Do the ceiling tiles in your house need painting? Perhaps those ceiling tiles in your office look shabby and need some refurbishing, and you are wondering if it is possible to paint them?

Yes, you can paint ceiling tiles; however, the process differs slightly depending on the tile type you are painting. Ceiling tiles can be plastic, tin, acoustic, or cork. Painting ceiling tiles requires you to clean, prime, and paint the tiles. If you are using plastic tiles, it would be best to sand the tiles before painting.

The ceiling tile you are painting determines the type of paint used. Latex paint is the best paint type for ceiling tiles. You can use oil-based paints on specific tiles. But spray paints must be the best and the easiest option.

Can You Paint Ceiling Tiles

Can You Paint Ceiling Tiles

Sure, you can paint ceiling tiles! Just make sure to use a high-quality paint designed for use on ceilings, . You’ll also want to make sure the tiles are clean and free of any dirt or debris before you start painting.

Once you’ve prepped the tiles and chosen your paint, simply apply it to the tiles using a paintbrush or roller. Sprayers are the best option and the easiest way. although they could be a bit more expensive.

Ceiling tiles can be made of lightweight material, such as Styrofoam, which is easy to paint. However, if you want a more durable finish, you may want to consider priming and painting the tiles with a latex or oil-based paint designed for use on those tiles

Why Should You Paint Ceiling Tiles

In rented apartments, the owners never paint the ceiling. And they have a good reason. It makes the ceiling tiles look very bad and they would have to change the ceiling tiles.

So, there is no point in painting your own ceiling tiles. However, if you have a new bedroom, and you want to paint your own ceiling tiles, then go ahead, but not for the reasons you think.

Most people want to paint their ceiling tiles for several reasons, but in my opinion, the most important reason to paint ceiling tiles is to make them look fresher and lighter.

The ceiling tiles in most houses are painted white by the factory, but after a few years, they look dirty and old. So, before you get rid of the ceiling tiles and replace them with new ones, give them a fresh coat of paint.

How to Paint Styrofoam Ceiling Tiles

Styrofoam ceiling tiles are a great way to add some color and style to your ceiling. They are easy to install and can be painted to match your decor. Here are some tips on how to paint styrofoam ceiling tiles:

  1. Choose a high-quality paint that is designed for use on styrofoam. This will ensure that the paint adheres well and does not peel or flake off.
  2. Make sure the tiles are clean and free of dust before painting. A clean surface will help the paint to adhere better.
  3. Use a small brush to paint the edges of the tiles. This will give you a clean, sharp line.
  4. Paint the tiles in a well-ventilated area. This will help to prevent the paint from fumes.
  5. Allow the paint to dry completely before installing the tiles. This will ensure that the paint will not be disturbed during installation.

However, if you are painting old tiles, which are already installed,d you may need a ladder to get close to the ceiling. Then, you must have gloves and protective eyewear with some old clothes you don’t mind spilling some paint over.

You could also opt out for sprayers which can make your job much easier.

How Safe is to Paint Ceiling Tiles?

If you’re looking to add a bit of color to your ceiling tiles, you may be wondering how safe it is to paint them. The good news is that painting ceiling tiles is generally safe and easy to do. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure the best results.

  • First, make sure you use paint that is specifically designed for ceilings. This will ensure that the paint adheres well and doesn’t peel or chip over time.
  • Second, be sure to prep the tiles before painting. This means cleaning them thoroughly and sanding them down so that the paint has a smooth surface to adhere to.
  • Finally, take your time when painting. ceiling tiles are often textured, so it’s best to use a brush or roller with a bit of giving to avoid leaving any streaks or brush marks.

Overall, painting ceiling tiles is a relatively safe and easy process. Just be sure to use the right type of paint and take your time to get a smooth, even finish.

Paint Type to Use on Ceiling Tiles

Before carrying out your ceiling painting project, note that interior and ceiling paint are different.

Ceiling paint is sold in a matte or flat finish, and the dull finish permits ceiling paint to conceal imperfections. In addition, it also prevents the ceiling from reflecting light and changing the room’s lighting.

 Therefore, if you are painting ceiling tiles, purchase ceiling paint and not just any type of paint. Examples of ceiling paints you can buy are

  • Insl-X color Changing Paint,
  • Kilz stain-blocking Ceiling Paint,
  • Glidden Ceiling Paint

Ceiling paint differs from interior paint in many ways. The table below explains the differences between ceiling paint and interior paint.

It has more viscosityIt has less viscosity
It gives better coverage for ceilingsIt gives less impressive coverage for ceilings
The colors available are limitedIt has a variety of colors
It is more durableIt is less durable
It gives a flat finish when appliedIt comes in different finishes, from flat to glossy

Can I Use Exterior Paint on Ceiling Tiles?

