Difference Between Ceiling Paint And Trim Paint?

Getting confused between ceiling paint and trim paint is a common thing. The first and most noticeable difference between ceiling and trim paint is that ceiling paint is comparatively thicker in consistency than trim paint.

The reason behind it is customer convenience. Because it would be tough to apply ceiling paint if it was thinner, making the room full of dripping mess. Another noticeable difference is also their reflection.

Ceiling paint is not supposed to be shiny; therefore, it reflects less to hide the flaws. But because the trim is one the most prominent parts of a room and hence requires a glossier paint that reflects more.

Besides having confusion about the difference between ceiling and trim paint, there might be more confusion that you are facing. For example, their finish, best kind of paint and whether you can use these paints except for trim and ceiling are all answered in the article.

Ceiling Paint And Trim Paint: Comparison Table

Ceiling paint is thick in consistency.Trim paint is thin in consistency.
Ceiling paint gives a matte like finish.Trim paint gives a glossy finish.
Ceiling paint is available in eggshell and flat/matte finish.Trim paint is available in satin and semi gloss finish.
Ceiling paint reflects less.Trim paint reflects more.
Flat acrylic, semi gloss and sheen acrylic paints are the best kind of ceiling paint.Water-based acrylic latex paint, alkyd/oil-based hybrid or water based paints are the best kind of trim paints.

Trim Paint:

trim pain vs ceiling paint

Trim paint is called trim paint only so that it is easy for customers to identify it. However, you can use it in different places for various functions.

Trim paint comes in interior paint due to its high-class finish. It leaves your walls with a gloss of satin, semi-gloss and even high gloss.

You should still check the product’s specification to see if the paint is suitable for cabinets and furniture etc. Usually, trim paint comes pre-tinted in bright white and base colors that you can later custom tint by your desire.

Features Of Trim Paint

1. Gloss

Gloss is the most prominent feature of trim paint. Glossier the paint, tighter is its molecular structure ensuring small pores for dirt and dust. Trim paint finish is available in satin, gloss, semi-gloss and high gloss.

2. No-Sag

Trim paints are neither too thick nor too thin in consistency; they don’t sag. Applying trim color with a brush means that big globs of paints will develop and sag even before drying. That’s why thicker consistencies of paint prevent sagging.

3. Non-Yellowing

Over time, most trim paints get yellow after you’ve painted them. It mostly happens to window trim where the direct heat of sunlight falls, in turn, yellowing the trim paint.

That’s why companies advertise the non-yellowing property of their pre-tinted white rim paint

4. No Brush Marks

Brush marks don’t look appealing on trims or anywhere else. Whether a brush will leave its marks or not depends on the nature of the paint. For example, oil-based paints help to even out the brush strokes (its longer drying up time helps the paint settle well).

While acrylic latex paints show brush marks, In short, a flatter sheen reveals lesser brush marks.

Trim Paint’s Finishes

Choosing the trim paint finish is highly crucial as it will not only protect the trims but will also give you years of enjoyment. A finish with a thick, smooth and hard coating is what most house owners wish for.

Not only this, but also a shiny finish that makes the trim stand out in the room should be another preference.

1. Satin

Satin finish on trim or doors has slightly lesser reflection, making it look too shiny and giving a regular subtle finish. Cleaning is also easier, and you don’t need to clean the trim with a satin finish as it does not reflect much and hence shows less dust or debris collected on it.

2. Semi-Gloss

The semigloss finish on trim or doors is a good option if you want a finish on your trim that is too shiny. The shiny finish reflects more and enhances the trims in your room.

But with that, you will have to regularly clean it as dust and debris clearly shows off due to the reflection.

What Is The Best Kind Of Paint For Trim?

You must do deep research on the kind of paint you will use on trim as it can either give you rest for years or spend pennies every month.

Generally, using water-based acrylic latex paint or an alkyd/oil-based hybrid can be the options for trim. The best would be oil/alkyd-based paints as they are thicker in texture. They will be more resistant to wear and tears, but they take a longer time to dry.

Contrarily, if you do not like the strong smell of oil-based paints, you should go for water-based paints; they are also easier to wash off.

Can I Paint The Trim With Ceiling Paint?

Ceiling paint is thick, and therefore it can be used on walls, trims and even doors if the top coat of paint is glossy. If you apply ceiling paint, a flat paint sheen look is achieved. Also, using ceiling paint is economically reasonable as it is 15-20% cheaper than the other paints.

Ceiling Paint

ceiling paint vs trim paint

Ceiling paint is thick in texture and is primarily latex-based. It is easy to apply and provides a smooth and even finish. Generally, it is available in a low gloss sheen.

Even one coat is enough because of the thick texture it has. The bonus point of ceiling paint is that it dries up quickly.

The fantastic formula of ceiling paint makes it resist staining from cooking vapors and smoke.

Features Of Ceiling Paint

1. Viscous Consistency

Painting walls or ceilings with thin paints can sometimes be challenging. Therefore, the viscous consistency of ceiling paint makes it stand out among all other paints. Such consistency is also easy to handle.

2. Drip-free Painting

What makes the painting process even more hectic is the extra effort to fix the drips. But with ceiling paint, you don’t need to worry about that as its thick consistency gives you drip-free painting.

