Ceiling paint and wall paint may seem interchangeable, but there are some key differences between paints formulated for ceilings versus walls. This comprehensive guide examines if, when, and how ceiling paint can be used on interior walls.
Can You Use Ceiling Paint on Walls?
The short answer is yes, ceiling paint can generally be used on walls in most cases. However, there are some caveats to keep in mind:
- Ceiling paints tend to be thicker and provide better coverage to hide imperfections on ceilings. Using only ceiling paint on walls may give a flatter, less vibrant look compared to regular wall paints.
- Ceiling paints are designed for the minimal wear and tear of overhead surfaces. They may be less durable and washable than paints formulated specifically for high-traffic walls.
- The flat finish of ceiling paint shows scuffs and marks more easily compared to wall paints with sheens like eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss.
- White ceiling paints may stand out against colored walls, giving walls a patchy, uneven look. Tinting the ceiling paint to match the walls can help.
When to Use Ceiling Paint on Walls
While ceiling paint may not always be the optimal choice for walls, it can work well in certain situations:
As a Primer or Base Coat
- The thick consistency and spatter-resistant formula of ceiling paints allow them to hide surface imperfections easily.
- Ceiling paint can act as an effective sealer and base layer before applying finer finishing paints.
- For high-traffic areas like hallways or stairwells, the better coverage of ceiling paint can hide scuffs and marks.
- Flat ceiling paint hides imperfections well but requires more frequent repainting in high-traffic areas.
- The wipeable finish of satin or semi-gloss wall paints is easier to clean than flat ceiling paint. But for kids’ rooms, the coverage ceiling paint provides can hide crayon marks and scuffs more easily until it’s time to repaint.
- For spaces like basements, closets, attics, or garages, ceiling paint can provide a budget-friendly option if you’re looking to save on paint costs.
- While less durable for living spaces, ceiling paint works fine in lower-use rooms.
- During renovations or in temporary/rental accommodations, ceiling paint can provide a fast, affordable way to paint walls that you plan to repaint eventually with higher-quality paint.
Tips for Using Ceiling Paint on Walls
If you opt to use ceiling paint on interior walls, here are some tips to get the best results:
- Check manufacturer recommendations – Some ceiling paint brands advise not to use their products on walls. Always check the label.
- Use two coats – Ceiling paint coverage can be a bit thin on walls compared to thicker wall paint. Applying two coats ensures better coverage and durability.
- Sand glossy walls first – De-gloss shiny painted walls or wallpapered surfaces to help the ceiling paint adhere and look uniform.
- Tint the ceiling paint – Untinted white ceiling paint may contrast noticeably against colored walls. Tint the ceiling paint or choose an off-white wall color to blend better.
- Mix with wall paint – Blending leftover ceiling paint with higher quality wall paint thins out the consistency and adds better washability for walls.
- Use caution with dark colors – Darker ceiling paint colors tend to show imperfections on walls more than light neutrals. Use darker shades only in small accent areas.
- Start with a small test area – Before painting a whole room with ceiling paint, paint a small section like behind a door to check its coverage and look.
Priming Walls with Ceiling Paint
Using ceiling paint as a primer or base coat under standard wall paint is an excellent option to get a durable, smooth wall surface. Here’s how:
- Make sure the walls are prepped properly – clean, dry, and de-glossed if previously painted. Fill any cracks or holes with spackle.
- Apply 1-2 coats of ceiling paint as the primer. Thick ceiling paint hides imperfections other primers may miss.
- Allow the primer coat to fully dry. Then apply two finish coats of high quality wall paint for best washability and color.
- For new drywall, unpainted walls, or surfaces with heavy stains/patches, two coats of ceiling paint may be needed to properly seal and prepare walls before painting.
- For previously painted surfaces in good condition, one coat of ceiling paint before the wall paint is usually sufficient.
Using ceiling paint this way provides excellent value. High-hide primers can cost twice as much per gallon as flat white ceiling paint. The better coverage ceiling paint offers primes walls for a smoother, more uniform finish.
Ceiling Paint vs. Wall Paint
While ceiling paints and wall paints are both latex-based interior paints, they have some important differences:
- Thicker consistency and spatter-resistant formula
- Provides maximum surface coverage to hide imperfections
- Flat, non-reflective finish
- Limited color options, mostly white/off-white
- Less durable and washable than wall paints
- Low sheen leveling hides imperfections but shows scuffs
- More thin viscosity for easier brushing onto walls
- Wider range of sheens – flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss
- Premium acrylic resins provide better washability
- Formulated for high-traffic vertical surfaces
- More color choices from brights to neutrals
- Higher sheens like satin resist stains and scuffs better
These differences make each paint uniquely suited for their intended surfaces. While ceiling paint can work on walls in some cases, for everyday living spaces, dedicated wall paint will provide better washability, durability, and appearance.
