Best paint for a bathroom ceiling

Updated Feb 4, 2024 | Posted Feb 22, 2022 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 4 comments

Choosing the best paint for a bathroom ceiling isn’t as easy as it sounds. You need something that is going to stand up to varying levels of condensation and humidity, but also look good. I’m a professional decorator and I wanted to talk you through what I think are the best products available in the UK.

Please take the time to read this blog and make an informed decision based on your bathroom and the information provided.

 

The Different Paint Finishes Available for a Bathroom Ceiling

 

There are only really two different finishes you should consider for a bathroom ceiling in my opinion. They are matt and eggshell. Each has its merits, so you should choose the one that best suits your bathroom.

Matt will always look better on a ceiling, particularly if it’s smooth plaster. As any paint in a bathroom needs to be waterproof, the type of matt paint you should opt for is durable matt emulsion. This is ample for most bathroom ceilings, but if your bathroom suffers from excessive condensation, then the pitted surface of durable matt can mark.

Acrylic eggshell may not be aesthetically pleasing, especially in large bathrooms, but it is a lot more resilient. Water can condense on the surface of the paint and run off without making a mark.

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The Best Durable Matt Emulsion for a Bathroom Ceiling

 

Zinsser AllClean Scrubbable Matt (in white)

This is a paint many people don’t know exists, but it’s a great durable matt emulsion, particularly in white. You can buy this product online in a range of different colours.

There are three things I like about Zinsser AllClean which make it an ideal paint for a bathroom ceiling. The opacity in white is spot on, which is rare for a durable matt. The overall finish is awesome; It is crisp and clean, with no flashing or roller marks.

Then there is the toughness of the paint, which is easily capable of standing up to the humidity in most bathrooms.

A durable matt is never going to cope with condensation as well as an eggshell, but this paint comes close, and the finish is much better than that of an eggshell.

Tikkurila Anti-Reflex

I thought I’d include Tikkurila Anti-Reflex as it is a very flat matt emulsion, which makes the finish very desirable. It is available in white and pale colours online, or instore from dozens of different merchants around the UK. This is one of my all-time favourite products for ceilings in general. I find it easy to use and it always looks good, particularly in light-critical areas

This emulsion is on the list because of the overall finish, which is luxurious. It is a durable product, meaning it will stand up to some moisture, but you wouldn’t want to use it if heavy condensation is an issue in your bathroom. This isn’t as durable as Zinsser Allclean, but it really does look good.

The Best Eggshell Emulsion For a Bathroom Ceiling

Armstead Eggshell

Armstead eggshell is available from any Dulux Decorating Centre, but if you order it online by clicking here, you will probably find it cheaper, and they can match any colour from any other brand for you.

Acrylic eggshell paint will stand up to loads of condensation and will not mark, even if water runs down the paint. If you want a white ceiling, choose standard white over brilliant white. The paint finish will be far better.

Any good quality trade eggshell will do the trick. I chose to talk about Armstead because, as with most Armstead paint products, it is good value for money and fantastic quality.

Opacity is good, except from in white, which sometimes needs an extra coat. This is the only downside though.

The finish has a sheen level of around 20%. You’ll find it easy to use and the paint will stand up well to bathroom conditions. You can even wipe this paint down, which is another major plus point on a bathroom ceiling. The finish is spot on too! It doesn’t look cheap and plasticky like some comparable products do.

The Best Mound Resistant Paint for a Bathroom Ceiling

 

If your bathroom has poor ventilation or cold walls, then it may suffer from mould growth. Paint on its own will not solve severe mould, but it will go some way to helping. The paint basically contains more fungicide than normal bathroom paint, so doesn’t allow mould to take hold.

I’m going to give you two product suggestions for this section: one matt and one eggshell. Just choose the one that best suits your bathroom.

Zinsser Perma White

Zinsser Perma White is a very interesting product, and one I use regularly in bathrooms. Available online by clicking here, in white, or limited colours. You could go for either  matt or satin finish, but it’s mostly used in matt.

Opacity in white is poor and you’ll find the paint runny as you apply it, but the finish is spectacular. The best thing about this paint is mould will not grow on it! No black spores, no bad breathing conditions, just crisp, clean surfaces.

The longevity of this paint is great too. Surfaces look brand-new for years after you’ve decorated. This is easily one of the best paints for a bathroom ceiling.

I painted the shower rooms of a swimming pool with Zinsser Perma White about 8 years ago.

Before I painted them, they constantly had issues with mould and peeling paint, opting to have them decorated every year or so to stay on top of it. My work has lasted 8 years, and it is still going strong, all because I used Perma White. I’d highly recommend this paint.

