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White ceilings - anyone do a sheen?

13 years ago

I met with a painter today and mentioned I wanted white semi-gloss for our ceilings. It is in a reno/extension with all new sheetrock. He looked at me as if I had farted, lol.

He kept saying it would look like a hospital. I have cathedral ceilings, skylights and an eyebrow window. I think the sheen would be interesting with all the light bouncing around. At night, I picture the lighting being more dramatic because of the sheen. The overall look I am shooting for is vintage modern. Not MCM, but the decade prior. I don't worry about being perfectly period accurate per se, but that is the feel we are wanting.

I sort of agreed to go with eggshell or satin but wanted to see if anyone here had actually done a semi gloss, eggshell or satin in white and get your informed opinions on it. He seemed not too be so comfortable outside the box. He came very highly recommended and will do whichever I choose (as he should). I have a few days to decide.

I know some here have done dark colors in gloss and I absolutely loved it. I just have never seen it done with a bright white. I am doing our trim in a bright white semi gloss, but that will be around the windows and on the bases. I am not using any moldings up high.

Comments (27)

  • 13 years ago

    Yes, we did ours in the same white as the trim, with an eggshell sheen - (I think). I'm pretty sure we did not do semi gloss, although it has been while...:) Our ceiling has a texture which I think makes it work, it is not too too obvious. If you have ceilings with no texture, I think the flaws would show more. I'm not sure... I agree semi gloss would probably be too much. JMHO Good luck

  • 13 years ago

    Thanks for the input. I have been told our spacklers are maestros and the painter is supposed to be great too. I am hoping that with all new freshly smooth ceilings, that it could work. I am hoping we don't have flaws in them!

    I kept thinking about it after posting and I am up to either eggshell or the semi gloss the more I think about it. I picture the sunlight coming in from the windows and the sheen on the ceiling magnifying that effect. I think it could look great if done right. A good portion of our ceilings are high up, so that is not very close to one's eyes to pick up flaws.

    I was really surprised he was so aghast at the thought of semi gloss. He kept using the word "hospital" a lot.

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  • 13 years ago

    White ceilings alone make me think hospital. I do think you will see the uneven plane of the ceiling, where the joists are. Also not sure I see the point if the ceilings are as high as you say - what will the effect really be? But hey, different strokes for different folks. Go for it - if you hate it, it is only paint!

  • PRO
    13 years ago

    Sheen in paint is not an adequate reflector. It doesn't exactly "bounce" any light around a room. Sporadic flares of glare where a beam of light hits a glossy paint surface -- sure, I could agree to that much.

    But I think it's a reach to think that there would be some kind of magical propagation of light throughout the space.

    Lastly, if you paint the ceiling with a high gloss level, you're going to have to address that factor of sheen when you want to repaint.

    If you don't like the gloss, it might not be just a matter of another coat over it. I'm afraid I have to disagree with les917 on this one -- it's not just paint. Be sure to ask your painter/contractor what it will take to paint over the hi sheen.

  • 13 years ago

    Acountryfarm did this in her house and I think it's gorgeous. Our drywall work is less than great in some places or I'd do this with ours.

    Here is a link that might be useful: old thread w/ pics

  • 13 years ago

    I think you will really love it. My foyer is not white, but a very dark gray, in high gloss. My problem is the streak marks left by the roller. My hunch is that it isn't a result of the gloss (as the painter claims), but rather a combination of the gloss and the type of cheap rollers my painter used. There is even fuzz up there! This is still up for discussion in our house.

    go for it, you will be happy.

  • 13 years ago

    Bee - your foyer is one of the reasons I am considering it. I just was not certain if the white with gloss would look as good as a color with gloss. Now that I saw some pix, I think I will do at least the living spaces in semi gloss.

  • 13 years ago

    We had the EXACT same look as acountryfarm in another home. I had the popcorn removeed and ceiling done in very smooth plaster. I absolutely loved it. Looked very fresh and elegant to me. Mine were in cream with a coffee shade on walls. In mbr the walls were a soft pastel and ceiling, in same sheen, was a much lighter shade of same color. Loved seeing the glow of sunset on the ceiling. Yes!!! Do it! Oh, only one thing: your ceilings are really high? Wonder if you'd prefer the warmer feel of painting walls and ceiling all the same in deeper color? My DD has 15 ft. ceilings in mbr and did's much cozier now than when the ceiling was white and walls tan.

