Last Updated on June 20, 2023 by Barry Gray
I think people are used to venturing into a hardware store and seeing different paints for different surfaces. We then believe that the surface noted on the paint is the only thing the paint will work on.
But is that true?
Take ceiling paint as a prime example. Is it possible to use it on walls?
Applying ceiling paint on walls is possible, but it’s not something I would recommend. The chemical makeup of ceiling paint is different, resulting in fewer drips, and the paint does not have the same ability for you to wipe it clean. Also, it will tend to simply not look as good as wall paint.
But if you notice what I said there. I mentioned how it is possible to do this, but it’s not something I would suggest.
So, it’s not as clear-cut an answer as you would perhaps have liked.
But to help, I will take you through what both paints have to offer and allow you to then make your own decision as to whether or not you want to use ceiling paint on your walls.
After all, if you feel it will do the job for you, then why should anybody really stop you?
What is Ceiling Paint?
The clue is clearly in the name here, but ceiling paint has some specific attributes you won’t tend to get with other paints.
Wondering what I mean when I talk about different attributes? I think these points should help.
- It has a higher viscosity. That means fewer drips
- They often contain latex to give a more uniform finish
- They don’t allow smells to stick to the paint
- They contain properties to help cover up imperfections in the ceiling
- They tend to lead to you only doing one coat
- They will often be matte or have a low-gloss finish
You will learn later on how this is different from wall paint. However, I feel it’s the viscosity level that’s the main difference here.
When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. The last thing you want is to have ceiling paint that drips down and makes a mess of everything.
So, this then changes how you apply ceiling paint, and while you may think it’s a good idea to have wall paint that also doesn’t drip, it just doesn’t quite work as well.
The viscosity changes how the ceiling paint is applied, and it becomes pretty tricky to apply it to walls smoothly and without you seeing all the brush marks all over the wall.
And one thing that annoys me is seeing those brush marks when it’s supposed to be smooth, as they just stand out way more than they really should.
Is Ceiling Paint Any Good?
Here’s a key point. Ceiling paint is fantastic for ceilings.
However, I always feel it is lacking in some areas as soon as you move away from the ceiling. It does give coverage, but that’s not always the exact thing you are looking for.
I must stress that ceiling paint, or any paint for that matter, is always designed with specific needs in mind.
But those needs are different when you move to walls, wood, metal, or anything else. Properties change according to the materials being painted.
Walls take on more wear and tear. Walls are more likely to encounter stains and marks.
The same cannot be said for ceiling paint. After all, you are hardly going to be able to make too many marks on your ceiling.
So, why would the manufacturer then include those types of things in the paint?
Yet, there’s no doubt ceiling paint is the best around for the job it’s intended to do. Wall paint on the ceiling would lead to a mess with paint dripping down all over the place, and nobody wants that.
But do yourself a favor. Keep ceiling paint for the ceiling and wall paint for the walls.
It will just make your life a whole lot easier if you do this.
What is Wall Paint?
Wall paint is created in such a way that you should have no difficulty in applying it to walls. Yet, it has different properties and attributes to ceiling paint.
So, as I did above, here are the key attributes of wall paint that you should be aware of. Also, you will now see the differences that exist between the two paints.
- Wall paint often requires more than one coat
- It’s often thinner than ceiling paint, leading to you working harder to cover the walls
- The paint delivers a tougher surface when dried
- It’s often possible to wipe it clean without removing the paint
- It’s designed to enhance the wall surface
- You can purchase wall paint even in a high gloss finish to further improve things
- You have so many options available when it comes to the color range
As you can see, wall paint is designed to act utterly different to ceiling paint. The only thing it has in common is how you will apply it.
Apart from that, it has a different job to do, acts in a different way, and it’s just all designed to be used in a specific manner in your home.
Why I Love Wall Paint
I admit I love quality wall paint. I feel it has so many properties contained within it that does lead to the paint often being easy to use.
But I have a word of warning. Don’t go for inexpensive paint.
I know it’s tempting to try to save some money and go for the cheap option, but I don’t see that as the best solution in this instance.
Instead, I see using inexpensive wall paint as a way to give yourself significantly more work and an increased risk of you being dissatisfied with the end result.
Yet, if you are wondering about what I mean when I say I love wall paint, these are the reasons why I only ever use paint specifically designed for walls.
- The durability of quality wall paint is second to none
- You can wipe marks off, and the paint still looks as good as new
- The wear and tear of wall paint cannot be surpassed by ceiling paint
- You can purchase wall paint in pretty much any color you want
- You have a choice of sheen depending on your preference
- Most wall paint is now low odor, so there is no need to worry about smells
But I think the ease with which wall paint can be applied makes it stand out. Whether it’s a paint sprayer, roller, or paint brush, you can quickly add a brand new coat of paint to the walls in less time than you thought possible.
