| | |

How to Paint a Ceiling Fan Without Taking It Down

If you have dark and dated ceiling fans in your home that you don’t like and can’t afford to replace them, why not paint them? I did and I didn’t even have to take them down. This post will show you how I painted them.

Post Updated: 5/11/2020

As you know I am trying to update and add my own style to my house.  I am DIYing through many projects throughout the house. Many are cosmetic updates, others larger and more complex projects. One of the smaller cosmetic updates I have been doing is accessing the ceiling fans.

Here in the south…ceiling fans are a necessity, especially if you don’t want to run the AC all the time. I like to have the windows open to get that fresh air feeling and turn off the AC when it is not super hot and humid. It is on these days that the ceiling fans are a blessing.

How to spray paint a ceiling fan

There are 10 ceiling fans in my house. 8 are made by Casablanca, the other two are made by Hunter. Both Ed and I agree that the Casablanca fans work better, they spin faster and really do cool the room off.  I do not want to replace these, since as a few of you told me, they just don’t make the fans like they use to and that I should keep the good ones.

A reader has told me that fans with angled blades do produce more air than fans with flat mounted blades.  I think this is the case for the fans in my house.  The 2 Hunter fans have flat blades.

We have changed the rotation of all the fans from clockwise to counter-clockwise.  There is a switch on each. In the summer, they should spin counter-clockwise to provide a wind-chill effect. In the winter they should be changed to clockwise so they bring down and recirculate warm air that rises.

I do want to paint the keepers white so they will look more seamless with the white ceiling. Right now since they are dark brown and antique gold your eye goes right to them. I want them to disappear. I can make that kind of happen by painting them the same color as the ceiling.

How Do you Paint a Ceiling Fan Without Taking it Down?

So how do you paint a ceiling fan?  There are a few ways, but I took the easiest path. You can remove the fan from the ceiling and take it outside to spray paint or you can do what I did.

How to paint a ceiling fan

I left the main part of the fan in place and just removed the blades.

Doing it this way, I could paint the fan by myself. No electrical knowledge or re-wiring needed. All I had to do it turn the fan off and turn off the electrical panel breaker while I was working on it.

I originally was going to remove all the bolts around the cover so I could remove the cover and spray paint that also, but it proved way too hard. They wouldn’t budge.

ceiling fan parts to remove to paint without taking it down

If the bolts on your fan are easy to remove, then remove the grill cover and spray paint it along with the blades.

Ceiling Fan BEFORE PAINTING:

Ceiling fan painting tutorial

Your eye goes right to the dark stain and color of the fan.

Ceiling Fan AFTER PAINTING

Photo of newly painted ceiling fan over a round dining table and wicker chairs.

Ahhhh…much better. No more big brown spiders on the ceiling :-)  Nice white ceiling fans that still do the job, but blend in and don’t look like an eyesore.

Upgrade and old ceiling fan affordably

What Type of Paint to Use to Paint a Ceiling Fan?

I used 3 different types and brands of paint to paint the ceiling fans that would create different sheens. I did this so they would look like they came from the factory with shiny and flat finished surfaces. If I had used the same paint, they would have lost some interest in the details.

How to paint a ceiling fan without having to take it down

  • I used semi-gloss primer + paint in a paint gun to paint the wood blades.
  • Gloss spray paint for the metal blade brackets
  • Gloss brush on paint for the metal body/cover of the fan.

How To Paint a Ceiling Fan Without Removing it from the Ceiling

What type of paint to use to paint a ceiling fan

supplies needed:

  • Rustoleum Ultra Cover paint in Gloss White – Body and cover of fan motor
  • Gloss white spray paint – metal blade brackets
  • Glidden Complete Paint + Primer – wood blades
  • Paint sprayer
  • Flat/square tipped paint brushes –  I bought these at the craft store
  • Screwdriver
  • Baggies/Magic Marker
  • 100 grit sandpaper
  • Bucket filled with detergent, water and rag
  • Craft stick or a fork
  • Ladder
  • Optional: white paint pen or small pointed brush for touch-ups

Paint brush to use when painting a ceiling fan without having to remove it from the ceiling

The artist’s paint brushes that I used to paint the area around the screening on the fan. You want it to be a square flat tip that is slightly stiff.

