Ceiling fans use long-lasting metallic-finish paints, but no matter what, the shiny blades can eventually lose their luster with regular usage.
To make your old fan look newer again, you can spray paint its blades with enamel paint that comes in stunning shades like red, blue, green, and even gold, brass, or bronze.
For ceiling fan blades, it’s good to choose a specialty appliance paint (like Rustoleum® Protective Enamel Spray Paint) with heat-resistant properties to ensure that the painted surfaces do not get damaged easily due to the heat produced in the fan.
Although oil-based paints are the preferred option, it’s possible to use latex paint, chalk paint, traditional stain, or gel stain on fan blades made of metal, vinyl, PVC, and plastic. However, these alternatives are not as durable as oil-based paints.
Whatever finishing product you choose, carefully follow the instructions and allow the blades to dry completely before reattaching them to the ceiling fan.
Painting the Ceiling Fan Blades – Step by Step
Even though it is possible to paint ceiling fan blades without removing them, I advise against it.
Achieving an even coat of paint on all the blades, motor, and other parts will be difficult if you do not remove the fan blades. Moreover, if you miss any spots during the paint application, rectifying them without taking down the whole fan will pose a challenge.
So, here’s how you can exactly start to spray paint the blades of your old dull-looking ceiling fan…
Step 1. Unscrew the fan blades
Start by turning off the fan, allowing it to stop, and then unscrewing its blades. Most ceiling fans will have screws that can easily be removed.
Unless you do not want to paint the motor assembly and other parts (like a down rod, motor housing, canopy cover, etc.), taking off the complete fan from the ceiling is not essential. You can remove only the blades (from the fan and the brackets) and work on them.
But if your fan is a bit old and lack that shine, then it’s a good idea to disassemble and take all the hardware and motor down. To prevent any screws from getting lost, it’s best to keep them in a bowl together. Make sure to place the bowl in a safe spot where it won’t get knocked over by moving objects or children.
Step 2. Sand, strip and clean the blades
Lay down the fan’s blades on a flat work area or bench covered with newspaper or plastic sheet.
Clean with a soft cotton cloth and sand them with 120-grit sandpaper. This will remove the accumulated dirt, oil, grease, or old paint layer to create a smooth surface and help new paint adhere better. Pay extra attention to the blade’s edges, as these are the areas where most of the dirt has been attached.
Once the blades are sanded, wipe them with a dampened cloth (in mild soap and warm water) to remove the dust and leftover debris. Check and ensure no dirt is left attached and then allow the blades to dry.
Step 3. Spray the fan blades with primer
To protect the fan blades from damage and allow better paint adhesion, it is recommended to apply a coat of Rust-Oleum® Stops Rust Rusty Metal Primer before painting. This primer creates a surface that top coats can easily adhere to, providing more than twice the rust protection compared to using enamels alone.
Move the blades to an open space (such as your garage) and place a drop cloth on the floor. Spray them evenly with a primer from a distance of 10-12 inches and allow them to dry completely in the air.
Step 4. Spray paint the fan blades
Rustoleum Protective Enamel Spray Paint with matte or satin finish is an ideal choice for ceiling fan blades as it resists heat and provides a long-lasting finish. Do not pick the glossy version as it will most likely leave the glare, which isn’t desirable for the fan blades.
Shake your spray Paint canister and test the nozzle by spraying on a piece of old newspaper. If it’s working fine, use thin light, even sprays, to apply the paint on the fan blades and other hardware pieces you want to coat – like blade brackets, canopy, etc. Make sure to keep the sprayer at least 6 to 8 inches from the surface while moving the can in a side-to-side sweeping motion.
Wait about twenty minutes, then spray again to apply a second coat or subsequent coats. Applying at least 2-3 coats is recommended to achieve even coverage and an excellent finish.
Step 5. Allow the blades to dry and screw back
Keep in mind that putting together painted fan blades can be a little challenging. If you want to attach them back without any difficulty, make sure the paint is fully dried.
Once the fan blades are dry, screw them back to the fan motor, assemble all the hardware and then hang the fan back up on the ceiling. Do not over-tighten the blades since this can cause cracking along the freshly-painted surface due to excessive tension.
What Color to Paint Your Ceiling Fan With?
A white ceiling fan is an excellent choice for anyone looking to add a classy touch to their home no matter the room style (modern, minimalist, traditional, etc.).
Classic white fan blends nicely with most ceilings, that are typically painted white. Also, a white fan is sure to match in homes with a lot of natural light. They help to reflect light and make the room feel brighter while creating a more airy and spacious feel.
Ivory is another great choice for fans because it is softer and warmer than white. It can also blend into a white ceiling or create a beautiful contrast when paired with a colored ceiling.
Gray, black and brown blades can also help you modernize your ceiling fan. These colors can be used in a variety of styles such as to make your fan blades look like wood when added artistically with grain patterns.
Additionally, you could try painting the blades in a bright, bold shades for a more vibrant funky look. Or, if you want something more subdued, you could paint the blades in a metallic silver, gold, copper, bronze, and brass finish.
A more modern and trendy take on metallic paint colors is the hammered effect, which Rustoleum carries in a broad spectrum. Hammered paints add dimension and uniqueness to any finish.
Other Ways to Modernize Ceiling Fans – Besides Painting
Ceiling fans look good when updated with a new finish. But, if you want to add a more modern stylish touch by changing the look altogether, consider using a different material.
For instance, you could use bamboo or wood instead of the usual plastic or metal blades. Alternatively, you could experiment with clear acrylic blades to give your fan a sleek and contemporary look.
Besides the above, a few other ways to modernize your ceiling fan is to:
- Add a ceiling fan light kit and bulbs to your old fan
- Replace the old pull chain with a new one in a modern style or finish
- Add a remote control that will allow you to quickly turn the fan on and off, as well as adjust the speed
If you want to get a bit more creative, you could try using glitter paint or decals to decorate the blades with patterns like flowers, leaves, alphabets, cartoons, or animals using stencils, paint pens or markers. These are great options if you want to decorate your old boring ceiling fan in your child’s room.
No matter what design you decide to go with, your child will definitely love their refurbished ceiling fan.
The Bottom Line
Spray painting and decorating the ceiling fan blades is an excellent way to redo your room without investing much money. While disassembling and assembling process seems tough, with a little effort and correct paint products, you can add a lot of character to your fan.
Keep in mind that you need to be extra careful and give each step of the process enough time to dry. Doing so will ensure that the paint adheres well and provides excellent coverage.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.