Pros and Cons of Using Ceiling Paint on Walls
- Cost savings from buying cheaper ceiling paint
- Provides great coverage for imperfections
- Quick face lift or update for temporary spaces
- Suitable finish for closets, basements, attics
- Works to prime or seal walls underneath final paint
- Flat finish shows scuffs more than wall paint sheens
- Less durable and washable than typical wall paint
- Limited color options, mostly whites
- May require extra coats for adequate coverage
- Thick consistency can cause drips on walls
- Not formulated for high-traffic wall surfaces
For the best looking, most durable results, it’s generally recommended to use interior wall paints formulated for walls rather than ceiling paints. However, ceiling paint can be a cost-effective alternative depending on the specific room, quality of the ceiling paint, and expectations for appearance and longevity.
Can You Use Ceiling Paint On Trim and Doors?
What about using ceiling paint on interior trim and doors? The thick consistency and spatter-resistance of ceiling paint makes it easy to apply onto trim and door frames. However, there are a few downsides:
- Ceiling paint’s low sheen shows scuffs and marks more easily on trim than satin, semi-gloss paints.
- The limited color options of most ceiling paints don’t allow for the deep, rich wood tones often used on trim.
- Ceiling paints are not as washable and may stain more easily around handles on cabinets and doors.
Using high quality trim paints formulated for woodwork and doors provides better scratch resistance and flexibility when painting intricate trim details. But for a quick, affordable trim paint option, ceiling paint will work in a pinch, especially for baseboards or crown molding up high.
Can Ceiling Paint Be Used On Drywall and Plaster Walls?
Ceiling paint can be used on drywall and plaster walls for several reasons:
- It provides outstanding coverage compared to regular wall paints. This hides imperfections and repairs in porous drywall seam better.
- The thicker consistency makes it easy to apply heavy coats on textured popcorn or swirl plaster walls and ceilings.
- Flat ceiling paint finishes Avoid shiny spots on imperfect smoothed or patched plaster.
- Off-white ceiling paint colors look more natural against the grey-white tone of drywall and plaster than bright white.
When painting new drywall or fresh plaster walls, apply two coats of ceiling paint first to properly seal and prime the surface, then follow with two coats of finish wall paint for durability and washability.
For painting over existing drywall and plaster walls in good shape, using ceiling paint as a base coat provides great coverage before adding your top wall paint colors.
Can I Use Ceiling Paint On Brick, Concrete, or Wood Walls?
What about using ceiling paint on other unique wall surfaces like brick, concrete, or wood walls?
- On interior brick walls and concrete surfaces, ceiling paint works well as a base coat before finish painting with masonry paints. The thicker consistency fills pores nicely
Using Ceiling Paint on Wood Walls and Paneling
Painting over wood walls, wainscoting, and paneling with ceiling paint is possible but requires some special considerations:
- Allow wood surfaces to properly dry out before painting if recently installed or refinished. New wood contains moisture that needs dissipating before painting.
- Lightly sand glossy varnish finishes to degloss and rough up the surface so paint can adhere properly.
- Prime wood walls before applying ceiling paint for better adhesion. Use an oil-based primer or dedicated wood primer.
- Expect to need 2-3 coats of ceiling paint for adequate coverage on wood compared to drywall. The porous grain of wood often needs extra coats.
- Use a small foam roller and thin coats on wood paneling to avoid thick build up in the grooves.
For the best-looking, longest-lasting results on wood walls, use a quality oil-based or acrylic enamel paint. But ceiling paint can provide an affordable alternative depending on the project budget and longevity expectations.
Can Ceiling Paint Be Used On Wallpapered Walls?
Painting over wallpaper with ceiling paint is possible in certain situations:
- Small repairs on wallpaper can be blended by painting over the patches with ceiling paint before applying wallpaper again.
- For temporary spaces, applying 1-2 coats of ceiling paint over wallpaper can change the color tone quickly.
- To fully paint over wallpaper, rough up the material first with sandpaper so the paint can properly adhere.
However, for the best adhesion and coverage when painting over wallpaper:
- Remove old wallpaper completely rather than painting over it. Any remaining seams or loose edges will eventually show through the paint.
- Use an oil-based primer meant for wallpaper rather than ceiling paint so new paint will not peel off over time.
- Apply a dedicated wallpaper primer before painting for best results. Then topcoat with standard interior wall paint.
While ceiling paint may seem like an easy shortcut, removing old wallpaper first and priming ensures the new paint job will last and avoid future peeling or bubbling off the wallpaper underneath.
Can You Use Ceiling Paint On Bathroom Walls and Tile?
Painting bathroom walls and tile surfaces with ceiling paint is possible but has some limitations:
- On drywall and plaster bathroom walls, ceiling paint works well as a primer or base coat before finish painting with satin or semi-gloss paint. The flat finish helps hide imperfections.
- For painting ceramic bathroom tiles, properly prepare slick tile surfaces first so paint can adhere. Use a bonding primer or lightly scuff glossy tiles.
- Expect to need 2-3 coats of ceiling paint on tile and make sure to use a bathroom-friendly paint labeled for high humidity areas.
- A satin or semi-gloss paint will be more washable on bathroom walls and tile surfaces than flat ceiling paint.