3. Resists Staining And Soiling

Ceiling paint is formulated to resist staining and soiling from the smoke and cooking vapors. Hence, making it the best choice for your kitchen where the smoke and cooking vapors stick to the ceiling and walls.

It also resists mildew, relieving you from the headache of cleaning ugly green spots.

Ceiling Paint’s Finishes

After choosing the kind of ceiling paint, you should select the finish for your ceiling depending upon your need. That is available in the following two finishes:

1. Flat/matte

Flat or matte is the most low maintenance as it requires little cleaning. Flat paint has a smooth texture; therefore, it is easy to cover the mistakes if you make them while painting.

Another good thing about flat paint is that it does not have any reflections that hide the imperfections you have in your ceiling.

2. Eggshell

Eggshell falls in the intermediate category of paint. It is neither too glossy nor too matte like flat paint, hence a go-to paint.

If you are unsure about the sheen, choosing eggshell paint is always a safer option. Eggshell reflects a bit more than the flat paint but not too much to be noticeable.

While choosing ceiling paint finish, avoid anything above a satin. Satin has a comparatively lower sheen but is more reflective than eggshell. It will give a subtle shine to your ceiling and make it look good.

A good rule of thumb is to use the same sheen on walls and ceiling, or even if you want to put a difference, it should be no more than one sheen.

Best Kind Of Paint For Ceiling

Mostly, professionals use flat, matte acrylic paint for ceilings. As discussed earlier, flat paint gives an even finish reflecting light and has no glossy look.

Besides, it also hides the imperfections in the ceiling, which is the best for older homes with damaged ceilings. Generally, the paints designed for ceilings are thicker, but you should still prefer looking for the thickest one possible because it will cover all the ceiling flaws in one coat.

Flat acrylic paint also ensures easy application with minimal dripping and dries evenly. But a point to remember is that flat paints should not be used in rooms with high moisture like bathrooms, laundry rooms or basements. The moisture present there will chip or peel off the paint.

The ideal paint in this situation will be satin sheen acrylic paint. Similarly, semi-gloss can be used for ceilings in shower stalls for more water resistance.

Can I Paint My Walls With Ceiling Paint?

Ceiling paint is viscous in consistency; therefore, it would be the best choice to use ceiling paint on walls.

The best thing about it is that you won’t have to fix noticeable drip spots because of the consistency of the ceiling paint. Resulting in making the process fast and smooth.

But it would be best if you kept in mind that as ceilings paints are specifically for ceilings, they are available in limited colors.

There might be specific scenarios where using ceiling paints should be preferred. For example, using thick ceilings in high traffic places that are supposedly dirtier than the rest of the house could be one option.

In a mudroom where you take off your shoes, which is supposedly going to be dirtier, using ceiling paint can be a better option.

Is Flat White Paint And Ceiling Paint The Same?

The answer is no! Flat white paint and ceiling paint are not the same thing. Flat paint has a matte finish and hides imperfections needed for ceiling paint.

However, wall paint also comes in a flat white finish, unlike ceiling paint. And it is that ceiling paint has a lesser sheen due to which the light reflection is minimized. Too much gloss on ceiling paint will reflect more and show all the imperfections

Still, if you want to use flat paint on the ceiling, go for it. But remember that it will make your ceiling much shiny, which it is not supposed to be.

Should I Paint The Trim First Or The Ceiling?

There might be a lot of confusion when you are painting a room. The first and foremost is which part of the room should you paint first? Should it be the trim, the ceiling or the walls?

So, the correct order for painting a room would be to paint the trim first, then the ceiling and lastly, the walls. Doing so makes it easy to tape off the trim and then tape off the walls.

That’s why you don’t need to be perfect while painting the trim, nor do you need to be neat. The only thing that you should concentrate on is getting a smooth finish on the trim.

Also, don’t worry if the trim paint gets slopped on the walls because you can easily cover it later when painting the walls. When the trim is painted and thoroughly dried, tape it off, then paint the ceiling and, lastly, the walls.

Can I Use The Same Paint For The Ceiling And Trim?

Yes, it is entirely ok to use the same paint for the ceiling and trim. However, you can use a different sheen. For example, flat paint on the ceiling and semi-gloss on the trim is the best options.

Furthermore, you should use eggshell on the walls because it has a low lustre and is easy to clean.


You might have got the idea of the difference between ceiling and trim paint. Texture, usage, and reflection of paint are some of the main differences. Both the paints have their features based on where you will use them.

Choosing the right kind of paint is equally important as you want it to last longer. You can use water-based acrylic latex paint or an alkyd/oil-based for painting trim.

Likewise, flat, matte acrylic paint for ceilings in standard rooms can be a choice. And satin sheen acrylic paint works best for rooms with high moisture. To paint the ceiling for more water resistance, go with a semi-gloss paint.

Similarly, you cannot ignore paint’s finish; flat and eggshell are the finish available for ceiling paint. In comparison, satin and semi-gloss are the finishes available for trim.

Furthermore, you can use ceiling paint on walls due to its consistency. And the correct order for painting a room will be to paint the trim, ceiling and lastly the walls.

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