Believe it or not, there are a few differences between the type of paint that you’d use on floors and walls versus the sort that you’d purchase for ceilings. Although there aren’t any inherent contraindications to using floor and wall paints on a ceiling, you may experience issues with application and adhesion, and the paint may not serve the purpose that you intended. There are different kinds of ceilings to account for when you decide on what to paint yours with whether it’s indoor or out, and unlike other types of paint, the ceiling variety is more frequently designed to hide textures and curvature rather than bring these features out. This owes to the tendency for water stains and sagging to appear over the years as the structure settles.
We’ll go in-depth on the advice in the buyer’s guide further down, but before launching into comparisons and reviews, we should talk about why it’s important to pick the right paint. For starters, not all paints are designed to be used in both internal and external environments. Some paints are only meant to handle cleaner, more temperature-controlled circumstances like you’d find in your house; external paints will often fare well against harsher conditions for places such as patio overhangs, breezeways, and covered walkways. Intuitively, you won’t find ceiling stains — watery and semi-transparent alternatives to paint — because you need something thick and adhesive to fight gravity while it dries. Intuitively, sprays work better than rollers for ceiling application of paints.
Ceiling paints can be glossy, but they’re typically favored as matte solutions that make the ceiling less noticeable. While it’s not unacceptable to paint your ceiling in a darker shade, it’s often better to keep it taupe or white because it reflects light back down on the occupants, brightening the internal space and ultimately saving on power expenses.
If it seems like too much to take in all at once, that’s okay: We’re going to take it slow and easy while we introduce the information to you in a couple different ways. By the end of this article, you should feel confident with your ceiling paint know-how or at least have an idea of where to start, what to look for and the brands to seek out.
Might be interesting: Best Deck Paint
Best Ceiling Paint Comparison Table
|Product||Photo||Available Volume||Base||Coverage (sq.ft./gallon)||Check Price|
|Benjamin Moore Ultra Premium|
|Benjamin Moore Muresco||1 Gallon||Acrylic||400-450|
|Hy-Tech Thermal Solutions||1, 5 Gallons||Latex||150|
|KILZ Color-Change||1 Gallon||Water||300-400|
|BEHR Premium Plus Ultra||1 Gallon||Water||250-400|
|True Value||5 Gallons||Latex||n/a|
|Montage Signature||1, 5 Gallons||Latex||n/a|
300+ colors available
|1 Gallon||Acrylic Latex||250-400|
Might be interesting: Best Blackout Blinds
Best in Category
Montage Signature Eco-Friendly — Best Ceiling Paint for Bathroom
We picked this paint for a bathroom setting because of its exterior benefits of mold and mildew resistance, which are important wherever water tends to build up.
It was a hard toss-up between this, Hy-Tech’s insulating paint and BEHR‘s offering, but we want to switch it up a little and focus on niche aspects of each room. For a bathroom, odd growths along surfaces can be a problem, and this paint is not only durable and easy to clean, but it’ll keep spores at bay and assist in maintaining your bathroom in the long run.
BEHR Premium Plus Ultra — Best Ceiling Paint to Hide Imperfections
We really just want to say that this is probably the best ceiling paint on the list, period. However, painting a ceiling isn’t really a generalized task, so we’re focusing on the specifics here.
With BEHR’s offering, you’re getting similar hiding prowess as other paints on the list, but what really makes this the superior option is everything else that it provides: stain-blocking, self-priming and a good aesthetic to top it off. Anyway, it’s BEHR: That in itself is difficult to argue.
Hy-Tech Thermal Solutions — Best Ceiling Paint for Kitchen
Mold and mildew aren’t so much an issue in kitchens due to the limited amount of steam that attaches itself to the walls and ceiling.
What you need in a kitchen is a paint that deflects much of that cooking heat so it can be distributed around the house, and that’s what Hy-Tech delivers here. Apart from just being an excellent, low-cost paint all around, it’s also the only true thermal insulator on this list.
BEHR — Best Ceiling Paint Brand
It’s not just our opinion based on what we’ve reviewed here; it’s also the industry standard.
Among house paints of all kinds, BEHR is much the way Samsung is with smartphones or Bose is with speaker home theater systems. They’re just considered the best all-around company to look to when you need all-in-one solutions or a targeted approach to your home painting projects.
