With all the heat, steam and grease your kitchen is subjected to, the ceiling requires a paint you can easily wash and keep clean without it coming off or its color fading. Paint the kitchen ceiling a slightly lighter color than the walls when you want to create the illusion of a taller room, but paint it with the same type and finish of paint you used on the walls.

Large, open, modern kitchen.
credit: XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images
Paint the kitchen ceiling with the same paint used on its walls.

Paint Types

For interior paints, you can choose from water-based acrylic paints -- sometimes called latex enamels -- and oil-based paints. Professional painters typically use latex paints on the interior walls and ceilings. Oil-based paints, if used indoors at all, are reserved for window and door trim, crown molding and baseboards on the inside of a home and anywhere on its exterior. Oil-based paints contain more petroleum-based solvents -- volatile organic compounds -- so when you do use them inside, keep the house well ventilated and expect the paint to take longer to dry when compared with acrylic paints.

Finishes and Sheens

All paints have a specific finish to them, also known as the paint's sheen, which determines the how the paint appears on walls and ceilings. Finishes or sheens include high gloss, semigloss, eggshell, satin, low sheen, matte and flat. The types of finishes that are most durable and easy to clean in the kitchen include high and semigloss paints. The other sheens are not as durable and may show signs of wear after multiple cleanings.

Best Ceiling-Paint Options

High-gloss or gloss paints are hard and reflect a lot of light from their extra-shiny surfaces, much in the way a mirror does. The paint is not as forgiving either, because it shows every flaw or bump on the surface of the wall or ceiling, so make sure you cover all areas well by using at least two coats. High-gloss acrylic paints are often used in place of oil-based paints in areas where children's sticky fingers might touch cabinets, doors and trim because of how well the paint cleans up. If you think a high-gloss paint has too much shine to it, opt for a semigloss paint on the kitchen ceiling.

Acrylics or Latex Enamels

For the kitchen, acrylic or latex enamel paints in a high or semigloss sheen make the best choice. These paints dry with a tough, plastic-like elasticity that can expand and contract with the heat and moisture in the kitchen. Cleanup is easy: soap and water for brushes and tools. Oil-based paints tend to yellow indoors with age and don't have the pliability of the paints that contain plastics. These paints are also easier to clean and can withstand the abuse of repeated cleanings without showing signs of wear.

Where to Use Satin or Eggshell Finishes

As a velvety-looking finish, satin retains some of the durability of the gloss finishes, and it's easy to clean in high-traffic areas such as hallways, family rooms or kid's bedrooms. Eggshell finishes hide wall imperfection and flaws and offer a good choice for dining or living rooms.