  • 13 years ago

    Oh FYI; there are different names for the various sheens from one brand to another, I believe. At any rate, ours was different than B.moore's name. Ours was not Glossy, but the same, I think, as BM's semi gloss. It did look just like ACF's here on my screen, but pretty sure it was not glossy, but semi-gloss. It did softly glow at times:>)

  • 13 years ago

    Okay, not white, but I literally just painted the ceiling in our laundry room a golden tangerine in semi-gloss, and I LOVE it! The ceiling in there is 9' or is it 10'? Well, it's high, and there's just one window: I chose the gloss because I wanted the light to be reflected and sister, it is. Priming the cabs in there earlier today I kept looking up at the ceiling and smiling ....

    Oh, in my sons' bathroom the ceiling is as close to white as we get in this house (Benjamin Moore's Calming Cream, which is a mild yellow) in semi-gloss and it is also quite pretty and I do notice how it bounces light. Not in a garish way, but in an energetic way. I like it. (clearly)

    I love the idea of your ceiling being a semi-gloss -- it'll be fabulous!

  • 13 years ago

    How do you think this would work on an orange peel texture?

  • 13 years ago

    I have it on orange peal as well as knock down in the fact I rarely use anything but semi gloss because I think it adds a nice dimension. I'm trying to find some pics with ceiling so bear with me...

    This is actually a soft tan (Ralph Lauren parchment) but in a high gloss because I wanted to increase the drama of the room (which has a gold wash on the walls). I prefer my dining room to be at it's best in candle light and with the gloss and gold it really is:

    You will never go back to flat again :) The one room I didn't find a good celing pic of was my vaulted ceiling but you get the pic from these and others who have posted I imagine :)

    I'm into gold ceilings now heh heh From shiny white to gold next year I'll be doing black LOL

  • 13 years ago

    The more it shines, the more it shows every flaw. If you want a shiny ceiling, do your prep work well so that it comes out flawlessly smooth.

    Here are some examples of what we can do with a ceiling:


    This one was done with torn paper, which would hide a world of sin, such as in an old house:

    And if you have a sense of humor:

    Another approach is to wallpaper the ceiling. Some here have done it beautifully with the "beadboard" wallpaper from Graham and Brown. Others have used paintable wallpaper that resembles an old tin ceiling. Both of these are great for if there are some flaws to cover in the ceiling. Note, you may need a crew of friends with long handled brooms to help keep paper on a ceiling until it decides to stick on its own.

  • 13 years ago

    Oceana - you are hired! I love love love painted ceilings and rooms like those.

    I should have mentioned that our plan is to put a chrome "tin" ceiling for our dining room and since it is an open plan, the sheen from the other ceilings would flow better. For now, it will be painted until we have money for frills down the line. Dh is as psyched about the chrome ceiling as I am, lol...

    I keep wavering between eggshell, satin and semi. Maybe I will mix semi and satin... Would that work if it were blended really well? I was looking in the paint forum today and one thing that jumped out was that no matter what sheen you choose, they all recommend wall paint for the ceiling. I did not ask this post there, but cross posted in kitchens. I feel more comfortable asking my "peeps", lol.

    igloo - if I hit Lotto, I want your light fixtures.... They would not match my decor here, but I could buy another house for them then ;)

  • 13 years ago

    LOL! I didn't paint those ceilings, just collected the photos and I'm so glad you enjoyed them.

    The chrome ceiling sounds very expensive, very shiny, and very permanent. Another thought is did you see this thread where we were discussing painted wallpaper? You might get a lot of what you want (there is a web link there where they tell how they got different effects) with a lot less money, and less permanent in case you get tired of it somewhere down the road? Just a thought.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Lincrusta, Anaglypta, painted wallpaper

  • 13 years ago

    I have to say when I moved into my current house the ceilings in the kitchen were painted in a semi-gloss and I actually like it.

    It just added a little reflective value I grew to appreciate especially with my smaller darker kitchen that now that I am about to paint them (due to construction) I think I will paint it a semi-again. Also I will add they are a snap to clean.

    Just do what makes you happy and works best for your space - that is the point I am at in my decorating/reno's...and no my kitchen looks far from being a hospital! lol


  • 13 years ago

    The chrome ceiling is not terribly expensive. Same cost as a tin one, just more reflective. I think I have it figured to like $800 for our space. Since we have few walls in our plan, it would help define the dining room and would add panache. We like vintage modern with a few deco touches and that fits the bill to a T.

    I am gaining courage from those who have had positive experiences with doing a sheen. I get that it may not be someone's cup of tea, but I like the look and it seems doable in our case.

  • 13 years ago

    I wouldn't mix sheens. I did it once and was very disappointed in the paint. It honestly went on with patches of different sheens. Yucky and yes I did blend it well. I had to repaint the entire space.

    Btw...aside from the long white empire state bldg style fixture, the others were all less than 200 each :). eBay and a little elbow grease is all you need.

    So, given your bravery with chrome....have you considered metallic ceilings? I'm loving how mine flow in the new house, especially with tin ceilings in some rooms. Soft golds from Ralph Lauren are fab as are their silvers!

