Posted on: 24.01.2023 Posted by: Редакция Comments: 0

Painting Styrofoam ceiling tiles can be a challenging process, and there are many potential pitfalls that can lead to a disaster. It is important to develop a strategy, prepare your workspace, and efficiently paint the tiles with the right materials to avoid problems later on.

You can paint your Styrofoam tiles yourself, but you need to follow these steps:

  • Selecting the right materials
  • Preparing the room & tiles
  • Painting tiles that are still in the ceiling
  • Touching up
  • Cleaning up

There are pros and cons to different types of paints, brushes, and installation methods, so make sure to find the right section of the article that applies to your situation. You will also find helpful tips on installing the ceiling tiles after painting, ways to prepare your workspace, and strategies for painting tiles with different surfaces.

Selecting the necessary materials

Styrofoam ceiling tiles require a specific type of paint that does not melt or peel. Acrylic paints on latex or water-based are the only two types you should consider as they do not contain chemicals that can damage the tiles. You can also find many spray paints that also work. In terms of quantity, you will need approximately one gallon of paint per 150-200 square feet of ceiling.

You will also need the right primer for the ceiling as the tiles are made of polystyrene. Make sure to find a water-based primer as you will need to apply it to the surface you want to paint.

You will need a roller to apply both the paint and primer, as well as a nylon brush for touch-ups. You will also need masking tape to cover the corners and edges of the ceiling, as well as the metallic parts between the tiles. Finally, you should have some fabric drop cloths or tarps on the floor unless you plan on painting the tiles before installation.

Finally, you will need a 1-gallon and 5-gallon bucket to mix your paints and primer. Depending on how dirty the tiles are, you may also need detergent, a few cotton cloths, and a broom or duster. If you are painting the ceiling tiles outside of their frames, you will need a self-etching metal primer to apply to the frames before attaching the tiles.

Preparing the room and tiles for painting

Regardless of how you choose to paint your ceiling tiles, you will need to prepare the room and allocate a significant block of time to get the job done. You should remove everything from the room to make it empty as paint could drip from the tiles after you’re done and dirty furniture. Take the time to clear out all items from the room to make space and then cover the floor with your drop cloths or tarps.

Be sure to clean the tiles as well, using a broom or duster. Painting over any kind of dirt will leave a blemish, so if they are dirty, you should clean each tile one by one. Use a cleaning solution made of one tablespoon of dish detergent and one gallon of hot water. Use a soft cotton cloth to clean each tile and then another one to rinse and dry them. Although this is a somewhat tedious task, you will be grateful that you took the time to clean before painting!

If you are painting the tiles while they are installed in the ceiling, use the masking tape to seal off the corners and edges of the ceiling, as well as the metallic inserts between each tile. Make sure to stick everything evenly so that the paint is aligned. Don’t worry if you overlap in some areas, you can touch up things later with your brush, but it is much harder to fix already applied paint.

Painting tiles that are still in the ceiling

If you are painting tiles that are already installed, you should exercise caution in the preparation steps from the previous section. Due to potential paint drips and build-up at edges, you will need to proceed carefully when applying primer and paint layers. You will also need to allow enough time for the paint and primer to dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 1: Clean

As mentioned above, make sure the room is completely empty and use a duster or broom to sweep the ceiling tiles. Make sure you have a ladder tall enough to reach the tiles when painting and scrub them clean with a cleaning solution if necessary.

Step 2: MaskingUse masking tape to cover the edges where the wall meets the ceiling. If your ceiling has metal clips between the tiles, tape those off as precisely as possible, but always keep in mind that you can touch up the tiles later if you use too much tape. Under-taping is harder to undo! You have many types of tape to choose from and can get different widths depending on the size of the clips. In general, choose a fairly large width for the corners of the ceiling. Cover the entire floor with drop cloths or tarps.

Step 3: PrimerFill your 5-gallon bucket with two gallons of self-etching metal primer. Use a roller with an extension to paint the entire ceiling with the primer. After coating the ceiling, there will likely be areas where paint has pooled and dripped, so use the ladder and a nylon brush to touch up those areas. If you have a Styrofoam ceiling with grooves or designs with uneven surfaces, you may also need to use the nylon brush to apply the primer in those areas. Allow the primer to dry on the ceiling for at least two hours.

Step 4: PaintingApply the ceiling paint the same way you applied the primer. Rinse and clean the roller before reusing it, paying special attention to areas where paint may be dripping or indentations in the tile that the roller cannot reach. Any mistakes in these areas will be much more apparent when painting than when priming. Allow the paint to dry on the ceiling for at least three hours. Repeat this process as necessary, depending on how many coats of paint you desire for the ceiling.

Step 5: Touching upAfter coating the entire ceiling, you should check areas, especially grooves and corners, for things you may have overlooked. Use a stepladder and a nylon brush to paint areas that were not adequately coated. Slowly remove the masking tape and touch up areas that you may have missed. Allow the touch-ups to dry for another two to three hours.

Step 6: CleanupDispose of all the masking tape and excess paint, fold up the drop cloths, and rinse off your brushes, then put all your furniture back into the room.