Might be interesting: Best Deck Stain
Best Ceiling Paint Reviews
You’d never think from the outside-in that there could be so many types of paint made from so many chemicals and with such an expansive variety of qualities and purposes, but yes: Coating your ceiling is some serious stuff, yo.
Benjamin Moore is a trusted brand that sells everything from paints and stains to finishes, primers and more, but this is just to tell you that they’ll probably sell you a good product. This particular one is designed for the aesthetic more than anything, but as an interior paint, that should come as no surprise.
This offering brings a super-flat finish that’s easy to roll or spray on and finishes your ceiling quite well. As expected of acrylic, there aren’t any VOCs whatsoever in this offering, so it’s effectively non-toxic on application and while drying. Uniquely, you can order custom colors with this paint in case the predetermined ones don’t suit your needs, but note that any custom orders you place are non-returnable in the event that you have an unpleasant experience altogether.
Coming straight from Benjamin Moore, we have a product that’s a mix of utility and good looks for your indoor ceilings.
For those who don’t know, one way that you can tell whether a paint is meant for interior or exterior applications is to look at what it’s advertised to do. Does it protect from mold and mildew? Is it fade-resistant? Is it especially durable against the elements? If none of these are mentioned by the manufacturer, there’s a good chance that it was meant for interiors, especially if it’s touted for its aesthetic. This paint is one such example of that.
First off, the hiding on this paint is pretty good. If your ceiling is riddled with pockmarks or an off-color that you need hidden, Muresco should do the trick and sustain it well over the years. In addition to a uniform and flat finish that furnishes a standard appearance of taste in quality, it helps tone down some of that nasty ceiling glare that you’ll start to notice in the afternoon sometimes. Lastly — and this is a good one — your drywall ceiling doesn’t need a primer with this paint.
If you’re not in the know, flat paints are pretty popular and offer the greatest color payout after the application has dried.
“Flat” is another way of saying “matte“, and for a ceiling, it’s probably the best way to go because of the sheer amount of glare that a glossy coat can impart. In this case, consider that Hy-Tech Thermal Solutions has a 1- and 5-gallon option for their insulating ceiling paint that, in true latex fashion, keeps the toxicity and odor low while drying epically fast.
Naturally, this makes it a completely interior paint because there’s no reason to insulate external ceiling surfaces. No, this insulation doesn’t affect your ability to wipe or scrub the surface as needed, which means that Hy-Tech managed to sell a paint that’s about half the cost with all the benefits of latex and insulation goodness.
As many people have probably found by now, the oft-overlooked nature of a ceiling is quickly ruined with attention-grabbing stains that scream, “This place is falling apart!”.
As such, there are paints that are made specifically to preclude this, and widely-acclaimed KILZ brings you a solution that doesn’t simply cover up what’s there; it also prevents new stains from cropping up. We’d like to point out as a disclaimer that if you have recurring stains for any reason at all — leaky upstairs bathroom, runny A/C, the cat relieving itself on the carpet — we think you should probably contact a plumber or carpenter to get that checked out.
With that said, you’re staring down an affordable can of some self-priming goodness, which makes the low price even more worth the consideration if you’re tight on your budget. However, there’s a reason for all this inexpensive: It’s not really a great paint on its own. If you’re not interested in mild to moderate stain-blocking, it’s probably better to check out any other paint on this list for other features such as insulation, aesthetic oomph, and anti-glare treatments.
For that price, it better be worth it. Glidden delivers a product that’s extremely simple in its presentation, application and every other – action that you’d consider before dishing out for it.
It has a few perks: For one, it’s latex, so low odors and fast drying are a given. For two, the hide on this thing is amazing. Honestly, we have a couple paints on here that do the whole hiding trick rather well, but this should solidly block out imperfections in the substrate in addition to color-warping from prior coats of paint that might already exist.
We have a soft spot for all-in-one primer-and-paint combos. It’s probably because whenever you have two layers to apply, there’s double the risk of something going awry.
Generally speaking, you don’t want moisture or detritus finding its way underneath layers of primer or paint since this can result in cracking, bubbling, decay and other issues down the road. Things can happen between waiting for the primer to set and preparing the paint once it’s dried, and that’s what BEHR has circumvented with their self-priming option.
