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What Is The Best Ceiling Paint Finish, Flat Or Eggshell? (With Photos Of 7 Rooms)

I know guys, I’ve heard the old rules for painting ceilings only using a flat paint sheen on ceilings. That rule has been around for decades.

Honestly, I’m not sure how that ever became a rule. Or who the person was that made that rule up.

I’m kind of imagining some crazy Madmen-style 1960’s advertising firm coming up with these rules to sell more paint. Personally though, I think a flat ceiling paint finish looks boring on most ceilings.

Image of Flat and Eggshell Ceiling Paint Finish. Text Says "Eggshell vs Flat".
I’m a huge fan of an eggshell paint on ceilings. It reflects light, making the whole room feel lighter and brighter.

Using a flat ceiling paint sheen gives ceilings a dull finish that can darken the feel of a room. I always feel like a flat ceiling paint finish makes the ceiling feel lower and looks unfinished too.

Which is a shame. It’s a missed opportunity when it comes to adding extra style to your home. Here’s 7 examples of Flat vs Eggshell Paint Sheen on Ceilings in my home to show you the difference.

Best Ceiling Paint Finish: Flat Or Eggshell

For a better look at the ceiling paint sheen, you can see a tour of the flat or eggshell ceiling paint finish in a few rooms in my house in this video.

Which Paint Sheen to Use on Ceilings? Eggshell vs Flat Paint Sheen

What Sheen Should Ceiling Paint Be?

Honestly, you should ignore the old design rules for painting ceilings. Instead, go with what you think looks best. After years of remodeling homes, I think eggshell is the best paint finish for ceilings.

And, to explain why I love eggshell sheen on ceilings, I have some pictures of ceilings in my house to show you the huge difference between a flat and eggshell sheen on ceilings.

The dull finish of flat paint doesn’t reflect light and always seems to make rooms feel smaller, darker, and unfinished in most houses.

When a ceiling has a subtle sheen it draws my eyes up and makes any room feel lighter, brighter, larger, and more welcoming.

But, there are some ceilings that should still be painted with a flat sheen. Ceilings with a texture you don’t like should still be painted with a flat sheen. Flat helps to hide ugly texture.

What is the best paint finish for ceilings? Eggshell ceiling paint sheen or a flat ceiling paint finish? Here's 7 rooms with before and after's of flat or eggshell for ceilings.
What sheen for ceiling paint? Don’t forget to save why I prefer eggshell on ceilings!

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Let’s get to those examples of why I think eggshell is the best paint finish for ceilings!

Best Paint For Ceilings: 7 Examples of Flat Vs Eggshell

Flat Or Eggshell On Ceilings: Room 1

Let’s start with my kitchen. I recently gave this room 7 DIY kitchen upgrades that completely improved the room. Of course, one of those was improving the ceiling. Here’s a look at the before.

Before and after kitchen makeover photos of a kitchen with Starmark white cabinets and Lusso quartz counters from Cosentino.

The old ceiling had a thick, ugly texture with that dull, flat paint finish. Normally, I say stick with flat sheen if the ceiling texture is ugly. But, in this case, I hid the textured ceiling with shiplap.

Olde Brick Lighting Milk Glass Vintage Style Pendant lights over an island in a kitchen.

Again, that subtle eggshell paint sheen helped to brighten the kitchen and bring the eye up to the new ceiling feature. I also have tips for the 10 BEST Ways To Add Height To Kitchen Cabinets.

Flat Or Eggshell On Ceilings: Room 2

You might have seen peeks of our Family Room ceiling in my How to Paint Built In Bookshelves and Cabinets post.

It was already a nicely designed drop ceiling with beautiful wood trim. But, the paint on the ceiling always felt wrong to me. Have a look at the before photo.

5 before & after examples from my home of the best paint sheen on ceilings. Throw out those old painting rules to get a more beautiful room. Eggshell vs flat paint sheen on ceilings.
White ceiling with a builders grade flat white paint finish.

The ceiling was somehow missing something that made that beautiful trim look boring. I thought about adding more wood trim to the ceiling.

