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Paint Ceiling Cost

Paint Ceiling Cost

National average
$195
(10x12-foot room with 10-foot ceilings and a smooth finish)
Low: $175

(7-foot ceilings and a smooth finish)

High: $225

(14-foot ceilings and a textured finish)

Cost to paint a ceiling varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from painters in your city.

The average cost of painting a ceiling is $195.

In this guide

Height
Ceiling paint vs regular latex paint
Ceiling paint colors
Prep work
Painting process
Labor
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to paint a ceiling?

The ceiling is the fifth wall of a room, and its appearance is important to the rest of your interior design. This means keeping up with the ceiling paint and color to ensure that it looks its best and is free from stains and discolorations.

Ceilings are often priced by the square foot, with cost increases for higher ceilings. A 10x12-foot room with 10-foot ceilings will cost around $195 in total for painting the ceiling.

Height

While the size of the ceiling will be the biggest driving factor behind your total costs, the height of your ceiling may also play a role. The higher the ceiling, the more difficult it may be to access, and additional equipment, such as scaffolding 1 or ladders, may be required to complete the job. For this reason, there is generally an increase in costs per square foot at varying heights. In some instances, the price per square foot may decrease slightly if you are painting multiple ceilings.

HeightCost
8 to 9 feet$1.25/sq.ft.
10 to 12 feet$1.50/sq.ft.
12 to 18 feet$2.00/sq.ft.


Ceiling paint vs regular latex paint

Interior latex paint is technically designed to be used on any interior surface safely. But it is not always the best choice for using on the ceiling, which is why specific ceiling paint exists.

The first consideration to make when selecting your paint is with the viscosity or weight of the paint. Ceiling paint is thicker, containing more solids than standard latex paint. This means it is less likely to drip or splatter when rolled on the ceiling. This makes it easier and faster to apply, with less cleanup afterward.

In addition, the thicker paint used for ceilings helps hide stains and discolorations better with one coat versus two or more coats of standard latex paint. Because ceilings may be stained by water, mildew, or smoke, a ceiling paint does a better job of covering up these stains. 

The next consideration is the gloss of the paint. Ceiling paint has the flattest, most matte finish of any paint. Glossy or even eggshell paints tend to reflect too much on the ceiling.

Finally, consider the ceiling texture. While some ceilings are flat, many are textured in some way. Ceiling paint can better cover this texture smoothly in one coat, while a latex paint may require more effort.

Ceiling paint colors

Flat, true white is the most popular color for ceilings, as well as the most frequently used. That is not the only color that may be used on the ceiling, though. Many people treat their ceiling like a fifth wall and paint it in a coordinating or contrasting shade to the rest of the room.

The key is to remember that the ceiling is directly above you and, therefore, influences how the room looks and feels. Painting the ceiling a dark color can make the room feel dark or closed in.

Many colors work well on the ceiling as long as you take into account the height of the ceiling and the rest of the room’s colors. Warm colors often work well on tall ceilings because they visually contrast and make the ceiling appear closer and the room cozier. For example, using a burnt orange on the ceiling in a room with chocolate brown walls makes a warm glow in the room, while a bright white ceiling may have too much contrast.

For low ceilings, it is best to stick to light, cool colors because these make the ceiling seem farther away. Very light shades of blue are popular on the ceiling, being reminiscent of the sky.

No hard and fast rules for the ceiling exist, however, and the color is entirely up to the homeowner’s taste. Try a sample of the color on the ceiling for a few days before committing to make sure it will work in your space.

Prep work

Like any paint job, some preparation needs to be done before the ceiling can be painted. The ceiling should be clean and dry.

While some minor stains can be covered with paint, it is important to solve the cause first. For example, water stains may be caused by a leak in the roof, and that leak should be fixed prior to painting the ceiling. In a bathroom, mildew stains may be caused by poor ventilation. Fixing the ventilation by adding a bathroom fan and then killing the mildew means you can cover the stains safely with a fresh coat of paint.

In the event of nicotine stains, clean them with either a magic eraser, a mixture of vinegar and water, or rubbing alcohol. Keep in mind that it may not be possible to remove all the stains. This is one reason why ceiling paint is so effective. It is capable of covering any remaining discolorations.

After cleaning the ceiling, make sure that it is completely dry. Remove any moldings from the walls where they meet the ceiling and as much furniture from the room as possible. Place drop cloths on the floor and any remaining furnishings. Tape off the walls where they meet the ceiling and any moldings or casings that cannot be removed.

