The 8 Best Paints For Bathroom Ceiling To Prevent Mold (A Complete Guide)

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray

painting bathroom ceiling

Painting the bathroom ceiling is not the most exciting DIY job, so doing it properly the first time will ensure that it retains a clean, durable, water-resistant finish for longer. With all the available products, it can be confusing to choose the right one for your specific requirements. I have made a handy list that will take the guesswork out of selecting a bathroom ceiling paint to beat mold. 

Mold and mildew are common problems that plague bathroom ceilings. Steam build-up and inadequate ventilation can test even the more durable finishes. Fortunately, bathroom ceiling paints have been specifically developed that offer mold protection and will stay looking good for years.

Let’s go through our top 8 picks to paint on bathroom ceilings that will prevent mold.

ProductDrying TimeKills Existing Mold?Primer or Paint?Application Method
Zinsser Mold Killing Primer1 hourYesPrimerRoller / Brush
Rust-Oleum Perma-White Mold and Mildew Proof Paint24 hoursNoPrimer and paintRoller / Brush
KILZ Mold and Mildew Primer30 minutesNoPrimerRoller / Brush
KILZ Restoration Primer/Sealer1 hourNoPrimerRoller / Brush / Spray
KILZ Kitchen and Bath1 hourNoPrimerRoller / Brush / Spray
Diamond Brite Kitchen and Bath Paint30 minutesNoPaintRoller / Brush
Paint-Guard Mold Defense AdditiveN/ANoAdditive to water-based paintDependent on the paint being applied
Zinsser Add-2 Mildewcide AdditiveN/ANoAdditive to oil or latex-based paintDependent on the paint being applied

1. Zinsser Mold Killing Primer

I love this primer because it not only prevents mold from forming on your bathroom ceiling, but it kills and covers any existing unsightly black patches. This can be an added bonus because mold has to be pretty well developed before it becomes visible, so applying a coat of this primer will prevent any existing invisible mold spores from ever getting a foothold.

The Zinsser Mold Killing primer contains a water-based fungicide that kills and prevents mold growth. This low-odor product forms a water-based coating that renders the surface moisture resistant so the ceiling can also be wiped down or cleaned when necessary without damaging the primer shield. 

The only downside is that you will need to cover this mold-preventing primer with a topcoat, but fortunately, most paints adhere well to this primer. 

2. Rust-Oleum Perma-White Mold and Mildew Proof Paint

Rust-Oleum has a range of high-quality products, and the Perma-white mold and mildew-resistant proof paint is no exception. This semi-gloss water-based paint is specifically formulated for high-moisture areas like around the shower, so it is the perfect choice for the bathroom ceiling. 

Although it has quite a long drying time compared to many other paints, the finish is both stain-resistant and washable once it has dried. This paint is self-priming, so you won’t have to coat the ceiling with a specific primer before applying. It can also be tinted if you’d like a less harsh white finish. 

3. Kilz Mold and Mildew Interior and Exterior Primer

The Kilz mold and mildew primer, which will work perfectly under a topcoat on your bathroom ceiling, has received consistently good reviews on Amazon. It’s easy to apply and ready for an outer coat in around 30 minutes, so you can easily complete the bathroom ceiling painting project in one day. 

The consistency of this Kilz product is slightly thicker than you might expect for a primer, but it does a great job of hiding existing stains with one coat. This also gives this primer the ability to coat and seal the ceiling, making it more moisture-resistant and providing an even surface to cover with a topcoat.

Of course, the most desirable feature in terms of bathrooms is that KILZ mold and mildew primer resists mold development. Like other bathroom ceiling primers, it seals and forms a moisture-proof barrier between the rising steam and the ceiling.

4. KILZ Restoration Interior Primer

Although not specifically formulated for use on bathroom ceilings, KILZ Restoration is a heavy-duty primer, sealer, and stain that will be able to cover any existing mold strains instantly. The thick formula creates a seal that protects the surface below from moisture, dirt, and smoke. 

