Painting your ceiling can be a chance to brighten up a room, improve its aesthetics and give you something nice to wake up to. Painted ceilings are vastly underrated and many people forget to touch up their ceilings during home improvements.

Ceilings should be painted with flat ceiling paint rather than flat or eggshell paint. This is because eggshell paint has a sheen and reflects light off its surface. Flat paint sheen, when used to paint ceilings, offers a matte finish that does not reflect light; rather, it hides dings and blemishes on the ceilings, making them look seamless and neat.

Should Ceiling Paint Be Flat or Eggshell

The best paint finish for ceilings is flat latex paint. This is due to its low sheen and the fact that it doesn’t reflect light off its surface. The flat finish on ceilings helps to reduce the bright glare of light fixtures and helps to reflect natural light which makes the room feel larger and have better lighting.

However, many people go for an eggshell paint finish on their ceilings as well. Although eggshell paint finish gives the ceilings a sheen and reflects the lights, they can be used when trying to design the ceilings and will hide any blemishes on the ceiling quite well. Eggshell paint finish can be used in painting the ceilings of bathrooms and closets to over a mild sheen to the room.

Ceiling paint finish: flat vs. eggshell

The question of whether the paint finish for ceilings should be flat paint or eggshell paint has been had by painters for ages. The ceiling is the “fifth” wall of the house and getting the right paint finish will put that extra touch on the symmetry and aesthetics of the room.

Below is a comparison between flat paint and eggshell paint so you can make the best choice in terms of which paint finish is best for ceilings.

Flat paintEggshell paint
Flat paint has little to no sheen and like its name gives a flat color all around.Eggshell paint has a slight sheen which is just above the flat paint. The sheen is said to resemble that of an eggshell.
Flat paint reflects little light, especially from light fixtures which give rooms better lighting.Eggshell paint reflects light due to its slight sheen.
Flat paint is harder to clean due to the flat nature of the paint which has no sheen.Eggshell paint is easier to clean as it can be wiped off due to the sheen. This makes it good for bathroom and kitchen ceilings.
Flat paints easily get scuffed and do well in low-traffic areas like ceilings where they don't get touched very oftenEggshell paint is more durable than flat paint.
Because flat paints do not reflect light, it is better at hiding any imperfections, dings, or bumps on the ceilings.Eggshell paints reflect light and this highlights any imperfections, dings, or bumps on the ceilings.
Flat paint is recommended by the majority of painters as the best paint finish for ceilings.Eggshell paints are the second most popular paint for ceiling finish due to their low sheen.

What sheen should ceiling paint be?

When painting the ceiling, knowing the right sheen to use is the first and most important step. This is because the type of sheen of paint used to paint the ceiling will determine the type of primer and the type of paint finish that will be needed.

There are four types of sheen available when it comes to paints. They include matte paint, eggshell paint, gloss paint, and super-gloss paint.

  • The matte paint has no sheen and is seen in flat paints. The matte sheen is plain paint with no luster/ shine. It is also called flat paint.
  • The eggshell paint has very little shine to it. The shine of eggshell sheen is said to resemble the shell of eggs with just that subtle hint of light reflecting off it.
  • The gloss paint has a higher level of shine compared to the eggshell sheen as it is very reflective. Also, the glossy sheen can be used to paint exterior walls and wall ceilings
  • The super-gloss paint has the highest level of sheen available in paint. It is the direct opposite of the matte sheen and reflects light very intensely. This paint is not recommended for interior use

Ceiling paint should have a matte sheen, especially in bedrooms where good and calm lighting is needed. Eggshell sheen can be used in places like bathrooms, kitchens, etc as the slight shine of the paint will reflect light in these rooms well.

Can I paint the ceiling with eggshell paint?

Yes, you can paint the ceiling with eggshell paint. Although many painters recommend using flat paint for ceilings, there have been a few cases where eggshell paint has been used with beautiful results.

  • Using eggshell paints on ceilings will ensure that the ceiling is more durable, lasts longer, is easy to clean, and looks shiny.
  • Eggshell paints are no longer reserved just for kitchen and bathroom ceilings. More and more interior designers are taking a risk and leaving the norm of flat paints for the allure of eggshell paint.
  • Also, eggshell paint is a perfect compromise between flat paint and high-gloss paint. This has made it a good choice for those looking for a bit more shine around the house.
  • Eggshell paints also make the room look bigger and brighter and are a good choice for cramped rooms with low-hanging ceilings. It reflects the lights in the room and brightens it up significantly.
Can I paint the ceiling with eggshell paint

Which paint sheen looks best on textured or popcorn ceilings?

Popcorn ceilings are a type of textured ceilings made with different types of spray-on or paint-on treatments. The popcorn ceiling has a characteristic bumpy look made out of tiny particles of polystyrene.

The paint sheen that looks best on textured ceilings is matte paint. Matte or flat paint can make textured ceilings look alive while hiding any mishaps or dings the ceiling has suffered through the ages.

The matte or flat paint also smooths out the textured ceiling and gives it a cleaner and smoother finish. Flat paint also makes textured ceilings like popcorn ceilings look professionally done.

However, if you want a more durable and easy-to-clean textured ceiling, consider using eggshell, satin paint, or gloss sheen paint while painting textured ceilings. These paint sheens might not be the traditional choice but in places with high moisture and dust, having an easy-to-clean surface is very important.