Also, even though ceiling paint is primarily cheaper than wall paint, there’s no need to spend a fortune on wall paint.
However, I would certainly seek to push my budget past those paints at the lower end of the price range. Those paints will often result in several coats being required to get decent coverage, and you end up spending more money than you intended.
Why Shouldn’t You Use Ceiling Paint on Walls?
I’ve described the different attributes of both ceiling and wall paint, so let me run through the reasons why I feel you should never really use ceiling paint on walls.
Mold and Staining Properties
Ceiling paint has specific properties contained within its chemical mixture. However, those properties are not the ones you really want with wall paint.
The main thing about ceiling paint is it’s designed to withstand both stains and mold. It needs this because we do not really maintain our ceilings in the same way as our walls.
Also, ceilings come into contact with different conditions. Think of the number of times you have witnessed mold appearing on the join of the ceiling and wall, and you will understand what I’m saying here.
But here’s an important point regarding the properties.
Ceiling paint is not designed to withstand regular cleaning.
The paint is not as hardy as wall paint, and it will not cope with being wiped down. That will often lead to you effectively losing some of the paint, and nobody wants that to happen.
Another problem I see with ceiling paint is you do have restricted options when it comes to both colors and finishes.
Think about the different tins when you check out the ceiling paint in a hardware store. It’s often white or off-white colors.
Sure, you do have some options for additional colors, but compare those options to what’s available with wall paint.
Honestly, there’s no comparison, and it’s that flexibility with colors and finishes that makes wall paint stand out.
Also, you do tend to notice the color of the walls more. After all, it’s at eye level, so if you want something outlandish on your walls, that’s not something you will get with ceiling paint.
For that reason alone, I feel wall paint is the better option.
Another area I want to focus on is the issue of light and how the paint deals with it in your room.
Ceiling paint is not designed to reflect too much light. It’s matt and dull to look at, and that is something that has been done on purpose.
Wall paint is different. It’s designed to reflect light as it makes the walls appear better. Also, it helps brighten up the room, and that is just not something you get with ceiling paint.
Again, this is another example of how different paints need to have the ability to perform in their own ways.
Honestly, having dull paint on the walls makes them look dead. It comes across as pointless and something I would never suggest you do.
That is why using paint with some type of sheen to it. The sheen on the paint makes a significant difference as the light comes in your windows and smacks the wall.
General Wear and Tear
I previously mentioned the mold and staining properties of ceiling paint and how they are different from wall paint. But do you know something else that’s different with ceiling paint and wall paint?
Wear and tear.
Ceiling paint is not designed to be as hardy as wall paint. But then, it doesn’t have to be hardy, apart from in steamy conditions.
After all, the ceiling paint is up out of the way, whereas wall paint has to contend with us coming into contact with it on pretty much a daily basis.
So ceiling paint has no need to be capable of withstanding those bumps and scrapes that come with daily living.
That is why you can often wipe down wall paint, and it doesn’t destroy the paint itself. If you tried that with ceiling paint, you would increase the chances of it looking tarnished at the end.
Are There Any Positives of Using Ceiling Paint on Walls?
I know I sound very negative up to this point regarding using ceiling paint on walls. However, there are some positives that come with using this paint under certain circumstances.
If you are not too concerned about the sheen aspect, then ceiling paint on walls can be a cost effective solution for people on a budget. I know it’s not the best finish, but it will undoubtedly cover the walls and do so efficiently.
However, I would only ever do this when I planned on using the ceiling paint as a primer or a base coat. I feel it works well in this instance, and it’s certainly less expensive compared to an actual primer.
But even here, I would go ahead and use wall paint as the top coat. I would never leave it as ceiling paint on the walls as I would struggle to cope with the finish it offers.
So, how much cheaper is ceiling paint compared to wall paint?
Well, it does depend on the type of paint, but you will typically find ceiling paint to be in the region of 15% or even 20% cheaper.
That is a price difference that can sway people when it comes to using the paint, but I urge you to think beyond the price point.
I’ve found ceiling paint to be pretty good at covering stains, so if you have marks on your wall and want to paint over them as part of that base coat, then ceiling paint can do a remarkable job.
I’ve discovered that ceiling paint over stains usually results in just one coat, and that saves a lot of time and hassle. With some wall paints, it’s often the case that you need a couple of coats to hide nasty stains, so that’s certainly an absolute advantage of using ceiling paint in this instance.
And yet, even though it does give good stain coverage, it doesn’t always mean it’s a good thing.
