list in progress logo

The Best White Ceiling Paint for DIYers

May 29, 2022

The Best White Ceiling Paint for DIYers

May 29, 2022

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a tiny commission, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure here.

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a tiny commission, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure here.

Searching for the best white ceiling paint for your next painting project? Painting a ceiling is not fun, but here’s how to make it easier.

Invest in the right product (I’ll tell you what it is!) and the best tools for the job and it will be smooth sailing. Read on for the scoop!

We’ve tried a few ceiling paints at our various homes over the years. Not an exhaustive list of paints, but I’ll be honest – painting a ceiling is a chore I avoid until it’s absolutely necessary. #amiright

Today I’ll cover Behr, Sherwin Williams, and Benjamin Moore. I don’t plan to test any others because I have already found a winner and I want to share it with you!

If you want to skip ahead, here’s the best white ceiling paint and here’s why you can actually afford it.

Read More: How to Paint Ceilings Easily and Quickly

best white ceiling paint

A little background info: I’m just an experienced DIYer, not a professional painter (although some days it sure feels like it!). If you’ve logged thousands of hours of painting experience and you’ve stumbled across my blog, I’d love to hear your polite, constructive feedback in the comments.

I’ve learned over the years as a blogger that paint seems to bring out big opinions, so please know I’m just doing my best and be kind.

My goal here is to share the most useful reviews and tips for DIYers. Check out these past posts for more painting recs:

How to Paint Ceilings Easily and Quickly
Favorite White Behr Paint Colors
The Easiest Way to Paint Cabinets
Helpful Painting Tips and Tricks

best white ceiling paint in our living room

Why Ceiling Paint is a Different Animal

I used to think ceiling paint was just a flat version of “regular” paint. What’s the big deal? Plus, why can’t you buy any old “ceiling paint” off the shelf and call it a day?

Well, I wasn’t picky until I lived in a house with tons of natural light flooding the ceiling.

You can see every flaw and lap mark in the poorly painted ceiling. It’s bad and I’ve learned to do more research.

paint tray and the best roller
Here’s what to look for in a good ceiling paint:
  • Viscosity – higher (thicker) is better than lower to avoid drips and splatter
  • Open time – longer open time means it dries more slowly, which helps avoid lap marks and brush strokes
  • Latex – water-based paint is less likely to sag, easier to clean up, and not as smelly as oil-based
Options:
  • Sheen – ceiling paint is typically flat or matte to avoid drawing attention. Bathrooms are the exception because a light sheen is easier to clean than a flat finish.
  • Primer – you might wish for a stain-blocker in your paint. Some ceiling paints have primer assets included in the formula. If you’re addressing serious stains or changing the ceiling color, you’ll probably want to use a separate primer first.

Not All Ceiling Paints are Created Equally

When we bought our Denver house, we hired a painter to roll most of the walls and ceilings before we moved in. I chose the colors and bought the paint, which you can read allll about in my post on The Best White Behr Paint Colors.

We had already purchased Behr ceiling paint for the house and he rolled the ceilings with that product. (I’ve since learned that painters, as a rule, seem to hate Behr ceiling paint!)

Read More: How to Paint Ceilings Easily and Quickly
how to paint ceilings blog post link

Due to the south-facing direction of our house, the living/dining room ceiling is highlighted throughout most of the day. It looked terrible. You could see every roller stripe. The painter also griped about how difficult the paint was to work with.

Honestly, we’ve used Behr ceiling paint before and not had issues, but I assume the direction of light was a game-changer.

You can see it here in the photo below. This ceiling had been painted so many times by the time I took this photo:

ceiling paint lap lines

Next, the painter bought a Sherwin Williams flat white ceiling paint (probably the ProMar line), since he convinced us that was going to solve all problems. It looked exactly the same. In fact, what you see in this photo is exactly how the ceiling has looked for years.

The bay window is south-facing, so the light comes in from the left side and then through the big window for the rest of the day.

The ceilings in other rooms look fine with these paints. It’s just the dining room where the light hits the ceiling that became our focal point.

Affordable Options (but Not the Best)

If budget is your sole concern in choosing the best white ceiling paint, you could try Sherwin Williams ProMar, or the Sherwin Williams line at Lowe’s (HGTV Home).

