How To Paint Extra High Vaulted Ceilings

“Oh what a feeeeeeling, painting on the ceeeeeiling.” Why yes that was a Lionel Richie reference. You’re welcome.

It was time to get some paint up in this heezy. And by heezy, I mean sunroom… hence the furniture being all piled in the center.

But before we get to painting, let’s talk about the half-brick wall in this room – since you guys offered up lots of thoughts and suggestions in the last sunroom post. Some had suggested covering the drywalled portion in brick veneer or reclaimed wood.

Unfortunately the dry wall sits in front of the brick, so there’d be this weird lip between the real brick and the veneer/wood (so we’d prefer not to add anything up top to make it stick out further like an awkward above-the-window overbite). We’re actually leaning towards either trying to distress/fade the brick or straight up painting it (like the same brick that was already painted by the previous owners in our living room, especially since it already has some splatters on it from the previous paint job).

See how the last owners of this house had already painted the wall of brick in the living room (on the other side of the sunroom doors)? Since they’re both in the same sight line, we think painting that small u-shaped expanse of it in the sunroom may be the most cohesive solution – so the sunroom feels more connected to the rest of the house.

But before doing anything rash, we wanted to give the brick the benefit of the doubt – so we decided not to take any action on it yet. First we wanted to paint the rest of the old yellowy-cream colored walls in the room to see if that influenced our decision about the brick at all.

So we readied the rest of the room by moving out almost everything, which turned our living room into a temporary disaster zone. This shot below is for all of you who love the chaos of DIY. Oh yeah, it spreads to at least a few other rooms when you’re painting one…

Burger didn’t seem the mind the temporary influx of extra pillows to curl up on. This is his “excuse me dude with the camera, someone’s trying to nap here” face.

And thankfully Clara was on a play-date with my parents, so we could dive in and do as much as we could without worrying about her getting into paint or tripping over the massive pile o’ chaos on the living room while we painted.

But back to the sunroom. Painting is one of those projects we can practically do in our sleep by now… except for when it involves 12 foot ceilings. That was a new challenge for us. But we couldn’t live with those white ceilings and those yellowed old cream walls anymore (yes, they were two different colors) so we dove right in.

How?  We just busted out our ladder and go to work.

Oh yeah, forgot to tell you the paint color. We went with our current favorite: Rockport Gray by Benjamin Moore (which is also in our bedroom, and is actually more of a warm brownish-gray than a cold cement gray). I’ll explain why we made that choice when we get to the after pictures, so just hang on for the time being. I realize it’s not much to look at when all you see so far is the edged corners…

Edging actually took a long time – even with us both doing it – since this room is basically all corners and windows. And if I do say so myself, I’m not half bad at it. Yep, there may be a new edging sheriff in town. Take that Deputy $herdog. Ok, I take that back. Sherry can pretty much lap me when it comes to edging. So she did all of the edging around all of the doors and windows except for the few windows up near the ceiling, which I tackled on the ladder.

Once all of the edging was done, Sherry did a second coat around all the doors and windows while I took to the pole. Wait, that sounded bad. I’ve actually never painted with a roller that’s attached to a pole before. Even when doing other ceilings (8ft ones, that is) I usually just stand on a stool. And I gotta say I was impressed with how relatively easy it was. Granted it did get tiring to hold your arms and neck up like that for so long, but it wasn’t terrible.

But the rod extending pole couldn’t help us get the area where the fan attached to the ceiling (where we needed to be more exact than a roller ever could be). And my ladder couldn’t get me high enough to edge that area by hand either. So that’s when Sherry and I whipped up this contraption. Yup, it’s a brush taped to a pole. We’re true professionals around here.

If you weren’t convinced of my edging prowess before, just check out this magic going on. That’s what we call painting with surgical precision. Although I realized I should’ve taken a detailed after shot of how awesome this actually turned out. Seriously, it worked like a charm, guys.

It took us two coats and a total of about seven hours across two days, so it certainly wasn’t our fastest paint job in the world – but we’re really happy with the results.

