Ceiling Paint vs Wall Paint: What’s the Difference?

For those looking to spruce up the look of their home, knowing which paint is best for each surface can be important. Ceiling and wall paints have different features that will affect how they’re used on your project – read about what these differences are so you don’t end up painting more than necessary.

What is Ceiling Paint?

There is more debate on the capitalization of the ceiling paint rather than the expensive wall paints when painting the ceiling. The ceiling paint will have additives, making it easy to paint at a vertical angle.

It offers a softer binding and extended pigmentation, which you would want for your ceiling. Since the ceiling will be high, the paint is designed lightly and thus will not hold against vigorous scrubbing. However, scrubbing should not be a problem as the ceiling is not prone to friction and wear and tear.

Fortunately, due to the thin ceiling paint consistency, the paint will cover all imperfections and edges, hiding all the imperfections. Your ceiling should leave an impression on the visitors who enter your home, and you can choose different color schemes.

The paint has a flat sheen finish and will blend easily to the walls, making it easy to clean the ceilings. Cleaning ceilings can be a task, especially if the paint is resistant to dirt.

Types of Ceiling Paint

Flat Acrylic Ceiling Paint

Flat acrylic ceiling paint is the most common ceiling paint and is best suited for areas with low humidity. You can paint the bedrooms and living room spaces ceilings with this ceiling paint, as it does not reflect much light.

You would not want a highly reflective ceiling, and thus the paint is appropriate for most ceilings.

Satin Sheen Acrylic Ceiling Paint

The stain sheen acrylic paint is suitable for rooms with high humidity as they are resistant to staining, cracking, and chipping at high humidity. Thus, you can use this ceiling paint for the bathroom, laundry room, and other more humid spaces in your home.

Semi-Gloss Acrylic Ceiling Paint

This ceiling paint is highly resistant to humidity and is prone to damage in highly humid rooms. You can use the ceiling paint directly above the shower stall and other spaces which experience constant humidity.

Pros and Cons of the Ceiling Paint


The ceiling paint has a high viscosity thus is suitable for your ceiling as it is least likely to drip down the walls.

Preparing the ceiling paint might take some time.

You can complete ceiling painting DIY projects at a low cost when you use ceiling paint.

You can choose different ceiling colors which contrast with the wall color schemes.

It covers all the imperfections in your ceiling well.

You can use the leftover ceiling paint on the walls. which are least likely to face vigorous scrubbing and friction.

What is Wall Paint?

There are many wall paints, and you can choose between water-based or oil-based paints that suit your needs. First, you might need to clean the walls to use water-based paints, and you can first apply sandpaper on uneven surfaces to create a flat wall.

Scrubbing the walls is especially effective, especially since the previous paint was oil-based. You can incorporate wall textures and the appearance of an office setting.

You can use oil-based paint when you have young children as the walls can get dirty easily. They are easy to clean and are child and pet-friendly.

It would be best to paint the kitchen oil-based as the walls get dirty easily. Consider painting the bathroom and areas with high humidity with oil-based paints as they are moisture-resistant.

Types of Wall Paint

Matte / Flat Wall Paints

The matte wall paint has the least shine and can cover imperfections with a few layers. This wall paint is suitable for an uneven surface as it hides imperfections

However, they are not durable and easily damage when treated with abrasive cleaners. Thus, using it in areas with low traffic would be wise.

Eggshell Wall Paints

The eggshell paints are a popular paint finish, and they are lustrous with a low eggshell sheen. The wall paint covers the imperfections and is more durable than the matte paint. The wall paint is suitable for rooms with low traffic, like the entryways and the hallways.

Satin Paints

The satin wall paint has a velvety sheen and is easy to clean; most people prefer it for their interior walls. They are suitable for high-traffic areas like the kitchen, family rooms, playrooms, and bathrooms as they are easy to clean.

Unfortunately, this paint easily shows the brush strokes, making it unsuitable for a neat finish.

Semi-Gloss Wall Paints

The semi-gloss wall paints are shiny and reflective and durable to water and mildew. The paint is suitable for highly humid rooms like the bathroom and areas which experience a lot of wear and tear, like the kids’ rooms.

The wall paint offers a glossier finish which is great for trim and hides imperfections on the walls.

High-Gloss Wall Paints

The high-gloss wall paints are shiny, and they are the most durable and easily washable. Consider this wall paint for the doors, trim, and cabinetry, and you can use it as an outdoor detail paint on the shutters. However, before applying it to the walls, you should prep this paint well.

Pros and Cons of the Wall Paint


The wall paint is dense and can hide imperfections such as nail holes and uneven surfaces.

You should be knowledgeable on wall paint preparations to get the desired look.

You can choose the water-based wall paint or the oil-based paint depending on the room and the needs.

Some wall paints offer a shiny glow which makes the room appear lovely.

