7 Best Ceiling Paint Colors

Man painting room ceiling
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The ceiling is sometimes called the fifth wall because, along with the other four surfaces, it forms the look and feel of interior spaces. This emphasizes the fact that, in terms of design, the ceiling is just as important as the walls. White works as a ceiling color a majority of the time—and for many good reasons—but other colors like red, blue, and brown can be used, too.

  • 01 of 07

    White Ceiling

    White Ceiling

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    White is a popular ceiling paint color, and it's not just out of an adherence to tradition. Homeowners and designers favor white as a ceiling color because:

    • White Reflects Light: The ceiling reflects light as much, or more than the other four walls. Changing the color of your ceiling can greatly affect the amount of light in the room.
    • White Provides an Illusion of Depth: A white ceiling color gives the illusion of depth; dark ceiling colors have a visual stop point. But if you have 10-, 12-foot, or even higher ceilings, you may want a visual stop. Otherwise, the room may feel cavernous.
    • White Is Easy to Use and Touch-Up: When you buy ceiling paint, it's already tinted white. This means color consistency varies from can to can. It also means that rolling on flat-sheen, white ceiling paint is easy to do because errors tend to be less noticeable. Plus, when it comes time to touch up your ceiling paint, flat white merges with the surrounding finish, with no need to re-paint the entire ceiling (unless the ceiling is especially discolored).


    Ceiling paint is almost always flat or matte finish. Semi-gloss or glossier paint may reflect more light; the reflections will give the ceiling a visual stop and can be distracting.

  • 02 of 07

    Yellow Ceiling

    Yellow Ceiling

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    You can hardly ignore a yellow ceiling. And that's the point of it. Unlike white, which is intended to fade from view, yellow pops out and announces itself.

    When the ceiling is yellow, pair it up with walls that are more subdued. Use gray or another neutral color for the walls to highlight the yellow ceiling.

  • 03 of 07

    Brown Ceiling

    Brown Ceiling and Wood Flooring

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    A brown ceiling can make a room feel smaller and more inward-oriented. But sometimes, that's the point. To help make a room feel cozier, considering painting the room brown or using stained wood panels. While you may not want your entire house to have a brown ceiling, select rooms such as bedrooms or home theaters can benefit from the insular feeling that brown can give a room.

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    Blue Ceiling

    Blue Ceiling

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    A blue ceiling can evoke the feeling of a blue sky—and limitless possibilities. Dark blue can feel oppressive, yet light blue can help visually open up a room. When you use white crown molding, baseboards, or chair railing, you create a room with a stately, traditional air. Another idea is to push the blue into the darker tones to evoke the feel of a nighttime sky.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Red Ceiling

    Red Ceiling

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    While a flat white is usually the safest ceiling color, the opposite end of the scale is to pursue a striking, dramatic, and confident feeling. A red ceiling can bring life to an otherwise dull room, especially when the room has a lot of natural light.

    Red ceilings pair up well with off-white or gray walls. Remember, not all red ceilings need to be fire engine-red, either. Bring down red's tone to burgundy for a more understated effect.

  • 06 of 07

    Wood Ceiling

    Wood Ceiling

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    A room with a wood ceiling always feels a little more relaxed than other rooms. It's perfect for spacious living rooms or for primary bedrooms. Wood is also a good way to cover up a ceiling that has minor imperfections. Install tongue-and-groove wood boards on top of an existing ceiling. Attach the fasteners directly to the joists above the ceiling drywall. Paint the wood white if you'd like the room to have a shiplap look. But the true value of a wood ceiling is the natural wood. Coat the boards with polyurethane, and you'll be able to see the wood and its grain in perfect clarity. Or stain the wood to give it the richer appearance of hardwood.

  • 07 of 07

    Gray Ceiling

    Gray Ceiling

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    While you may not want a gray ceiling in every room of the house, it can work well in a room or two. Gray differentiates the room from neighboring rooms. It lends the room a calmer, more sophisticated feeling. Gray is not just gray. Gray is a spectrum of tones that range from barely-there to almost-black. Not only that but gray has undertones of colors other than white and black, such as greens and blues.

Tips For Choosing Ceiling Colors

  • Neutral colors don't have to be boring. Consult a color wheel to see the full range of neutrals and how they are influenced by primary colors.
  • Start with the furniture and decorations. Adapt the paint color to elements in the room, not the other way around.
  • Take color cues from your favorite artwork.
  • Choose one color, but two different versions of it. For example, dark blue walls with a lighter blue for the ceiling.
  • Consider the interplay of colors in one room with other rooms.
  • Use paint inspiration apps to help you picture how your house will look when painted a certain color.
  • Give it time and live with it. Let the paint sample reside on the wall for a few days before purchasing the paint. Make sure that you see the color during all times of day, in all types of lighting.