Paint is paint, right? Surprisingly, there’s a lot more to it than that! If you’ve ever visited a paint shop or tried to paint your home, you’ve likely encountered this complexity yourself. Buying paint shouldn’t feel like rocket science. What’s the difference between all the types of paints, like ceiling paint, wall paint, or door paint?

Ceiling paint is similar to wall, door, and trim paint. You can use ceiling paint on trim and doors without any real problems, but you should be mindful of the differences in texture, durability, finish, coverage, and cost.

Before you start painting, get a feel for what kind of paint you need and why. Read on to learn more about the difference between ceiling paint and wall paint, and where each can be used in your house. 

Can You Use Ceiling Paint On Trim and Doors?

Yes, you can use ceiling paint to paint trim, doors, walls, or anything else in your home. Although the paint is a little different, it’s suitable for all these uses as well as painting your ceilings.

The main things to consider are going to be the paint finish and the thickness. Ceiling paint is thicker than wall paint, meaning you won’t need to use as much, and it will probably last a bit longer. In high-traffic areas, this will be really useful to keep your doors and trim in better shape.

Paint finish is the one thing that might be an issue with ceiling paint on your doors and trim. The problem is that ceiling paint has really low shine finish to reduce the reflection of light, but doors and trim are usually painted with semi-gloss or high gloss paints to work as accents in a room. Paint with higher gloss finish is also easier to clean, which is helpful for trim and doors.

Ceiling paint is also available in limited colors, which could be a problem if you’re looking for something specific. White ceiling paint is the easiest to find.

If you’ve got a lot of ceiling paint and you still need to paint your trim and doors, you can do it. However, you won’t be able to get a higher gloss finish if you use ceiling paint, so you may want to use it as a primer and then put a different color over the top.  

What’s the Difference Between Ceiling and Wall Paint? 

Paint formulas can have a lot of variation depending on their intended use. Ceiling and wall paints are made with similar materials, but they’re not exactly the same. While the differences seem slight, ceiling and wall paints don’t have the same look or feel. They’re also applied a bit differently.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the main characteristics of each paint and what separates ceiling paint from wall pain. 


Viscosity is a fancy word for how thick and sticky a liquid is. Liquids that have higher viscosity are thicker and the stick together more, like honey or cooking oil. Liquids with lower viscosity are thinner and behave more like water.

With paint, the viscosity matters a lot! Thicker paint (high viscosity) and thinner paint (low viscosity) can be used in different ways, depending on where you’re painting.

Ceiling paint is usually thicker than wall paint. This is because it’s going on the ceiling, so it should be able to hold on well after it’s applied until it dries. If you put wall paint on the ceiling, you’d probably see half of it drop off onto the floor before it had a chance to dry.

Thicker ceiling paint can be used to paint a wall, but you may not want to do it because of the cost and issues with putting on multiple coats. 


Generally speaking, ceiling paint has better coverage than wall paint because it’s thicker. Thick paint goes further than thin paint, but you’ll probably still need 2 coats. The thicker the paint is, the more you can use it before you need to refill your brush or roller.

Thick paint has better coverage because it has more solid particles mixed into the base liquid (either latex or acrylic). More particles means that the paint will show up better even when there’s less of it on a surface.

Although thicker paint has better coverage for each layer, you still need to paint 2 layers on the wall or ceiling. If you’re using ceiling paint for your walls, make sure you give it ample time to dry before applying the second layer since it may take a bit longer to dry than typical wall paint. 


Interior paints have 5 different finishes:

  1. Matte
  2.  Eggshell
  3. Satin
  4. Semi-gloss
  5. High-gloss

Matte is non-reflective and has no visible shine while high-gloss reflects a lot of light and has a very noticeable shine. Ceiling paints come in the lowest shine options, matte and eggshell. You need a low shine paint for the ceiling because you don’t want it to reflect a lot of light back down into the room, or to draw attention to the ceiling.