Trust us: despite the warm gray color, this room is far from gloomy. Light floods in (which is one of the reasons we knew we wouldn’t regret going with a darker tone in there) and even the tiled floors feel less yellow now that the walls aren’t the same creamy-bisque tone. Although we’re the first to admit that the room still has a looong way to go until it’s a functional, finished room (remember how the middle makes no sense?).

And if you’re wondering about the two blue stools having a hushed conversation in the corner together (stool meeting is now in session!), we’re just experimenting with some layout ideas. The stools are helping us picture maybe tucking a small cafe table in that corner, but we’re not married to anything yet. We’ll keep you posted!

Oh, and I promised I’d explain the rationale behind Rockport Gray a bit more so here we go:

  • It really makes all the white trim in the room stand out, so it feels crisp in a way that the old yellowed cream walls didn’t (this paint choice did the same trim-crisping thing in our bedroom, which we loved about the color)
  • The room has a pretty crazy ceiling (it slopes away from the house and up, like a rocket ship) so we thought a moodier and darker color might downplay the strange angles and make it all blend together more than it did with the previous white ceiling and creamy-yellow walls
  • As we mentioned a few photos up, the tile floor feels a lot less monochromatic and yellowed since the walls are no longer the same exact tone (it felt like a beige box with an oddly shaped white top before)
  • We also thought it’d tie in well with the living room’s Moonshine walls as well as the grellow walls of the kitchen (both of which you see from the sunroom – so whatever we chose had to go with both)
  • In the spring, summer, and fall (aka, any other season than the bleak and bare one that we’re currently in) we want the greenery outside to be the star, so we thought picking a moody not-crazy-or-compete-y color would keep from overshadowing it
  • The brownish-gray helps us camouflage that similarly colored heating/cooling unit a bit

We also thought the new wall color picked up the tone of the mortar too, just in case we decided to keep the brick as is.

And now that the room is painted, here’s where we stand on the brick: we’re not sold on leaving it as-is. It still feels really awkward to us since the top end of the drywall above it rests oddly on the window (like it’s squishing it or something). And since there’s already a whole wall of painted brick to the right of the slider (in the living room) it still feels awkwardly disjointed from the rest of the house in a way that a painted brick wall would not.

We did think about trying to gray-wash it a little first (with watered down paint, stain, or even by rubbing some cement on it) just to see if that helps to tone down the red – as demonstrated by my poor Photoshop attempt below…

…but that still feels like not-as-seamless-of-a-solution-as-painting-it like the brick in the adjoined living room. So that might be where we end up.

As always, we promise to keep you posted! Oh and speaking of future planning in here, we’re putting more thought into the window-seat-under-the-window-wall idea, so that should be exciting if we decide to go for it. You know we’ll share all the details as we creep along.

Oh and as much work as we still have to do in this room, I must say that this has definitely reconfirmed for me (once again) that painting a room is an awesome way to make it feel like it’s yours. Our sunroom suddenly doesn’t feel like a forgotten project-room stuck on the side of our house, it’s actually starting to feel like a place we can hang out on a lazy Sunday – which is exactly how we used the sunroom in our first house, so it has us all sorts of excited about the possibilities. What did you guys do this weekend? Was there any painting or planning? Any other pole-related projects going on?


  1. says

    Wow, that made a huge difference. Painting always feels so amazing. I should probably start planning a direction for our master bedroom. We haven’t done anything in there.

    So…I had an old lamp rewired and it’s ready for spray paint a la project #182. Now I just have to wait for a day that’s warm enough and also not raining. Making good use of all the post-it flags in my book!

  2. says

    I’m curious if there is a reason you do the edging first. Whenever we paint, we save the edging for last, but you guys have done this about twelve thousand times, so I’m wondering if you know a secret that I don’t?

    • says

      Oh yes, we think it makes for the best finish if you roller after you edge (that way the roller goes over part of the edged parts and makes them all a similar texture so they blend). Hope that makes sense!


