The Fastest Way to Paint Ceiling Tiles

Written by Milan Jara on 8th Jul 2022

Ceiling Tiles

Your ceilings deserve a fresh new look, but painting ceiling tiles can be a drag. Find out how to paint ceiling tiles for a streak-free finish.

A fresh coat of paint brightens your space, makes the home cozier, and appears spacious. Therefore, when you decide to give your ceiling premium TLC, you need to nail it the first time. Whether it's a drop-in ceiling, acoustic, or Styrofoam, we've got you covered.

This post will teach you how to paint ceiling tiles using the right tools and precise steps. We'll wrap this up nicely with some handy tips to make ceiling painting a cinch. What are you waiting for? Let’s dive in!

1. Buy Paint, Brushes, and Supplies

"Painting a ceiling is much like painting a wall". Such misinformation is why you walk into a home and notice the drab ceiling. Ceiling painting requires different types of paint and brushes.

The best paint for ceiling tiles is typically flat-latex or spray paint. You can use acrylic paint, the new darling on the market. Regardless of the paint type, you want to ensure it is an all-in-one primer and paint to expedite the painting process. Regarding paint quantity, a gallon covers 200 - 300 square feet of ceiling tiles, and one can of spray paint covers 20 square feet.

You will want to use specialized paint for acoustic tiles to prevent losing their sound-dampening properties.

You'll need a roller and a nylon brush for the final touches. Remember your painting gear, which is essentially protective clothing against dripping paint. Do not start a painting job without a mask and goggles.

Ceiling Tiles

2. Prep the Room

Removing drop-in or acoustic tiles, painting them, and then refitting them takes way longer than painting the tiles in place. Since you have chosen the faster option, you will need to strategize effectively.

You can use drop cloths or sheets to cover the flooring and furnishings. Clean the tiles using a tile cleaner, a tablespoon of dishwashing soap, and a gallon of warm water. Use soft cotton to scrub the tiles gently. For wooden tiles, you will want to use 180-grit sandpaper to remove uneven surfaces before painting. Do the same to buff away paint chippings on drop ceiling tiles.

Use the painter's tape to protect crown molding and trims from the paint. Also, stick the tape across the corners of the ceiling and the walls' intersections.

Tape the metal inserts between the tiles to prevent splashing paint on them. It is better to over tape than under tape since it is harder to clean dried paint than to touch up missed spots with a nylon brush.

For drop ceilings, prop them using furring strips. You can choose a few strips to prop up a few tiles or spend more on furring strips to fit the entire ceiling span.

3. Prepare the Paint

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the kind of paint you will have. Some homeowners opt for primer and coating in one paint can, others separately, others spray paint, and the list is endless. When buying paint, price is usually an indicator of the quality of finish you will get. You get what you pay for in regards to paint.

For fiberglass ceilings, avoid painting them altogether. You can get away with spray paint for faux tin or tin tiles. Do not use ordinary paint on acoustic tiles; otherwise, you will bid the soundproofing goodbye. Your supply store or hardware experts will guide you on suitable ceiling paints. You can check how to select ceiling paint to avoid pulling disaster classes in your paint job.

Place the paint on the roller pan just enough for a section of the ceiling. You will want to dampen the roller so that it absorbs and releases color quickly onto the surface. Place your ladder near one corner and proceed to the next step (admit it, you chuckled).

Ceiling Tiles

4. Paint the Ceiling Tiles

Painting using a roller is more straightforward and takes little time. Place the roller at one corner and firmly use horizontal strokes on the roller. Paint the ceiling tiles from the outside towards the center regions. Since you are working from one corner, use overlapping strips of paint, paying attention to avoid painting the crisp painter’s tape lines.

If you use a primer and coating paint separately, put on two coats of primer overnight before coating the surface. If your ceiling is water damaged, check out how to paint them properly.

For general practice, put two coats of paint over the ceiling surface. Allow the first coat to dry before applying the second. Generally, the coats dry within 8 hours or less, depending on the paint quality.

Plastic and wooden tiles take longer for the paint to adhere than other ceiling materials. Use lots of oil-based primer on wood ceiling tiles to lessen painting time.

Go easy on the pressure on the roller to prevent breaking lightweight ceiling tiles such as styrene panel tiles. If you are using a spray can, hold it 8 to 10 inches and move the can over the surface.

For energy-efficient ceilings, be mindful of the paint's effect on energy efficiency. Different color shades affect energy efficiency differently.

5. Check the Finish

Apply the paint across the entire ceiling in the first coat and follow it up with the second before checking the finish. Only tin tiles have a matte finish; therefore, do not punish yourself for not getting a matte finish.

Check the areas you may have missed and use a nylon brush to paint them. You can now enjoy sipping your cup of coffee, hands akimbo, and marveling at your work.

6. Clean Up

After painting glam-looking ceiling tiles, you need to clear the area to take the after pictures. Remove the tapes and brush through the edges. However, you will not need to paint the edges if you have fine painter's tape lines. Rinse your brushes and move the remaining paint into the storage. Take snaps of your beautiful ceilings.


Voila, you are done. Painting ceiling tiles is that easy if you paint them in place. Since we love making DIY tasks simpler, share this guide and check out the best ceiling tiles for your home. Spruce up your ceiling tiles with fresh coats of paint and transform your home’s vertical space.

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