Low gloss finishes hide imperfections more easily, but they’re also harder to clean. This helps your ceiling look better, and since you hardly ever need to cleaning a ceiling there’s no real issue with using a matte finish.

Wall paints come in all different finishes to give you a wide range of options. Depending on the look you’re going for, you can select the finish that works best for whichever room you’re painting. Trim and doors can also be painted using wall paint, with most people preferring satin, semi-gloss, or high-gloss finishes, both for the attractive shine and the easy cleaning. 

Color Options 

White is by far the most common color for ceiling paints. It’s easily available, brightens up a room, and helps the walls, flooring, and light fixtures remain as the focal points of the room.

Although it’s the standard, white is not the only color for ceiling paints. You can actually get ceiling paints in any color by having your own color mixed at a paint shop. Your only limitations will be the colors available in low gloss finishes.

Many people prefer to go with ceiling colors that are at least 20-50% lighter than the wall color. This can be arranged at a paint shop when you buy your wall paint.

Wall paints are available in every color of the rainbow. Many brands have premixed colors in a variety of shades. You can check out color swatches to get an idea of what these colors will look like on your wall. In most paint shops you also have the option to mix up custom colors by providing a sample of the color you want.


Ceiling paints are more durable than wall paints. This is because they’re far thicker, with thicker paints being more durable when they’re applied properly.

If both wall and ceiling paint are applied in two coats, the ceiling paint will be more durable. Having more solids mixed into the paint makes it less porous and more resistant to wear and tear. This is why ceiling paint can make an excellent choice for doors and trim.

Wall paint is thinner, making it less durable than ceiling paint. However, when you apply wall paint correctly in two layers, it’s still highly durable. The key is to paint each layer as thin as possible to allow it to properly dry, then cure to full strength.

Thick paint takes longer to dry and cure fully. Drying time may be a day or more for thick paint, with curing times up to a week after both layers are applied. Be careful not to bump or scratch the paint while it’s curing or it could still be damaged.  


Ceiling paint is a little more expensive than wall paint, but it’s not prohibitively expensive. If you’re painting a single room, you won’t notice much of a difference in the cost. The larger your project, the more the cost disparity will affect you.

Some of the top brands have little difference in cost between their wall and ceiling paint. This is usually because they use a similarly thick formula for the wall paint as they do for the ceiling paint, providing better coverage for walls.

BrandCeiling PaintWall Paint
Diamond Brite$26$26
Benjamin Moore$59$47

Comparisons in this table are based on white paint. Some colors may have different costs, but this should still give you a good idea of what kind of price ranges to expect.

If you’re on a tight budget for trim and doors, choose a semi-gloss wall paint instead of a ceiling paint. You’ll get an excellent result without having to shell out for the more expensive ceiling paint. 

What is the Best Ceiling Paint for Trim and Doors?

Ceiling paint can be a great base coat trim and doors because it’s sturdy and have great coverage. If you can find a high-gloss ceiling paint, you can use this exclusively. Otherwise, you should get a high-gloss wall paint to use for the top layer.

Here are some of the best ceiling paints for trim and doors.

BrandFinishPrice per Gallon
Diamond BriteFlat$34
Benjamin MooreUltra flat$59

Most companies don’t offer anything other than matte (AKA flat) ceiling paint. If you want a glossier finish paint for your trim and doors, look for a top coat that has a high gloss finish.

The closest equivalent to semi-gloss ceiling paint could be waterproof paint. This usually has the same thick texture because it’s often used for the ceilings of showers or bathrooms. Although it’s not explicitly labeled as ceiling paint, it’s often used for that purpose.

Waterproof paint is around the same price as ceiling paint, though it may have slightly less coverage. You should have more color and finish options with waterproof paint.


Ceiling paint makes a great base coat for trim and doors to help the paint last longer and protect against damage. When you use ceiling paint as a base coat, you can get a much cheaper, high gloss top coat or sealant to get the finish you want for much cheaper without sacrificing durability. 

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