely confused lol
Georgia Stewart says
That’s exactly what happened to us. The frig tape lifted a lot of the paint off our wall right back to the plaster….
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
Ugh – sweet! not sweat 🙁 I blame my horrible spelling on how distracted I was by the beauty of my perfect ceiling lines 😉 Thanks again Lindsay!
Brittany G. says
Thank you for this!! I have orange peel textured walls and could never figure out how to correct the paint line.
mick wenga says
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.
@ 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.
I have popcorn ceilings and not to mention, they do not have a straight line to follow…other than caulk and tape, what is your suggestion on getting a straight line without using paint or caulk in this situation?
Not saying this is your quality of work, so bare with me Ü My husband and I have been painting our homes for the past 25 years of marriage. Tape and caulking have made us topic of discussion from people that see our painted rooms. We were in the process of preparing our home to be put on the market to start building our dream home out of state. I wanted the stained spindles and newly constructed raw wood range hood painted white. Sickened me to have to hire it out but we were crunched for time and wanted it done quickly before new carpet was scheduled for install. Hired a 33 year old company to do the job for us. The owner/founder himself showed up on the first day with 2 other painters and not one of them had a roll of tape, let alone caulking. He immediately asked if I had wall color touch-up paint handy in case he got any white paint on my gray walls. Small warning. I watched him try to create a bead of paint on the edge of his brush and “push” it flush up against the trim. It was a disaster. After a couple of hours, we asked them all to leave. I’m not saying you can not paint without tape or caulking but it really does make it easier for home owners, in my opinion. I’m personally a Tape, Caulk, Paint, Repeat girl but I have seen Lindsay’s method used in a few model homes we’ve recently been in and it did look nice. Either way, crooked walls equals crooked lines so it looks like we need to go into construction, too! And Mick, I wish you lived close to me when I needed a great painter Ü You can tell you take pride in your hard work!
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.
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
Tape in my case pulled off ceiling paint. *Cry*
This is so simple and awesome. Thanks for giving the product names that is a huge help.
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!
Tabious Holsey says
Awesome Tip. Thank you Thank you. !!! Painting a nursery and those blots are driving me insane. Thank you again
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.
@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.
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.
Sealants Direct says
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
Oh, my gosh! My husband and I have been saying that we need a color match caulk product. Could you email me so we can chat more about your product? Thanks! LivingWithLindsay@gmail.com
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
I don’t know… what happens when the caulking ages?
itll looks like hell..really caulk is meant to be painted over, id use this over areas like the top of baseboard moulding where its fairly inconspicuous..the author of this post also suggested taping back 1/4″ from both the ceiling n the wall which is 1/2″ of caulking, thats ridiculous..most importantly, if youre doing that much blue taping, better be sure your fresh paint is well dry, i mean weeks or youll be peeling off paint and or drywall paper when u peel of the tape..if u have to use this technique to cleanup your shaky handedness, caulk the corners with no tape..just nip off the caulk end as small as possible n go over the caulk with a wet finger pulling most of it off
Wow,that is good idea.
I have used this technique before and it works so well, you can’t believe it. The only warning is that the paint on the walls/ ceiling is tuck really well because if not, you’ll be pulling paint off as you pull the tape off. That happened to me even though that walls were thoroughly cleaned, primed and painted. The paint stuck to the primer, but the primer didn’t stick to the wall. Others have the same problem with primers of all brands. They recommend using a wall/ceiling sealer like Zinnser Gardz or the equivalent. suppose to stick a whole lot better than primer.
Also, the double painter tape trick really works great along tile lines where a wall meets a row of tiles. It leaves a crisp straight edge. I use it around doors and window trim also. Looks very “PRO” when done.
Way too complicated method here! The caulking before painting is a good idea but you don’t need time consuming and expensive blue tape. Apply the caulk and use a wet rag to smooth it off. Then, paint the ceiling and use ceiling color to paint over the caulking, don’t worry about getting it on the wall. In fact, make sure you drop below the corner by an inch. Then, buy that RED pro paint edge tool at Home Depot for $5.00. Be anal about keeping the wheels clean and the brush moderately loaded. Too much paint you create a mess, too little and you are not effective. Roll the tool around the ceiling to create a more perfect line than what is being shown in this demonstration. Your line will be 1/16 to 1/8 below the ceiling but who cares, it’s a perfect line. Take your time to master the use of the tool and your results will be better than most professionals. Trust me. It looks better and is faster than what you saw here.
best tip by far?
TONY C says
Great idea as long as white is used for the ceiling. I may take this idea a step further. My thought is to tape and caulk (paintable caulk) as shown, remove the top tape, paint the ceiling and paintable caulk the color I want. Remove the bottom tape and I should have a perfect line of paint. Just a though not yet tried.
visit website says
Umm I have been painting interior walls for years and never knew about this little trick! Thanks a ton for the brilliant idea! I’m trying it on my next job!
Lee T. says
I’m from the future, the year 2020. I’m here to tell you that it’s a mess here on earth right now. But what’s not a mess are my cut in lines. Well, they are. But they won’t be much longer! Just got back from the store with my caulk and am headed up the ladder now. Thanks SO much for this priceless advice.
Mike M says
Doesnt the caulking shrink (or even crack) over time, making the corners worse looking than if you just learned how to properly cut in a corner?
Anyone who would do this shouldn’t be allowed to touch paint. It is setting up a ton of work for the next person who has to paint the room. Shame on anyone who uses this shortcut.
Absolute game changer and I love it. The only thing I would emphasize is the importance of allowing your paint to completely dry otherwise you’ll pull some of your paint away as I did. I was far to anxious to try it. Good thing I only did one wall. I can’t wait until tomorrow to do the other walls.