But, in the end, I decided to switch the ceiling paint to eggshell sheen to see if that fixed my boring ceiling.

5 before & after examples from my home of the best paint sheen on ceilings. Throw out those old painting rules to get a more beautiful room. Eggshell vs flat paint sheen on ceilings.
Flat or Eggshell for ceiling paint??? Here’s a side by side look at an eggshell paint on ceiling on the left and a Flat Sheen on the right. That Eggshell Paint Sheen on a ceiling just adds a subtle reflection of light that makes the room feel brighter, bigger, and more open.

And, I think it 100% improved the look and feel of this ceiling. What do you think? The paint color is called Vermont Cream by Behr paint.

The new eggshell ceiling paint finish reflects light, draws the eyes up, and makes the ceiling feel somehow higher.

This simple paint sheen change on the ceiling makes the whole room feel lighter, brighter, and more inviting. I can’t wait to get the floor and furniture in to start enjoying this great room again.

5 before & after examples from my home of the best paint sheen on ceilings. Throw out those old painting rules to get a more beautiful room. Eggshell vs flat paint sheen on ceilings.
The new ceiling paint reflects light nicely with that Eggshell Ceiling Paint Sheen. You might have noticed the new built ins I built to replace the old arched opening to our foyer. Now we can use that wall as storage and for a large TV we can play video games on.

You can see all of the Before and After Family Room Makeover pictures from this room now. Here’s a sneak peek.

Magnolia Homes by Kilz paint color Duke Grey on Bookshelves. I am LOVING this Before and After Family Room Makeover Transformation! Check out the amazing pictures and budget friendly DIY projects.
You can see more of those built ins in the How to Paint Built In Bookshelves post or the Easy DIY Wood Drawer Front post. You can find more tutorials from this build in this DIY Built Ins Playlist on YouTube.

Flat Or Eggshell On Ceilings: Room 3

Here’s a look at our home office ceiling with a flat ceiling paint sheen.

Before photo from a home office remodel. This home office has white built in cabinets for storage.
Before my recent home office makeover, the ceiling sheen in this room was a boring flat white.

After I did a full remodel on this room, switching to an Eggshell ceiling paint sheen added so much shine and a fresh new look to the ceiling in this room.

Traditional home office with tons of design inspiration and DIY office remodeling projects.
After painting most of the ceilings in our house with eggshell sheen, I can’t imagine going back to flat ceilings. Check out my tips for the 10 Best Ways To Make Cabinets Look Like Built In Furniture to see more about these built ins.
Image shows beautiful wood built ins in a home office with three piece crown molding.
Here’s a closer look at that beautiful Eggshell sheen on the ceiling. You can see a tutorial for that great Installing Beautiful Three Piece Crown Molding in a previous post.

Flat Or Eggshell On Ceilings: Room 4

This Dining Room ceiling originally had the same wood trim and drop ceiling design as our Family Room (example 1).

Since you can see our Dining Room from our Foyer, I wanted this ceiling to be extra special as a first impression when people visit our house.

Here’s a look at the before photo. You can see the steps for that distressed DIY Gray Chalk Paint Furniture Makeover on that buffet in a previous post.

So, I added a Simple DIY Coffered Ceiling to this ceiling, using 1×4’s and cove molding to give this ceiling a fresh new look.

After using caulk and wood filler on the wood trim, I painted the entire ceiling with the same eggshell sheen white paint I used on the Family Room ceiling. It’s Behr’s Vermont Cream color.

Try this Simple DIY Coffered Ceiling Design I used to give my Dining Room ceiling a beautiful new look. Includes lots of pictures and a how to video. DIY Ceiling Design Ideas. DIY Ceiling Makeover Ideas.
Switching to Eggshell paint on ceiling, with or without trim adds an extra reflective surface that draws the eye up. Eggshell on ceilings also makes a room feel taller, and brighter.

This beautiful coffered ceiling looks amazing, especially with the new wood trim paneling I installed in our foyer after I removed an arched doorway between that foyer and our family room.