Those products really *should* be fine, especially if you’re painting a rental or other property where you care less about a perfect finish.

Behr ceiling paint has generally good reviews, although I can’t recommend it, based on our experience with the quality. See above. *eyeroll*

Sherwin Williams is an industry leader, but to be clear, they offer a substantial discount to industry pros (which is why painters often recommend them). They make a few great paint lines and others that are considered to be decent. It’s not my pick, but if you’re leaning toward SW for your ceiling, here’s an article from a pro painter that details the lines he likes best from Sherwin Williams.

Enough Chatter! What’s the Best White Ceiling Paint?

Hands down, the best white ceiling paint is from Benjamin Moore. No shock there, right?

Seriously, this product blew me away and I’ll also explain how I convinced Wyatt it was worth the splurge.

It’s not cheap, but check my math before you rule it out. I spent approx. $30 more and saved hours of work. Plus, it’s zero VOC! There’s nothing as fun as killing your brain cells while your arms are burning from painting overhead for hours.

Read More: How to Paint Ceilings Easily and Quickly

benjamin moore ceiling paint is the best pick

I’m starting to think that I need to switch to Benjamin Moore for all home painting, as long as it’s in my budget. I love that many of their lines are zero VOC. Why breathe in paint fumes and other yucky stuff if you don’t have to?

Here’s the deal. Remember when I explained that ceiling paint should have a high viscosity, matte finish, and slow drying time? Benjamin Moore nails it on all fronts with this ceiling paint. This paint doesn’t splatter off the roller, which is key in ceiling paint, and it has a velvety flat finish.

Painting in Colorado is a true test of a paint’s open time. That’s the time frame when you can still work the paint before it starts to dry.

It’s best to keep the edges wet for as long as possible, so you can blend your roller strokes evenly. This paint is easy to apply in our arid climate, which is especially helpful on a ceiling.

Plus, even where some of my lap marks were more visible as I worked, they dried beautifully after a few hours.

You’ll have to visit your local Benjamin Moore retailer to buy this waterborne ceiling paint.

best white ceiling paint finished work

For anyone really looking for the details here, you’ll see lap lines in the photo above. That window is also south-facing, so the angle of the light is the same as in the living room I showed above.

That is wet paint. Once the ceiling dried, the lines disappeared. I don’t have an after photo to share, so please take my word for it. I don’t have affiliate links to Benjamin Moore – this is an unfiltered review.

You Might Also Like:

How to Paint Ceilings Easily and Quickly
Favorite White Behr Paint Colors
The Easiest Way to Paint Cabinets
Helpful Painting Tips and Tricks

Do the Math. It Might Surprise You

Here’s why you can probably afford one of the pricier ceiling paints on the market: you might only need to paint one coat.

Assuming you pick a run-of-the-mill white ceiling paint, you will likely need two coats. However… what if you could get great coverage with just one coat of paint? If you’re starting with a white ceiling or a primed ceiling, it’s possible with this Benjamin Moore product. Plus, think of all the energy and elbow grease saved by painting your ceiling only once!

I gambled on one coat and it has turned out to be true!

benjamin moore paint

I can’t even express how nice it was to paint one coat on the ceiling and be done with that project.

Doesn’t that make a splurgy paint worth its weight in gold?

It Adds Up

Let me show you the math. As a general rule, one gallon of paint covers approx. 350 square feet. My ceiling square footage is about 1000 sq ft, so I need 3+ gallons per coat of paint over the entire ceiling.

It’s often a better deal to buy a 5-gallon tank if you’ll need more than 4 gallons for your project. That’s why I priced out 5 gal quantities.

These are my local, Denver prices as of May 2022.

Behr Premium Plus Interior Ceiling Flat – 5 gallons for $108 and $28/gal

Benjamin Moore Ceiling Paint – 5 gal for $240 and $55/gal

Sherwin Williams Eminence (unavailable*) – 5 gal approx $200

Sherwin Williams ProMar – 5 gal approx $175

*Due to the supply shortage, my local Sherwin Williams isn’t selling Eminence ceiling paint right now, but it’s usually a competitor in this category. The SW salesperson told me that they aren’t making it because they offer other products to fill that void.

So.