Often when one has had a damp or mold issue, particularly in an enclosed bathroom, it leaves a dank lingering odor that is hard to eradicate. Although KILZ Restoration does not contain a specific mold-resisting additive, this thick primer does have an odor blocker. Be warned, though, it has a pretty potent smell while it is being applied. However, the odor neutralizes as soon as a surface coat is added. Any musty mold smell will be removed entirely.

5. KILZ Kitchen and Bath Primer

As the name suggests, KILZ Kitchen and Bath primer has been specifically formulated for use in high-moisture areas. This primer seals the surface and contains a high mildewcide content, forming a protective, mildew-resistant barrier between the ceiling and the topcoat. 

KILZ Kitchen and Bath can be coated with a topcoat of your choice and will effectively prevent mold from ever becoming a problem on your bathroom ceiling. This primer has a low odor, is stain resistant, and dries quickly. You will be able to add a topcoat within an hour after application. 

6. Diamond Brite Kitchen and Bath Paint

Diamond Brite Kitchen and Bath Paint does not contain any mold-resistant ingredients, but it is specifically formulated for use in high moisture areas. This latex paint offers great moisture-resistant coverage and will protect your ceiling from water-related spots and stains. 

The kitchen and bathroom Diamond Brite paint renders a semi-gloss, white finish that looks bright and clean. It contains additives that prevent brown spotting that may be caused by water splashes. You may need two coats to strengthen the surface, but the ceiling will be water-resistant and easy to wipe clean once dry. 

7. Paint-Guard Mold Defense Additive

If you have already purchased paint to use on your bathroom ceiling and suddenly realized that you neglected to choose one that has mold-resistant properties, then this product is for you! Paint-Guard is a liquid solution that can be added to any water-based paint to inhibit the growth of mold and mildew. 

Paint-guard does not change your original paint color, so this additive can be used confidently if you have selected tinted paint for your bathroom ceiling. Keep in mind that if you are not using an undercoat, the higher the gloss, the more water-resistant the finish will be, so be sure to choose at least a semi-gloss. The less matte options will also be easier to clean. 

Paint-guard is an inexpensive option to offer greater mold resistance to paints used in high-moisture areas like bathroom ceilings. 

8. Zinsser Add-2 Mildewcide Additive

Add-2 is a handy mildew and mold inhibiting paint additive that blends easily into all latex and oil-based paints. The mildewcide additive stirs in easily and will not affect the color or performance of the paint that you are applying. You will need to add one 10 gram packet to every 1 gallon of paint. 

How to Apply a Mold Resistant Primer or Paint for Bathroom Ceiling

The ceilings tend to become the final resting place for any smoke, fumes, cooking vapors, and steam released in our home, and none take as much strain as the bathroom ceiling. We have all been into bathrooms with tell-tale black mold patches are lurking on the corners. 

The area over the shower and bath are particularly problematic, especially if there isn’t adequate ventilation. Your bathroom ceiling is pretty similar to a mini-greenhouse where mold can thrive and grow. 

Paint manufacturers have responded to the challenge and created mildew and mold-resistant formulas. Take note that if your bathroom ceiling already has visible mold, you should first determine the cause of the problem before simply painting over it. 

mold ceiling bathroom

It is possible to paint over existing mold if you use a product like Zinsser Mold Killing Primer. This excellent primer kills mold and mildew and creates a mold-resistant protective layer between your bathroom ceiling and ceiling paint. However, if the mold resulted from inadequate ventilation or some other issue like a leaky roof, any paint job would simply be cosmetic and will only last a few weeks before the water damage and mold will again take their toll.

So although it may take a few additional steps, before going to the expense of purchasing mold-resistant paint for your bathroom ceiling, do a check and determine if any areas in your bathroom are specifically prone to developing mold. You might need to fit a ceiling fan or fix some leaky plumbing, but ultimately, that is the only way to beat ceiling mold in the long term. 

