Best Paint Finish for Ceilings

Based on the situation and overall room design there are a few choices when it comes to ceiling paint besides just the color. Choosing the best paint finish for your ceilings can subtly enhance the overall aesthetic without overwhelming the senses.

beautiful interior of living room with white ceiling paint finish, light gray sofa set center table

It is important to avoid an abundance of attention to the ceiling as it takes away the focal points in the overall space. Additionally, in many cases it is uncomfortable to spend a lot of time looking overhead, making the need to overdesign it unnecessary. This can be implemented by using plain paint, and the finish selection can help make it more comfortable to live with. Below are the most common finishes for ceilings 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 painting, the three listed below are going to give the best overall appearance to the standard room when used on the ceilings. The higher gloss paints can be used in certain situations if needed, but are not commonly used in basic ceiling projects.

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

Flat finishes are great for ceilings since there is infrequent damage that would cause them to need high durability.

Matte: Matte is a close second to flat in the non-reflective category. It is also an extremely forgiving sheen when it comes to imperfections on 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 is a low-sheen paint but adds a little more durability than the matte or flat sheens. 

Eggshell is good for aggressively used areas such as the kitchen or bathroom where there is a possibility that the ceilings would need to be durable against splashes and occasionally cleaned.

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

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 ceilings. 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. Using flat finishes will hide any imperfections that the ceiling has, while not calling attention to it in general. 

The downside to flat sheens is that they can stain, but there are not usually spills on the ceilings 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. Semi gloss is best used with trims, wainscoting, cabinets, and doors due to its shine and durability. 

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

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

Best Finish for Bedroom Ceiling

Flat finishes are the best option for a bedroom ceiling. Flat finish paint hides the most imperfections overhead. 

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

TBedroom ceilings are 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 overhead design, there may be cases where there can be some eggshell or semi gloss paint used in a bedroom.

Best Finish for Bathroom Ceiling

Luxury bathroom with eggshell finish paint ceiling

An eggshell 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.

Finish to Use For the Kitchen Ceiling

Kitchens are another spot where an eggshell sheen 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 overhead areas during use. 

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

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

Finish to Use For the Living Room Ceiling

Similar to the bedroom mentioned above, the flat finish is the best choice for a living room ceiling. The living room overhead 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 more desirable flat finishes, with the lowest sheen available. There are some situations where accents on living room ceilings may need to be highlighted, or just wanted to be highlighted. 

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

Best Painted Beadboard Ceiling Finish

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

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

Do you have a favorite pick for the best finish to use 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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