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The best ceiling paint to buy in 2023

Revitalise your ceilings with our selection of ceiling paints for style, protection and easy application

Painting walls is one thing, but refreshing your ceilings is a job that’s just a tad more daunting – and awkward to boot. Choose the right equipment, though, partner it with a tin or two of the best ceiling paint you can afford, and an unpleasant job becomes just that little bit easier.

Here we’ll run you through all the key things you need to know, and recommend a selection of paints that are perfect for coating your ceilings with a minimum of hassle. From anti-mould paints for warding off outbreaks of black mould through to cheap, simple matt emulsions that are ideal for tackling a whole home’s worth of ceilings, there’s something here for every job.

If you’re not sure where to start, then read on and the quick primer below will run you through the process, from choosing your paint to picking up a brush or roller and getting to work.

Best ceiling paint: At a glance

How to choose the best ceiling paint

What’s the best type of paint for ceilings?

If you want an easy life, then we’d advise using a simple matt emulsion as it will be easy to apply and will give results that won’t show up every last bump and lump in your ceilings. You don’t necessarily need to use a specialist ceiling paint, but if you can budget for one, it’s well worth considering – they may make your life even easier as they’re designed to avoid spatter and dry more slowly for a better finish.

If you really have a hankering for gloss ceilings then it’s not impossible, but it will require a lot more legwork and preparation if you want good-looking results. The ceilings will need to be sealed with a suitable sealant, and you’ll want to combine a water-based gloss paint with an extender, a product that dilutes the gloss paint and allows for easier, smoother application. Bear in mind, though, that the glossy sheen will show up every imperfection in your ceilings, so if you want a gleaming skating rink effect on your ceilings, you may need to enlist the help of a professional decorator.

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How much preparation do I have to do?

Painting ceilings has the potential to cause a lot of mess and potentially damage your precious carpets and furnishings beyond repair, so it pays to be prepared. Even specialist paints that are designed not to drip or spatter will do exactly that if your brush or roller is overloaded.

Where possible we’d advise clearing the room of as much furniture as possible and covering everything with good-quality dustsheets – a bit of preparation beforehand is infinitely better than spending hours trying to remove paint spatters from every corner of a room (and yes, we’re speaking from experience). While working, be sure to keep a clean rag and some paint remover to hand, just in case.

Obviously, you’re going to want to start with a clean surface, so wipe your ceiling down with sugar soap, remove any flaked paint and repair any cracks and holes with filler. Once it’s dry, it’s time to cut in. Using the edge of a two-inch brush, apply your paint at the edges where the ceiling meets the wall and around door frames and the like. For an easy life, we’d advise applying masking tape first to avoid unwanted smears.

Once that’s done, it’s time to tackle the ceiling itself. You can use a brush, obviously, but a good-quality roller and paint tray will make the process far quicker and easier – and achieve better results, too. Coat the roller evenly, removing any excess on the tray, and apply in long smooth strokes, making sure to cover every area.

One coat may suffice, depending on the previous condition of your ceiling and the paint used, but follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the can, leave to dry for the required time and then make a judgement call on whether a second coat is needed.

Any other tips?

Always make sure there’s plenty of ventilation in the room you’re painting and wear protective goggles – after all, you’ll be staring straight up at the paint you’re applying. Always stir your paint well before use and regularly during use too to keep it properly mixed. And, after use, clean brushes or rollers completely and secure any remaining paint safely away from where children and pets can access it.

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The best ceiling paint to buy 

1. Johnstone’s Wall & Ceiling Matt Emulsion: Best ceiling paint for adept decorating

Price: £11 (2.5 litres) | Buy now from Amazon

Johnstone’s Wall & Ceiling paint is formulated to give a smooth, rich, non-reflective finish. It’s also available in a whopping 40 colour options from the classic Brilliant White all the way through to more exotic hues.

Applied liberally with a brush, roller or paint pad, Wall & Ceiling goes on with ease and gives generous coverage of around 12m² per litre. As long as you avoid overspreading, annoying drips shouldn’t be a problem, and two coats should produce a fine finish in most circumstances.

Touch dry within one to two hours and ready to recoat in two hours, Johnstone’s Wall & Ceiling paint is a quick and easy route to a superior ceiling.

