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6 Best Ceiling Paints

Painting a ceiling isn't as difficult as you might think. With the right paint and a few helpful hints, you can be the Michelangelo of your time.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

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Painting A CeilingAlistair Berg/Getty Images

How To Paint a Ceiling

For many, the thought of painting a ceiling is intimidating. Truth be told, painting a ceiling is not all that different from painting walls — it just requires a few tricks of the trade. And choosing the right ceiling paint is just as important as learning how to paint a ceiling.

There are several paints on the market formulated especially for ceilings. If you’re unable to find such a product, here are some properties to look for in an interior house paint that can be used on ceilings.

  • Viscosity: This refers to a paint’s thickness and structure. The higher the solid count, the more it tends to cost, but the less it drips and spatters.
  • Slow-drying: This helps extend the wet edge for a smoother, lap-free finish.
  • Matte/flat finish: A shiny sheen reflects ambient light which can underscore flaws and defects. (Exception: Use water-resistant satin or semi-gloss finishes for wood ceilings and high-moisture areas.)
  • Latex/water-based: Dribbles and sags less than most oil-based paint.
  • Stain-blockers/all-in-one paint and primers: A good choice for covering watermarks or dark colors in one step.

Expert Dos and Don’ts

  • Do cover the floor from baseboard-to-baseboard with a drop cloth;
  • Do cut in the edge of the ceiling (at least two inches) before you roll;
  • Don’t load too much paint on the roller or it will drip;
  • Don’t roll paint too quickly to avoid spatters;
  • Do buy the best quality paint and roller covers you can afford.
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Best Paint Formulated Specifically for Ceilings

Developed specifically for use overhead, Benjamin Moore Waterborne Ceiling Paint tops our list for its ultra-matte finish that conceals surface imperfections flawlessly. It also dries more slowly, giving you enough time to smooth out unsightly lap lines that other paints leave behind.

It’s spatter-resistant so cleanup is no problem. And it’s available in traditional ready-mix white or a contrasting color from Benjamin Moore’s custom palette.

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Best Paint for Bathroom Ceilings

Bathrooms are humid places that can be poorly ventilated, with ceilings being particularly notorious as a mildew breeding ground. Mildew-resistant paint, like Benjamin Moore Aura Bath and Spa, is an outstanding solution.

Developed specifically for high-moisture environments, Aura Bath and Spa repels steam and water droplets to keep mildew from forming in the first place. On top of that, it maintains its color integrity and withstands repeated washings.

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Best Eco-Friendly Ceiling Paint

Make a sustainable choice. Harmony interior acrylic latex improves your home’s environment without harming the planet’s.

UL Greenguard Indoor Air Quality and Gold certified, Harmony contains agents that inhibit the growth of mold and mildew. Odor-eliminating technology applied to kitchen ceilings — a catch-all for smoke stains, grease and cooking aromas — breaks down these common household odors to keep rooms smelling fresher. It also helps reduce certain VOCs that off-gas from sources like insulation, carpeting and fabrics.

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Best Ceiling Paint and Primer in One

For nearly all surfaces, Zinsser Ceiling Paint and Primer in One (two pack) with color-changing technology rolls on in a light pink color so you never miss a spot, then dries to a white, flat finish in less than an hour.

This one-coat wonder seals water stains and hides problem areas on new or previously painted surfaces. One gallon covers approximately 250 to 400 square feet, depending on the porousness. It can be applied with a brush, roller or, for large areas, a sprayer.

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Best Ceiling Tile Paint

Acoustic tiles are prone to unsightly marks from water leaks and are porous enough to soak up nasty cigarette and cigar smoke stains. Seymour Ceiling Tile Paint is a fast-drying, upright spray that’s perfect for touching up smooth or textured tiles without removing them.

It won’t warp or sag tiles, yet maintains their acoustical properties. It dries to the touch in as little as 15 minutes. Because it’s water-based, it cleans up with soap and water.

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Best Ceiling Paint for Wood

Oil-based paints are usually recommended for wood trim and cabinets because of their hardness and durability. But when applied, oils also tend to be thinner and drip more than acrylics.

Since walking near or touching ceilings is not an issue, we like Behr Marquee Ultra Pure Enamel in water-based satin or semi-gloss. It delivers a high-performing, one-coat rich finish with stain-blocking properties that will keep your wood ceilings looking luscious and beautiful, year after year. Note: Two coats may be required on redwood and cedar.

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Toni DeBella
Toni DeBella is a freelance travel, lifestyle and digital content writer based in a medieval hill town in central Italy. Her work has been featured in such publications as Fodor's, The Telegraph, Walks of Italy, Italy Magazine, Frommers.com, Touring Bird (via [email protected]) and more. Most recently she authored the 2020 edition of DK Eyewitness Sicily travel guide. When Toni is not roaming around Europe, you'll find her tending her alley-side container garden or honing her clay-court tennis game.