  1. Turn power off to fan and turn the breaker off.

How-to-paint-the-blades-of-a-ceiling-fan

2. Using a screwdriver, remove each fan blade. Place screws in a baggie. If doing more than one fan at a time like I did, mark what fan they are from on the baggie.

3. Remove metal bracket from each blade and place these screws into a separate baggie so you don’t mix them up with the other screws when it is time to put them back on the fan.

Painting-a-ceiling-fan-tutorial

4. Fold a piece of 100 grit sandpaper over and go over the entire fan, cover, wood blades and metal brackets.

5. Clean all surfaces of sanding grit and then clean them with warm water and detergent to remove any dirt or grease. Let dry.

How to Make Your Own Mini Spray Paint Booth To Paint The Fan Parts

To help keep spray paint overspray from getting on everything for the spray painting part of the makeover, use large cardboard boxes to make your own spray booth. I flatten and save large boxes that I get.  They can be reused many times and stored flat against the wall in your garage or workspace.

How-to-paint-a-ceiling-fan

I set two boxes up so the bottom section of each is on the floor. I place a tarp over the bottom to hold the boxes in place and protect the floor. You can use boxes instead of a tarp for the floor.

Once you are finished spray painting, fold up the boxes and store then out of the way until the next time you need them.

Spray Painting TIP When Painting a Ceiling Fan:

  • Break up Styrofoam that comes in packaging to use as lifts for the items you are going to spray paint.  It is used to cushion electronics and other fragile items that you buy.

Tutorial on how to paint a ceiling fan without removing it

This step is where I would have liked to been able to remove the motor cover, but the bolts were way too hard to get off, so I did the next best thing….  I figured out a way to still paint the cover intact and not have to take it apart.

Note:  Try to remove your cover first as I mentioned earlier in the post. If it comes off easily, the job of painting a ceiling fan is even easier.

6. Use Rustoleum Ultra Cover paint in Gloss and a 1 -1/2″angled paint brush to paint the base/motor cover.  I like this paint because it dries to a nice smooth finish. I used it to paint the recessed lights in the kitchen of my previous house and they turned out great.

Make sure the power and breaker is off for the fan when doing this step. For the underside of the motor cover where the air vents are can be tricky to paint depending on your fan’s design. I used a craft stick to push the black screen up a tiny bit and used the flat side of a square tipped paint brush to paint around the openings.

  • Do not use a long bristled brush to do this. The long bristles will get onto the screen even if you try to carefully brush the paint on.
  • The flat short bristle brush kept the paint off the black screening.  It was a little tedious, but very doable.
  • I needed 2 coats and then touched up a few spots with a white paint pen.

DIY-Spray-paint-booth

7. Outside in your spray painting area, spray paint the metal brackets with gloss spray paint and spray the wood blades with paint and primer in one formula of spray paint.

  • I used Glidden Complete which also will block the wood stain from coming through the white paint and discoloring it.  I put this in a paint sprayer. I needed 3 light coats.

How to Spray Paint Screws Easily

How-to-paint-nails-and-screws-the-easy-way

8. Push all the screws into a block of foam.  Use spray paint to paint the tops of the screws. A few light coats applied about 5 minutes apart will be enough.

9. Once everything is completely dry, reassemble the blades and metal brackets and attach them back onto the fan.

10. Touch up any areas with a white paint pen. I also used the paint pen to paint the tip of the screws that show up on the fan blades.

11. Turn electrical breaker back on and then the fan.

Painted Ceiling Fan AFTER

Painted ceiling fan in an outdated kitchen that is getting a makeover

This is the ceiling fan in the kitchen…

How to paint a ceiling fan (step-by-step photo tutorial shows you how

…and this is in the dining area.

It took a few hours over a two day period to get both painted since I had to wait for the paint to dry.