Painting tiles before installation

If you have ordered Styrofoam tiles that you want to paint, you need to add a step and modify some of the steps from the previous section. In terms of preparation and materials, you will need the paint as well as the drop cloth, stepladder, both types of brushes, self-etching metal primer, and cleaning materials. One important step to note is coating the metal frames with the primer before attaching the tiles and providing enough space for the tiles to dry before reattaching them to the ceiling.

Step 1: CleanIf you are removing the tiles from the ceiling, be sure to clean them thoroughly with a duster or broom and a liquid cleaning solution if necessary. Clean the surfaces on both sides and the edges. If using a liquid for cleaning, allow them sufficient time to dry before starting painting.

Step 2: PrepareIf you are painting your tiles in this manner, you will not need masking tape and can skip the taping part of the preparation. You will still need the drop cloth for possible dripping of the primer and paint. Find a large space to lay the tiles while they dry.

Step 3: Primer for the metallic insertsAn additional step is required if you are replacing or deinstalling tiles to paint them. You will need to use a polyester brush to apply the self-etching metal primer to the metal frames that will be exposed when you remove the tiles. This is a crucial step if you are painting the ceiling tiles in this manner.

Step 4: Apply primer to the tilesUse the self-etching metal primer to paint the tiles that are laid flat on the drop cloth. Make sure you have a specific distance and apply the primer to both edges and surfaces. Allow it to dry for at least two hours.

Step 5: Apply paintAfter the primer has dried, you can apply as many coats of paint as desired using the roller. After coating each tile, use a nylon brush to touch up any areas you may have missed due to grooves or indentations and smooth out areas that may have too much paint. Don’t worry about paint dripping on the sides of the tiles; that is why you primed the metal inserts. Carefully lean the tiles against a wall to avoid getting paint on the walls and allow them to dry for at least three hours.

Step 6: Reattach tilesOnce the tiles have dried for at least three hours, carefully install them back in place on the ceiling. Remove your drop cloths and brushes and enjoy the new color of your ceiling!


You should check this list of materials to ensure you choose the right products. Taking the extra time to plan and calculate will save you additional trips to the store and money. In most cases, you will want to talk to a salesperson in the store and explain your project. Show them your list, and they will be able to guide you to the right section of the store.

Brushes and rollers

When painting Styrofoam tiles, these brushes and rollers are essential. Certain types of brushes can be too harsh and damage the tile, and if the tiles are already in the ceiling, you will need a roller to reach them, preferably one with an extendable pole.

A basic nylon brush is the brush you will want to use for touch-ups or additional coats that you cannot cover with the roller. This brush is an example of the proper usage, but you can go into any store and ask a representative for their selection, and they will advise you well. Depending on the size of the grooves and indentations in your ceiling and the metallic inserts, you may want to buy a few brushes of different sizes.

Rollers like these are advantageous and worth the extra money. Depending on your ceiling height, you will want to be able to reach it easily without straining your neck or needing to use a stepladder. They are also easy to clean and store for your next project.

Paint and primer

You should get the right paint and primer, as well as the correct amount of each for your project. You should calculate the square footage of your ceiling first. Calculate the length and width of the ceiling and multiply them to get the square footage. You can also use this calculator as it specifically relates to painting.

For the primer, you will need a self-etching metal primer like this one. This primer guarantees adhesion and smoothness for the topcoat. It also stops rust and gives you a fully finished look. You may need more if you are deinstalling the tiles as you will need to apply primer to the exposed metal frames.

Once you’ve found the paint you need, make sure to find something water-based like this one. Using oil-based paints can cause the Styrofoam to melt, so be sure to check all labels before purchasing the paint. You can also buy twice the amount if you want to apply extra coats.

Stepladder and drop cloths

You should be sure to have the appropriate stepladders and drop cloths for your project. Be sure to use your square footage calculator for the cloth and know the height of the ceiling and the length of your roller.

While you can use old sheets or towels, it is highly recommended to purchase professional drop cloths like this one. These protect your floors more effectively than sheets or towels, and they fold up easily and can be stored for another project.

While any stepladder will work, there are ones specifically for painting that make the job easier and more efficient. Some have a spot to hold the paint while standing on the ladder, so you don’t have to go up and down. You can browse this selection after getting a good idea of different types of ladders that are suitable for painting.

Additional tips

You should allocate plenty of time for these projects and make sure that children and pets are either outside the building or the room is cordoned off. The paint and primer are toxic, and you don’t want children to have access. Plan something for your kids to do on the weekend so you don’t have to worry about them interfering.

Be sure to wear “work clothes” that you don’t mind getting dirty. The paint washes off your body easily, but it is almost impossible to remove from your clothes. You should also wear safety goggles as the paint can splatter and it is dangerous to get in your eyes. A simple pair of safety goggles like this one will protect you.

If you are deinstalling the tiles and painting them individually, be careful when removing them from the ceiling. If they have been there for too long, they may chip or even break. You may also want to clean the exposed areas once you remove the tiles. Don’t worry if it takes longer because you need to vacuum, brush, and clean the tiles. Remember that the end result will be much better if you carefully follow these steps.

All in all, painting Styrofoam ceiling tiles yourself is quite simple. Having help from a spouse or friend is always useful. If you want to hire an expert, it will cost more money, but the peace of mind could be worth it in dealing with paint and large tiles. However, doing it yourself is a viable option, and as long as you follow safety guidelines and pay attention to details, it can take less than a day’s work and turn out well.


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