In addition to that wonderful convenience-booster, you’re also getting some sweet stain-blocking over a beautiful matte finish, and it hides every flaw and trace of prior paint coats with fewer applications than other paints of similar purpose. We’ll guess that all covers the “Premium Plus” part, but what about “Ultra“? Oh, yeah — the durability. This paint is a bear. Once you’ve laid it on, expect it to hold strong for years while taking wipes, scrubs and feather dusters like a champ. To be fair, feather dusters were never terribly threatening to begin with, but you never know.
Watch out, folks: It’s True Value. They know the true meaning of value. They’re the enlightened, zen-like professionals on all things paint, especially ceiling paint because ceilings are up, and enlightenment is up, and we’re just trying to offer some free PR for the company now.
Really though, we’re not being sarcastic: The company is a bit white-label, if you will, but their product is a good one. You’re investing in a whopping five-gallon bucket of matte-finish, non-splatter formula that promises efficient coverage in a long-lasting application.
As we all know, what a company says about their product isn’t necessarily true, and we’re admittedly skeptical because it’s an off-brand offering. In times like we, we see what users have to say about it, and it looks solid. Technically speaking, that makes sense: True Value was wise to stick with latex paint since this limits pollution, hastens drying and prevent VOC-related sickness from setting on by inhaling the fumes.
It’s also inexpensive and comes with a 15-year warranty as a way of saying, “It’s a good product; please give us a chance.” Well, we’re not complaining.
Any time you go for the truly eco-friendly paints, you’re going to end up with an acrylic base, which is perfectly fine but may present durability issues down the road.
However, if used inside your home or office space, that might not be an issue. At a low dollar cost, you’re getting a semi-gloss solution that can be used inside or out and comes in a uniformly “snow white” color, which is hard to argue with when you get down to it. There’s a 10-year warranty on it, and that includes the mold and mildew resistance that makes this great for outdoor usage.
The problems that you might have with Montage’s product here are more about the storage and shipping that it evidently goes through before it reaches your doorstep. Let’s just say that you have an elevated chance of receiving this paint in an unsalvageable state or in the wrong color whether it was stored improperly in the warehouse or was mistakenly shipped in lieu of another color.
If you’re fortunate enough to bypass those issues, then you have a third to worry about: dents, compromise, and leakage. Seriously, this is a big problem with this paint, and we regret having to point out a flaw that isn’t inherent to the craftsmanship of the product itself. Still, if a product arrives in broken condition, then it doesn’t matter how good the paint itself was supposed to be.
A strong entry here, you’re getting a self-priming ceiling paint that’s easy to clean once dried and goes on smooth for a satisfying aesthetic.
There’s an incredibly small amount of VOC in this compound, which means you’ll probably have no issues with the fumes that are emitted while it dries. Speaking of that, the latex composition will help it dry super-fast, reducing whatever effect the minimal VOC content would’ve had to begin with.
The main concern here is the coverage: It’s not excellent. This sort of offsets the low cost since you might need to buy more of Prestige’s product to get the same result as other paints that offer more bang for your buck in a single application, but we’re not calling it a deal-breaker for that. You may find that a single layer is all you need, and if a convenient latex paint is down your alley, you’re looking for a good candidate for your home or office.
Might be interesting: Best Paver Sealer
Best Ceiling Paint Buyer’s Guide
A) “Is it okay to use wall and floor paints on ceilings?”
For the most part, you should be fine to use these paints if you have them sitting around and don’t want to shell out for ceiling-specific paint. Ceiling paints are made of the same basic chemicals — latex, acrylic and so on — but tend to focus on matte textures, surface adhesion and lighter colors. The only truly important factor here is the adhesion since this is necessary for the paint to stick in the first place, but that’s easily circumvented by applying thin layers or spraying it on.
B) “Are there specific paint chemicals that I shouldn’t use on a ceiling?”
Truthfully, any kind of paint should work. Latex paints are considered ideal for ceilings, but there’s no truly wrong paint to use. The main difference to keep in mind is that ceilings are, well, more opposed to gravity than floors and walls; as such, you shouldn’t use stains or attempt to slather on thick layers of paint that may drip during the drying process. Also remember that if your ceiling happens to be made from some form of decorative stone or masonry, adhesion will be even more important.
C) “Do popcorn-textured ceilings have any bearing on the what and how of painting them?”
