Ceiling Fan Painting Tips and Tricks

Ceiling fan painting tips and tricks that will make the job easier.

We have been busy making over the game room that I posted about starting last week, but we still have a lot more to do.

One thing we were not sure of doing was if we were going to paint the brass and dark wood ceiling fans or not. I wanted to see how they would look with the darker wood flooring we are adding, but we decided they were just too dark and look like spiders on the ceiling. Painting them white helps them to blend in with the white ceiling.

Ceiling fans are not the most aesthetically appealing fixtures in any room, but they are necessary and in every room in my house.  They cut down on heating costs in the summer, which can be huge when you live in the south.

Can you paint a ceiling fan?
Ceiling Fans BEFORE

The two ceiling fans in the game room are older model Casablanca fans that are the best in the house. Even better than 3 newer fans we bought. They really move the air and we wanted to keep them instead of replacing. Eventually some day they might stop working, but until that day comes, we are keeping them.

I have painted 4 ceiling fans since we moved into the house that are in other rooms and have replaced 3.  When I paint the game room fans I will have updating 9 ceiling fans. These two were the last.  Whewwww… it was a lot of work, but worth it as it has saved us a lot of money and kept us within our makeover budgets for each room we have made over in the house.

I never set out to become a ceiling fan painter, but I have become really good at it and an expert on what to do and what not to do when painting them.

Tutorial on how to paint a ceiling fan without removing it

In the past I have painted them without taking them down.  For the two in the game room, Ed took them down since he had to rewire them. They were connected to a center light fixture in an exposed “band-aid” way by a previous owner of the house many years ago.

I had to rethink how I was going to paint them and came up with a few tips and tricks that I am sharing that will make the job easier if you are going to paint yours.

Game Room makeover in progress

This is how the room looks now with the ceiling fans, walls, and trim painted. I still have to touch up the ceiling in places. We did not remove the popcorn ceiling – that is a whole other post.

The subfloor has been cleaned and is ready to go. We are just waiting for the delivery of the luxury vinyl plank flooring.  Once that comes and is installed the room will begin to look whole again.

Ceiling Fan Painting Tips and Tricks That Will Make The Job Easier

I have now painted 6 ceiling fans and have found these tips and painting tricks made the process much easier for me.  The one thing you do not want to do, is simply spray paint the fan.

You can’t do this because the over spray of the paint will get into the motor housing and gunk up the motor. If you can’t take the case/housing off of your fan, then you need to brush the paint on the motor/case or housing.

If you removed the ceiling fan from the ceiling follow these painting tips:

To remove the ceiling fan, you need to turn off the power first. Do this at the electrical breaker box in your home.

Every fan is installed a little differently. You can remove the whole thing at once or I like to remove the blades first, then the motor section.

Once the fan is down, if you have not removed the blades, remove them now and take the decorative metal attachments off.

  • If your fan motor casing comes apart easily, take the case around the motor off and remove the screening on the top and bottom. Set the screen aside since you don’t need to paint it. This will make painting each part of the fan easy.
  • For my ceiling fans, taking the motor housing apart was not an option since there were many soldered clips holding parts together that I felt I would not be able to put back on, so I kept the motor section intact to paint.  This is a little trickier to do, but possible.
  • All spray paint needs to be applied within an hour, if you can’t get the last coat on before an hour, you will need to wait for 24 hours to apply the last coat. The reason for this is if you apply after an hour you run the risk of the paint wrinkling.
  • IMPORTANT – keep like screws together so you know exactly where to put them back on the fan once everything is painted. Press them all the way down into a block of Styrofoam to making painting the tops easier.
  • Spray prime and paint tops of screws, let dry.
how to paint a metal ceiling fan
  • Run 100 grit sandpaper over all the surfaces on the fan, clean off sanding grit and dirt and grease with a damp rag and detergent. Let dry.
  • Fill lightbulb sockets with bunched up foil or tissue paper to protect them from getting paint on them.
  • Remove or cover pull chains with painter’s tape. If you can take a section of the pull chain off and there is a little section of chain still coming out from the base, place painter’s tape on this as you don’t want it to retract into the base. (See blue tape in photo above) 
how to paint ceiling fan housing
  • Save big pieces of Styrofoam from packaging and use it to hold up the fan motor to paint.  The stem of the motor is pushed into the foam which holds up the fan making sides and top and bottom of the motor painting much easier. Once the top is painted and dry, flip the fan and paint the other end.
  • Spray paint the light fixture section with gloss or semi-gloss primer/paint. Before doing that though place foil all around the motor section so no paint gets into the motor of the fan.
  • Use semi-gloss or gloss primer/paint to paint the light section. Use light coats about 5 minutes apart. Two to three light coats should be enough. Let dry.
How to spray paint a ceiling fan
  • Since I couldn’t spray paint the base/motor section because you don’t want overspray to get into the motor, I painted the base of the motor with a brush and gloss paint.
What type of paint to use to paint a ceiling fan
  • I found this Rustoleum Ultra Cover the best brush-on water-based gloss paint and have used it on all the fans I have painted.
  • To paint the top and bottom of the fan motor where the screening is you need to use a paint brush, but not in the usual way. What I did was load the brush with paint and then instead of using the tips of the bristles to paint, I used the side of the brush and carefully ran it over the metal section around the screened section making sure not to apply too much pressure as I did not want paint to get on the screening.
  • If you do get paint on the screening, try to remove it with a Q-Tip.
  • When paint is dry, you can touch up any paint that got on screening by using a black Sharpie marker over the paint.

