Can You Use Ceiling Paint on Walls (Or Wall Paint on Ceiling)?

I’m guessing you have leftover ceiling paint and you are wondering if you can use it on the walls. Or, you have wall paint and thinking: hey, why not touch up the ceiling with this? Can you? Here is the answer to that.

You can apply ceiling paint on walls but only on interior walls. You should never use ceiling paint on an exterior wall because the finish will not last long.

However, you should know that if you use ceiling paint on walls, you’ll end up with a flat and dry finish. This is because ceiling paints are designed to have neutral colors, flat, and dry finishes. You can also use ceiling paint as a paint primer for walls.

However, It’s generally not advised to use wall paint on the ceiling. This is because wall paint is light and is likely to drop from the ceiling.

Can You Use Wall Paint On Ceilings?

Can You Use Wall Paint On Ceilings?

You can use wall paint on ceilings but it’s not advised to do so. This is because wall paints are designed with lighter viscosity meaning that the paint is not heavy or thick.

If you use such paint on the ceiling, the paint will drip down to the floor causing a mess. Also, the paint will not dry properly and is likely to develop lumps when it eventually dries.

However, you can use wall paint on the ceiling if the paint is thick enough. You can also thicken the paint by adding a thickening agent to the wall paint. Thickening agents are chemicals used to increase the viscosity (or thickness) of paint.

For instance, thickening agents for latex paints usually contain water-soluble hydroxyethyl cellulose. If the paint is thick enough, you can use it to paint the ceiling.

You should know that the only type of wall paint that you can use on the ceiling is interior wall paint. Never coat ceiling with exterior wall paint. This is because exterior walls are usually formulated with strong chemicals and additives that can prove very toxic if used in large amounts and in an enclosed environment.

You should also know that wall paints are usually designed to reveal bright colors and sheens that might not suit the ceiling if used. Ceiling paints are usually dull and with neutral colors like white or grey. This is to make the ceiling look neutral. Wall paints might give the ceiling a brighter or more colorful appearance than is required.

Let’s dive deeper into the differences between wall and ceiling paint by comparing both types of paint below.

Ceiling Paint vs Wall Paint?

Here is a quick summary of the differences between ceiling and wall paints:

 Ceiling PaintWall Paint
Paint flowThickLight or Thin
DurabilityVery goodAverage
Paint CoverageVery goodPoor
Paint ColorComes in neutral colorsComes in all colors
Paint ApplicationModerateEasy

Based on the table above, you can see that ceiling paints have a thicker flow and viscosity than wall paints. Ceiling paints are designed to be thick so the paint can stick to the ceiling properly without dripping to the ground.

Also, ceiling paints cover more areas easily. You can cover a side of the ceiling with just one coat. Whereas, wall paints will require 2-3 coats for proper coverage. This is because wall paints are thinner and lighter.

However, you’ll get a broad range of colors and finishes with wall paint than ceiling paint. This is because ceiling paint isn’t designed to be as colorful or bright as wall paints. You should also know that ceiling paint due to its thick nature, is more durable and stronger than wall paint.

So when can you use ceiling paint on a wall? Let’s find out.

When To Use Ceiling Paint On Walls?

Here are scenarios where you can use ceiling paint on a wall:

When You Want Extra Protection

Ceiling paints are thicker and as a result stronger and more resistant to stains and moisture than wall paints.

So if you want to paint over a wall that requires stain-blocking or moisture resistance, you can use ceiling paint. A wall painted with ceiling paint will be extra durable and resistant to stains, grease, dust, and water.

When You Want The Room To Have One Color

Ceiling paints as explained earlier are dull and usually come in neutral colors like white, ash, grey, brown, and cream.

If you’ll like to paint your walls the same flat color as the ceiling, then you can use ceiling paint on the wall. As a bonus, the walls will have improved durability.

When You Want To Prime Walls

Ceiling paint is a great option for priming walls before painting them. You also don’t need more than one coat of ceiling paint if you are using it as a paint primer since ceiling paint is thick.

The thick nature of the ceiling paint also means that it would fill and cover holes, cracks, and defects in the wall properly.

When Painting A Patched Wall

The wide coverage and ability to hide defects on the wall makes ceiling paint great for painting over freshly-repaired and patched walls. Now, let’s check out when you can use wall paint on the ceiling.

When To Use Wall Paints On Ceiling?

Here are scenarios where you can use wall paint on the ceiling.

When You Want Uniform Color On The Walls And Ceiling

If you’ll like to have the same color throughout the room, you can use wall paints on the ceiling. But you should know that it’ll be difficult to use wall paint on the ceiling since wall paint is thinner. So you’ll need to thicken the paint.

