Selecting the best paint finish for ceilings among all the options available can be confusing. Is flat better than an eggshell finish? Or is semi-gloss finish the ideal paint for creating an inviting open space? Getting these answers before you start a DIY paint job is crucial to help you make a careful selection that’s durable and attractive.
The most popular choice for interior ceiling paints is a flat finish because it conceals surface imperfections and gives your ceiling a clean look. Since ceilings aren’t exposed to a lot of wear and tear, the lack of washability of flat paint isn’t a major concern for users.
Although most homeowners prefer a flat finish, there are some drawbacks to using the paint. To counter those problems, eggshell and satin finishes are also becoming popular as durable ceiling paint options.
Let’s find out how to select an ideal ceiling finish for individual rooms without compromising quality and durability.
Which paint finish is best for ceilings?
Flat finishes are ideal for ceilings because they are the most forgiving when it comes to surface imperfections. They effectively hide blemishes without calling attention to the ceiling in particular. The non-reflective finish of flat paint reduces glare from artificial lights overhead and creates the illusion of open space.
However, there’s a downside to this paint, and that is they’re not as easy to clean compared to other glossier finishes, but that shouldn’t be a concern since there are usually no spills on the ceiling anyway.
Matte finish paints are similar to flat, but with a slight sheen. They absorb light and effectively cover any surface imperfections on the ceilings. Another perk of using this paint on the ceiling is that you don’t need several coats since it’s highly pigmented and delivers excellent color payoff.
The only downside to matte paint is that it’s not easily cleaned, but that shouldn’t be a problem if it’s used on the ceiling.
Satin finishes are also good options for ceilings. It has a velvety soft finish with a small amount of sheen, which looks flattering. Satin sheen helps add warmth to a room and makes it feel more inviting.
The Eggshell paint finish is another durable choice for ceiling paint. It is slightly glossier than satin, with some texture on it. It’s a popular choice among homeowners who don’t want their ceilings to look dull and inconspicuous. The eggshell finish also adds character to your ceilings and makes them a noteworthy part of the room.
Here’s how the finishes fare against each other:
|TYPE OF PAINT||Flat Finish||Matte Finish||Satin Finish||Eggshell Finish|
|Is it durable?||It doesn’t last as long as other finishes||It is more durable than a flat finish||Yes||Yes|
|Can it be easily cleaned?||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Does it cover ceiling imperfections?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No, the sheen highlights surface imperfections|
|What is the sheen level?||No sheen||Very Low Sheen||Low sheen||Low sheen|
Should ceiling paint be flat or eggshell?
Choosing between flat and eggshell finish is a personal choice because they’re both excellent options for painting the ceiling.
If you have an accent wall in a room, you’d want to draw attention to it and not the ceiling; therefore, flat paint will work better in that case. On the other hand, if you’ve chosen a matte finish for all the walls in a room, an eggshell finish on the ceiling will add some depth to the overall look.
Another factor you should consider is the room where you want to paint the ceiling. Does your room require washable ceiling paint? Like the bathroom or the kitchen. If that’s the case, you should prefer a finish with some sheen to easily wipe away dirt, food splashes, mold, etc.
If your house has high ceilings that hardly require any cleaning, a flat finish will work perfectly and last as long as any other glossier finish.
Best paint for ceilings- Flat or satin?
A flat finish looks clean and crisp on ceilings, but many homeowners find it too dull for their taste. They opt for satin paints because it has a low sheen that looks flattering on both walls and the ceiling. Satin finish generally looks more soothing to the eyes, regardless of whether it is white or some other color.
Another reason for choosing the satin finish for ceilings is that its low sheen makes it easier to clean compared to flat paints and doesn’t highlight surface imperfections.
The right paint finish according to room type
Did you know that you don’t have to use the same ceiling paint in every room? That’s because only some spaces need washable paint, and most rooms can do without touch-ups for many years.
Best paint finish for kitchen
Here’s a question that I often hear, ‘What paint finish is best for kitchen ceiling?’ and my answer is always the same: ‘One that you can clean.’
Kitchen ceilings see a lot of cooking action every day- from blender jug mishaps to sauce splashes; there is a long list of things that can stain the ceiling.
Therefore, you need a paint finish that is durable and washable. While semi-gloss is definitely an option you can try, an eggshell finish looks more aesthetically pleasing on kitchen ceilings.
Best paint finish for bathrooms
Your bathroom ceiling has to pay the price for all those steamy showers you enjoy during the winter. From splashes to sprays and lingering mists, bathrooms have plenty of moisture to trigger the bubbling and peeling of the ceiling’s paint.
For this reason, you need a lasting finish that withstands moisture and remains to look good as new for longer.
An eggshell finish is better suited to such spaces since it is mold-resistant and washable. And if you apply flat paint on your bathroom ceiling, it may result in the paint peeling over time.
Best paint finish for living room and bedrooms
Living rooms and bedrooms can get away with less durable paints on the ceiling because the chances of splashes, mold, and mist are almost non-existent there. Flat colors are ideal for these rooms because they don’t draw attention to themselves or take away from the space’s décor.
Qualities you need from ceiling paint
Before you pick out the best finish for ceilings, let’s first understand how we want the ceiling paint to perform. This will help you figure out which paint sheen is better suited to your needs.