Two more 1970’s brown objects updated…now my focus over the summer is going to be painting the kitchen cabinets.

To See More of The Updates I Made to This Kitchen:

UPDATE: See the complete Kitchen Makeover: DIY Kitchen Makeover

If you want to see a colorful and fun way to paint a ceiling fan, check out this ceiling fan I did for my daughter’s room when she was little. It was one of the projects in my book, Instant Decorating.

Do you have a ceiling fan or light fixture that would look updated with a few coats of paint?

How to paint a ceiling fan without removing it from the ceiling. Step-by-step photo tutorial shows you how.

Painting how to ideas: How to make your own collapsible and reusable spray painting booth for free.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

58 Comments

  1. Fantastic result. We want to sell house and update not replace when possible. I’ve a fan much like yours, but mine has brass blade holders and brass trim around the top edge and the main body. The blades are already white. I thought of buying a cheap set of holders and blades from Amazon to get that flat ended modern look. Then paint the brass parts. I don’t do well on ladders working overhead so if the thing won’t come apart then I may end up replacing it. Love a comment!

    1. Hi Liane – Getting a house ready to sell can be stressful. Replacing the fan blade holders is a good idea, but you have to make sure the holes in the blades and the new holders are the same. Many are not.

      I tried to do this with one of my fans and it didn’t work. :-( If your fan doesn’t come apart, you can paint it in place, but it is a lot of ladder time and your neck will begin to get stiff from looking up for the length of time it takes to paint. I hope your home sale process goes smoothly.

  2. Thank you, thank you! You have given me courage and some valuable tips! The fan in my son’s old room is so ugly. It is a modern style with a bright copper finish. Since he moved out long ago I want to change it to better fit the style I like.

  3. Cant wait to start following your instructions! What paint sprayer did you use? Great instructions! Thank you.

    1. Hi Kishwar – If you don’t like the color of the blades, then you should paint them any color you want. White is always good since the blades will blend in with the ceiling if it is white.

  4. These look fantastic and a great step-by-step for me. While my fans aren’t outdated, the color is not my preference. This is so helpful to me because now I can paint them and not drag my hubby into another project. Thank you!!

  5. Thanks for posting this. I just tried it on an old, but dark fan that I trust has many more years in it. Your directions were perfect!

    1. Hi Julie – Thanks for taking the time to tell me. I always try to give as much detail as I can in my project posts. It makes me happy to know that my directions helped you to have success. I hope you enjoy your new looking fan for many years.

  6. Diane, you are a life saver! I didn’t want to replace a perfectlhy good fan (but greasy and icky) in our kitchen but didn’t know what to do until I saw this post. Your instructions were perfect. I probably should have gotten ivory rather than antique white spray paint, but it still looks great! Thank you!

    1. Hi Jen –

      Your fan looks like a brand new one. I am so happy that my instructions helped you to paint your fan saving you money and something that still works from the landfill. :-) Thanks for sharing the photos. I hope the fan keep you cool for many years to come.

  7. Excellent post. You’ve inspired me to paint my kitchen ceiling fan. I too, want it to just disappear. Thanks for the detailed instructions… Happy to know someone did it without removing the whole thing!

      1. I’m not sure you will get this directly, but I’d like to know the paint sprayer you would recommend? Or are you just painting the fan blades with an aerosol paint?
        I am so excited to get started!
        Your tutorial has built confidence!

  8. Diane, I was so impressed with your detailed instructions on how to paint a ceiling fan, that I signed up for your emails. I can’t wait to re do my 90’s brass and wood fan. Thank you for sharing!

  9. As a fan of fans -pun intended-, this sort of made me cringe. I understand that antique brass and brown isn’t the ideal design choice for the modern look but the vintage of the fan has been lost, unfortunately. Casablanca is the Maserati of ceiling fans. Great quality. These are older models from the 1980s (when fans were power houses). The quality of hunter has gone way down. I would suggest checking out the newer Casablanca’s on their website.

