How to Paint Cornice like a Pro – 5 Steps

by Andrew Ahearne - March 17, 2022

Cornices can add character and style to any room, varying in size, shape and design. Some have extensive detailing that draws the eye, while others are simple and sleek. These decorative pieces also provide a smooth transition from walls to ceiling and can be painted to match your wall colour.

Below we’ll go through five steps on how to paint cornice, so you can achieve a desirable and professional finish with minimum hassle.

Cornice Painting Tools & Supplies

  • Dust Sheets
  • Stepladder
  • Paintbrush
  • Decorator Caulk
  • Painter’s tape
  • Primer


How to Paint Coving


Step 1 – Prepare the Room


Begin by covering your floors and furniture with dust sheets or drop cloths to protect them from paint splatters. Alternatively, you can relocate your furniture to another room. Afterwards, set up your stepladder in the desired spot and climb up.


Step 2 – Check your Cornice for Signs of Damage


If you find any cracks, holes or other areas of damage on your cornice, use a decorator caulk to fill in any gaps. This ensures your paint is stuck properly to the surface after application and won’t chip or peel away over time. Once restored to a smooth surface, wipe down your cornice with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris. 


Step 3 – Tape Off the Edges


Tape off your cornice’s edges with masking tape, creating a clean line between the ceiling or wall. This will help you avoid any messy paint lines which can spread to your cornice’s surrounding spaces. 


Step 4 – Prime the Surface


Next, apply a coat of primer to the cornice using a small brush. For unpainted plastic coving, a self-adhesive primer is recommended. However, cornice made of a polymer-based material already has a smooth primed surface, so you can skip this step if yours is made out of this material.

If applying primer, work in smaller sections to ensure even coverage and avoid drips. Let the primer dry completely before moving on to the next step.


Step 5 – Paint the Cornice


Cornice and ceilings, in general, are typically painted white to create a clean and sleek appearance. You’ll also want a flat or matt acrylic paint type as they have a low sheen and smoother look. Glossy sheens are ideal if you have intricate designs that you want to show off. However, your cornice will also likely show imperfections because of the paint’s high reflection.

Once you’ve chosen your water-based paint type and colour, use a smaller brush to apply your first coat of paint. Smaller brushes achieve a more precise finish, as you can reach around the curved details of the cornice. After, use a mini cornice paint roller for more prominent, flat areas.


Step 6 – Inspect Your Work


After the paint has dried, inspect your work to see if any areas need touching up or if second coat is required. If the final paint coat is similar in colour to its original state, apply another layer to ensure even and consistent coverage.


Painting Cornice – FAQ


Do you paint cornices with ceiling or wall paint?

Ceiling paint is typically a water-based paint type with a low sheen, and is also recommended for painting cornices. This gives the surface a smooth, clean appearance, reducing glare from your interior lights overhead. It also hides any imperfections or damage on the surface, such as cracks or holes. 

What colour should I paint my cornice?

In most cases, your cornice’s paint colour should match your ceiling to create a uniform appearance. However, factors such as your ceiling’s height and personal preferences should all be considered beforehand. For example, if you have a low ceiling, painting your cornice the same colour as your walls will make your walls and overall interior space look taller. 

Do you paint cornice or wall first?

Always paint your cornice first as it’s quicker and easier to apply painter’s tape to the edges before wall painting. 

What is the best coving paint brush?

A sash brush is the best type of brush to use when painting cornice as it has thin, pointed bristles that curve around sharp angles. This brush allows you to easily paint into its tighter spaces and corners for a neater finish. You can also use angled brushes to paint your cornice’s more intricate details. Regardless of which brush you go for, ensure you get a good brush to achieve a paint job without brush marks.

Can I use a cornice paint roller?

A mini cornice paint roller is an excellent option for quickly and evenly applying paint to larger areas. However, we recommend using a small paintbrush for a more precise finish. To implement both cornice painting tools, paint your edges with a brush and then use a roller for the cornice’s flat surfaces.


Newline Painting – Painting Your Interior Cornice and Ceiling


NewlinePainting experts can paint your cornice and ceiling at affordable prices. Our skilled professionals use the best quality paints and tools to achieve a high-end finish while offering a seven-year work service guarantee. If you’re interested in learning more about our painting services or would like a free quote, book online or get in touch with us at 1300 044 206.

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