Everything is coming together nicely in these rooms. 🙂

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Flat Or Eggshell On Ceilings: Room 5

Here’s another massive improvement that only involved a ceiling paint sheen change.

We have a huge ceiling that goes over our Foyer, upstairs Hallway, and Living Room. And by huge I mean it’s probably 18′ x 50′. It’s massive. 

So, that big ceiling really catches your attention. The builder did a nice job of installing beautiful crown molding and dental molding around the ceiling.

But again, the flat ceiling paint sheen felt boring. It made me want to look away from the ceiling that took up so much space.

How a light colored paint scheme has transformed this home and even made the crown molding and millwork pop! #LightWalls #WhiteWalls #GreyWalls #PaintIdeas
How sad is that crown. It’s so gorgeous but a bad paint job and boring ceiling paint finish don’t do it justice.

And, after 20 years, that crown molding needed a new coat of paint too.

So, I spent a week on scaffolding painting the ceiling and crown molding to turn that ceiling into the eye-catching feature it deserved to be.

These ORC Living Room Makeover Plans are so fresh and light. Includes bright Blues and light Cream Walls with accents of pale pinks and green. #AbbottsAtHome #LivingRoom #BlueFurniture #MakeoverPlans
Should ceiling paint be flat or eggshell??? Still undecided about whether or not to use flat or eggshell for ceiling paint? Keep scrolling for more examples from my home.

Next up is a look at the finished eggshell ceiling and crown molding paint. For this ceiling, I really wanted to accentuate that beautiful crown molding.

So, I painted the crown molding with Behr’s Polished Pearl in Eggshell Sheen. And, I painted the ceiling in a slightly darker creamy beige to make the crown POP!

How a light colored paint scheme has transformed this home and even made the crown molding and millwork pop! #LightWalls #WhiteWalls #GreyWalls #PaintIdeas

That ceiling paint color is actually the exact same color that I have on the walls. But, the shadows on the ceiling make it look a bit darker than the walls.

A colorful Modern Farmhouse Living Room Makeover, I love! It's fun, beautiful, and stylish. Full of living room decor and design ideas JoAnna Gaines would approve. :) #AbbottsAtHome #ModernFarmhouse #TraditionalHome #LivingRoom #Farmhouse
Here’s a better photo of that eggshell ceiling sheen over the Living Room.

The color on the walls and ceiling here is Behr’s Sandstone Cove in Eggshell Sheen.

Flat Or Eggshell On Ceilings: Room 6

Our Master Bedroom is another example of a big change that was made with wood trim and paneling.

This ceiling had a beautiful vaulted design but a bad drywall job and ugly flat ceiling paint really made it more of a problem than a beautiful feature.

DIY Tray Ceiling Molding and Paneling Feature Steps. If you're wondering how you can turn your boring tray ceiling into a feature, I have the how-to steps for adding trim moulding and panels. Here's a DIY Tray Ceiling Idea you can do. With easy to follow steps. #TrayCeiling #CeilingFeature #CeilingIdeas
Before updating our ceiling sheen to eggshell. The stark white flat ceiling paint finish clashed with our creamy crown molding. And the ceiling was just kind of boring when it should have been the feature of the room.

I decided that the best way to accentuate that vaulted ceiling would be to install plywood paneling and trim around the angled sides of the vaulted ceiling.

I love how that trim draws your eyes up and really makes the room feel grand. You can see the details of this DIY Vaulted Ceiling Makeover here.

I painted the wood panels and trim in Behr’s Polished Pearl in Eggshell. And, again, I used Behr’s Sandstone Cove in Eggshell Sheen on the walls and ceiling.

Turn that vaulted ceiling into the feature it should be! This DIY Wood Panel Vaulted Ceiling Makeover gave our Master Bedroom instant style.
DIY Woodworkers can find the build steps for that DIY Upholstered Bench Plans in another post.

Those are the same colors I used in the Living Room in the last example. 

I love how the light colored paint scheme in our home has completely transformed this house. The rooms feel so much lighter, brighter, and more inviting.

