Kitchen ceilings are often the trickiest part of a house to repaint. It’s not so much that they are a little clunky to access, but that they are often covered with a thin layer of oily grime that will prevent new paint from adhering. Before slapping a coat of paint over that dingy gray ceiling in the kitchen, it will need to be properly cleaned and prepped.
Skipping these steps will result in poor paint adhesion and the possibility of wiping off that shiny new coat of paint the first time you have to clean off the bubbling spaghetti sauce that hit the ceiling by accident.
Degreasing the ceiling
If the ceiling is filthy with soot and grime, it may be best to first tackle the bulk of the grease with some household products you may have around the house. A couple of tablespoons of Dawn dishwashing detergent in a quart of hot water in works well in removing most of the grime from a dingy ceiling. For stubborn grease areas, try spraying the area with spray mister filled with white vinegar. Let the vinegar set for ten minutes and then wipe with a sponge.
To remove the rest of the grime off the ceiling, heavy duty cleaners such as TSP, TSP substitutes, Dirtex, or Liquid Sandpaper should be used. These products will finish removing the rest of the grease and will slightly rough up the old ceiling paint to give it some “teeth”. Since these commercial cleaning products are caustic, following instructions for use is an absolute must.
Priming the ceiling
After the ceiling has been cleaned and deglossed, the final step is to apply a good prime coat. Prime coats block the color of the old paint from showing through, and will improve the surface adhesion for your new paint.
In kitchens that have grease or soot stained ceilings that won’t clean up, a stain blocking primer such as Kilz or Zinsser B-I-N will seal in stains and smoke odor. Even if your ceiling cleaned up nicely and is free of stains, priming the area is still a recommended step. Primer paint is slightly tacky and will provide a better bond for the top coat.
In older homes that may have been painted originally with oil paint, a latex based primer will allow you to apply a latex top coat.
After the primer coat has been applied, it’s best to follow the manufacturers instructions for drying time before applying the top coat. While some prime coats can be ready to paint in less than 4 hours, stain blocking primers can require overnight drying time before you can apply that new coat of paint.