    I will say, the job you did painting is 110% perfect. I have a few Casablanca fans that just need a paint touch up bc they were damaged so I will taking these tips (they are originally white like this too). I am glad you kept the fans too instead of throwing them out. Keep all your Casablanca fans. They are the top of the line ceiling fans. Any pictures of the other Casablanca fans in your home? Thanks!

    1. Hi Mark – I agree that the Casablanca fans are the best! There are 6 Casablanca in my house and two Hunters. The Hunter’s are not as good and I will probably replace them. I don’t have any photos of the others.

  10. Thank you! Thank you!

    We just moved into our house June 2016 and inherited all of these lovely (!!!) brass fixtures. Glad to know that I can do something about them!

    Thanks for sharing,
    Stephanie

  11. Hi Diane~ Thanks so much for this great scope. I knew there had to be a way to get around those pesky vent screens! I’m going to do this in my office because I would rather not spend money on another fan when the old one works just fine.
    Also, great idea of pushing the screws into Styrofoam to paint them! I don’t know why I never thought of that, but now I don’t have to!!

    1. Some styrofoam melts when hit by spray paint. I always cover my block in aluminum foil. It also keeps the pesky styrofoam dust from getting on the screws. Comes in handy if I’m spray painting screws to match electric plate covers.

      1. Hi Mary Ann and Ann – Excellent idea! I will cover the blocks with foil the next time I spray paint and need styrofoam blocks. It will be this weekend since I will be painting 2 ceiling fans. :-) Thanks for taking the time to share your idea Mary Ann.

  12. Can you post a picture of the paint brush you used around the screening on the motor? I don’t quite understand what kind of brush you are describing. Thanks

    1. Hi Theresa – I am adding photo to the post of paint brushes to help you better see which type to use. You want it to have a flat square tip and the bristles to be somewhat stiff.

  13. Thanks Diane! Just the inspiration I need. Can I request a posting idea? Since you paint so much perhaps some hints or suggestions on how to make clean up more easily. I hate this part and disposable liners have been great but maybe there are others you can share.
    Truly enjoy watching the transformation!

    1. Hi Lou – I used a HomeRight Paint sprayer. I will posting about it next week. They have two, I used the Finish Max Pro. It took a little time to understand how it worked, but after the initial breaking in I loved it. You could also use a can of spray paint to paint the blades. I would use a primer first if you are going from dark blades to white. After the primer coat, then use satin or semi-gloss on the blades.

  14. I can’t figure out how the blades are attached, I think I’m just afraid that it will be hard to take apart.
    We walked through the kitchen with a broom held a little too high- so there are dings on the sides of the blades.
    Sigh. I’ll re-read this a few times and then gather some courage.

    Your house looks more and more beautiful with each post.

    1. Hi Kat – I love your fan… very modern and updated styling. Do you have the brown one? It looks like it would be pretty easy to paint. I would see what is behind the air vents and if it is screening. Is it easy to push gently back with a wood craft stick so you can paint around each opening. If so then it would be much easier to paint then mine.

  15. Hi Diane Henkler , Thanks for sharing tips and techniques to paint a ceiling fan without taking it down with step-wise images.It seems that you have a wonderful ideas about paint.i really liked it.

  16. Great tutorial! Love that you listed products, ideas for painting screws, spray booth – and saving the box! I always recycle it and have to find a new one each time because I think that whatever project I’m on is always the last one. Who am i kidding – there is never a LAST ONE!

  17. If one of the fans that you will replace is in your bedroom, seriously consider a more expensive fan that is quieter. We replaced the builder-grade Craftsman with a Hunter that is both quieter and moves way more air.

    If it knew how to clean itself, it would be perfect.

    1. Hi Connie – The fan in our bedroom is one of the Hunter fans. It moves faster then the one in the living room. Like you stated… they are very quiet. I think we will keep it and just replace the one in the living room. I will have to paint it though. :-) Lots more painting in my future.

