Painting the ceiling and walls the same shade of white is a popular design choice that can create a bright, airy, and expansive look in a room. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when choosing to paint the ceiling and walls the same color. The main factors to think about are lighting, sheen, and touch-ups.
How Lighting Affects Wall and Ceiling Colors
The biggest issue with painting the ceiling and walls the same color is how the lighting in the room affects each surface differently. Since the ceiling is overhead and often farther away from light fixtures, it reflects light differently than the walls do. This can create a noticeable contrast between the ceiling and walls, even if they are technically painted the same color. Here are some lighting effects to be aware of:
|Effect on Ceiling vs. Walls
|Rooms with natural light
|Ceiling may look duller and darker than walls since it gets less direct sunlight
|Rooms with recessed can lighting
|Ceiling around lights may look brighter than walls
|Rooms with pendant or chandelier lighting
|Ceiling right around light fixtures may look darker and shadowed compared to walls
|Rooms with wall sconces or directional lighting
|Walls around lighting will look brighter than ceiling
As you can see, various lighting scenarios can make the ceiling and walls look noticeably different, even when painted the same color. This is important to keep in mind as you choose your colors.
Sheen Makes a Difference
Another factor to consider is sheen. Walls are often painted in flat, eggshell, or satin finishes, which have minimal shine. Ceilings are commonly painted in a matte or flat sheen to avoid glare. Choosing a higher sheen like semi-gloss for both the walls and ceiling can exacerbate contrast since the ceiling will reflect more light. Here’s an overview:
|Good for Walls
|Good for Ceilings
|No shine, totally smooth finish
|Soft, low-sheen finish
|Smooth, slight shine
|Moderate shine and reflectivity
|Very shiny, reflective, enamel-like finish
Choosing flat or matte finishes for both the walls and ceiling is best to minimize contrast. Higher sheens like satin or semi-gloss will emphasize any differences between the surfaces.
Touch-Ups May Not Match Exactly
When painting the ceiling and walls the same color, you also need to consider that any future touch-ups may not match exactly. Over time, surfaces can get scuffs and marks that require fresh coats of paint. If you do spot repairs on the walls or ceiling years later, it’s nearly impossible to get the new paint to match the existing color perfectly.
Having the ceiling and walls the same color means any touch-ups will really stand out. The new paint will likely look just slightly off from the original coats that have faded and oxidized over time. This can create obvious inconsistencies. With contrasting wall and ceiling colors, it’s less noticeable if touch-up paint doesn’t match the previous coats flawlessly.
Tips for Painting Walls and Ceiling the Same Color
If you decide to paint the ceiling and walls the same shade of white or another color, here are some tips to get the best results:
- Choose a white with warm, yellow/beige undertones rather than a stark bright white. Warm whites feel cozier and don’t show flaws as easily.
- Select a flat or matte finish for walls and ceiling to minimize sheen differences.
- Make sure the ceiling is well-primed so paint goes on evenly.
- Apply at least 2 coats of paint to both the ceiling and walls for good coverage.
- Use extendable painter’s poles for cutting in edges on the ceiling.
- Maintain the same painting technique and application direction for walls and ceiling.
- Paint the ceiling first, then do the walls for easier touch-ups.
- Do a final walk-through, touching up any inconsistencies while paint is still wet.
Proper prep work and technique goes a long way in getting the ceiling and walls to match as closely as possible.
The Best White Paint Colors for Ceilings and Walls
If you want to paint your ceiling and walls the same shade of white, here are some great options:
|Swiss Coffee by Behr
|High Reflective White by Sherwin-Williams
|Crisp, bright white
|White Dove by Benjamin Moore
|Warm, greige (gray/beige)
|Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore
|Simply White by Behr
|Bright, clean white
|Heron Plume by Valspar
|Warm, creamy white
These versatile, popular whites work well on both walls and ceilings. Just be sure to get swatches and view samples in your room’s lighting before deciding. While called the same color name, undertones can vary slightly between brands.
Using Multiple Whites in One Room
Another approach is to choose related whites for the walls versus the ceiling. Going with different shades of white can help the ceiling stand out from the walls while still appearing coordinated. Here are some suggestions:
- Ceiling: Flat Pure White, Walls: Eggshell Swiss Coffee
- Ceiling: Flat White Dove, Walls: Satin Chantilly Lace
- Ceiling: Flat Simply White, Walls: Eggshell Coventry Gray
- Ceiling: Flat Classic White, Walls: Matte Linen White
Choosing a brighter white like Simply White or Pure White for the ceiling helps distinguish it from walls painted in warmer off-whites like Swiss Coffee or Linen White. Varying the sheens also creates nice but subtle contrast.
When to Avoid Painting Ceiling and Walls the Same Color
While painting the ceiling and walls the same color can look amazing in some spaces, it isn’t ideal for every room. Here are a few scenarios where it’s better to use different shades or colors:
- Rooms with very high ceilings (over 9 feet) – Keeping the ceiling bright helps lower the appearance of high ceilings
- Rooms with minimal natural light – Painting the ceiling lighter helps reflect and maximize ambient light
- Rooms with dark wall colors – Matching a dark wall color on the ceiling can feel oppressive and cocoon-like
- Rooms with intricate ceiling details – Different colors help define moldings, beams, and other architectural elements on the ceiling
- Rooms where walls and ceiling are different materials – Painting brick or wood walls the same as a drywall ceiling looks mismatched
In general, rooms with lower 8 foot ceilings tend to handle same-color walls and ceilings the best. Rooms flooded with natural light also minimize the impact of lighting differences on each surface.
Should Ceilings Be Painted Lighter or Darker than Walls?
Beyond selecting coordinated shades of the same color, there are two main schools of thought when it comes to picking wall and ceiling colors:
|Lighter Ceiling, Darker Walls
|Darker Ceiling, Lighter Walls
Lighter ceilings tend to be more common, as they make rooms feel larger and bouncier. However, don’t be afraid to go bold with a darker ceiling color to create a cocooning effect in a bedroom or more intimate space.
Creative Ceiling Painting Ideas
Beyond just choosing wall and ceiling colors, you can get creative with painted patterns and effects on your ceiling to make it a true focal point. Some eye-catching ideas include:
- Painting a geometric mural with shapes and lines
- Creating a color wash effect by blending and fading paint colors
- Adding a stenciled border around the edges of the ceiling
- Sponge painting swirling textures and effects
- Painting a skyscape with clouds and sun or moon
- Doing an illustrated scene like a forest canopy or galaxy
Let your creativity run wild on the ceiling since you don’t have to worry about furnishings blocking the view. Consult a muralist or interior painter if hoping to achieve intricate designs and effects.
Painting the ceiling and walls the same color can create a seamless, expansive look when done right. However, lighting and sheen effects mean they won’t match exactly in all cases. Use warm white or off-white tones with flat finishes to minimize contrast. Strategic placement of lighting can also help balance out any discrepancies between the ceiling and walls. Consider your room proportions, architecture, and decor style when deciding whether to paint them identical shades or choose complementary colors. With smart color choices and application techniques, you can stylishly blend the ceiling into your wall paint colors or make it pop as an artistic accent.