Best Paint Finish for Ceilings

See our recommendations of the best paint finish for ceilings including ceiling paint types, durability, and longevity as well as the kind of paint to use for sheen ceilings to make the best overall appearance of your room. beautiful interior of living room with white ceiling paint finish, light gray sofa set center table Based on the situation and overall design there are a few choices when it comes to ceiling paint besides just the color. It is important to avoid an abundance of attention to the ceiling as it takes away the focal points in the overall space. 

Additionally, it is uncomfortable to spend a lot of time looking at the ceiling in most cases, making the need to overdesign it unnecessary. This can be implemented by using a plain paint, and the finish selection can help make it less than remarkable. 

Below are the most common finishes for ceiling paint and why they are used.

Types Of Ceiling Paint Finish

While there are a ton of different finishes that can be used when it comes to paint, the three listed below are going to give the best overall appearance to the standard room when used on the ceiling. The higher gloss finish paints can be used in certain situations if needed, but are not commonly used in basic ceiling projects.

Flat: A Flat paint will not reflect light, giving it no sheen or shine. These qualities allow for a forgiving surface. Flat paint does not clean well, and is not extremely durable. 

Flat paint is great for ceilings since there is infrequent damage that would cause a ceiling to need high durability.

Matte: Matte is a close second to flat in the non reflective category. It is also an extremely forgiving finish when it comes to imperfections in the surface. 

closed kitchen design with grey cabinets and matte finish ceiling

The durability is low, which is why it is a good alternative to use for ceilings when flat is not available, or you would like a little more sheen.

Eggshell: Eggshell tends to be a good happy medium, and a common purchase by doing it yourselfers. Eggshell paint is a low sheen paint but adds a little more durability than the matte or flat finishes. 

Eggshell is good for aggressively used areas such as the kitchen or bathroom where there is a possibility that the ceiling would need to be durable or cleanable.

Semi gloss: A rarer, but not uncalled for finish for ceilings is semi gloss. Semi gloss paint is common in ceiling accents such as bead boarding.

modern dining room with floor hardwood table and chairs and semi gloss ceiling paint finish

 This can call more attention to the ceiling when there is a specialty piece. The sheen is glossier and will highlight any architectural details in the ceiling. This can be paired with a flat paint to add more contrast.

What Sheen Is Best For Ceilings?

Any of the three types of paint finishes can be used, but the best is the flat finish. The flat finish will hide any imperfections that the ceiling has, while not calling attention to the ceiling in general. 

The downside to flat paint is that it can stain, but there are not usually spills on the ceiling so should not be a huge concern.

Should Ceilings Be Painted Flat or Semi Gloss?

Ceilings should be painted with flat paint instead of semi gloss paint. Semi gloss paint is best used with trims, wainscoting, cabinets and doors due to the shine and durability. 

Flat paint is much better suited for a ceiling finish. There are a few situations  where semi gloss can be appropriate but in most circumstances a flat finish paint is going to be the safest route for a ceiling. 

If you really want to use semi gloss paint on a ceiling it can be used on the ceiling molding to create contrast and allow for an easily cleaned surface.

Best Paint Finish for Bedroom Ceiling

The flat finish paint is the best paint for a bedroom ceiling. Flat finish paint hides the most imperfections on the ceiling. 

american bedroom interior with queen size bed wooden desk and a white flat paint ceiling

The bedroom ceiling is unlikely to see any wear or tear or need for cleaning, making the need for something more durable obsolete. In cases where there are featured parts of the ceiling there may be cases where there can be some eggshell or semi gloss paint used in a bedroom.

Best Paint Finish for Bathroom Ceiling

Luxury bathroom with eggshell finish paint ceiling An eggshell finish paint is the best choice when it comes to the bathroom ceilings. Eggshell offers the perfect ratio of low sheen to durability. 

The bathroom can be an area where there could be splashes, sprays or lingering mist which may cause the ceilings to need to be cleaned on occasion. Giving the bathroom ceiling a little bit extra durability can make it look nicer in the long run.

Best Paint Finish for Kitchen Ceiling

Kitchens are another spot where an eggshell finish paint is the better choice for the ceilings. Kitchens have similar issues of splashes or sprays as well as other undesirable things that could stick to the ceiling during use. 

beautiful white kitchen room with moroccan tiles, white ceiling paint finish and modern stainless steel appliances

Eggshell finish paint gives a higher durability and can be cleaned easier than a flat paint. This causes the paint to have a little higher of a sheen, but not enough that it is extremely noticeable. 

Best Paint Finish for Living Room Ceiling

Similar to the bedroom mentioned above, the flat finish paint is the best paint choice for a living room ceiling. The living room ceiling is unlikely to see any of the splashing or lingering that the bathroom and kitchen could, which makes the need for higher durability not an issue. 

living room with hardwood floor and rug furnished with beige sofas and white coffee table and tv on wall

From there you can choose the more desirable finish of flat, with the lowest sheen available. There are some situations where accents on the living room ceiling may need to be highlighted, or just wanted to be highlighted. 

That is when a contrasting, higher sheen paint can be used on the ceiling, such as semi gloss finish paint. Read more about the best paint finish for living walls here.

Best Paint Finish for Beadboard Ceiling

Semi gloss: A rarer, but not uncalled for finish for ceilings is semi gloss. Semi gloss paint is common in ceiling accents such as bead boarding. 

This can call more attention to the ceiling when there is a specialty piece. The sheen is glossier and will highlight any architectural details in the ceiling. This can be paired with a flat paint to add more contrast.

Do you have a favorite pick for the best paint finish for ceilings, if so let us know in the comments? For more related ideas check out our gallery of the most popular ceiling design types here.

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Written by Savannah - Interior Designer

Savannah Phillips is an NCIDQ certified Interior Designer with a Bachelors of Science in Interior Design from Illinois State University. She is skilled in Space Planning, Furniture Layouts, Material and Finish Selection and FF&E Procurement.

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