Flat Or Eggshell On Ceilings: Room 7

The last before and after example of the best paint sheen to use on ceilings is from our Master Bathroom. I gave our Master Bathroom a Full Remodel a couple years ago.

It was another room with an underwhelming feature ceiling and a boring, flat ceiling paint sheen.

The ceiling has a pitched center with lots of level changes and a soffit hiding plumbing. That made the ceiling in this room feel confused and not quite right. 

Here's a look at our Master Bathroom before the big makeover. It has 2 vanities, a big roman tub in front of a bay window and a walk in shower.

After a lot of planning and thinking, I decided to go with a DIY Plywood Plank Ceiling in this room. The planks bring the different levels of the ceiling together, turning it into a design feature.

And, since I used plywood to make the planks, it was really a low cost makeover.

I painted the ceiling planks in our Master Bathroom with Behr’s Polished Pearl in Eggshell Sheen. The original ceiling was just a boring, builders grade flat ceiling paint sheen.

So, what do you think? Should ceiling paint be flat or eggshell?

That’s it for my examples. But, I have answers to a few common questions to help you decide which is the best ceiling paint sheen.

Whenever I’m remodeling or updating a room, the ceiling is always part of the design plan. I love a good statement ceiling. Even when that means endless days on a ladder of installing wood trim over my head.

Which Paint Sheen Looks Best on a Textured or Popcorn Ceiling

The only time I’d recommend a flat paint sheen on a ceiling is for a heavily textured ceiling.

If you have a popcorn ceiling or heavy texture on your ceiling, that you don’t like, I’d paint that ceiling with a flat paint sheen.

A flat paint sheen is the best at hiding some of that texture. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, a flat paint sheen doesn’t reflect light. It just looks like a uniform color across the entire ceiling.

Which is ideal when you want to distract attention away from an ugly texture on a ceiling.

5 before & after examples from my home of the best paint sheen on ceilings. Throw out those old painting rules to get a more beautiful room. Eggshell vs flat paint sheen on ceilings.
You can see here how the eggshell sheen slightly brings out the flat subtle texture on my ceiling.

If you painted a textured ceiling with an eggshell or shinier sheen, that light would reflect off different bits of that texture drawing attention to that unwanted texture on the ceiling.

So, if you do have a popcorn, be sure to follow the rules for safely painting a popcorn ceiling. If you touch it after it is wet, the popcorn texture can easily fall off.

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Which Paint Sheen on Crown Molding

If you read the before and after makeover details above, you probably already know my answer to this question. I like to use eggshell paint sheen on crown molding and all of the other trim in my home.

The old rule of thumb was to use semi-gloss or gloss on molding and trim in a home. Again, I ignore that rule of thumb and use what I like.

I prefer the subtle sheen with eggshell. It seems more casual than a semi-gloss or gloss sheen. More livable.

White walls kids bedroom for boys with blue velvet curtains, dark blue space themed bedroom quilts and NASA and cool outer space decor and wall art.
I used Eggshell sheen on the trim, feature wall, crown, walls, and ceiling in my recent boys outer space bedroom makeover. That eggshell finish helps reflect light all around this room.

I know this won’t be true of every home, but I always think a glossy sheen in a home feels too formal and old fashioned.

People always say that glossy sheens are easier to wipe clean too. I do think that flat paint sheens are hard to wipe clean. The texture is just a bit too rough. It holds on to dirt and oils.

But eggshell sheen and shinier sheens have always been very easy for me to wipe clean.

And, that is super important with my 2 boys. They are constantly leaving marks on our eggshell sheen walls and trim. I can easily wipe it away with a dishrag or Clorox wipes.

5 before & after examples from my home of the best paint sheen on ceilings. Throw out those old painting rules to get a more beautiful room. Eggshell vs flat paint sheen on ceilings.
Don’t forget to Save this on Pinterest.

That’s it for my thoughts on the Best Paint Sheen on Ceilings. I hope all of these examples helped you figure out what sheen for ceiling paint you’ll use.

A Few More Ceiling Tips

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Feeling inspired? Now that you’ve seen which is the Best Paint Finish For Ceilings, good luck with your project.

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