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PROJECT 4: How To Rethink Your Ceiling With Paint And Trim

Tools you'll need for this project:

  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Plumb line (optional)
  • Caulking gun
  • No More Nails paneling adhesive; $8, The Home Depot
  • DAP paintable caulking; $3, The Home Depot
  • Compound chop saw (tool rental available at The Home Depot) or hand saw and mitre box
  • Cordless finishing nailer (tool rental available at The Home Depot)
  • If installing your own light fixture: Screw driver, wire stripper

Maia's shopping list:

  • Flat-finish wall paint
  • Satin ceiling paint (Maia used Behr paint in Grey Timber Wolf, 760E-3, in a satin finish.)
  • Light fixture
  • Ceiling medallion
  • Panel moulding


1. Paint your ceiling and border

Start by choosing your paint. Although flat finishes are typically used on ceilings, Maia suggests using paint with a satin finish to add subtle sheen.  Paints with a higher gloss level will result in glare from light fixtures.

In the room featured, a border around the perimeter of the ceiling colour extending down to the upper wall was painted with flat white ceiling paint to add extra character.

When shopping for paint, provide your ceiling dimensions to a Home Depot Associate, who can assure you’re purchasing the right amount of paint for the job.

Before you start painting, measure out from the walls and down from the ceiling at a 90 degree angle at several points and then use a straight edge to draw straight lines. (Maia and her team used a plumb line or “snap” line to draw the lines quickly.)

Use a level to double check that the lines on your wall are straight. These lines will act as a guide when painting your border and accent colour.  The edge of your moulding will be applied against the lines, so you need not bother with painter’s tape.  Just make sure you know which side the moulding will go on: You don’t want to make a mess on the wrong side.

To make things easier, paint the moulding before it’s cut and applied, then touch it up after if needed.  Maia used the same semi-gloss paint colour as the existing trim in the room.

2. Select and cut your moulding

When selecting your moulding, choose a profile that matches other trim in the room to ensure the overall look is cohesive.

Always buy an extra 10% of the total length of moulding needed.  (For example, if you need 100 feet, buy 110 feet).  This will ensure you can make mistakes without running out of material. If you’ve never used a mitre saw before, you might want to buy an additional extra few feet to allow for trial and error.

Make a mark on the wall (using a pencil) with a letter where each piece of moulding will go.  Make a diagram of the room with the letters and sizes of each corresponding piece.

Use a compound chop saw to cut the pieces. Or, if you are not comfortable using power tools, you can use a hand saw and a mitre box.

Moulding that is going on the ceiling should be cut lying flat.  Moulding going on the walls needs to be cut “standing up” so that the pieces meet properly at your corners.

Be sure to cut the longest pieces first, then work your way down to the smallest pieces.
Once all of your pieces are cut, use paneling glue and a caulking gun to affix each piece of moulding to the wall or ceiling.

Install the pieces of paneling in tight corners first.  It will be harder to install them with adjoining moulding already attached.

Use a level to double check that each piece is straight and then use a finishing nail gun to secure it.

Use paintable caulking to fill in any nail holes and to seal the edges of the paneling to the wall.  Wipe off excess with a damp rag.  Once dry, touch up with paint as necessary.

3. Apply the medallion to the ceiling

Assuming you’re using a light-weight foam medallion (as Maia and her team have done), simply apply adhesive around the outer and inner rims. Make extra certain it’s properly centered before you affix it to the ceiling, press and hold in place for a moment, and release.

4. Install light fixture

Unless you’re experienced with installing light fixtures, hiring an electrician or handyman is your best and safest bet.

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