While ceiling paint can be used in bathrooms, the constant moisture and need for wipeable surfaces means a dedicated bathroom paint is the better choice for tub/shower areas and tile walls. Limit use of ceiling paint to drywall surfaces only.
Ceiling Paint for Kids’ Room and Nursery Walls
The thick coverage and value pricing of ceiling paint make it tempting for kids’ room and nursery walls that tend to get plenty of bumps and marks. Here are some tips:
- Spot prime heavy crayon marks and stains first before applying 1-2 coats of ceiling paint. Its high hide coverage will conceal better than regular wall paints.
- Avoid darker or bright accent walls since ceiling paint scuffs easier. Stick to off-whites and soft neutrals instead.
- For toddlers’ rooms, combine ceiling paint with an interior latex paint for better scrubbability on lower wall areas prone to marks.
- Change paint finishes as kids get older. Use flat ceiling paint for bedrooms at first. Transition to satin or eggshell paints for easier washing as kids’ art activities progress.
- Ensure ceiling paint is low in VOCs and labeled as nursery-safe before using in infant rooms. Avoid old paints with lead risks.
While great for covering scuffs, marks, and hiding repairs, ceiling paint may require more frequent repainting to keep kids’ rooms looking fresh. Combining it with durable interior wall paints balances coverage and washability.
Can Exterior Ceiling Paint Be Used On Outside Walls?
Exterior ceiling paint has weather-resistant properties to stand up to rain, sun, and temperature changes. But it still differs from exterior house paints. Here’s how it compares:
- Exterior ceiling paints are formulated to resist mildew growth in damp overhead areas like porches, patios, and overhangs.
- They contain binders to make paint stick to slick surfaces like tin, aluminum, and steel roofing.
- Color options are limited, mostly white/off-white since exterior ceilings don’t need decorative colors.
- Durability and fade resistance differs from premium exterior house paints meant for wood and masonry walls.
While exterior ceiling paint works fine overhead, the thinner composition is not as suitable for highly weathered vertical exterior walls. For painting outside walls, high quality 100% acrylic or latex exterior paints prove most durable long-term.
Can I Mix Ceiling Paint into Regular Wall Paint?
Have leftover ceiling paint you want to use up on walls? Mixing ceiling and wall paint together can work with some caveats:
- Mix small batches first to test for compatibility and proper coverage. Certain paint chemistry types don’t mix well.
- Combine no more than 25% ceiling paint into 75% regular wall paint. Too much ceiling paint makes the finish flat and less durable.
- Add just 10-15% ceiling paint to satin or semi-gloss wall paints so as not to reduce the desirable sheen too much.
- Ceiling paint cuts the overall cost of wall paint, but don’t compromise too much on quality. Mix it only with top grade wall paints.
- Tint the blended paint to the correct wall color if using untinted white ceiling paint.
- Mix thoroughly with a drill mixer to fully incorporate the ceiling paint rather than just layering it.
Blending ceiling paint into wall paint takes advantage of leftover ceiling paint for a cost-conscious option. But too much ceiling paint proportions may reduce washability. Test mixes first to ensure proper sheen and coverage.
Ceiling Paint Brands and Quality Levels
Not all ceiling paints are equal in terms of quality and composition. Consumer-grade economy brands don’t have the same coverage abilities or durability as professional-grade paints.
Best Ceiling Paint Brands
- Benjamin Moore Ceiling Paint – High hide, spatter-resistant, professional quality
- Sherwin-Williams ProMar Ceiling Paint – Low spatter, fast drying, excellent coverage
- Behr Premium Ceiling Paint – Good coverage, high volume solids, smooth application
- Valspar Ceiling Paint – Minimizes drips, splatters, and runs; durable finish
- Kilz PRO Ceiling Paint – Very thick, extra bright white, mold/mildew resistant
Budget Ceiling Paint Options
- Glidden Essentials Interior Ceiling Paint
- INSL-X Cabinet Coat Ceiling Paint
- Prestige Paints Interior Ceiling Paint
- Zinsser Ceiling Paint
For best results using ceiling paint on walls, avoid the cheapest big box store options. Spend a couple dollars more per gallon for better coverage, application, and performance from leading brands like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams.
Final Tips and Considerations
- Always follow manufacturer instructions for proper use and application methods when using ceiling paint. Don’t assume all brands can be used interchangeably.
- Ceiling paint works best when used under, rather than instead of, quality wall paints for finishing. Take advantage of its priming and coverage abilities.
- Tinting ceiling paint to match your walls helps visually blend it when applied on walls and trimwork.
- Combining ceiling and wall paint gives a budget-friendly paint solution to use up leftovers, but test compatibility first.
- With lower durability and washability than wall paints, repainting with ceiling paint will be needed more often to keep walls looking fresh.
- Proper prep and priming ensure the best results with any paint. Don’t skip steps when using ceiling paint on walls.
Ceiling paint on walls and trim gives mixed results depending on your goals. With the right approach, it can provide an affordable and effective option in many home painting situations. But for decorative living spaces, stick to quality interior wall paints for best appearance and longevity.