What's the difference between ceiling paint and wall paint?

For normal people like me and you, paint is paint. However, when painting ceilings and walls, is there a difference in the type of paint to use? If you want to do DIY and paint your ceilings, choosing the right paint for the job is very crucial as it is the biggest difference between a good job and a poor-looking ceiling. Well, here are the differences between ceiling paints and wall paints.

Ceiling PaintWall paint
Ceiling paint has a high viscosity. that it is thicker than wall paint. The thickness helps the paint stick better to the ceiling and does not cause a big mess when applied.Wall paint has a low viscosity. This means that it has a lighter consistency compared to ceiling paint as it does not have to resist gravity as much.
Ceiling paint usually comes mainly in matte or flat sheens and low-gloss sheens for example eggshell paints. This is because high-sheen paints do not look good on ceilings and are rarely chosen for that purpose.Wall paint comes in all sheens from matte to eggshells to semi-gloss and high gloss. This is because there is a very versatile market for wall paints and so many varieties and colors are used in different ways.
Ceiling paint dries quicker than wall paint.Wall paint dries slower than ceiling paint.
Ceiling paints have better coverage. This means one coat is enough to cover any blemishes on the ceiling.Wall paints have a light consistency and require about 2 to 3 layers to fully cover every blemish on the painted surface.
Ceiling paint is more durable than wall paints and does not crack or peel as easily as wall paintsAlthough wall paints are durable enough, they are less durable than ceiling paints and get cracked and peel much faster.

You can use wall paint to paint your ceilings, however, the process is sure to be a lot messier and harder compared to using ceiling paints. The result will not be as smooth and it will take a long time to dry. Using wall paints to paint the ceiling will also mean that the work will not last as long as possible.

Is it better to paint the ceiling or walls first?

When painting a room, it is better to paint the ceiling first. Painting the ceiling is the first item on the list when it comes to painting a room. Painting the ceiling first allows for any overspray on the walls while painting. Applying a double coat of paint on the ceiling can get messy and ruin the walls if they were already painted.

After painting the ceiling and coating it with a paint finish, it should be allowed to dry. After this, the painter can then mask the borders of the ceiling and paint the walls with ease. If any paint from the wall goes on the trim, there is no issue as it is painted last.

After the ceiling and wall paint has dried, the painter should take a hand brush and carefully apply paint to the trim of the room. If this step is followed, there will be a minimal splattering of paint from one part of the room to the other.

How many coats of paint does a ceiling need?

Whenever you are painting anything, ceilings included, you are required to use at least two coats of paint to get the best results. While the first coat of paint might offer enough coverage for the ceiling, it is rarely smooth, even, and flawless. Applying the second coat of paint finish gives the ceiling an extra layer of coverage, a smooth look, and a seamless finish.

Your ceiling may need one, two or even three coats of paints depending on its condition.

Fairly new ceiling

If the ceiling paint is not very faded and the painting is just to refresh the ceilings, painting with one coat might give you the result you require. This is because ceiling paint is thick and offers better coverage than wall paint. This coverage is what we need to make the ceilings look as seamless as the walls.

Significant changes in the ceiling

If the color of the ceiling is being changed dramatically, then two coats of paint are necessary. This is because one coat of paint may not be able to blend the color and may leave the wall seeming more messed up than before. Getting a second coat of paint finish on your ceiling will cover up any forgotten spots and give you a professional paint job.

Changing from a dark color to a light paint color

If you are painting a darker-colored ceiling into a lighter color or even white, you might need a primer plus two more coats of paint. This makes it three layers of paint just to get the desired effect. This is because darker colors tend to bleed through lighter-colored paints.

Can I paint a ceiling with just a primer?

Primer is an undercoat usually applied in preparation for painting. The primer ensures that the paint sticks to the ceiling better by forming a binding layer between the ceiling and the paint. Primer also helps to keep the ceiling water-resistant and prevent mold growth.

Yes, you can paint your ceilings with just primer. However, the ceiling will wear out faster than if the paint was applied and breaks off in chalk-like form all over the room. Since primers were made to be used as a base layer, they are not very durable. Although painting a ceiling with just primer is possible, it is not advised.

Should ceilings be painted white?

White has always been the default color for ceilings. This is due to its many good qualities. It is a simple, clean, and sleek color that blends in with any wall paint while emphasizing the room decor. White ceiling paint also reflects light and can make a room feel much more spacious than in reality.

White-painted ceilings do not remove any attention from a room and are a good safe choice for many people. There are also many shades of white available for homeowners. Choosing a duller white or painting neutral paint colors on your walls can make the room feel cozier instead of a sharp white that might make all the light glare.

Ceilings can also be painted in different colors with some people painting their ceilings the same color as the wall, a shade lighter than the wall color, or even a shade darker than the wall color. All these ceiling paints have different effects and can be used to make a room feel more spacious or cozier.

If you are not completely sure which color of paint will be best for ceilings, then go with soft white paint. It will blend in with whatever decor you choose and there is no need to bother about whether the color choice is good or bad. White is the default and traditional opinion when it comes to ceiling pants and it is because it is a versatile and universal color choice for the majority.

Benjamin McInerny
Author: Benjamin McInerny - is a qualified arborist with 20 years of industry experience. Ben has a wide knowledge of renovation and DIY projects around the house such as lawns, fencing and painting. Ben shares his skills with DIY and gardening enthusiasts.