Why Does My Ceiling Look Patchy After Painting? 6 Popular Causes

Compared to painting your walls, achieving a professional and evenly painted ceiling can be hectic. Most ceilings are at a height of 2.5 m above and controlling the rollers at this height can be difficult. As a result, you may find it difficult to apply another coating despite having uneven edges and thin spots. The poorly painted ceiling is a cause of a patchy look on the ceiling, which is not quite aesthetic.

Your newly painted ceiling can look patchy after painting because you applied thick paints, you did not give your paint time to cure before coating it afresh, over-rolling while painting, applying paint unevenly, or using limited paint. Also, the ceiling may become patchy if there are surface debris or you did not use a primer in your painting. However, the patchy look on a ceiling can be avoided by following the right procedure when painting.

Why Does My Ceiling Look Patchy After Painting: Common Causes

Challenges associated with painting your ceiling cannot be hidden from people’s eyes since they are very dominant and noticeable mistakes. Below are possible reasons why your ceiling looks patchy:

Not preparing the surface you will be painting

You should always ensure the surface you are working on is smooth and clean to have a satisfying painting job. In case your surface has any debris, cobwebs, or dirt, you may end up having a patchy ceiling if not well prepared. Suppose your ceiling is very rough, you will have to begin by smoothing the surface first.

To prepare the surface, begin by getting rid of all the debris from the ceiling. For the rough areas, you will have to sand down using a clean and damp cloth until the surface is leveled up. Wash your surface thoroughly and then rinse the soapy residue with clean water. Washing will get rid of the leftover grease and before you start painting let the surface dry completely.

Caution; A soapy and wet surface will contribute to having a patchy ceiling if not left to dry.

Problem with equipment

Using an old roller, painting with both a brush and a roller, or purchasing a new roller may result in a patchy look. Mostly, paint tends to dry and stick on our old rollers and brushes if not properly washed off. This makes it difficult to smoothly use it. Mixing painting equipment is also another issue. Besides the different types of equipment, also avoid using different manufacturing brands.

The best tool to use on your ceiling is a 12- inch microfiber roller. You should only use brushes and pads on the edges since using them for the whole ceiling will lead to a patchy look.

Using the wrong primer or lack of primer

It is not easy to paint ceilings, especially cutting corners. The condition grows more unfavorable if you fail to use primer and it will eventually lead to patchiness. Another contributing issue is the mixing of different paint that is, using both oil paint and latex at the same time.

It is prudent to invest your time and funds to achieve a perfect job. For best results, purchase quality paints and sealers or primers meant specifically for ceilings and are not affected by old paint.


One coating is usually not enough for a good painting job. Your ceiling will require multiple coats. Therefore, you will have to give adequate time for curing and drying before applying another coat since rushing the process will only lead to a patchy finish.

The waiting time duration will be influenced by the type of paint, ventilation in the room, and the relative humidity. For latex paint, you will require about 4 hours to dry. Oil paints, on the other hand, will require about 24 hours.

Related: How long should concrete cure before framing?

Applying Inadequate or excess paint

Applying a very thick paint will lead to uneven settling and eventually, it will look patchy. Take note of the edges since it is where paint mostly accumulates. Alternatively, applying thin paint is also another problem that could cause a patchy look on the ceiling.

It is recommended to invest in good paint and quality equipment for better results. On top of that spread the paint evenly across your ceiling.

Wrong application and poor application skills

Visualization is one thing you must consider when it comes to painting. Therefore, you will require proper lighting if you want to avoid having under-painted sections. It is good to find a qualified expert to do the work. You will end up reducing the cost of repainting often.


You do not have to be trained to paint perfectly. However, you have to be patient, keen, and alert to achieve this. Painting the ceiling does not make it easier but with the right paint and tool, you are good to go.

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