Any kind of texturing on a ceiling presents an elevated probability of dripping and accumulation although this isn’t considered a serious problem provided you spray the paint on as you’re recommended to.
D) “Should ceiling paint match the walls or floor, or is it okay to stray off the beaten path and switch it up?”
It’s a contentious topic with a lot of variance in opinion. Some will tell you that you should always make the ceiling the same color or very similar to the walls while the floor can do its own thing. Others feel that the ceiling should be brighter than the walls to help facilitate light reflection and make the room feel more stately, spacious and illuminated. As a general rule, you really shouldn’t aim for darker colors on a ceiling, but one supposes that in a home where water stains may frequently arise, it should conceal the ugliness. Conversely, you might want to get the water issue checked out if it’s that bad.
Darker ceilings can provide a more intimate and cozy environment, and if you opt to paint any ceiling such a hue, you should keep it to your personal bedroom or entertainment center as the case may be. The ceiling will seem closer to the floor and help regulate the amount of light that’s bounced around, which can be a benefit in environments where you want to turn on stand-up lights without the overhead reflection. It’s not a common preference, but some folks really enjoy a darker up-above. Just remember that dark ceilings are complemented by dark walls, and you don’t have to pick black — try a forest green, cobalt blue or deep maroon.
E) “How should I prepare a ceiling for painting? What should the painting process itself be like?”
Consider covering everything in the room with plastic or tarp before, during and after the preparation and actual painting. While prepping, you’ll dust and clean the ceiling, let it dry if you used any water, then slap on a fine layer of primer to help the paint settle in. As mentioned before, sprays are definitely the best way to go with ceilings because they apply a thin-enough layer that won’t drip or require babysitting to stay put. You can also just aim up and fire — no questions asked.
Remember that while cleaning, some popcorn or texturing may fall off onto the carpet, furniture and electronics. Also, if you used any water to clean the ceiling — and you shouldn’t need to, but it’s worth mentioning — you always want to let it dry completely before adding primer. This is a well-known rule among paint jobs in general: Don’t ever trap water under the primer or paint because it can result in rot, bubbling, splitting and cracking. Finally, some paints include the primer mixed in; these paints will obviously be fine on their own without a prep layer of discrete primer beforehand.
Finally, make sure internal spaces are adequately ventilated during the process since fumes can quickly saturate the entire household. Latex paints are generally low-toxicity, low-fume paints that do wonderfully in this fashion, but it’s still not healthy to inhale too much of it and will be uncomfortable at a minimum.
F) “Is there an actual difference between interior and exterior paints, or are these just terms in accordance with how the manufacturer envisioned I would use them?”
There are real differences between the two. Interior paints aren’t as durable to exterior conditions; rather, they’re made to withstand scrubbing, cleaning, and staining. Exterior paints are more of a fire-and-forget situation with inbuilt resistance to mildew, fading and other outdoor conditions that may damage the coat over time.
Might be interesting: Best Concrete Paint
The idea of choosing a ceiling paint really isn’t a completely different topic from choosing paints in general. Most of the same chemicals are at play; interior and exterior variants work similarly while the same substrates are being treated. The only differences are the obvious gravity problem with thick, drippy paints and the inclusion of popcorn or heavy texturing that can skew a perfect paint job. One problem that many folks will run into is the inappropriate accumulation of paint around the textures, causing it to form webs or thick spots that portray an uneven paint job. Again, this is why you’re recommended to stick to a spray when you work on a ceiling.
Although you wouldn’t expect it, you can use many of the same paints and primers that are designed for walls and floors with a ceiling. However, we’re not going to secure any guarantee that the paints and primers you own will be appropriate for the job; it’s up to you to read the labels and find out more about whether it’s necessary to invest in a ceiling-specific paint solution in order to cover it up. Remember that leaving a ceiling unpainted isn’t an option; it’s important to protect the textures and material from water damage and other forms of unexpected day-to-day abuse. Ceilings are ironically overlooked more often than floors, so it’s easy to forget about these details.
The bottom line here is that if you know how to paint walls and decks, you’re already off to a good start and should have a natural grip on how to clean, strip, prep, prime and paint for your vertically inclined surfaces. Just remember to cover everything in the room since each step in the process presents some form of fall-off or potential for dripping, which can ruin your furniture and electronics. However, that’s a simple matter. Choosing the color combination is the tricky part!