Even if your ceiling only has some slight mold resulting from regular bathroom steam, it is essential to clean it before applying a mold-resistant primer or paint. Mix 1 cup of borax to a gallon of water and use it to all areas of the ceiling and walls where you suspect mold spores might be hiding. Cleaning the ceiling with a mold-killing cleaner before applying the primer is another step to prevent existing mold from reappearing. 

Bathroom ceiling paints that resist mold are usually mold-resistant primers applied directly onto the ceiling, creating a tough shield between the surface and the outer coat of paint. In some cases, primers and paints have been combined, but you must remain aware when you purchase the product if it is only a primer or can also be used as the topcoat. 

What’s The Purpose Of Primer On A Bathroom Ceiling?

Primer is important on any painted surface, but it is essential when it comes to bathroom ceilings. Bathrooms tend to get steamy, and the same fog that can see on your bathroom mirror after a hot shower concentrates against your ceiling paintwork. So keeping the ceiling material as shielded as possible from moisture is critical to prevent mold from setting in. 

Unlike ordinary paint, primers bond to difficult or rough surfaces. Primers developed for bathroom ceilings are infused with mold-preventing substances, so be sure to cover every nook and cranny of the bathroom ceiling and don’t miss any bits. The primer on its own might not look great, but it will penetrate the ceiling material and provide a smooth surface that you can paint over. 

What To Look For When Choosing Bathroom Ceiling Paint

bathroom painting

Bathroom ceilings can be tricky to paint because the area is usually small. At the same time, it is a highly visible surface, and any mold or water damage is immediately noticeable. In addition, mildew and mold can be unhealthy, so prevention is key. 

Bathrooms are highly humid, enclosed rooms. Steam from the bath or shower rises and collects on the ceiling, so choosing a formula that prevents mold development is an important consideration as damp surfaces are the perfect breeding ground for mold. Once this pesky problem takes hold, it can be tough to get rid of.  

Preventing the development of mold is better than trying to fix the problem after it has started. Keep in mind that when painting any surface, the higher the gloss, the greater the water resistance will be. However, not too many people want to paint their bathroom ceiling with high gloss paint, so using a mildew-resistant primer is the perfect solution to seal your ceiling, and you can use any paint color or finish as a topcoat. 

When choosing a bathroom paint, there are a few things you should look for:

  • Is there existing mold on the ceiling? If yes, then the cause needs to be determined and treated. It is also advisable to use a mold-killing formula like Zinsser Mold Killing Primer before proceeding with any topcoat.
  • Does the paint contain a mold and mildew-resistant additive? Paints and primers that contain mold treating and resisting formulas tend to be more expensive than regular household paint. Fortunately, bathrooms are usually relatively small, so you will need much less than for a regular-sized room. 
  • Will the paint seal the ceiling to provide a moisture-resistant finish? Bathrooms are steamy places, so coating the surface of the ceiling with a protective barrier will make it less likely to develop mold. 
  • How will the paint be applied? Is it splatterproof and non-drip? Check the consistency because ceiling painting can be quite different from painting walls. Be cautious when selecting aerosol ceiling sprays, even if designed for bathrooms. If your ceiling surface isn’t adequately sealed, they tend to kick up a lot of dust which can be challenging to remove.
  • Bathrooms are small, so consider the lasting odor of the paint you choose. A newly painted, fresh smell can be expected after any paint job, but prolonged steam and high humidity may amplify paint odor. 

Conclusion

Choosing the correct bathroom ceiling paint is important as it is a highly visible area that is prone to developing unsightly mold. Fortunately, several excellent products are available that have been specifically formulated for use in high-humidity areas. Some paints and primers contain specific mildewcides that prevent mold, while others seal the porous surface to make it moisture resistant. There are also mold-preventing additives that can easily be stirred into bathroom paints before they are applied. 

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.