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Aditi Sharma Maheshwari

What is the Best Paint Finish for a Bathroom Ceiling? A Definitive Answer From Decorators

A bathroom with a red ceiling in gloss finish.

The bathroom has to put up with a lot in its day to day use, but it's the moisture in the air that can be the most challenging for these spaces. And that includes for the ceiling. While painting this room in vibrant colors is a good way to give it a fresh update, it's important to choose the right finish so that the walls and ceiling are safe from the effects of moisture — whether that's peeling paint, mildew or, even, mold.

To help you pick the best bathroom paint idea, we asked decorating experts for their advice This is what you should be using, according to the pros.

What should I paint a bathroom ceiling with?

(Image credit: Katie Monkhouse)

It's important to understand that not all paints are created equal, and you cannot choose the same finish for your living room and modern bathroom. The bathroom is full of moisture, and the finish needs to repel water, mold, and mildew. Picking the wrong paint finish could have disastrous and costly consequences for your home and health.

'The best paint finish in general is semi-gloss or a satin sheened paint,' says Chuck Reger of Five Star Painting, a Neighborly Company. 'Semi-gloss finishes prove durable and scrubbable, with semi-gloss offering high resistance to moisture. For a less shiny appearance, satin is best and is also washable while being durable in humid locations. Matte and flat sheens are more prone to showing water marks, however, they do hide wall and ceiling imperfections better.'

Aside from the satin vs semi gloss paint debate, as long as you avoid flat finishes, you should be fine, as these have more pigment particles and less resin and binders. So, while the finish will accentuate the paint colors, it will be more prone to moisture infiltration.

(Image credit: HAM Interiors)

Paint finishes apart, picking a specialized bathroom paint will also help. Consider paints that are mixed with chemical compounds and minerals that slow and prevent the growth of mold and mildew. The best bet is to pick a paint that makes the water bead up, rather than sneak into your drywall and cause health issues.

'There are a few options of water-resistant paint including moisture-resistant paint that is specifically designed for high-humidity areas; epoxy paint is often used in rooms that encounter water more often like bathrooms; alkyd, or oil-based paints, are used in extremely wet rooms,' says Chuck. 'Our go-to paint is usually an acrylic latex paint which is very good at handling moisture if the correct sheen is used such as satin or semi-gloss.'

Also, as a maintenance strategy, consider wiping down the walls and ceiling with an anti-bacterial cleaner just to be sure there is no mold or fungus growth.

When should I paint a bathroom ceiling?

(Image credit: Studio SFW)

While remodeling a bathroom, and before painting it, ensure that you follow some crucial tips.

'It is best to paint the bathroom long after a shower to avoid any chance of high humidity,' says Tila Lee, founder of Pretty In Paint. 'You can use a fan (or dehumidifier) to help if the room is naturally always higher in humidity. The biggest thing that will affect the painting process is the drying time. In rooms with normal humidity, you can sometimes push the dry time between coats. With high humidity spaces, you need to give it proper time to dry or it will cause major issues when you try to recoat and can possibly cause premature failure down the line from not curing properly. When doing your preparation in these spaces, always make sure to thoroughly wash the walls during your prep phase. The moisture in the room is prone to attracting dust and debris that then sticks to the wall.'

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