The wall paints come in different colors and can create a color scheme that meets your personality.

The wall paints are durable and guard the walls against wear and tear.

Differences Between Ceiling and Wall Paint


The ceiling offers a flat effect which reduces the light reflection and thus hides any irregularities on the surfaces. The flat effect would benefit the walls, as it makes it easier for the light to shine more on the ceilings than the walls.

The wall paints rarely have this flat effect on the surfaces and thus reflect the light easily and can hook the light the wrong way in a room.


The ceiling paint is thick, thus is less dense, and will not floor easily from an elevated surface when painting. The paint has significant additive solids, making it easy to paint vertically. On the other hand, the wall paint is highly viscous and will flow from the top to the bottom on a horizontal wall.


The ceiling paint offers better coverage, making the surface appear uniform. The ceiling paint provides volume on a surface with a single layer due to the high viscosity. You can easily cover the imperfections on the ceiling with the paint and apply it on walls with even surfaces, as it can leave an impressive look.

Moreover, you should maintain the correct consistency when using a paint sprayer to cover the imperfections well. Some wall paints like the matte offer similar coverage to the imperfections on the surface, and it would be better to choose the correct wall paint when correcting imperfections.


Some ceiling paint companies offer products in different colors to avoid missing spots when painting the ceiling, but the color could change to white when it dries up. Generally, ceiling paints have minimal colors; you can mix different paints to get the desired color scheme.

On the other hand, the wall paints come in different colors and finishes, and you will not miss the color which meets your needs.


The ceiling paints are durable, offering strong adhesion on different surface textures like drywall, stucco, or plaster. It is more durable than most wall paints and does not easily crack or peel.

Ceiling Paint vs Wall Paint: Which is Better?

Choosing between ceiling paint and wall paint can be challenging as both have advantages and limitations. However, you should consider the type of surface you would like to paint. If the surface is vertical, the ceiling paint would be appropriate as it is less dense and more durable.

If you want a glowing finish, wall paint is the best choice. However, the ceiling paint is better than the wall paint, as it is more durable and provides perfect coverage for imperfections on the surface.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Wall Paint on the Ceiling?

Yes, you can use the wall paint on the ceiling, although painters and home improvement experts do not recommend it. You can only use wall paint such as matte or flat paint, which has the same properties as ceiling paint.

You can also experiment with high-gloss wall paint on your walls, although working with wall paints on vertical surfaces can be messy.

What Paint Do You Use on Ceilings?

You should use ceiling paint on the ceilings as they cover the imperfections and have a low viscosity, which means the paint will not easily flow from the vertical surface. Moreover, the ceiling paint has a flat effect, making the surface less reflective.

Do You Paint the Ceiling the Same as the Wall?

No, you paint them differently; for instance, the ceiling is vertical, and you should ensure the brush moves in a specific pattern to avoid missing any spots on the ceilings.

On the other hand, the wall is a horizontal surface, and you would want to paint it from the top parts to the lower areas. The brush strokes should be horizontal to avoid missing spots on the wall.

Should You Paint the Ceiling or Walls First?

You should paint the ceilings first and dry while ensuring the paint does not flow to the walls. You should also ensure the ceiling paint hides any imperfections on the surface and the edges touching the wall. Finally, you can start painting the wall when the ceiling is well done.

Should I Paint the Ceiling White or the Same Color as the Walls?

You can paint the ceiling white and contrast the wall colors to create a color scheme that meets your needs. Moreover, if the walls are bright colors, you can incorporate a neutral color on the ceiling, like gray.

Should the Ceiling be Lighter or Darker than the Walls?

The ceiling should be lighter than the walls as it does not reflect the light, and this is true for houses with dark walls colors. However, some people would go for a darker ceiling if the walls are brightly colored.

Can You Paint the Ceiling and Walls on the Same Day?

Yes, you can paint the ceiling and the walls on the same day. However, you should start with the ceiling and ensure it is well done before working on the walls.

Why Does My Newly Painted Ceiling Look Patchy?

Your newly painted ceiling might look patchy, especially if you missed some spots when painting the surface. Thus, you should use ceiling paint with a different color, blue or green, when wet.

The colored paint will ensure you don’t miss any spots on the ceiling and turn white when it dries. Moreover, the work might appear patchy if, initially, the surface was uneven.


Painting different surfaces need skills and the right paints. You can choose between ceiling paint and wall paint when painting a surface, depending on the expected results. The ceiling paint is less dense and hides imperfections on the surface effectively. You would use this on an uneven surface, and it is perfect for painting vertical surfaces.

On the other hand, the wall paint is more viscous and offers high gloss; thus, you would use it on different surfaces. Moreover, you can choose either the water or oil-based wall and ceiling paints that meet your needs. Good luck finding the appropriate paint for your project.