Painting process

Painting a ceiling is a fairly straightforward process similar to painting the walls. The differences are mostly in the height of the ceiling and any potential texture.

If the ceiling is high enough, a long-handled roller may be required, or it may be necessary to set up scaffolding 1. If the ceiling is smooth, a standard nap roller is used. Otherwise, a roller with a longer nap of ½ to ¾ inch is recommended.

The paint is generally rolled onto the ceiling, beginning in a corner and moving in long, overlapping strokes. If necessary, a brush may be used to touch up any difficult-to-reach corners or edges.

Once the paint is applied, a clean roller is used to smooth out the paint and create an even surface. At this time, the ceiling is checked to make sure the coverage is even and no areas with stains bleed through.

Most ceilings only require one coat of paint, but if you are painting over a dark color or excessive stains, then two coats may be necessary with a thorough drying in between.

Labor

In most cases, professional painters charge by the square foot, plus the cost of the paint. In many instances, the cost of the painting includes any supplies as well. Some have a flat rate per ceiling up to specific sizes, but even these generally work out to the same rate per square foot of between $1.25 and $2.00 per square foot. For a 120-square-foot ceiling with moderate height, the cost is approximately $195, including the cost of one gallon of ceiling paint.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Textured ceiling

Textured ceilings may cost more to paint than smooth ceilings because it may take more passes. It may also require additional paint to cover the texture. The more highly textured the ceiling, the higher costs may be. Expect to pay up to an additional $0.50 per square foot for highly textured ceilings.

High gloss ceiling

In some very dim rooms, adding gloss to the ceiling may enhance any existing light, making the room appear brighter. Ceiling paint does not come in high gloss, so a latex-based interior paint should be used. This may necessitate more cleanup as well as more coats of paint, raising the cost of the project to closer to $250 for a 10x12-foot ceiling.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Empty rooms are easier to paint and may cost less because less preparation is required. Emptying the room yourself may save you additional fees.
  • Cathedral and vaulted ceilings may cost 50% more than lower ceilings because they are more difficult and time-consuming to paint.
  • Skylights may also increase the cost of the project because they may need to be taped off to keep them clean.
  • If you are painting the walls as well as the ceiling, paint the ceiling first. Once dry, tape it off so that the walls can be painted.
  • If your ceiling is in disrepair, fix it prior to being painted.

FAQ

  • How much does it cost to paint ceilings?

The average cost of painting a 10x12-foot ceiling is around $195.

  • How much does it cost to paint a 12x12-foot ceiling?

The average cost to paint a 12x12-foot ceiling is around $200.

  • What paint do you use on ceilings?

Ceiling paint, or paint made specifically for ceilings, is the best choice.

  • Is there a difference between ceiling paint and wall paint?

Ceiling paint is thicker and designed to cover with one coat and less splatter than wall paint.

  • What color should I paint my ceiling?​

The majority of ceilings are painted flat white. However, the ceiling can be painted any color of your choosing.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Scaffolding 1 Scaffolding: A temporary structure used during construction/maintenance/painting projects to raise and support workers (or one worker), required materials, and equipment

Cost to paint a ceiling varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Painter painting a ceiling in white

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Albuquerque, NM
-14%
Alpharetta, GA
+9%
Anaheim, CA
+21%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Bakersfield, CA
-6%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Bowie, MD
+16%
Bowie, TX
-31%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chesterfield, VA
+1%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Columbus, OH
+5%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Dearborn, MI
+16%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Frisco, TX
+23%
Hesperia, CA
-1%
Houston, TX
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Irvine, CA
+23%
Kansas City, MO
+4%
Katy, TX
+63%
Keller, TX
+20%
Kent, WA
+9%
Kingsland, GA
-40%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Liberty, MO
-6%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Louisville, KY
-7%
Memphis, TN
+11%
Miami, FL
+1%
Milwaukee, WI
+12%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
Modesto, CA
-12%
New York, NY
+77%
Newark, NJ
+27%
Oklahoma City, OK
-12%
Omaha, NE
-10%
Palmdale, CA
+9%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Portland, OR
+11%
Puyallup, WA
-1%
Raleigh, NC
-3%
Sacramento, CA
+8%
Saint Paul, MN
+20%
San Antonio, TX
-4%
Labor cost in your zip code
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Methodology and sources