Ceiling Looks Patchy After Painting

Whether you are hiring a painter or taking on the job yourself, making sure that the paint is applied evenly can be a challenge. Even the best painters can run into an uneven look when the job is completed. As you approach this project, make sure to read up on the paint that you are using for the ceiling. You will want to make sure that it contains a primer and if not, then you should purchase a primer. Are you thinking your ceiling looks patchy after painting? There are a few reasons. Thin paint, a rushed paint job, and faulty equipment are your main reasons.

Let’s take a look below at the variety of possibilities related to a patchy looking paint job.

How Do I Fix It

When the paint dries, it can cure thicker in some places and thinner in other places. Always wait at least 24 hours from the time you applied the last coat to the time you are adding to the area that is uneven. Make sure to use a primer coat as your thin coat and then use a coat of paint for a smooth ceiling look. Always wait long to fix this common problem. In some cases, your roller marks are what caused the patchy look. To fix the problem wait for it to dry and then coat the area again.

Select the proper paints for your ceiling.
Select the proper paints for your ceiling.

What Are The Main Reasons For This

Anytime a project does not come out as planned there can be a variety of reasons. If you take those reasons into account as you prepare to complete the project, you are less likely to mess it up. Let’s take a look at the list of reasons a ceiling might look patchy after painting it:

  • Thin paint – a cheaper grade of paint or a previously opened can of paint that is now watered down could cause a patchy look.
  • Poorly done – if not applied with a 9-inch roller and not enough paint when applying your paint can cause you to have an uneven spread of paint on the ceiling.
  • Primer not used – using a primer across the entire ceiling is necessary to avoid a patchy look. Always use a primer when painting over an old paint job.
  • Wrong sealer – always read the product labels to make sure that you are using the right brand. Selecting a sealer that is not designed for covering old walls or old paint can cause a patchy look.
  • Faulty equipment – clogged paint sprayers or older roller pads are not good. Make sure to use a thoroughly cleaned roller pad or purchase a brand new one.
  • Surface not cleaned – wash all surfaces with soap and water and then rinse all soap off the walls. This removes dirt, grime, and grease build up from your old paint. Not rinsing off the soap, or cleaning the grease off, can cause a patchy look.
Using a clean paint roller is key.
Using a clean paint roller is key.

The Best Ways To Do It Right

If you want to have a successful painting of the ceiling, it is recommended that you follow a step-by-step process. Always follow the recommended steps for any project to ensure that it comes out looking perfect. Let’s take a look at what steps you should follow:

  1. Getting your paint and equipment – read the labels on the paint you are selecting to make sure it is high quality. Also, do not skimp on the equipment choices. Buy the items with high consumer ratings.
  2. Prep the surface – clean your ceiling with soap and water. Then rinse the surface and let it dry before painting.
  3. Double-Check – read your manufacturing labels and follow the recommendations as provided.
  4. Additional lighting – adding lights to the room as you paint will allow you to see the finish as it is applied.
  5. Time – painting is a slow process. If you rush the project, you will end up with poor results. Take your time to look at the paint layers, but work quick enough to even out thin spots.
  6. Primer – apply the primer if you haven’t purchased a paint with a built in primer.
  7. Roll half of the ceiling – keep a wet edge to your roller pad and roll consistently and quickly.
  8. Continue with the rest – keep enough paint on your roller pad and spread evenly. Finish the second half of the ceiling, now that the first half is done.
  9. Don’t double back – avoid repainting an area that has already been painted.
  10. Curing process – allow your paint and/or primer to cure. Manufacturers will set the recommended time to dry.

Other Recommended Maintenance

If your getting ready to paint your ceiling, you will want to check any water spots first. Knowing if they are new can save you from wasting money. Painting your ceiling that has fresh water spots can cause a patch looking paint job. The moisture from the fresh water spots will not allow the paint to dry properly. Read up on how to tell if your water damage is new or old.

While you are up there painting your ceiling, you will want to maximize your ladder usage. This might be a great time to change your lightbulbs. Having the ladder out allows you to do multiple projects. If you are painting a high ceiling, go ahead and change your lightbulbs at the same time.

Lastly, before you go and change the lightbulbs make sure to read up on which bulbs are best and how to use them. Buying a smart bulb to install as a replacement bulb in your high ceiling lights can be difficult. Keep in mind, smart bulbs could possibly need resetting. Always read up on the manufacturers suggestions before you choose to install them in as replacement lightbulbs.

Hiring a professional painter is a great idea.
Hiring a professional painter is a great idea.

When Do I Call A Professional

Completing a painting project can be rather stressful. Not only do you need the right equipment, but you also need to be meticulous. If you don’t have have the patience to complete the project properly then you will want to call on a professional painting contractor.

Reach out to your local home inspection team to conduct a home inspection before you start painting your ceiling. There might be other projects that need your attention before you start painting. Also, your home inspection team can refer a reputable paint contractor. This ensures that the paint that you want to be used is correct and applied to your ceiling properly.


Calling on your home inspection team can ensure that your ceiling paint project is ready to happen. Making sure that the ceiling is free from moisture and no leaks are found in your plumbing can be helpful. If you start your painting project and you have moisture in your ceiling the paint will not dry properly and could create a patchy look. Give Twin State Inspections a call. We will take a look at your moisture levels during our home inspections in the Twin State areas of VT, and NH.