  • 13 years ago

    igloo - I will be doing a silver metallic wash in our master bedroom and will do full wall "wallpaper" stencils on 2 walls over that. I will probably do the ceiling in there with the color of the stencil in a flat paint. The walls with be a white/gray with the silver wash with a medium light purple as the stencil color. I am going for a serene look there.

    I have too much connected ceiling space to even consider doing faux painting/glazes there. The only one I could separate out is the dining room one, but the chrome squares seem ideal for that (HD carries them). The rest is all open and will need to be done as one. I am also paying someone to do the ceilings and our kitchen walls as I am not great going up that high (I get an anxious feeling in my chest and stomach if I go too high up). I think paying someone to do metallic on the ceilings would break the bank in labor and materials. Our bedroom has a vaulted ceiling, but I can manage to get high enough up on the one high wall myself. I love my Black and Decker paint stick. It helps me reach up and applies paint really well/evenly. I am doing stencils to the walls to the side of the high one, so won't have too much work up high. I'll have the painter do the last coat for the ceiling after the walls in case I make any "oops'", lol.

  • 13 years ago

    Dianalo, I think a gloss ceiling (or semi-gloss) is an amazing treatment for a ceiling. I personally would prefer a tint to the white, but any attention to the ceiling just adds to the finished look of your room. The ceiling is often ignored. I paint a lot of ceilings and they never disappoint.
    And, if I doubted myself every time a painter or contractor looked at me sideways, well, I just don't care what they think. It's true that your ceiling will have to be near perfect to make it work, but that should not stop you. It can certainly be done. I do hope you share photos of the finished room!
    Also, you mentioned doing a stencil in flat over gloss. Not sure if I read it correctly, but doing flat over gloss may be tricky. You may want to do a test first. I find it easier to do flat first and then the paint with sheen.
    And finally, if you're going to do metallic paint, that's the one area where you will want to get the best paint you can buy.
    I think your designs sound beautiful.

  • 13 years ago

    Paintergirl - I was hoping to "see you" here. I love all your work and trust you more than a "regular" wall painter.

    The stencil I was hoping to do would be in the flat/matte, so can't be the first coat. It is a darker color than the base coat. I know the metallic may show through a little, but I wanted to have contrast by not having it sparkle since there will not be a lot of color contrast.

    I bought the metallic glaze from SW a few months ago when they had a 40% off sale. I will be using all BM products otherwise. I went to a BM paint contractors Expo last week and have vouchers for a bunch of different BM products. My painter said the Aura was not worth the extra over Regal, so I will use my Aura voucher towards the deep purple on the den & dining room walls (2 walls total). Should I do Aura for the stencil color or is Regal good enough?

    I had planned on painting a base color for the bedroom in a white/gray and then use the metallic glaze over that. Would mixing it together be another way to go?

  • 13 years ago

    Aw, thanks Dianalo. There are really no rules when doing these kind of treatments. My thought was that if you make a mistake (if) then touching up w/flat is just easier. And, the glossier the paint, the slippery-er it will be. Meaning the stencil may move. That said, make all your technique adjustments early on and you should be fine.
    I don't use SW paint, so can't comment. But Regal is an excellent paint and is fine to use for the stencil.

    Mixing the metallic glaze into the paint is certainly an option. I suggest doing a test, experiment w/the paint to glaze ratio. Me, I would glaze over the base w/the metallic. More control of the final effect. It sure sounds like you have thought everything through.

  • 13 years ago

    Thanks so much pg ;) I have stashed some sheetrock excess and plan to practice a little on that prior to hitting the actual wall. One on my inspiration pix for the color scheme is the following, but my stencil is much less ornate/filled in and my purple will be a little darker. Our wall will be mostly light with a finer stencil while this one is at least half purple.

    I have stenciled in the past, always over eggshell base coats and once over semi gloss, and never had a slippage issue. I have a quality thick stencil, so that should help as well.

  • 13 years ago

    Love damask in any color, any pattern!
    It did sound like you knew what you were doing. You planned it all out perfectly and can't wait to see pics!!

  • 13 years ago

    Thanks, now I just have to execute, lol.... Mine is actually not going be a damask after all. I had been searching for stencils and got worried that the damask look was getting overdone, so my pattern is simpler but should be enough to add style...

  • 12 years ago

    I was actually thinking of a sheen on my ceilings as well ... just to add a little reflectiveness and height (started to say depth but since we're talking about ceilings, that didn't sound right).

    They are popcorn - no way to change that - but wondering if a satin might give it a little something without looking obnoxious. I've found lovely pictures of glossy flat ceilings but no one seems to want to show off their popcorn beauties (yes, I know, an oxymoron).

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