Key specs – Size: 2.5 litres; Finish: Matt; Drying time: 1-2 hours; Recoat time: 2 hours; Coats required: 1-2; Colour availability: 40

2. Crown Matt Emulsion: Best ceiling paint bought in bulk

Price: £14 (10 litres) | Buy now from Homebase

If you’ve got a lot of ceilings to paint, or perhaps just happen to live in a house with ballroom-sized rooms, then the cost of paint can add up quickly. This is where Crown’s Matt Emulsion comes in, offering 10 litres of paint – enough for a claimed 140m² of coverage – for just £14.

If you’re after a modern, non-reflective, non-yellowing matt finish, Crown Matt Emulsion is a good option as it goes on easily with a brush or roller. It has an average drying time of two hours and you can apply a second coat, if required, after four hours.

While the classic Pure Brilliant White is the obvious option to counterpoint more vibrantly painted walls, Crown also offers its Matt Emulsion in 64 other hues, including the soothing mid-grey of City Break, the murky, misty green of Khaki Twist, and the roaring red inferno of English Fire.

Key specs – Size: 10 litres; Finish: Matt; Drying time: 2 hours; Recoat time: 4 hours; Coats required: 2; Colour availability: 65

Buy now from Homebase

3. Wickes Matt Emulsion: Best ceiling paint on a budget

Price: £10 (10 litres) | Buy now from Wickes

Although Wickes actually also does its own “Walls & Ceilings” paint, the company’s Matt Emulsion is equally capable of coating ceilings at the much lower price of £10 for 10 litres (the alternative is £9 for 2.5 litres), giving you ample quantities of paint for little outlay.

Applied with a brush or roller, the Wickes paint goes on smoothly and without much elbow effort on your part, while the opacity of the formulation means you may be able to get away with fewer coats to get excellent coverage, dependent, of course, on what colour you’re painting over.

Touch dry in two to fours hours and ready to be recoated in over four, Wickes Matt Emulsion – available in White or Magnolia – leaves a pleasingly smooth, contemporary matt finish at a price that will also please your pocket.

Key specs – Size: 10 litres; Finish: Matt; Drying time: 2-4 hours; Recoat time: 4+ hours; Coats required: 2; Colour availability: 2

Buy now from Wickes

4. Dulux Matt Emulsion: Best ceiling paint for a truly professional finish

    Price: £18 (5 litres) | Buy now from Amazon

    Dulux is a reliable household brand that’s become synonymous with quality paint. As such, beginner or professional, you know what you’re getting; and in this case it is a smooth and creamy emulsion that spreads beautifully across the ceiling, whether using roller or brush.

    The Dulux Matt Emulsion does a great job of concealing former DIY disasters with almost no effort, and two coats will leave you with a classic matt emulsion finish that helps hide and minor imperfections in the ceiling surface. Dry to the touch within two to four hours, you should leave it over four hours before going in for a second coat.

    Available in a 33-strong range of colours, there’s a shade to match any decor.

    Key specs – Size: 5 litres; Finish: Matt; Drying time: 2-4 hours; Recoat time: 4+ hours; Coats required: 2; Colour availability: 33

    5. Dryzone Anti Mould Paint: Best ceiling paint for managing mould

    Price: £25 (1 litre) | Buy now from Amazon

    Condensation is a breeding ground for black mould and getting rid of it can be problematic, with many solutions proving short-lived. Increased ventilation is key, but it’s well worth warding off future outbreaks by treating the area with an anti-mould paint such as Dryzone.

    This mould-resistant emulsion paint contains a biocide designed to discourage the formation of microfungus, so protects against the growth of black mould, even in areas where there is constant condensation such as kitchens and bathrooms.

    Available in Brilliant White and Magnolia, you’ll need to treat existing mould first before applying the paint, which goes on with ease using a brush or roller, leaving a washable soft sheen finish once it’s fully dried.

    Touch dry after one to three hours, the manufacturer recommends two coats, the second applied at least four hours after the first.

    Key specs – Size: 1 litre; Finish: Soft sheen; Drying time: 1-3 hours; Recoat time: 4 hours; Coats required: 2; Colour availability: 2

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