Can You Use Ceiling Paint on Walls?

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No product transforms a room like paint does, whether you are refreshing old finishes or updating the style of your home. Paint comes in various styles and colors, and each type has a different purpose. So, can you use ceiling paint on the walls?

You can apply ceiling paint on walls, but you should know specific advantages and disadvantages before picking a brush. You can enjoy the benefits of ceiling paint on the walls of certain parts of the home, like stairwells and finished basements.

This article discusses the distinctions between wall and ceiling paint and whether you can use ceiling paint on walls. I also examine which is better to paint first: the ceiling or walls.

What’s the Difference Between Wall and Ceiling Paint?


Ceiling paint finds application on other surfaces apart from the ceiling. Since wall and ceiling paints are the most popular types in any housing project, it helps to know their differences.

Understanding how they differ will better inform your choices on which one to use per time.

These are the areas in which wall and ceiling paint differ:


Viscosity is the most significant difference between both types of paint, and it refers to how thick the paint is. For example, ceiling paint is thick and highly viscous, whereas wall paint is thin and less viscous. Due to its viscosity, ceiling paint adheres better when you apply it.

You can consider wall paint as water and ceiling paint as honey. Unlike wall paint, ceiling paint has more solids in the paint mix that help prevent splatter or drip when applied.

Colors and finishes

Wall paint comes in a greater variety of colors than ceiling paint. You can choose the color you want and even use different shades within a color family. Ceiling paint only has a few options, but you can ask the paint manufacturer to customize a specific color.

Wall paint comes in different finishes, while ceiling paint has only two finishes—flat and eggshell. Some examples of wall paint finishes are satin, semi-gloss, matte, eggshell, and textured. Finishes are essential for catching lights in different ways, which dictate the style of each room.


Because of its viscosity, ceiling paint is more durable than wall paint. Plus, it’s less likely to crack and peel, which is a welcome feature if you often don’t want to repaint your ceiling. However, ceiling paints are more prone to heat exposure, causing more stress on the paint.

Application and cost

The thinness of wall paint makes it faster to apply, even with a sprayer. You will need a unique sprayer to distribute ceiling paint effectively.

Ceiling paint is about 15% to 20% cheaper than most interior wall paints. This might benefit people who don’t want to spend a lot.

Other variations include coverage and treatment. Ceiling paint has more coverage than wall paint—you can cover areas uniformly and smoothly with one coat. Wall paints usually need two or three coats to achieve the same effect.

Can You Use Ceiling Paint on Walls?

Although you can use ceiling paints on walls, you have to be careful about the location and purpose. From a functional and stylistic viewpoint, the downsides of using ceiling paint on your walls outweigh the benefits.

The beneficial applications of ceiling paint on walls are as a drywall primer, to save cost, and it’s better for some rooms or locations in the house.

Here are more details of these advantages:

Ceiling paint as drywall primer: Ceiling paint is perfect for covering blemishes and other marks on the ceiling. Applying it on walls fulfills the same purpose and is an excellent undercoat and primer for your regular interior paints. It can also act as a paint seal.

When you use it as a drywall primer, you will probably use more ceiling paint than usual to achieve a desirable result.

A cost-effective option: Using the same type of paint for both walls and ceilings will save you a lot of money and time. It also reduces your painting time because you no longer have to cut the paint for walls.

The Best Locations And Scenarios To Use Ceiling Paint On Walls

Ceiling paint is an excellent replacement for wall paint in these situations and places:

  1. It is convenient to paint closets with ceiling paint when renovating or doing a new build. If the style is not your concern, doing this saves you from the stress of taping.

  2. Many home designers use ceiling paint to “seal in” a room and create a cozier feel in the space. It is a typical look for large rooms with high-vaulted ceilings.

  3. If you’re going for an all-white room where light doesn’t bounce, then the flat finish of ceiling paint is perfect for you.

  4. Stairwells will benefit from a coat of ceiling paint on its walls. They are high-traffic areas prone to markings, dirt, and scuff, and ceiling paint will hide imperfections and protect against new marks.

  5. Rooms where messes occur might fare better with ceiling paint. These may include playrooms, basements, or rooms exposed to handprints and cigar or cigarette smoke.

Disadvantages of using ceiling paint on walls

  • You cannot clean stains off ceiling paint, which decreases its durability. Wall paints are designed to withstand gentle scrubbing with soap and water.
  • The flat finish won’t reflect light well in some rooms, making them unappealing.
  • It will be costly to customize the color you want for your walls, and mixing it with any wall paint requires some finesse.
  • It doesn’t come in specialty formulations like wall paint. Wall paint has these formulations for mudrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens, that are resistant to water, mold, and mildew.

If you don’t mind the disadvantages, you can use ceiling paint for your walls. The best application of ceiling paint on walls remains as a primer.

Is It Better to Paint the Ceiling or Walls First?

Painting any room is a project that requires a lot of planning and preparation before you begin. If you dive in headfirst, you may find it more challenging than you thought.

So, the best way to go about it is:

  • Prepare the room you want to paint: Put furniture away or in the middle of the room, clean the walls, and scrape away old or peeling paint. Place tarp over the floor and masking tape where necessary.

  • Have all your tools and products ready: Keep your brushes, clean towels, and paint cans within reach. It is more efficient to do this than to make multiple trips.
  • Know the correct methods or techniques: Even though most people have their ways and follow different steps, there is a standard way to paint. You paint from top to bottom: ceiling, walls, trim, windows, and finally, doors.

Painting the ceiling first allows you to cover the surface with at least two coats without worrying about splatter on the walls. After the ceiling has dried, you can cut and roll the wall with at least two coats.

Many people don’t realize that ceiling paint ages over time, giving the room a yellow cast. When they paint the walls first, the dinginess of the ceiling becomes obvious.

It’ll be challenging to paint the ceiling after the walls because you will have to take extra care to avoid drips and splatters. So save yourself more stress than necessary, and always paint the ceiling first.

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