How To Apply Ceiling Paint on Walls? (Or Vice Versa)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

Ceiling and wall paints are two different paints. So, can you use ceiling paint on walls?

You can use ceiling paint on interior walls. But, you shouldn’t use it on exterior walls because the finish won’t last long. That’s because ceiling paint isn’t resistant to moisture, water, or rain. You can use also it as a primer (base coat) for a surface.

When dry, ceiling paint has a flat and dry finish with a neutral color, while wall paint has a bright and colorful finish. You shouldn’t use wall paint on the ceiling either because it has a light flow and will drip off.

Ceiling Paint vs Wall Paint

Here is a quick summary of the differences between these two paints:

Ceiling PaintWall Paint
Paint flowThickLight or Thin
Paint CoverageGoodPoor
Paint ColorComes in neutral colorsComes in all colors
Paint ApplicationModerateEasy

Ceiling paint has a thicker flow and viscosity than wall paint because it is designed to be thick to stick without dripping to the ground. Due to its thick flow, it is more durable, lasts longer, and has better coverage. 

You can cover the whole ceiling with one coat of paint. Whereas, you need 2-3 coats of wall paint to cover it properly without dripping to the ground. However, wall paint has more range of colors and finishes because it is designed to be colorful and bright.

Can You Use Wall Paint on Ceiling?

Can You Use Wall Paint On Ceilings?

You can use wall paint on ceilings but it can drip from it and stain your floor. That’s because it is designed with a lighter viscosity (flow), so the paint isn’t heavy or thick.

Lighter paints won’t stick properly to horizontal high surfaces. That’s because they are more fluid and don’t penetrate the surface too fast. On the other hand, thicker paints are more rigid and will penetrate the surface faster. 

However, you can use it if the paint is thick enough. You can also thicken the paint by adding a thickening agent. Thickening agents will increase the viscosity (flow) of the paint, and once it gets thick enough, you can use it on high horizontal surfaces. 

Wall paints are designed to reveal bright colors and sheen. So, they will give the ceiling a brighter and more colorful finish that is required. Usually, ceilings have a dull finish with a natural color to look neutral.

Things To Know

Use Ceiling Paint if:

  1. Extra Protection – Ceiling paints are thicker, stronger, and more resistant to moisture than wall paints. So, use them if you paint over a surface that requires stain or moisture resistance features.
  2. One Color Room – They have a dull and flat finish with a neutral color (white, cream, ash, grey, brown), while wall paint has a bright finish. If you want the room to have one color, use the same type of paint on both surfaces.
  3. As a Primer – You can use it as a primer (base coat) for wall paint. Its thick flow will cover holes, cracks, and imperfections on a surface before you apply the paint. 
  4. To Hide Imperfections – Since ceiling paint is thick, you can use it to cover imperfections or defects on a surface. It will cover (hide) the imperfections and offer a smooth layer for wall paint to stick to. 

Use Wall Paint on Ceiling if:

  1. Same Color – If you want the room to have one color, use wall paint on ceilings (or vice versa). However, it’s difficult to apply it =on high horizontal surfaces because the paint is thinner and will drip on the floor. So, you must thicken it.
  2. Thick Wall Paint – If the wall paint is thick, you can use it on the ceiling. However, it must be water-based and not oil-based. 

Can You Mix Ceiling Paint with Wall Paint?

You can mix ceiling and wall paint, but only if both paints have the same base and type. So, you can mix the  water-based versions of both paints, and oil-based versions of both types of paints. 

However, most ceiling paints are water-based. So, only use water-based wall paint to mix with ceiling paint. You can mix it with 100% water-based acrylic or latex paint for the best results.

You should never mix water-based ceiling paint with: 

  1. Oil-based paints.
  2. Sealers such as polyurethane, wax, or varnish.
  3. Oil-based primers

How To Use Ceiling Paint On Walls?

Applying ceiling paint is the same as applying regular paint, but with an extra step. To use it, you must thin the paint first because it is thicker than most paints. 

If you apply thick paint, the finish will develop ridges.

1. Prep The Work Are

First, prep the workspace. 

You must cover the floor with a large drop sheet to prevent paint stains on the floor. Also, you must remove all objects and furniture on or around the wall. Wear safety goggles too. 

Remove any dark or bright finish from the surface before painting over it. Also, sand, clean, and prime the wall with a water-based primer. 

2. Thin The Ceiling Paint

Before applying ceiling paint, you must thin it. 

To thin it:

  1. Use water (for water-based types) or mineral spirits (for oil-based types). 
  2. Add 1/2 cup of water to the paint or mix it in a ratio of 1:3 (1 part water to 3 parts paint thinner).
  3. Stir the mixture using a turning stick or paint mixer for 5 minutes. 

Once the paint is thinned, it will have a light flow and consistency. 

3. Paint The Wall

Use a paintbrush, spray gun, or roller to apply thinned ceiling paint.

Can You Use Ceiling Paint on Exterior Walls?

You shouldn’t use ceiling paint for exterior walls because the isn’t durable enough. Paints designed for exterior use are thick and formulated with extra additives to improve their weather resistance. But, ceiling paint isn’t formulated with these additives. 

For instance, exterior polyurethane is designed with urethane to make the finish water-resistant. The exterior spar varnish has a glossy finish that is resistant to scratches. Ceiling paint doesn’t have these features. 

If you apply ceiling paint on exterior walls, the paint will get washed off after a while. If it is exposed to constant rainfall, it will get removed. Also, most ceiling paints are water-based, which isn’t known for their durability. Also, since it is thick, it will develop crack lines if used outdoors. 

To use it outdoors, you must seal it with a water-resistant sealer. A sealer, such as polyurethane, will protect the finish from weather elements. 

Final Words

Ceiling and wall paint are both great paints. However, they are designed for separate surfaces.

You can use ceiling paint on walls, but you must thin it before applying it. Also, you can use wall paint on a ceiling, but you must thicken the paint before applying it to prevent drips. 

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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