Painting your decorative ceilings yourself
Some of the panelling I sell has etch primer on it already when it leaves the factory. Some comes without primer so for those panels you need to do the priming yourself. Priming the panels is needed to make the paint stick to the metal better.
Painting the ceiling one colour all over
The patterns in aluminium ceilings are more deeply pressed than other types of ceilings so they create lovely shadows themselves just from electric light or from natural daylight. Accordingly most people use one colour of paint over the whole ceiling. It is recommended that pale shades of paint be used in home projects. Darker colours can be appealing in theory but in practice they can often give a heavy oppressive feel to a room. It really does depend on your project too. Some commercial projects have been painted in dark colours, even black, with stunning results.
In larger projects it may be preferable to paint the ceiling after it has been installed. For smaller jobs you can paint it first or otherwise leave the painting till the end.
Products to use
Oil based paints otherwise known as enamel paints, are the best products to use on metal. They give a tough finish which will last a long time. You don't want to re-paint your lovely ceiling at any stage so use good quality paints. The paint can be sprayed on, brushed on or even rolled on.
Brushes with a width of about 2 -3 inches (6 -7 cm) are the largest you should use when painting the base colour of your panels. You will need to paint at least two coats. If dark colours are used then you may need a third coat. Choose the best quality brush you can afford so that you are not continually picking off hairs from your beautiful paint job. When painting the fine details you will need much smaller brushes. Use artist brushes, sizes 6 and 4 to start with and progress from there. Always try to be consistent in the way you paint. For example, always paint your leaves with brush strokes in one direction only. Have a small pot of turpentine at hand and also a box of cheap cotton buds. Any paint excesses or errors can be smartly wiped away with a cotton bud which has been moistened (not dripping wet) with the turps.
How much detail to paint
Remember that the ceiling will always be several feet above your head so exceedingly fine details may not be seen from that distance. It is easy to paint too much detail into ceiling panels. Remember "less is often best". Too many colours can make your ceiling look too "busy". Every so often you should stand back from your work and assess it from several feet away.
After the ceiling is installed
When the ceiling is nailed up you should take a look at the nail heads - if you can find them. Because such small nails are used you may find that they are not visible. If necessary you can paint a tiny amount of paint on the nail heads. The advantage of painting the ceilings after installation is that you don't need to go looking for nail heads to dob paint on.