The Best Shade of White to Paint Your Ceiling Is …

published Apr 2, 2023
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Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

When was the last time you noticed, really looked at, your home’s ceiling? If you’re like most people, it’s probably been a while (or, more likely, you’ve never given it that much thought). That’s because the ceiling is probably painted white; it’s a bright, neutral, inoffensive hue that helps your ceiling … just sort of disappear into the background. The only time you might glance up at the ceiling at all is when it’s not painted white.

“I bought a new-construction home a few years ago, where the builder painted all of the walls and ceilings the same exact beige color throughout,” says Lisa Harris, a real estate agent in Georgia. “When you paint your walls and ceiling the same color, you typically make your room look closed-in and small — especially if there isn’t much natural light. It also often looks too monotone and boring, as there’s not any depth or a good way for the light to reflect.”

Because there are so many shades, hues, tints, finishes, and brands of paint on the market these days, how do you decide exactly which white to go with? Interior designers, home stagers, and real estate agents tend to have a lot of opinions about which colors to paint a home’s walls, so I wanted to see if they had similarly strong feelings about the ceiling. Indeed, they did. Below, you’ll find a list of the white shades of paint that real estate experts swear by for ceilings.

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Sherwin-Williams Ceiling Bright White

Harris is so devoted to SW 7007, aka Ceiling Bright White, from Sherwin-Williams that she always recommends it to her real estate clients. “It’s a bright white with light blue undertones so it goes well with most of the popular colors, especially the grays,” she says.

Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace 

Real estate broker Annie Cion Gruenberger loves Chantilly Lace OC-65 by Benjamin Moore for its versatility. “It has a clean and refreshing feel — almost a meditative, silk-like feel,” she says. “And it is a beautiful backdrop for any type of decor.”

Benjamin Moore Super White

Broker Sheila Trichter’s go-to ceiling shade is Super White OC-152 by Benjamin Moore because it doesn’t clash with other paint colors. “As the name indicates, it is really white and will contrast nicely with any other white or color that you may use on your walls,” she says. “As with all whites, it will make your ceiling look higher.”

Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White

Several real estate agents I spoke with also gushed about Decorator’s White from Benjamin Moore. “It’s a classic and timeless color that won’t go out of style, so you won’t need to repaint your ceiling every time you redecorate,” says real estate broker Kimberly Jay.

Real estate agent Emily Becker gravitates toward this shade because it can help make a room feel more modern and airy: “It’s a cooler white, with a hint of gray, that makes a room feel brighter than it might actually be,” she says.

Benjamin Moore White Dove

Becker’s other favorite ceiling shade is White Dove, also from Benjamin Moore, because it’s a slightly warmer tone that gives a space a fresh look.

Various Shades 

Colorado real estate agent Kris VanBuskirk doesn’t have one, definitive, go-to white paint for ceilings. That’s because she cleverly selects the lightest shade from the same family as the color on the walls. “For example, if I’m painting the walls a blue color, I use a white paint with blue hues on the ceiling,” she says. 

Another savvy tip: If you’re totally overwhelmed while staring at the rows and rows of color swatches at your local home improvement center, VanBuskirk recommends asking a staffer in the paint department for the store’s most popular shade of white. You’ll be out the door quickly with something that many other homeowners like and, in the end, if you end up not digging it, you can always re-paint.

“Unless the ceiling color is extremely distracting in a home, I don’t put too much emphasis on it,” she says.