How To Apply Semi-Gloss over Ceiling Paint? (5 Steps)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

Semi-gloss paint is a paint with a higher sheen than eggshell but a lower sheen than high-gloss paint. Ceiling paint is a paint specially designed to adhere to ceiling surfaces and is usually flat sheen.

Semi-gloss paint does adhere over ceiling paint as the ceiling paint has a flat sheen and no additives that prevent paint adhesion.

Semi-gloss paint doesn’t change the ceiling paint finish color, but it makes it appear brighter or darker than it is.

Does Semi-Gloss Paint Adhere over Ceiling Paint?

Semi-gloss paint does adhere over ceiling paint because the ceiling paint has a flat sheen, low water resistance, and doesn’t have additives that prevent paint adhesion.

However, semi-gloss paint won’t adhere if the ceiling paint finish is filthy, dirty, or sealed. The dirt and dust will prevent good paint adhesion, while a sealer coating will prevent paint penetration. You must clean the paint finish or remove the sealer before applying semi-gloss paint.

Semi-gloss paint won’t adhere to a cracked or peeling ceiling paint finish unless you fix it first.

Is Semi-Gloss Paint Good For Ceiling?

Semi-gloss paint isn’t good for ceilings as the paint has a slow dry time and can drip, and has a reflective finish that reveals imperfections, scratches, and dents on the ceiling surface.

Semi-gloss paint is oil-based and has a thicker paint viscosity, so it’s harder to apply it on ceiling surfaces. The slow dry time and hard paint application means the painting project will take longer to complete.

However, semi-gloss paint is moisture-resistant and protects the ceiling from moisture or water leaks, and its glossy and reflective finish creates a fancy look.

How To Apply Semi-Gloss Paint Over Ceiling Paint?

To apply semi-gloss paint over ceiling paint, do the following things.

  1. Check if the Ceiling Paint is Dry.
  2. Clean the Paint Finish.
  3. Fix Imperfections With Spackle Compound.
  4. Sand the Paint Finish.
  5. Apply Semi-gloss Paint.

The tools you need for this project are listed below.

  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Spackle or joint compound
  • A paintbrush
  • Clean rags
  • A pair of gloves
  • A ladder (Optional)

1. Check if the Ceiling Paint is Dry

The ceiling paint must be dry (cured) before you can paint over it. If you paint over a wet paint finish, the entire finish will remain wet (or sticky) for days or peel off.

To know if the ceiling paint is dry, sand it with extra fine-grit sandpaper (440-grit or higher). The paint is dry if the sandpaper moves freely over the coating without getting clogged. If the sandpaper gets clogged, the paint finish isn’t dry.

2. Clean the Paint Finish

Clean the paint finish to remove dust, dirt, or debris that can prevent the new paint from adhering.

To clean the paint finish, use a dry cloth and wipe it. Don’t use water as flat ceiling paints are water-soluble and will get washed off if exposed to enough water.

3. Fix Imperfections With Spackle Compound

If the ceiling paint or surface has imperfections, fix them with a spackle compound before applying the semi-gloss paint. Semi-gloss paint has a reflective finish and reveals imperfections and bumps on the surface if you don’t fix them.

To fix imperfections on a ceiling paint or surface, use spackle compound. The spackle compound (also known as join compound) is a white powder made from gypsum and water that seals, covers, and repairs imperfections, holes, and bumps on surfaces.

After applying the spackle compound, wait 30 minutes before painting over it.

4. Sand the Paint Finish

Sanding removes imperfections and bumps from the paint finish and creates tiny pores that the new paint can penetrate.

To sand ceiling paint finish, use fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit). Don’t use coarse-grit or medium-grit sandpaper as they will remove the entire paint finish.

After sanding, remove the dust from the surface with a clean rag. 

5. Apply Semi-Gloss Paint

Apply 1-2 semi-gloss paint coats over the ceiling paint using an angled paintbrush. Don’t apply more than two (2) coats as there are already a few ceiling paint coats on the surface.

Wait until one coat dries before applying the next one. Optionally, sand between coats with extra fine-grit sandpaper (440-grit).

Does Semi-Gloss Paint Change Ceiling Paint Color?

Clear semi-gloss paint doesn’t change the ceiling paint color, but it makes it look brighter or deeper than it is.

Semi-gloss paints are transparent because they don’t have pigments on their formula — instead, they form a reflective finish that can make the paint look more vibrant or colorful.

The paint finish color shade depends on the room light. If the room has bright wall light, lamps, or light sources, the semi-gloss paint finish will be more reflective and the paint underneath it will appear brighter. On the other hand, if the room light isn’t bright, the paint finish will be less reflective, making the paint underneath appear darker or deeper.

How Long Does Semi-Gloss Paint Last on a Ceiling?

Semi-gloss paint lasts around 10 years on a ceiling if it’s properly maintained and cleaned regularly.

Ceilings are low-traffic areas and aren’t exposed to constant water, moisture, or usage, so the water-resistant semi-gloss paint won’t be affected by anything and will last longer.

However, a semi-gloss paint finish will last shorter if the ceiling surface is exposed to constant water, moisture, usage, or dirt. The constant water or moisture will gradually wash the paint off.

Even though semi-gloss paint is water-resistant, the paint isn’t waterproof and can withstand moisture only for a short period. The paint will get washed off if exposed to constant water for several days or weeks. So, to make the paint last longer, clean it regularly, and if there’s a water leak near it, fix it immediately. 

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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