  3. Andrew says

    Hey $herdog,

    Quick question. How come you guys don’t take the outlet covers off when you paint? In my first house (now our rental property) we had a company come in and paint it and they didn’t take them off. Now when we go in and paint a room and try to take them off, the paint has formed a nice seal and when you pry it off, it takes drywall or layers of paint with it. In our current house, it was painted before we bought it and they didn’t take them off. Now if you look close at some of the switches/outlets, you can see the white OR if you decide to change the cover or the purpose of the outlet (taking out outlets in kids rooms and replacing them with nightlights, for example) you end up having to do touch up. Seems like it just makes more sense to take 5 minutes to unscrew them all, paint right up to the end of the drywall, allow it to dry and take 5 minutes to put them back on. Just wondering your thoughts on this. Who would’ve thought someone could turn something simple into a huge question. :)

    • says

      They’re all cream, so we knew we’d replace them with white ones so we didn’t bother. I’m also a pretty decent cutter-inner at this point, so it’s like a sport for me to go around them but not get paint on them. Haha!


  4. says

    I really love this color with the white trim- and it totally makes the room look more like it belongs with the rest of your house. And, I’m all for keeping things true to the house…but I think that brick needs to get painted.

    Good job!

  5. erica says

    Looks really good.
    I’d lean towards leaving / graywashing the brick and playing up the industrial modern vibe that this room now seems perfect for.
    I just love that gray and white contrast. Looks so classic!

  6. says

    Looks great. I just love Rockport Grey…I think it might be my favourite paint colour of all time. And to toss my 2 cents in…..I totally vote for painting the brick!

  7. says

    I feel like since you’re pros at painting these high ceilings are sorta a small dose of what many other people with houses feel when you say ‘painting is easy and quick!’. I’ve lived in a house where half the house had 2 floor ceiling heights! That is not a simple DIY. Glad people could see you take on painting more than 12′ ceilings and see your tips!

  8. Theresa says

    Love the brick. The new paint color makes it pop out. I’m also glad you didn’t paint the brick wall.

    Also, it’s your fault for having “Dancing on the Ceiling” stuck in my head. :-)

  9. tia henson says

    Wonderful! has anyne suggested some molding to go on that weird transition zone? You could do a wide picture ledge. It might help to make sense of that wall.

    • says

      Yeah, we talked about doing a long ledge to run across that seam but we thought that still would look odd resting right on top of the window like that- sort of squishing down on it visually? You know?


  10. Rachel says

    Love it can’t wait to see the rest. Did you guys have it color matched or did you just get the BM paint? I tried to have another BM gray paint color matched at HD and it turned out a little different. I was so picky to begin with that I was disappointed with how it came out. I have had success before so just curious what your experience was??

    • says

      We used BM paint (their Natura stuff, which is no-VOC and has awesome coverage). We use waaay less paint with BM (only needed a gallon for this giant room with giant ceiling expanses- I know we’d need two gallons with other paint).


  11. says

    Beautiful shades of grey really make me long for a home with tons of sunlight. My husband and I painted out dining room grey and I love it but the area just doesn’t get enough light for my taste so repainting is in order. Once I pick a color, that is…

    Off topic, I had a dream about you guys last night. My husband had surprised me and somehow got you to invite us over. We spent the day hanging out at your house, meeting your friends, and I got to play with Clara. Oddly though in my dream your house had a loft that was complete with bleacher style seating (about 5 rows high) and the room had wall to wall chocolate brown carpeting. The carpeting even covered the seating. Weird. But otherwise the dream was great! Gave new definition to referring to you two as ‘the friends in my head’.

  12. says

    I agree that the gray makes the trim just pop. Great use of your paint choice. This is good, because I am trying to convince Michael that using the same color gray we have in our bedroom can work for our guest bathroom as well. I’m thinking an Ombre effect? Here’s hoping he comes around… :) I am scratching my head as to something you can put under that kitchen window out there that makes sense. Hmm…one day I’ll get it.

    My best, Lynn
    *this weekend was spent wrestling a 50 lb. dog in and out of the flea bath and then fogging the bathroom that we are going to start work on today. Fun times!

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