How to Smooth a Ceiling without Plastering? Here’s What to Consider

The ceiling is one of the critical parts of a room. The ceiling of a room helps separate spaces in a room. In doing this, the ceiling also gives an aesthetic finish to a room and helps hide water, electricity, and other cables and pipes. The ceiling diffuses light and sound between rooms. But aside from all these functions, beauty and completeness to a room are crucial roles a ceiling plays.

The ceiling of a room requires a good finish to ensure the room’s décor and functionality are enhanced. Many people opt for plastering to give their ceiling a fine finish. However, the plastering may wear off over time, giving the ceiling an unpleasant look.

In our article today, we look at ways one can smooth their ceiling without plastering. We will learn the tricks one can employ to achieve a smooth ceiling without consulting an expert or engaging in the rather complex plastering journey. We will also explore what one must consider when giving their ceiling that smooth finish. Whether you are a beginner or a DIYer, you will need all the help possible to make your ceiling smooth again.

Smoothing a ceiling without plastering

When the ceiling starts to peel off, or if it is done wrong and looks rough and unattractive, most people will start looking for ways to plaster it. As you will see in this article, plastering is not the only way to solve this problem. Here are the methods you can follow to accomplish a super smooth and attractive ceiling;

1) Sanding the ceiling

Sanding is one of the surest routes to get a guaranteed smooth ceiling. Sanding will smoothen the ceiling and give you a fresh look. Sanding can be done in preparation for repainting, re-skimming, or wallpaper.

Sanding is usually quite a task, and it requires a certain level of meticulous planning. It comes with lots of dust, and if you live in the house and are thinking of renovating the ceiling of a particular room, you will need to devise a way to prevent the spread of dust. You will be required to close the doors to the other rooms, cover all the furniture and buy the right tools for this job.

What do you need when sanding?

  • Cordless sander

A good sander that doesn’t come with the inhibitions of wires is what you need when working on the ceiling. A cordless sander will allow you to reach tight corners and spots. The sander should also be relatively light because all the weight will be on your arms since it will be upside down. Remember having the sander above your head will take a toll on your arms. Depending on the surface of the ceiling, you may notice the circular motion of the sander does the job better than the straight motion.

  • A mask

It goes without saying that sanding comes with a lot of dust. This is especially the case with the ceilings, which are made worse by you facing up while doing the job. Everyone in the room should wear a mask. The mask will come in handy when working on an old ceiling since you don’t know whether the paint is poisonous or if the ceiling has ever been infested with mold.

  • Goggles

A pair of goggles are a must-have when sanding the ceiling. Even though you may look ridiculous, swimming goggles are the best for the job.

  • Ladder

A ladder will enable you to reach the ceiling. If you have adequate wood pieces, you can make your wooden scaffold, making the sanding job much easier and fun.

  • Enough sanding pads

You should have enough sanding discs or sandpaper pieces of varying grit. You should start with the rough grit and go down to the finer grit as the job progresses. It is important to check the roughness of the ceiling before you buy the sanding pads, as this will help you buy the right tools.

Sanding the ceiling is exhaustive and it is time-consuming. Even if you are tempted to cut corners, don’t. When you do sanding properly, you won’t regret the end result. Many times properly sanded ceilings have saved homeowners skimming costs. Most prefer to just paint the newly sanded ceiling, which will look very new.

Another point to note is never to rush while sanding. Take your time and sand small areas at a time. You will need to move the ladder as you move along, which can be tedious and time-consuming. This is why you might find building a scaffold easier, as you won’t need to carry a ladder and materials.

2) Relining with lining paper

This option comes in handy if you are on a budget or if you are not comfortable plastering your ceiling. Lining paper, or insulation paper as it is also called, is more or less a hanging wallpaper. It is applied using adhesive. You will need to apply the adhesive on the ceiling and then stick the paper on top.

The use of lining paper is preferred for a ceiling that has a lot of joints. Such a ceiling will show a lot of cracks along the joints as the years’ progress. This is especially true if you have a room upstairs, such as a loft. The lining paper covers all the cracks and even hides and smoothens any uneven spots on the ceiling.

3) Skimming

Before you scream, skimming and plastering are the same; wait. Most people say they are plastering their walls and ceilings when they actually mean skimming. Skimming is when you apply a very thin coat of plaster over an existing layer of old plaster. Skimming is done on old ceilings to give a fresh new look.

Skimming is done when you want to smoothen the ceiling and if the plastering cost is beyond you. It is also done to cover a few holes and cracks in the ceiling, and plastering the whole ceiling doesn’t seem logical. Plastering, on the other hand, is applying a new layer of plaster where none existed before. It is done in a new building.

4) Painting the ceiling

Of course, experts won’t advise on this, but there are circumstances when you might consider just applying a layer or two of paint on your ceiling to smoothen it. This is not ideal, and you will likely not get the desired results. However, there are ceilings where a new layer of paint will give a smoother finish.

This option is not popular mainly because you may end up with a worse-looking ceiling. If you are considering painting the ceiling, you may as well consider sanding or dabbing and dotting trick. The dabbing and the dotting technique involves applying very little plaster only on spots where it is necessary.

What factors should you consider when smoothing the ceiling?

Making your ceiling smooth is something that you must think through long and hard. Unlike a wall, where you can do the job even while atop a stool, ceilings are quite tricky. You must consider several factors before you can pick a smoothening option.

1) Cost

Cost is the leading determining factor for most of the decisions we make today. The cost will mainly determine opting for sanding instead of skimming or lining paper. For example, you have a gallon of paint with you and are wondering how best to give the ceiling a smooth finish. It is advisable to consider the sanding cost and whether you can DIY it. The one thing that you will note about paint jobs, it is advisable to ask for as much help as possible. This saves you money, and also, the different sets of eyes help pick out errors.

2) Usage

Do you have a loft and regularly use it? Consider using lining paper for your ceiling in the room below the loft. Using ceiling boards may not be a good idea because cracks will start emerging before long. On the other hand, the lining paper does a good job of hiding the cracks or defects. If you are for enhanced beauty and newness, skimming may be your route.

3) The extent of damage

An extensively damaged ceiling, like for very old houses, might demand more than just a coat of paint. Sanding might not even cut it. In severely damaged ceilings, you will find that sanding and skimming are necessary.

4) Expertise required

Smoothening your ceiling with lining paper is straightforward. All you need is an adhesive and a tape measure. You might not even need a professional to do this. On the other hand, skimming and sanding demand some skills and patience. You may not have the sanding machine or the ladder, for that matter.


When opting to smoothen your ceiling, you must consider several factors, as listed above. Plastering demands a certain skill set that many people don’t have. Moreover, plastering might demand other things be done to the house to ensure the job is well done. After reading this article, you will come up with a convenient way to smoothen your ceiling. The option should be one that suits your needs and one which will give you the results that you desire.