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Tips for painting tall ceiling stairwells

Updated February 21, 2017

Painting a tall stairwell can be a daunting job when you see the height of the ceiling. Before you give up and hire a professional, consider the ways that a handy homeowner could tackle this project on his own. Whether you are comfortable working at heights or prefer to remain on the ground, there are options for painting stairwells. Always secure your ladders to prevent falls and other injuries. Excessively high stairwells may require calling a fully insured professional painter with a scaffolding system.

Single colour selection

While people with DIY skills may feel perfectly at ease working 4.5 m (15 feet) off the ground, many people might find this situation intimidating. Selecting a single colour to use for both the walls and the ceiling of your stairwell makes this job easier. When both are the same shade, there's no need to tape the walls or cut in with a brush -- jobs that would require close access to the ceiling.

Extension pole

Painting supply and home improvement stores offer a selection of telescoping extension poles to increase the reach of your paint roller when painting tall walls and ceilings. Some allow you to reach areas more than 6 m (20 feet) away, although the roller will be harder to control at such distances. Brush adaptors are available that screw into the threads of the pole and tightly clamp your brush in place. For small jobs, duct tape will attach a brush snugly to your extension pole.

Extension ladder

While you can reach your ceiling with an extension pole, painting along the edge of the walls with paint of a different colour presents a challenge. However, you can create your own version of a scaffolding system with a ladder and a sturdy plank of wood. With the feet of an extension ladder resting securely against a stair riser and the top of the ladder against the second story wall, Bob Vila suggests positioning a 5 x 15 cm (2 x 6 inch) board between a staircase step and the corresponding, level rang of your ladder. Make sure that your board is in good condition and is able to support your weight before you venture out to paint the edge of your walls. Once you have carefully filled in the edges, you can finish your paint job with your feet firmly planted on the ground.

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About the Author

Fiona Fearey has an undergraduate degree from Temple University and a master's degree from New York University. She has been a freelance writer and editor for over five years. She has written for Pluck on Demand and various other websites. Other professional experience includes education, the arts and decorative painting.