ceiling fan painted in place

How to paint a ceiling fan without taking it down

It’s true, you really can paint a ceiling fan without taking it down or even taking it apart.

Most people will tell you that to paint a ceiling fan you must remove it or take the blades off. That’s simply not necessary. My way saves a lot of time and no one will ever know the difference. I painted this one with the blades intact. The only things I removed were the light bulbs and glass shades.

So follow along with the step by step instructions as I show you the fastest way to paint your old ceiling fan.

Ceiling fan before photo

A run-of-the-mill ceiling fan

bedroom before photo

Bedroom before photo

Here’s your typical fake wood grain ceiling fan. The gold finish is tarnished. I wish there was a paint that would make it invisible, but the next best thing is to make it part of the new decor.

Everything in this room is about to change.

Supplies used in this project

  • A dropcloth
  • Paper towels and Windex
  • Painter’s tape
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Small paint brush
  • Primer (I used Kilz brand)
  • Your favorite latex paint
  • A tall ladder

Ceiling fan painting tutorial

Step 1: Clean the ceiling fan

This is messy and my least favorite part of the project. Even if you think your fan looks clean, believe me, there’s a lot of gunk hiding up there.

Cover the area underneath with a drop cloth. Then use your dry paintbrush to remove all the loose dirt. There will be a lot of stuff on top of the blades and inside the arms. The round thing that covers the motor will be dusty as well.

After that, clean the fan with paper towels and Windex. Make sure to clean the top and the bottom of the blades. When it comes to cleaning the motor cover, don’t spray Windex directly on it. Spray the paper towel instead.

Step 2: Sand the ceiling fan

sand ceiling fan prior to painting

Sand ceiling fan prior to painting

Before tackling the fan, the bedroom was painted a yummy shade of purple called sugar plum.

Sanding the fan makes it easier for the paint to stick. I only sanded the metal parts.

Step 3: Tape off the ceiling

tape around ceiling fan

Tape around ceiling fan

Adhere the painter’s tape to the ceiling. I managed to slip it underneath the fan.

Step 4: Apply primer coat

primer coat applied to ceiling fan

Primer coat applied to ceiling fan

Paint a thin coat of primer. Notice how I only used a small amount of paint on the brush to avoid dripping. Make sure to keep the paint out of the motor.

Painting ceiling fan blades: You only have to paint what people can see, so you do not have to paint the top of the blades.

It can get a little tricky painting them because they move. You need to hold on to one that hasn’t been painted to keep them still. To paint the last blade, you can put one hand on top of it while you paint the underside with the other hand.

Let paint dry for a couple of hours.

This is what it looks like with a coat of primer

primed ceiling fan

Primed ceiling fan

I painted everything, including the chain.

Step 5: Apply two coats of paint

ceiling fan painted in place

Ceiling fan painted in place

I painted two coats with a semigloss latex paint, allowing it to dry at least two hours in between. This was the same paint I used on the bedroom furniture.

Here it is all finished and with the painter’s tape removed. It looks so much better painted all one color.

Ceiling fan after photo

Bedroom makeover complete

bedroom after photo with painted ceiling fan

Bedroom after photo with painted ceiling fan

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