Behr would cost $136 + tax for 6 gallons of paint and likely require two coats over the ceiling. We didn’t plan to buy Behr due to our prior bad experience, but I priced it for comparison.

I bought 3 gallons of Benjamin Moore ceiling paint for $165 + tax and I only plan to paint one coat over 1000 square feet of ceiling. Although this paint is roughly twice the price of Behr ceiling paint, the cost evens out due to the higher-quality product.

If I need to buy one more gallon, it’s still worth it to save my time and energy. I feel like a MasterCard commercial – saving hours of your life on a painting project… priceless.

Read More: The Best White Behr Paint Colors
best behr white paint colors blog post

How Our Ceilings Are Turning Out

I just painted the family room ceiling with Benjamin Moore Ceiling Paint and here’s how it turned out. Hard to see details here, but I’m happy with it. (Light fixture will be replaced soon.)

Read More: How to Paint Ceilings Easily and Quickly

family room ceiling

Now I’m working on the basement. I started with one room and a closet. For kicks, here’s what the room actually looked like when we bought the house! Check out that Industrial Revolution wallpaper…

old basement bedroom

Are your eyes bleeding? Here’s what it looks like now, in progress.

basement bedroom with ceiling painted

Next, I’ll move into the main open space of the basement, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. I’ll share those updates soon!

Other Paints Not Reviewed Here

These are other widely-available white ceiling paints, which I have not tried.

Valspar Signature Flat Ceiling Paint – gets terrible reviews.

HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams Flat White Ceiling Paint – gets mixed reviews, priced comparably to the SW ProMar line.

Zinsser Ceiling Paint & Primer – gets mixed reviews. While I don’t like to rely on a paint to do the job of a primer, I would try this product because Zinsser makes such high-quality primers. If you need to cover stains or seal in odors, this might be worth a go.

Specific Items Used in This Project

Here is everything we used in our freshly-painted basement. Our drywaller installed new sheetrock and gave the walls and ceiling a smooth finish. I took it from there.

Primer (walls and ceiling) – Kilz PVA Drywall Primer and Kilz2 All-Purpose (I just used what I had on hand and both are great on new drywall.)

kilz pva primer

Ceiling Paint – Benjamin Moore Ceiling Paint in base white (ultra flat)

benjamin moore ceiling paint is the best

Walls – Behr Premium Plus Interior in Silky White (eggshell)

behr silky white

Trim/Doors – will be Behr Premium Plus Ultra Pure White (semi-gloss)

behr ultra pure white

Roller – Shur-Line extension pole with comfort grip

Covers – Wooster woven 1/4″ nap

favorite roller cover
preferred paint supplies

Brush – Wooster Shortcut Hook and Hold, for cutting in along edges.

wooster shortcut brush for cutting in

Paint Bucket – 1 qt. Handy paint pails with disposable plastic liners

handy pail and benjamin moore paint

Want More Tips to Easily Paint a Ceiling?

Stay tuned! I’m drafting a post to share my tips and tricks to easily paint your next ceiling. Choosing the best paint goes a long way, but there are a few more things to know. I’m trying to crank that out quickly for you!

Don’t miss these past painting blog posts:

How to Paint Ceilings Easily and Quickly
Favorite White Behr Paint Colors
The Easiest Way to Paint Cabinets
Helpful Painting Tips and Tricks

Painting a ceiling? Share your thoughts, comments, or questions below!

Erin

Hi! I’m Erin, a Colorado-based home improvement blogger and lover of all things DIY. I aim to inspire creative folks to tackle home improvement with confidence and style. READ MORE

Follow Me Here:
free guide to diy
Follow Me Here:
Follow Me Here:
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
2 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mark Ross
Mark Ross
22 days ago

I’ve used multiple cans from different sources of the BM no VOC no odor waterborne ceiling paint as seen here and yet it’s the strongest smelling paint of any brand and I’ve probably used most all of them. It’s almost the equivalent of a floor finish in odor. It does look very nice but somebody in marketing maybe needs to open a can and paint a six foot area and test the “no odor”.

Get the Inside Scoop!

P.S. If you liked this post, you might also like my List in Progress Newsletter.

Receive my new blog posts, bloopers, and behind-the-scenes content delivered straight to your inbox. Plus, you’ll get instant access to my free resource library! Sign up right here!

list in progress site
list in progress site