Should You Paint Walls and Ceilings the Same Color?

calander Feb 12 , 2021 user-icon Nash Painting

Whether you’re painting new walls and ceilings or you’re looking to update your current space, the infinite possibilities of interior design can be overwhelming. Even if you have a vision in your head, it’s impossible to know if you’ll be able to pull it off or if the results will even live up to your expectations. In many previous blogs, we’ve discussed the challenges that come with simply selecting colors for your interior walls. In those discussions, however, the “fifth wall” that lingers above our heads sometimes gets overlooked. Indeed, color selection for ceilings is just as important a consideration as it is for walls. To lessen the burden of “decision paralysis,” though, many homeowners simply opt for a standard flat white ceiling -- a completely viable option that works well in nearly every situation. Others, however, may want to explore more ceiling color options.

A common question that comes up in this conversation is, “Should I paint my ceiling and walls the same color?” No hard and fast rule says you can or cannot go this route; it’s ultimately up to your personal preference. But if you find yourself asking this question or struggling to choose a ceiling color in general, here are some important things to consider.

Reasons to Choose a Uniform Color for Your Walls and Ceilings

Let’s begin by going over the various benefits of sticking to a single color for a given room's walls and ceiling.

Minimize Your Design

Simplicity is a staple of many modern interiors. And if you’re looking to take a more minimalist approach to your home design, choosing the same color for your walls and ceiling serves as a strong foundation. This isn’t to say that all modern interiors feature this uniformity, of course -- plenty of modern homes seek simplicity in other ways. Still, going this route essentially streamlines a room’s appearance, allowing other elements to stand out, such as trim, decor, and other accented features.

“Lower” Your Ceiling and “Shrink” Your Space

Particular colors and the interplay between them can have major implications on the way a space looks and feels. While a color scheme obviously doesn’t change the shape or size of a room, it can create the illusion of space (or lack thereof) by virtue of the way we process color and contrast. More specifically, keeping your ceiling the same color as your walls can lower it visually while also reducing the room's apparent size. The lack of contrast or separation between the walls around you and the ceiling overhead serves to “box in” your interior, for better or worse. If your room is already pretty small, you might not want to make it feel any smaller, and therefore opt out of painting your walls and ceilings the same color. On the other hand, if your room is large and/or features a high ceiling, selecting the same colors for your walls and ceilings can bring your space back down to earth.

Save Time and Money

As we touched on earlier, color selection can take up a significant chunk of time. And if time is money, the quicker you can come to a confident decision for your interior spaces, the better. Not only that -- the fewer colors you go with, the less you’ll spend on material costs, in theory. One way to reduce the total cost to paint ceilings and walls is to select one color for all five surfaces.

The Power of an Accented Ceiling

Now that we’ve gone over some of the reasons to paint your walls and ceilings the same color, let’s explore the advantages of going the opposite route.

Devise a More Dynamic Interior Design

Not to completely contradict our previous statement on the simplicity of modern homes, but it must be said that, on the flip side, many modern homes instead take a more vigorous approach to design. Contrast is king for this design philosophy, so it only makes sense to create more visual separation between walls and ceilings. Indeed, going with a different ceiling color can drastically change the look and feel of a room. The standard flat white ceilings mentioned earlier serve to brighten up a space when contrasted by darker walls. Conversely, contrasting lighter walls with a darker ceiling can make a bold statement and define a room, drawing eyes upward and achieving a similar result as an accent wall. Either way, this disparity makes for a more dynamic interior.

“Raise” Your Ceilings and “Enlarge” Your Room

If selecting the same color for your walls and ceilings serves to lower your ceiling and shrink your space, choosing different colors can achieve the opposite effect. This effect is most easily achieved by choosing a lighter color for your ceilings than your walls, which is one of the reasons flat white paint is so popular for ceilings. If you feel a bit closed in by your current room but don’t wish to overhaul its entire design, simply painting its ceiling white can go a long way toward making it feel more spacious.

So, Should You Paint Walls and Ceilings the Same Color?

If it hasn’t been made clear yet, there’s no superior solution to this question. Both options -- choosing the same color for your walls and ceilings or different colors -- have their merit, and certain situations call for either choice more than the other. For instance, if you want to simplify your interior design, save yourself the trouble of making yet another color choice, and/or make more space look and feel a bit cozier, it makes sense to go with a uniform color for your walls and ceilings. On the other hand, if you’re trying to achieve a more dynamic design and/or wish to enlarge your space visually, it pays to pick different colors for these surfaces.

Color isn’t the only difference between ceiling paint and wall paint to think about either; even if you decide to stick with one color for the surfaces in a given room, note that ceiling paint typically contains a different composition than wall paint. In particular, ceiling paint usually features a flat finish to conceal imperfections and minimize reflection. Ceiling paint also doesn’t need to be quite as durable as wall paint since ceilings aren’t at high risk of scuffs and scratches. The differences between wall and ceiling paint can be subtle, so it’s a good idea to do your research ahead of time or discuss these matters with a painting professional.

At Nash Painting, we can help you with your interior painting project at every step, from color selection to surface preparation to application and the final cleanup. We’ve transformed countless homes across Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN, and we’d be happy to do the same for you. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!