Optional: If the screen moves when you press a finger into it, you can use a Q-Tip or popsicle stick to push it away from the metal and then paint around the ventilation holes.  See my post where I show this in more detail: How to Paint a Ceiling Fan Without Taking It Down.

Easy Way to Spray Paint the Fan Blades

how to change the color of ceiling fan blades
  • Remove metal blade attachment from blades. Sand fan blades on both sides using 100 grit sandpaper. Clean well with detergent and hot water to remove sanding dust and dirt build up on blades. Let dry.
  • String thin rope or heavy gauge wire from two trees in your yard. Thread the blades on and place a drop cloth underneath.
  • Use semi-gloss spray primer/paint or use one coat of spray primer and then semi-gloss paint in light even coats every few minutes. Shake can while you spray.
  • Sand and clean metal blade attachments and then spray prime/paint them. 2 – 3 light coats applied every few minutes until covered. Use light coats applied about 8 inches away.

Once everything is dry, put the ceiling fan back together again and hang.  Do any touch ups if needed once the fan is hung. Turn power back on at the breaker box and enjoy your updated ceiling fan.

I still need to do some touch-up painting on the ceiling…


…but once I get that done, all the painting will be done in the room.

Do you have any ceiling fan painting tips or tricks to add that makes painting them easier?

Ceiling fan painting tips and tricks that will make the job easier.

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  1. Nawm D. Gerr says:

    This post is so timely, I am getting ready to paint a fan and update/reduce the light fixtures on a couple of mine. I love ceiling fans and am so happy I have them, but mine have the middle ring of lights + the single light on the bottom. I am hoping to remove one of the other. Plus paint a brass one that is corroded/rusting a little. I see in your picture of your game room it looks like you updated the globes, which I had not even thought of. You inspire. Thank you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nawm – Once you figure out all the parts and how you will need to paint each, the actual painting process is easy. You mentioned that there was some rust on some of it. Make sure you sand this away and then go over it with a Brillo or SOS pad to remove the rust. Clean it, let dry and then paint. The globes on my fans are the originals. They may look different as you can see the grey tint they have now against the white walls. You can change out the whole light kit on most fans, though. They sell the light kits at lighting and home improvement stores.

      1. Nawm D. Gerr says:

        I am hoping I can just remove either the center light on the end or remove the light ring. All my ceiling fans have both kinds of lights and it is handy for the larger rooms, but just way too much/too bulky for the smaller bedrooms. Thanks for the tips!

  2. LOVE your new photo!
    The fan painting technique is awesome!!! Thank you so much. Has already been helpful for us!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Vanessa – Thank you. I am really loving not having to dye my hair every two weeks. :-) So happy that my fan painting technique has helped you.

  3. Like the others, immediately noticed your new profile pic. Love your hair! Your gray looks so good! I’m nine months into growing mine out. As it is almost to my shoulders…I have a ways to go yet ;)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Amy – Thanks – It does take a long time for the dyed hair to grow out. I had mine cut to speed up the process and found I like it short now… it is liberating. :-) Sounds like yours is getting there. Hope the rest of the growing out process goes fast for you.

  4. Great Tutorial! Always looking for ways to reuse/repurpose things. I agree with you abut ceiling fans being a “must” in the south. And the ceiling in your game room looks much better since you rewired the ceiling fans. They do almost disappear.

  5. Love it! I’m planning to paint my brass bathroom light fixtures soon, and may want to paint the bedroom fans as well. I love your painting tutorials! Pinning this to use later!
    And… I love your new picture!! Your new look is great, and great choice of background too! I LOVE those colors and white together! It’s so YOU! :)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jolene –

      Thanks for pinning my tutorials. :-) You have a great eye for detail…. When I knew I was going to update my photo I searched around my house to find a good backdrop, I didn’t want it white. The ribbon holder in my studioffice was just what I was looking for.

  6. Off topic but your new hair do is great! and your new color (natural) suits you! You look adorbs.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Liz – You made my day – thanks for the nice compliment.

  7. I’ve been looking forward to seeing your new hairdo-love it!!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Jen – I think I will create a post about it since I have gotten many questions.

  8. FIRST thing I noticed on this post, was your hair! It’s gorgeous, and you’re still a cutie!
    Fan looks awesome too. Thanks, Diane.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Double thanks Sharon. :-)

  9. Romeogirl says:

    Your fans look great! And your hair is adorable!,

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thank you x 2. :-)

  10. laura a janning says:

    looking forward to seeing the completed space.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Laura – I am excited to get it done, just waiting for the flooring to be delivered.

  11. The fans look great and although I don’t plan on painting my fans, they are white already, this was very informative. The trick for painting the screws was great. I can use that on other things I have had to paint. Thanks!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi MaryJean – I always like to find ways to make painting easier. I learned many tricks and tips like placing small items into foam when I worked in retail display. I am glad you will be able to use it to paint other things.

  12. Wow! That looks fantastic@

  13. Gail Vernali says:

    That is one thing we have not done in our new to Us home in the south, change the ceiling fans. Now after your post I’m trying to not look up!! One day I will get the gumption to take this on. Another wonderful tutorial Diane.

  14. Rosemary Gregory says:

    What a difference!!

  15. You are right, the before pic looks like spiders on the ceiling, while in the after pic you hardly notice them. Great job!!

  16. You are an inspiration!! Such a beautiful view from the sliding glass door….enjoy.

  17. E Aelterman says:

    What a transformation! Did you remove the center light and add a popcorn ceiling patch?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks – Yes we did remove the center light and patch the ceiling. I will be writing a post on how we did that.

      1. Can’t wait to see this one. It looks amazing so far.

      2. Mary Ann Howat says:

        Great. Want to see learn how you did that