When The Wall Paint Is Thick

If you have leftover wall paint that is very thick, you can use it on the ceiling. However, thick wall paints are usually oil-based.

It’s not advised to use oil-based wall paint on the ceiling as the paint smell can be toxic. So only use water-based wall paint on ceilings.

Can I Mix Ceiling Paint With Wall Paint?

You can mix ceiling paint with wall paint only if both paints have the same base and are of the same type. This means you can only mix water-based ceiling paint with water-based wall paint.

You should know that most ceiling paints are water-based. That means that in most cases, you can only mix ceiling paint with water-based wall paint. That said, never mix ceiling paint with the following types of paints:

  • Oil-based paints
  • Sealants like polyurethane and wax
  • Oil-based primers

Tip: Only mix ceiling paint with 100% water-based acrylic or latex paint.

How To Use Ceiling Paint On Walls (Made Easy)?

Using ceiling paint on a wall is the same as applying regular wall paint but with an extra step. To use ceiling paint on a wall, you’ll have to thin the paint first because ceiling paints are thicker than wall paint.

If used directly, it can cause ridges on the wall. The following steps will guide you on how to use ceiling paint properly on walls:

Prep The Work Area

The first step in any painting task is to prep your workspace. Since you’ll be painting a wall, it’s best to cover the floor with a large drop sheet to prevent paint stains on the floor. You should also remove all objects and furniture on or around the wall. Also, put on a pair of gloves.

Prep The Wall

You should scrape off any dark or bright finish on the wall before applying ceiling paint. Then sand, clean, and prime the wall. Always use a water-based paint primer or ceiling paint.

Thin The Ceiling Paint

The next step is to thin the ceiling paint. This means to make the ceiling paint have a light flow and consistency. To do this, you’ll need to use a thinning medium or paint thinner.

Since most ceiling paints are water-based, you can thin the ceiling paint with water. But, if the ceiling paint is oil-based, you can thin it with mineral spirits.

To thin the paint, add 1/2 cup of water in the ceiling paint or you can mix the water and ceiling paint in the ratio of 1:3 (1 part water to 3 parts ceiling paint).

Stir The Mixture

Stir the paint thinner and ceiling paint with a paint mixer or turning stick for about 10 minutes.

Paint The Wall

After, apply the paint on the wall using a paintbrush, spray gun, or roller. To spray ceiling paint, you’ll need to super dilute it.

Can You Use Ceiling Paint On Exterior Walls (Outside)?

You shouldn’t use ceiling paint on exterior walls because the ceiling paint can’t thrive outside. Paints designed for exterior use are usually thick and formulated with extra chemicals and additives to improve the weather resistance of the paint.

For instance, exterior polyurethane is designed with plastics to make the paint water-resistant. Rust-oleum exterior paint is designed with silicone compounds to make the paint heat-resistant.

Exterior spar varnish is formulated with UV blockers to reduce the effect of UV rays on the finish. All of these paints can be used outside because they have special features and additives that will make them thrive in the harsh exterior environment.

Ceiling paints on the other hand don’t have any of these additives or extra chemicals. This is because ceiling paint is designed for indoor use. As such, it doesn’t need UV blockers or plastics. If ceiling paint is used outside, the absence of these additives in the paint coating will make it dry out or blister quickly.

Also, since the ceiling paint is thick, it will easily crack and develop lines. Moisture, dust, heat, and air will easily get in those lines causing the ceiling paint to come crashing down. So it’s not a good idea to use ceiling paint on exterior walls. On interior walls, you can use ceiling paint.

Related Read: Can You Use Exterior Paint Outside?

Should Ceiling Paint Be The Same Color As Walls?

Ceiling paint shouldn’t have the same color as walls. But, it can if that’s what you are going for. For instance, if you want the entire room and the ceiling to have a uniform color, you can have a ceiling with the same paint as the walls. This is a common practice as well.

In official rooms like work offices, laboratories, research centers, and the likes, the ceiling is commonly designed to have the same color as the walls. So if you are painting your office, you can paint the ceiling and wall the same color.

However, if you are painting the living room, the children’s room, or any other project that requires decor, you’ll want to switch paints as ceiling paint is usually flat, and using it on a wall will create a dull appearance.

Final Words

Overall, both ceiling and wall paint are great paint types. Though designed for separate functions and surfaces, you can still use wall paint on the ceiling or ceiling paint on the wall.

All you have to do is ensure proper preparation before painting. To use ceiling paint on a wall, thin the paint first. To use wall paint on the ceiling, thicken the paint first.

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