How to Avoid Roller Marks When Painting a Ceiling

By Mike Cupit


Gone are the days when a decorator would just use any cheap matt emulsion to paint a ceiling. Finish is everything and you can experience problems with roller marks and picture framing if you’re not careful. As a decorator, I know when I’m likely to experience these types of problems. I also know there are a few steps you can take to avoid roller marks on a ceiling. I thought I’d put pen to paper and explain.


Light critical or large, open plan type ceilings are generally trickier to get right. This is because light will shine across the ceiling and show every imperfection.


Using the Correct Paint


Cheap contract matt, retail paint, or an emulsion with a high sheen level will generally lead to problems. However, there are some very good products you can use, whether you’re painting with white, or a tinted colour. I’ll mention my three favourite and most forgiving products now. The general attribute each of my favourite products has is the sheen level. You need a perfect and flat matt if you want to avoid roller marks.


Johnstone’s Perfect Matt

Perfect Matt is a premium paint which you can buy online or from any Johnstone’s Decorating Centre. It does come with a premium price tag, so if budget is a concern you may want to look at the other options. It is a completely flat matt, will not show blemishes such as roller marks, and you can even touch this emulsion up.


Tikkurila Anti-Reflex

Slightly cheaper than Perfect Matt, Anti-Reflex is a very strange paint, but the finish is amazing!! You should apply very generous coats to achieve a rich luxurious finish. This is easily my favourite paint to use on a ceiling and a very popular choice amongst decorators. You can order this product online.


Goodhome Durable

Known in the decorating world as “white gold”, this is one of the only retail paints which I stand by. It is a durable emulsion available at B&Q at a very reasonable price. You will experience very little in the way of flashing or picture framing. The quality of Goodhome durable matt is brilliant considering the price of it.



You’ve Got the Paint, What’s Next?


If you are using a quality paint, then the first thing you can do to eliminate brush and roller marks is dilute it slightly with clean water. Then you should cut in around the edge of your room and light fittings with a brush.


Next you should roll. Make sure you use a long or medium pile roller on a pole. Start at a natural light source. By doing this you will be able to look back over your work and spot any heavy roller marks. Get plenty of paint on your ceiling and spread it out in long, even passes. Don’t keep going back over your work while it’s drying unless you need to and don’t panic about it looking patchy before it’s dry!!




How do Other Decorators Avoid Roller Marks on Ceilings

There are 3 options…

1) you could go direct for a spray finish if the environment allows.

2) choosing the right pile roller and quality tools for the surface,

3) use a paint designed to reduced roller marks, Anti-Reflex 2 or White Gold (Goodhome), or my

Personal favourite, Smart Matt by leyland

Oliver J Scarth

Use Tikkurila  anti reflex 2 and you won’t have any issues.

Paul Woodward

Correct pile as already said.

Good even placement application of paint on the roller.

Have the correct size pole or extension of pole.

Hold the roller pole correctly to be able to manipulate the roller and apply the paint product effectively

Use a nice Z pattern to first apply and then Spread evenly across the surface meant for application.

Do not apply excessive pressure, Finally a light rolling off to the paint once happy and finished with spread and placement of the paint product.


how to avoid roller marks when painting a ceiling

Brett George

Using the right pile and quality roller, again its simple but it can mean the difference between a flush finish and patterning on your ceiling.

Kris Devos

I normally use 12 Purdy colossus sleeve and lay off as I’m rolling, never had a problem. If it’s a Porous surface with a lot of lighting, use gardz on it first. It will give you more working time and will dry evenly.

Darren Morrissey

A decent large sleeve like a purdy or Hamilton

Also, if you’re struggling with lines or patchy areas then a good flat Matt will help to hide irregularities.

Also, it’s basic, but keep a wet edge working away from light source.

Anton Marsh

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