There is a reason that paint stores carry a variety of sheens, textures and colors of paint. It is because each type of paint is used for a specific purpose. But can you use any type of paint anywhere you want? Technically you can, however, if you want the paint to last and be worth your effort, you should use a paint product designed for your specific use.

Different areas of your home have different micro-climates, and thus need different types of paint – whether for your walls or ceilings. This is not just a fantasy created by paint companies to sell more paint. When you consider the humidity levels of a bathroom versus a bedroom, you begin to see that different paint types are needed for different areas of a home.

Although there is no written law, most professional painters use flat, matte acrylic paint for ceilings. Flat paint produces an even finish that doesn’t reflect light or create a glare. It also hides imperfections in the ceiling better than other types of paint, which can be beneficial in an older home with warped or slightly damaged ceilings.

Paint designated for ceilings may be thicker than typical wall paints to cover completely in one coat. And some manufacturers make ceiling paint that appears slightly tinted when wet so you can easily see if you missed a spot, but dries the finished color.

Flat acrylic paint is easy to apply to a ceiling with minimal dripping and dries more evenly than other types of paints. Keep in mind that flat paint shouldn’t be used in wet rooms, like a bathroom, basement or laundry room because the moisture can cause the paint to chip, peel or become stained. Areas with high humidity will need a paint with at least a little sheen. Satin sheen acrylic paint is a good choice for most areas like that. Semi-gloss can be used if more water resistance is needed, such as ceilings in shower stalls.

Most people choose to paint their ceiling in a white or ivory color because it creates a more open feeling and reflects ambient light. However, more and more designers are using color on ceilings to create a unique design perspective. A deeper ceiling color than the walls makes a high-ceilinged room feel more intimate. Ceiling paint that matches or closely mirrors wall color expands a low-ceilinged room. Painting your ceiling and walls the same color gets rid of the contrast between the walls and ceiling, making furniture, curtains, and artwork really stand out.

If you are considering painting a whole room, paint the ceiling first. Any random drips or spatters are easily covered by the subsequent wall painting, and working on the ceiling first means you don’t have to be as careful with taping edges.

When preparing your ceiling for paint, remove as much furniture as possible, remove light fixtures, or at least the canopy that is attached to the ceiling so you can easily brush around it. This will speed up the time to cut around the fixture with a brush. Drape plastic or masking paper over the light fixture to protect it from any splatters. A ceiling fan can be masked with either masking paper on the blades or draped with plastic and taped secure. Most fans have a removable cover over the motor. Remove this cover if possible. Painting a ceiling can be a messy job. Put down plenty of drop cloths and wear a hat to avoid paint spatters in your hair.

Repair drywall cracks and any damage before proceeding with the ceiling painting. Stains from water damage need to be sealed with a stain blocking primer. Apply two coats to be sure the stain is fully sealed. Ask your paint supplier for a good primer for your specific needs.

If your ceiling has popcorn texture and needs repairs, consider hiring a professional. A word of caution, popcorn ceilings can sometimes contain asbestos, depending on when it was applied, and should be abated by a licensed and insured abatement contractor. Once properly removed, you can paint or have a painter follow up.

If you choose to keep your popcorn ceilings you’ll need to use a roller with a deeper knap. More paint is needed to get into the grooves of a textured ceiling, but be careful not to saturate it too much.

If you have a sand-finished ceiling, similar to the look of stucco, repairing it will be more difficult, as you must match the texture. Use a mixture of joint compound, which is commonly used to repair ceilings, mixed with silica sand to replicate the texture of your ceiling. Then paint the entire ceiling.

In general, painting ceilings with a brush and roller is preferred, and requires the least experience and investment in tools. The steps needed are brushing next to the walls then rolling the paint using an efficient pattern. Brushing should occur first, if one coat of paint will be applied. For two coat applications quickly roll the ceiling then cut-in twice while waiting for the ceiling to dry.

A gallon of paint generally covers about 400 square feet. The best plan is to finish the entire ceiling painting in one session. Allowing the paint to dry at different times will produce visible lap marks.

Freshly painted ceilings have a great impact on the appearance and feel of a room. After all, they are the only surface in a room as large as the floor. In the past, painting a ceiling any color but white was largely ignored as an option for giving a room a distinctive look. Now, however, there are endless possibilities. Are you eager to paint your ceiling? If so, what color paint should it be

For more specific information in selecting the right finish or choice of paint color, you should consult with a knowledgeable paint retailer to provide you with the expert advice you need to ensure your project comes out picture perfect.

Peter & Julie Monzi, Owners – Shamrock Paints & Decorating Center
(718) 981-1616 (North Shore location) * (718) 966-9500 (South Shore location)