Learning What Sheen To Use for Ceiling Paint Can Save You Time and Money

How long has it been since you painted your ceilings? If it’s been more than 10 years, look up. You’ll probably see a fourth wall whose paint has been dulled by time, sunlight and regular exposure to dust. Picking the right paint – including figuring out what sheen to use for ceiling paint – is your first step in this DIY project.

Is Ceiling Paint the Same as Other Paint?

Ceiling paint isn’t like regular wall paint. Yep, you can use regular paint on your ceiling, but it’s thinner than ceiling paint. Ceiling paint is thicker and designed to grip while it dries, meaning fewer runs and drips. Plus, certain ceiling paints are made to hide spots, defects and stains, which means you’ll get a nice, clean finish.

How Do I Know What Sheen To Use for Ceiling Paint?

Wondering what sheen to use for ceiling paint? For normal, everyday use, stick with flat (a.k.a. matte finish). It won’t reflect light the way shinier paint will, and that means it’s better at hiding defects.

If you want to add sound-dampening to a room, like a kids’ playroom, look for a textured paint. These come pre-mixed and ready to apply. Watch out, though: If your ceiling is already textured (say, a popcorn ceiling), don’t paint more texture over it. Instead, use flat ceiling paint and save the textured paint for your smooth ceilings.

In certain installations, designers sometimes use a high-gloss finish on the walls and ceiling to create a high-style look. High-gloss paint needs a perfectly smooth surface to work because it reflects every imperfection. So, if you’re going to try this, make sure you have drywall walls and ceilings that are properly prepped.

Does It Matter What My Ceiling Is Made Of?

While learning what sheen to use for ceiling paint is important, it’s also important to know your ceiling material. Depending on what your ceiling is made of, the best paint may not be ceiling paint at all.

Acoustic tile – Paint drop ceilings with latex paint with sound-absorbing filters. Regular ceiling paint can lessen the tile’s built-in sound-dampening abilities.

Drywall – If your ceiling is smooth drywall, it can take most latex paints. Look for a thicker paint that’s made to stick, and that will help minimize drips. This is the best ceiling for high-gloss installations because it’s the smoothest surface and less likely to show defects.

Masonry, plaster and stucco – Cast finishes like these are usually very smooth. This can make it hard for thicker paint to adhere. Thinner latex paints are a good option for these because they can penetrate the surface better.

Textured ceilings – Textured drywall ceilings come in a lot of forms: popcorn, spray sand, comb and even something called stomp brush (an older technique where you press a brush into the drywall mud and then sharply pull it down to create texture). On these, a flat latex may work better than a ceiling paint, which may be too thick to roll or spray evenly over the texture.

Wood ceilings – Sand wood ceilings and prime them before you paint; otherwise, absorbing the wet paint could damage the wood. It may take two coats of primer to cover the wood completely. And if your wood is stained, you’ll need to use oil-based paint, not latex.

Still have questions? Our professional painters also know what sheen to use for ceiling paint — and they know all the tricks for applying it. Learn more about our interior house painting services. We’re equipped for all your painting needs.