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Crown Clean Extreme Mould Inhibiting Eggshell

Crown Clean Extreme is a range of durable emulsion products, and every product in the range is highly regarded by Decorators. For good reason too, I’ve been using Crown Clean Extreme for about 10 years, and I find it brilliant.

The Mould Inhibiting Eggshell is perfect for troublesome bathroom ceilings. It stops mould growth, is durable, and looks great. It’s easy to apply too; you’ll find it flows beautifully from your brush and roller.

This is another paint product I use for its longevity. It’s easily resilient enough to cope with even the harshest conditions in a bathroom and will look great for years.

FAQs

 

Can I use the same paint for ceiling and walls in bathroom?

Yes, all the paint products I have recommended on this blog can be used on bathroom walls as well as ceilings. They’re all designed to cope with that type of environment (all waterproof and durable).

Choosing a paint for a bathroom ceiling takes a little bit more consideration than walls, simply because ceilings tend to be more light-critical. So, if you get it wrong, sometimes you experience defects like flashing and picture framing.

 

Can I use normal emulsion on bathroom ceiling?

The issue with using normal emulsion on a bathroom ceiling is it won’t stand up to the harsh environment. You need to choose a paint that is waterproof. Otherwise, it will discolour over time, it may peel, and you might have issues with mould growth.

 

Should you paint ceiling or walls first?

If applying paint via brush and roller, you should paint your bathroom ceiling before your walls. You’ll find it easier to cut sharp lines between walls and ceiling, and paint splats tend to hit surfaces below the one you’re painting. It can be difficult to keep a freshly painted wall clean if you’re painting the ceiling above it.

Best paint for a bathroom ceiling – by Mike Gregory

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What do Other Decorators Think?

With so much media publicity these days over bathrooms and lack of ventilation, air flow and mould forming….

Zinsser Perma White mould paint is a safe bet to use with mould inhibiting properties and up to 7yrs protect.

Glixton Fungi-Sheld is another product ideal for bathrooms and areas where mould can form. It’s also recommended by the RLA… Residential Landlord Association.

Phil Beckwith

I like Dulux diamond eggshell in bathrooms as it seems bullet-proof and has great water resistance.

Though in the past on a few rentals with poor ventilation, I have used oil-based eggshell for future proofing.

Lydia Taylor

It’s Zinsser Perma White for me. I first used it back in the 90s when I lived in Australia on old cement rendered bathrooms. Mould can’t grow on it, but I remember it being a thicker paint than it is now.

Andy Cairns

Johnstone’s Durable Matt for me. It’s great for bathroom or kitchens

Lee Richard

Due to special conditions like high humidity, a bathroom needs high-quality paint dedicated specially to this sort of room. My choice is Zinsser Perma White, which is not only anti-moisture, but also anti-fungal. The name “permanent white” is placed on the tin for a reason.

Available in satin and the more expensive matt finish. Matt always looks better on a ceiling.

It’s also durable and easy to clean, so can be used in kitchen as well.

My method on fresh plaster is to prime with vinyl Matt, then apply two coats of Perma White. Give it a good drying time between layers.

Pioter Sulecki

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100 % Dulux eggshell for me on a bathroom ceiling. Why? Because doesn’t hold water and moisture. When dry it is like rubber. I have a bathroom without windows, only a small fan and I never suffer with damp or mould. I use it for kitchens as well, as it is very easy to wipe and good for touch ups

Kiril Gyulev

The best paint for a bathroom ceiling is Zinsser Perma White satin. I tried it after seeing a recommendation on the Decorators Forum UK as a replacement for acrylic eggshell (which is also great stuff). Perma White is beautiful to look at and seems to do the job for me. Also, it gives 7-year guarantee on the tin, so if something goes wrong, I can blame moisture coming out of the plasterboard opposed to my choice of paint.

Vincent Roche

Zinsser Perma white has never let me down in bathroom.

Kev Saunders

Crown clean extreme mould inhibiting paint is a great choice. Good coverage, nice clean white and seems to do what it says on the tin.

Joe Pellicci

I use Little Greene Intelligent Eggshell for bathrooms with loads of moisture. I need to try this Perma White.

Gary Hillman

I tried oil-based eggshell and never looked back. I’ve used different colours over last 20 years and never any problems, even when there’s no ventilation. I’m definitely sticking with it & always recommend to clients for their bathrooms.