Sure, it makes life easier if it covers stains at the first time of asking, but it does make the wall dull and uninteresting thanks to its flat finish.
Can You Use Both Ceiling and Wall Paint Together?
I’ve mentioned above how you could potentially use ceiling paint as a base coat followed by wall paint as the top coat.
But does that pose any difficulties?
The answer is yes, but only in a certain way.
You see, paint can come in different forms. By that, I mean latex paint, water-based paint, or oil-based paint. This is important when it comes to getting both ceiling and wall paint to work well together.
The key is to ensure both ceiling and wall paint have the same base. I mean that both are water-based, or both are oil-based, and so on.
If they are both manufactured with the same base ingredients, then the two different paints will blend together, and you will have no problems.
But if you use ceiling paint that is latex-based and then water-based wall paint, then prepare for a nightmare scenario to occur.
Using Ceiling Paint on Your Walls
So, let’s presume you want to use ceiling paint as a base. How do you go about preparing your walls?
Preparation for any painting is crucial. Fail to do it right, and don’t be surprised if your painted surface looks like a complete disaster.
I know I used to be guilty of cutting a few corners when I really started out with different DIY projects. The outcome was me spending longer trying to fix the disaster than it would have taken me to complete the project by doing it correctly the first time.
So, prepare the walls, and this is what I suggest you do.
Step 1: Inspect the Walls
My first recommended step is to inspect the walls. Look for chips, cracks, dents, or anything else that will potentially show up when you paint the walls.
This is your opportunity to deal with those cracks and anything else wrong with the structure.
If you do come across cracks or marks, use a quality filler to cover them up. Allow it to dry before then carrying on with the painting part.
Step 2: Primer
After you have repaired the cracks and dents, you need to prime everything.
Using a primer does tend to provide a better finish, and I know some people use ceiling paint as the primer, thanks to its viscosity.
At this point, I would focus on the areas you have repaired. They need to be primed, or the fixed areas will be harder to cover with the paint.
Step 3: Remove any Debris
It’s important to remove any debris from the walls before painting. This can involve sanding down any rough paint and also dusting the entire wall.
Dust has this amazing ability to stand out even more when you paint over it.
I always ensure I wipe down the walls before painting. It undoubtedly provides a smoother finish when you do this.
Step 4: The First Coat
If you plan on adding a base coat, which is important if going for a dramatic color change, then this is the point where you can bring out your ceiling paint.
Remember, ceiling paint will give you decent coverage. Still, it is lacking in the appearance department suitable for a top coat.
Apply with your preferred method, but ensure you put on a smooth coat. Again, any rough painted parts will leap out when you then put a top coat on to finish the job.
It’s always best to take time to ensure you have a decent base coat. It will result in a better finish overall.
Step 5: The Top Coat
After the first coat has had time to dry, and I would certainly give it more than enough time to dry, you can then bring out your wall paint for the top coat.
Again, you can apply using your preferred method, but you should find the wall paint gives good coverage over the base coat of ceiling paint.
Ideally, you will notice that any marks you may have had on the wall have vanished, and those repairs should not be too obvious.
The top coat should also have more of a sheen to it, as this provides a more polished finish compared to a matt coat.
But the good news is you may only need one coat when it comes to applying the top coat. However, that only applies when you have used the correct paint mix, which means using oil wall paint with oil ceiling paint or latex with latex.
If you do that, your top coat should end up looking pretty good.
A Recap on Using Ceiling Paint on Walls
I’ve covered a number of key points when it comes to ceiling paint and the potential for using it on walls. I don’t want anybody making mistakes, so here are the key points that I think should stand out.
- Ceiling paint and wall paint are two different things
- Ceiling paint is thicker and doesn’t drip
- It covers stains well
- It has a flat finish, so it is not good for walls
- It’s not suitable for wear and tear
- It doesn’t reflect light, so makes the walls look dull
- You are restricted when it comes to color options
- It doesn’t have the same resistance to marks as wall paint
- You cannot wipe it clean without potentially damaging the paint
- It’s best used for a primer or base coat
- You then need to add wall paint on top
- Only ever use latex with latex or oil with oil
So, you can use ceiling paint on walls, but not as the top coat or to get a plush looking finish. That is simply impossible, and it’s not even worth trying.
Ceiling paint can be used on walls, but it shouldn’t be your first option. There’s a reason why it’s called ceiling paint, and the same applies to wall paint, so stick with the advice that appears on the paint.
Just because something can possibly be used in a certain way does not make it the correct choice. This is one of those times.
To learn more about paint and how to get the best out of it in your home, check out these articles on the site.