How to Paint Ceiling Downlights

Written by ryan lawrence
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Downlights are a type of recessed lighting installed within holes in the ceiling. Often, there is a frame around these lights, which is left exposed. Painting this frame allows the downlights to blend better with the ceiling. Unfortunately, because downlights are metal, they reject paint. A quality metal-etching primer guarantees lasting coverage. The proper application method ensures a professional finish, free from noticeable brush marks.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Stepladder
  • Sponge
  • Degreasing soap
  • Rags
  • Towels
  • Dust sheets
  • Masking paper
  • Painter's tape
  • Dust mask
  • Goggles
  • Galvanised metal-etching spray primer
  • Flat latex spray paint or spray enamel

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  1. 1

    Turn off the downlights in the room. Access the downlights using a stepladder.

  2. 2

    Wash metallic portions of the downlights using a sponge soaked in degreasing soap and water. Harsh cleansers may contain chemicals that could affect adhesion.

  3. 3

    Rinse the downlights with rags damped with water. Allow the downlights to air-dry, or use towels to dry them.

  4. 4

    Shield the light bulb and adjacent ceiling from overspray by carefully applying masking paper to these areas, using painter's tape.


  1. 1

    Wear a dust mask and goggles to protect your face from wafting spray-paint particles.

  2. 2

    Condition the ceiling downlights with galvanised metal-etching spray primer. Apply in a side-to-side motion. Maintain 8 inches between the downlight and the spray nozzle. Allow the downlights to dry for three hours.

  3. 3

    Paint the ceiling downlights as you primed them. Use a flat latex spray paint or spray enamel.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a flat latex spray paint if you'd like the downlights to blend in with the rest of the ceiling. Use an acrylic spray enamel if you'd like them to stand out.
  • Never finish unprimed ceiling downlights, or peeling will result.
  • Ordinary primers won't adhere to ceiling downlights. Always use an etching base coat.

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