Dull White Vs Brilliant White on a Ceiling

Updated May 16, 2024 | Posted Dec 15, 2023 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 0 comments

I’ve been a Decorator for the past couple of decades, and in that time the paint we use has changed. We always used to use Brilliant White paint on a ceiling, but now we use low-sheen, or dull white. It isn’t just peoples’ tastes that have changed, so too has paint, plaster and the size of the ceilings.

In this blog I’m going to take you through the arguments for and against using dull white Vs brilliant white on a ceiling, give you my conclusion, and provide a couple of product recommendations. I hope you find it helpful.


Using Brilliant White Paint on a Ceiling


A Brilliant White ceiling can look sharp in the right place. It’s also crisp and clean, and you can create a dramatic contrast between your ceiling line and wall colour. It does come with a few drawbacks though.

The first is that Brilliant White can look very stark and ‘in your face’, which isn’t really what you want from a ceiling. It also shows defects, which is a major deal breaker for me. Paint has had to change to deal with the changes in plaster, and whatever they’ve done to it in recent years has caused the paint to start flashing and picture framing.

The other change is the size of the ceilings! There is a lot more open plan, or large rooms with lots of natural light. This highlights the defects even more! The only way to get around the defects is to move away from brilliant white and opt for something duller. Brilliant white can look horrendous in critical lighting.


Using Dull White Paint on a Ceiling


You might also call this low-sheen or off white, and it’s become the most popular choice of paint colour for ceilings in recent years. It’s softer, more contemporary, and offers the perfect backdrop for any wall colour.

You also experience a lot less defects, which is a major plus point.  This is because less light reflects off the surface, which also means that imperfections in plaster are less visible. As a Painter and Decorator, I always advise my clients to opt for a dull white rather than Brilliant White. Low sheen always looks better, particularly in large rooms, or in rooms with a lot of natural light.


The Best Ceiling Paints Available


10 years ago, there was no such thing as ‘specialist ceiling paints’, however, now the market is flooded with them. They’re basically ultra-low sheen (dull) emulsion paints which perfectly suit the job they were designed for.

That said, there are still a few vinyl matt emulsion paints that look great on a ceiling. I thought I’d give you two product recommendations; one is widely regarded as the best ceiling paint available amongst Decorators but is quite pricey. The other is a good-quality, reasonably priced trade emulsion.


Tikkurila Anti-Reflex

This is the paint that is widely regarded as the best. It’s a very dull specialist ceiling paint. You’ll find Anti-Reflex easy to apply, will show no defects, and the finish is absolutely gorgeous!! The opacity isn’t the best, so apply generous coats with a long-pile roller. There’s a reason this is regarded as the best, and that is the overall finish. I know it’s expensive, but you really can see the quality once it’s on. This is the paint you use on a ceiling when the ceiling is a big feature of a room (this might sound daft, but in an open plan room there is less wall space to paint and the ceiling really pops).

what is Best White Emulsion for walls and ceilings

Armstead Vinyl Matt in White

Armstead (manufactured by the same company who manufacture Dulux) is a brilliant trade emulsion. It’s reasonably priced, has great opacity, and you avoid defects. All for a very reasonable price!!

Make sure you buy ‘White’ rather than ‘Brilliant white’. It’s just a good, solid, hardworking product.

the best reasonably priced emulsion for walls and ceilings

Updated May 16, 2024 | Posted Dec 15, 2023 | 0 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Gregory is a Professional Painter and Decorator who works in the Northwest of England. He mainly sub-contracts for large decorating firms and works on a wide variety of projects.


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