1. Make the room look bright and spacious
The ceiling is often overlooked in a home DIY painting project, but the truth is giving your ceilings a fresh coat of paint can elevate the entire appearance of your room. So, the first thing you want from the paint finish is to create an illusion of spaciousness.
Paints with sheen bounce off light; therefore, a high or low-sheen finish will make the room look brighter. Dark colors can make your ceilings appear lower than they are, whereas light hues, mainly white, gives the perception of an open space.
2. Cover ceiling imperfections
Ceilings are often painted in a lighter color compared to the walls. This often results in your eyes wandering to the ceiling every time you look up. For this reason, your paint finish should give a clean look, concealing blemishes and covering any imperfections.
A flat finish is best for camouflaging wall imperfections as it absorbs light. Paints with more sheen reflect light and highlight surface flaws. Hence, a flat finish will help create a smooth canvas that draws attention to the walls if your ceiling is less than perfect.
3. Easy to clean and maintain
Interior paints are subjected to considerable wear and tear, especially in high-traffic areas. This makes the paint’s washability a crucial factor when choosing between finishes. However, all rooms do not require washable ceiling paint, for example, the foyer, living room, staircase, etc.
As a rule of thumb, glossy finishes are easier to clean and washable, making them ideal for rooms susceptible to dirt, grease, and mold, like the kitchen and bathrooms. On the other hand, flat finishes are difficult to clean with water, so you may need to repaint your ceilings more frequently to keep them spot-free.
If you’re interested in learning which paint finishes are washable, check out my blog for more details.
4. Durable and long-lasting
When you paint your house, whether it’s the ceilings, walls, trims, or doors, you want it to last a long time, so you don’t have to repaint it quickly. If we compare different paint finishes, high-gloss is the most durable because it dries to a hard finish and resists wear and tear.
However, high gloss isn’t recommended for ceilings but for trims, doors, and other objects we want to draw attention to. As we move down on the spectrum, from high-sheen to flat paints, the durability of the finish continues to fall. However, eggshell and satin finish sits in the middle, making them lasting and more durable than matte paints.
Are flat and matte finishes the same thing?
We have discussed how flat finishes are ideal for ceilings, but there’s always some confusion about whether flat and matte paints are the same. Let me clarify so you can choose a ceiling paint more confidently.
A flat paint finish has zero sheen, while matte paints have a very low level of shine. For this reason, matte colors are also referred to as velvet finish. So, if you want a flat finish for your ceilings but with a hint of sheen, matte paints are what you need.
Can I use glossy paint on ceilings?
Since high-gloss paints are the most durable, you may be tempted to use them on your ceilings. However, you should know that glossy paints are better suited to objects with a smaller surface area. This is why high-gloss and semi-gloss finishes are considered the best paint finish for doors, trims, and window panes.
While too much sheen might not look flattering on ceilings, several interior designers prefer to use paints with low-to-mid gloss levels to draw attention to the ceiling. This is because when natural light enters a room, the ceilings often look darker than the rest of the walls. Therefore, a slightly higher level of sheen on the top helps bounce the light around, making the ceiling of the room light up as well.
So, if you want to increase the light in your living space, you can opt for an eggshell, satin, or silk paint finish.
Can I use wall paint on the ceiling?
If you’re repainting your home, you must have probably decided on buying acrylic or latex paint for your walls. It’s normal to wonder if you can apply the same paint finish for walls to ceilings, but no matter how much you’re tempted to paint the whole room with a single paint, stick to ceiling paint to color your ceilings.
Latex-based wall paints are effortless to apply on walls but tend to drip a lot during the process. Now imagine using the same paint on your ceilings; do you think it will stick properly? Probably not.
The reason is that wall paints have a low viscosity, and that causes drips. Therefore, applying wall paint on ceilings is a recipe for paint drops all over the floor. Not only does that leave you with a hard-to-clean floor, but it also creates unsightly areas on the ceiling that are difficult to fix once the paint dries. On the other hand, ceiling paint has a higher viscosity, and that prevents it from dripping as much as wall paint.
The viscosity difference isn’t based only on observation but can also be measured. The standard unit of viscosity of a Krebs Unit (KU) and most ceiling paints have a higher KU than interior wall paints.
Using ceiling paint will make the painting process smoother and result in neat ceilings. Since it is a higher-viscosity paint, it contains more solids, so you can expect fewer drips and very little paint mist.
Are ceilings usually painted in satin or eggshell?
The most popular finish for ceilings is flat color, but many homeowners are moving towards low-sheen options like satin and eggshell paints to add some definition to their rooms.
Why does my ceiling look patchy after painting?
The primary reason why your ceiling may look patchy after paint application is low-grade paint. Sometimes, not applying a thick enough coat of paint can cause the same situation.
Is it still in style to paint ceilings white?
Most homeowners prefer white color because it reflects the most light and makes any room appear brighter.
Should you paint the ceiling or walls first?
It’s always recommended to paint the ceiling first because you don’t have to worry about paint drips or over-sprays. However, you can paint the walls first, too, as long as you hang plastic sheets on the walls when you start painting the ceiling.
Applying a fresh coat of paint on your ceilings can help elevate the entire look of the room. But before you start any project, it’s best to identify which paint type and finish are best suited for that surface.
After reading this article, you can pick paint for your ceiling without worrying about messy application or short-term results. For an even better result, find the best temperature and humidity for interior painting before you start.