  18. Hi Diane,

    Thanks for this info. I’ve just been trying to figure out how to paint our ceiling fan. Any way you look at this there’s a lot to do and I’m really bad with paint :-( but I’m going to give this a try and thanks so much for the help

    Blessings,
    Elizabeth

    1. Hi Elizabet – If you take it one step at a time you will succeed. To get the perfect paint finish, remember to sand first and then use light coats of primer + paint. More light coats are better for adhesion than one or two heavier coats.

  19. Hi, Your place is really coming along so nicely. The white looks fabulous on those fans. I have a question that is related to kitchens and paint so it counts right ;)
    I have white appliances, white cabinets with nickel pulls and knobs, a stainless sink and a laminate floor that is white and black checkerboard. I have a very long counter that has old formica on it. I would like to paint it as an inexpensive fix. I tried chalkboard and it just didn’t satisfy me like I thought it would. What would you suggest? Paint? White? Faux tile? or save up and replace the countertop with something else? Signed – nervous to spend a lot of money on a counter top I may not like

    1. Hi Liz – I am going to take on my kitchen counter this summer too. I have looked at lots of options. I would do Granite Transformations again like we did in the kitchen of my previous house. You can see that post here: http://bit.ly/2uylxpq

      There is not a local franchise around me now, so I am not sure how far the one located in Charlotte, NC will travel. Right now I think I may try to use one of these two counter paint kits. GianiGranite or SpreadStone.

  20. Welcome to the hot and humid south…especially if you live a lake or at the beach!!! The fans in my two-story vaulted living room, that were here when we moved in 18 years ago, are never turned off except for the few times I’ve had to turn off to clean…I won’t even go into what I have to do to clean them…ugh! As long as you don’t turn them off you can’t tell they need cleaning…my theory. Thank goodness all the fans in my house were white. Lois

  21. The fan looks great, I have been thinking about painting a couple of mine. You have inspired me. I also need to paint my kitchen cabinets, I will be watching for tips.

    1. Thanks Robin – I have painted the cabinets in two previous kitchens. I am excited to see how this one is going to look when I am all done. I will post all about the process.

  22. We have been happy with our Harbor Breeze fans from Lowe’s. We bought two for bedrooms last year, using one of their light kits for one, and reusing a light kit for the other one. We also bought a remote for the master bedroom so that the light and fan could be adjusted from the bed.

  23. I live in FL where ceiling fans are a must even with the air conditioner running at times. The hunter that doesn’t cool, have you checked to see if the position of the blades They have a button/switch on top to change the directionthe blades blow. My husband prefers the up but I want cool air to blow right on me. I have a brass fan with almond blades that I’m getting ready to paint soon. I’m leaving the brass and painting the blades and housing shiny black because the room style is a bit Palm Beach with other black lacquer and gold metal pieces. Since the ceiling’s white I’m taking it apart. My husband’s an electrician so I’ll have to wait for his help.

    1. Hi Pam – Nice to have an electrician in the house. :-) I do know about the rotation of the blades. We tried that, but I just learned from another reader that angled blades send out more air. The fan in the living room has flat blades. Your fan sounds like it is going to be very chic. I hope your electrician can help you soon.

      1. I was going to say the same thing. I have Hunter fans and they are supposed to be the best. I would check the switch that the fans aren’t pushing the air up instead of down.

        1. Hi Lisa – We did check this when we first moved into the house. The other Hunter fan we have does work better than the one in the living room, so I think it is just a slow fan.

  24. That’s the same way I did my fans in our former home. Very nice job Diane.

    About ceiling fans….I had a friend say 5 blade ones work better than 4 blade. Hmmm…is that true ? I decided to ask an expert in how fans work ;-)

    I talked with a pilot. He said it’s not the number of blades that makes the difference but rather the pitch (the slant) of the blades. So if a fan is properly designed you can move just as much air with a one-blade design.

    1. Great tip Connie. Thanks for sharing it. It makes total sense since the fans in my kitchen have blades that are slanted. The one in the living room has flat blades. Now I know why it doesn’t work as well as the others. :-)