What Paint to Use For False Ceilings

Whether you’re renovating basement or you want to spruce up your office space, a fresh coat of paint on your false ceilings can do the trick. However, you can’t just use any paint you find. It’s important to use the correct kind in order to have a clean finish.

What paint do you use for false ceilings? To paint your false ceiling, it’s best to use flat paint for the ceiling tiles and semi-gloss paint for the metal gridding. You should also use a metal primer on the gridding beforehand. Primer will prevent oxidation and will ensure an even paint coat.

One may think a person could use the same kind of paint used when they painted their walls, but false ceilings are made of different material and require special paint for a variety of reasons.

The Difference Between Wall Paint & Ceiling Paint

To make a long story short, ceiling paint differs from wall paint in that it isn’t required to be as durable as wall paint. In general, wall paint is made to withstand soap and water as you’d need to wash it pretty regularly.

Ceiling paint is designed to be able to cover up grime and other imperfections with just one coat of paint. It’s also specifically made to dry much faster than wall paint. On top of that, it’s made to splatter less, which makes it easier to work with than regular paint.

However, unlike with wall paint, ceiling paint really only comes in white. It may roll on as a pale blue or pink color, but it dries as white. This is helpful in spotting any missed areas but can prove to be annoying if you’re trying to get a specific color.

This is only a minor inconvenience, though. You can usually go into any hardware or home improvement store and have them add whatever pigment or colors you want into your paint. Your ceiling paint is made to ensure light doesn’t reflect off of it, but rather it scatters it around to help hide imperfections.

While wall paint comes in a variety of colors, ceiling paint normally comes in a variety of finishes. Different finishes can help give your room a more open or closed look depending on what you like.

All in all, you can potentially use regular paint on your ceiling. However, ceiling-specific paint goes on much smoother and is less likely to drip while drying. It’s also much better at hiding imperfections and stains than typical wall paint. Not to mention, ceiling paint is much flatter than wall paint.

What is Ceiling Paint Made of?

Ceiling paint is pretty much made of the same ingredients as normal paint, but with a higher viscosity level. You’ll find most ceiling paints are either oil-based or made with latex. It seems that latex paint has become more popular in recent years. This is likely because it’s water-based and dries quicker than oil-based paints.

Water-based paint also tends to have a much weaker “paint” smell than oil-based paints. Latex paint is also a popular option because it’s normally able to be used on both your walls and your ceiling.

When speaking of false ceilings, it’s important to remember that an oil-based primer is needed. In many cases, you’ll be able to find ceiling-specific paint that also happens to be a primer too. These combination paints may seem more expensive, but you’ll save money by buying a 2-in-1 rather than two different products.

Another helpful tidbit about false ceilings is that you should try to find the flattest paint possible. This will prevent any light from reflecting off of your ceiling.

How to Paint Your False Ceiling

So, how exactly do you paint a false ceiling? While it isn’t necessarily difficult, it does take a few more steps than your typical ceiling. Here’s a helpful step-by-step process for you:

  1. Prepare your area: As this is a two-part project, it’s easiest to do it one step at a time. Start with your metal gridding. To prepare this area, either cover all tiles and lights with newspaper and tape or remove all of your tiles.
  2. Mark any necessary tiles: Most of your tiles will be the same size. However, some spots like corners and edges may have an abnormal shape. Mark those areas somehow so you can easily replace them.
  3. Clean the metal gridding: Before painting, it’s important to remove any impurities from the metal. It’s best to use a degreaser and hot water. Do NOT skip this step as doing so will cause the paint to adhere unevenly.
  4. Remove any rust: A high-grit sandpaper is best for this. The objective is to make the surface as smooth as possible.
  5. Prime the area: If the metal hasn’t been painted before, you need to use a metal-safe primer to ensure the paint sticks well. If it has been painted, use a steel wool sponge to buff away old paint.
  6. Apply your grid paint: For larger ceilings, a sprayer is best. If you have a smaller ceiling, a small bristle brush works just as well.
  7. Paint your tiles: If you want to paint your ceiling tiles, you may want to do so before reinstalling.
  8. Put the tiles back up: Once everything has dried completely, you can replace your tiles back to their original spots.

This seems easy enough, right? It really is, however, there are a few things you should keep in mind while doing this. First and foremost, while a sprayer will get the job done quickly in large rooms, it shouldn’t be used if the paint will potentially damage the ceiling in which the grid is suspended from.

If this is the case, a paint roller can do the trick just fine too. Also, for most ceilings, it’s okay to use a gloss latex or oil-based paint. However, if you’re painting the ceiling of a home theater, you’ll want to use a flat paint to avoid any light reflections.


What is the Best False Ceiling Paint?

So, which ceiling paint is best? Let’s take a look at a few good options. It may also be beneficial to purchase a mold-prevention additive like this one if you have false ceilings in your bathroom.

Seymour Ceiling Tile Paint

While this tile paint only comes in white, it dries extremely fast with just 15 minutes needed to set. The can sprays upright and won’t cause your tiles to sag or warp as the paint is virtually weightless once sprayed on.

This paint is water-based and will maintain your ceiling’s acoustical properties even after it’s dried.

Zinsser Cover Up Ceiling Spray Paint

This ceiling paint is best for your tiles only. It sprays right onto the tile to make for a quick and easy job while giving you a smooth and even finish. The spray can come with 13 ounces of product and has a low odor. This one is considered a 2-in-1 as it serves as both paint and primer.

The only downside to this one is that it only comes in flat white. If you want your tiles to be a different color, you’ll want to try a different product.

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Latex Paint

This paint actually comes in 18 different color options, so you’ll certainly find one that works well for you. The good thing about this one is that you can use it on both your metal gridding and your tiles if you want a solid-colored ceiling.

It’s a water-based latex paint which is nice because you don’t need to worry about paint odor. It’s also really nice because it will dry to the touch within 30 minutes of the application too. The paint has a flat finish and will go on smoothly to cover up any unsightly spots on your ceiling.

As for How to paint a ceiling in general, we recommend our article here for further details and the best techniques and tools to use.

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