James Tull Goodwin

Johnstones Durable matt is the best paint for a bathroom ceiling by far 🖌️👍

Ian Clayton

I’ve used eggshell, or any oil-based paint. Anything like that can hold the moisture back, whereas some water-based paint will suck it up and cause it to peel in my opinion. Silk is a good option too.

Jason De Jager

Leyland acrylic eggshell is great on a bathroom ceiling. It is reasonably priced, leaves a great finish and has never let me down.

Gerald Henderson

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Zinsser Perma White mould resistant paint is my ‘go to’. You can get it in matt or satin which is great.👍

Dave Molyneux Professional Decorator

Dulux Trade Diamond Eggshell is the best I’ve used. It is tough, nice coverage, scuff & stain resistant and lovely to put on. What more can you ask for?

Chris Ward

I use Dulux diamond eggshell on a bathroom ceiling. However, I also find that Leyland acrylic eggshell also stands up to the rest of shower/ bathroom moisture and steam. Dulux Diamond is very expensive in comparison to Leyland, but I struggle to get Leyland mixed in colours, so use it when the ceiling requires white.

Lee Robinson

Keim Optil for me. It etches to the substrate; therefore it needs no mist coat. It is natural silicate mineral paint (no plastics or nasty chemicals) so is the wrong PH for mould to grow.

It is breathable, it regulates the moisture in the room, it is not like plastic film forming paints, which tend to act like bin liners across any surface and …. I have had it on my Gypsum ceiling for nearly ten years and it gets wet every day from the bath-shower and still looks perfect. Oh, quality pigments so it can be thinned hugely. It can be thinned with Fixative (it’s a water-glass – a miracle product in its own right). I would never, ever recommend a plastic chemical paint again.

Kevin Foot

Another vote for Zinsser Perma White. It never lets me down and is readily available.

Steve Bould

Zinsser Perma White.

If the answer isn’t Zinsser, then I’ve misunderstood the question! Perma White is easily the best paint for a bathroom ceiling.

Martin Gater

I’m going to throw in a left field one: Dulux retail Easycare Bathroom if you’re in a pinch.

Got all the right stuff to stop mould and is tough and wipeable.

But my weapon of choice would be Perma White, typical Zinsser quality and it really does do what it says on the tin.

 

best paint for a bathroom ceiling

Darren Owen

I’m going to say Zinsser Perma White is the best. It rolls off will with a good quality roller. It will also last donkey’s years, even in high-condensed areas from moisture from shower etc. cheap enough for the product and if the worse comes to worse, you don’t even need to sand it. You can just chuck it straight on 😂😂

Jb Decorations

Has to be Dulux water-based eggshell for me.

Nigel Moore

Zinsser Perma White. I’ve returned to jobs years after painting a bathroom or shower room ceilings with it and it has not suffered one bit from condensation on a daily basis.

Tim O'keefe

I use Dulux oil-based eggshell. This works brilliant because it’s hard wearing and also helps prevent damp coming through as it is waterproof.

Robin Nathan

Perma White is good and contains anti-mould. Ceiling, walls and woodwork. 👍🏻

Steven Duff

Updated Feb 4, 2024 | Posted Feb 22, 2022 | 4 comments

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4 Comments

  1. Julian Hills

    That’s a really good review Mike, thank you for going to the trouble of highlighting the issues and situations where these paints are most suitable.
    I have noticed that Dulux vinyl matt changed formula at least a year ago and
    is very even when drying and a lovely finish, it seems to be really tough too and hardly smells. I have had comments on Zinsser products from customers in the past about this.
    I have also experimented with the additive ‘Thermalmix’ which is microscopic beads which you add to any paint and it creates a wall warm to the touch.
    the only downside is that it does give a slight textured finish but stops the issue of cold bridging. I used this in a smallish room at the corner of the house with two external walls and a large shower which had constant black mould problems. This also stopped peeling as the wall/ceiling surface was under less pressure from the temperature differential. Three years on it looks good as when i painted it. I used Albany durable matt and that seems to be really tough and is excellent opacity too.
    Want to try the Tikkurila as have been looking for a dead flat finish that isn’t F&B.
    I will give the Allclean a go too .

    Reply
  2. Vince Robinson

    Can I add optiva 20? Best soft sheen I’ve ever used.

    Reply
  3. Suzie PJ

    Thank you so very much for your knowledge and experience. 5*

    Reply
  4. nordskog leon

    To be totally honest most of the paints mentioned will suffice, but to pick the (best) one for the job would need you to be there and see how the client actually uses there bathroom, from self experience some people seem to think it’s a steam room, others wouldn’t even consider having a vent or opening a window…. so it’s all a guessing game in reality

    Reply

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