Exterior paint types are thicker than interior paint types. You might want to consider using exterior paint on your ceiling tiles because of this property, but the truth is it would be a bad idea to do so. I’m sure you are wondering why. Kindly check the following paragraph to find out!

Exterior paint contains a higher Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) level than interior paint. I’m sure you know that VOCs are detrimental to humans health, including pets. Therefore, it would help if you didn’t use exterior paint on your ceiling tiles. If you don’t have ceiling paint, you can use interior paint with a matte or flat finish.

I’m not saying interior paints are better off with ceiling tiles than ceiling paints. Of course, it’s better to use ceiling paint for your ceiling tiles. That’s the best option.

However, if you cannot find any ceiling paint for your ceiling tiles, interior paint is an excellent substitute, and you can use interior matte paint on the ceiling. You only need to ensure that you prepare the ceiling for the paint to adhere well.

How Can I Paint My Ceiling Tiles?

The ceiling tile type determines the painting process. We have plastic tiles, tin tiles, acoustic drop tiles, and cork tiles. However, painting ceiling tiles requires some basics, which are listed below.

1) Try to lay a tarp down where you are going to paint to prevent the paint from dripping on the floor. If you are painting outside, spreading the tarp down prevents the paint from leaking on your concrete.

2) All paints contain VOCs, not just exterior paints alone. As I explained earlier, which I guess you already know, VOCs are harmful to one’s health. Therefore, you need to take caution. If you are painting indoors, ensure that the room is well-ventilated. You can also use a mask to protect yourself

3) Before painting your ceiling tiles, it is best to remove them all first. However, several ceiling tiles are interchangeable, but you can mark each tile if they are oddly shaped. The mark should be at the back of each and not in the front so as not to disfigure the beauty of the tile and the ceiling.

Note that it’s not compulsory to remove the ceiling tiles; however, doing so will make your job easier. If you cannot remove your ceiling tiles, you can tape a tarp around the wall, as the tarp will help protect the walls from being painted or sprayed if you use spray paint.

4) It is necessary to clean your ceiling tiles before painting them. You can clean them using soap, warm water, and a washcloth. If the ceiling tiles are still in a metal grid, you can leave them overnight to dry

5) If you plan to paint the metal grid, it would help if you sand away any rust. Sometimes, it may be necessary to scuff off previous paint with steel wool. Roughing up the previous paint will enable the fresh paint to adhere better.

6) When painting your ceiling tiles, you can use a brush or a roller. If you spray painting your tiles, you will need a sprayer. It is best to use a paintbrush to line the tile’s outer edge. Afterward, you can use a roller or sprayer to paint the remaining tile parts.

How to paint the different ceiling tiles types

Since we’ve known the basics about painting ceiling tiles, we can now talk about how to paint the different ceiling tiles types. As I explained earlier, there are different types of ceiling types which are:

  • Plastic tiles
  • Tin tiles
  • Acoustic drop tiles
  • Cork tiles

1) Plastic Ceiling Tiles

Plastic ceiling tiles painting requires sanding the plastic ceiling tiles’ surface. 180-grit sandpaper is a good option. It can be challenging for the paint to adhere to plastic which is why sanding is necessary. Sanding helps increase the chances of the paint adhering correctly.

You can use both oil-based and latex-based paints on plastic tiles. However, if you use oil-based paint, ensure that you are in a well-ventilated area. This is because oil-based paints contain a high VOC level, and these VOCs can affect your health negatively.

In addition, painting plastic ceiling tiles requires priming since plastic can be a challenging surface to paint. Priming will help increase the bond between the plastic and the paint, but you must ensure that the primer is the same base as the paint.

2) Tin Ceiling Tiles

In the 19th century, many people living in Victorian-style homes used tin ceilings, and this ceiling type was popular back then. They added so much elegance to homes and provided some fire protection.

Tin ceiling tiles are easy to paint. To start, you will need first to remove any rust using high grit sandpaper. Afterward, you can clean the tiles with water and soap. It is best to allow the tiles to dry completely before painting them.

Tin ceilings are easy to antique, which is why some individuals choose to paint their tin ceilings. Antiqued tin ceilings are available for purchase; however, you will need to pay for the design. To save money, you can easily create the exact design yourself.

For your tin ceiling tiles, you can use either of the two paint types; latex and oil-based paint. To paint your tin ceiling tiles,

  • First, pour a little bit of the paint on the tile
  • Afterward, use a foam roller to paint the tile. Try applying the foam roller hard because the harder you do so, the more antique the tin looks
  • If you don’t want to create an antique look, it will help if you apply a primer before painting the tile. In addition, the primer helps to increase the bond between the paint and the tin and also provides a full-coverage appearance
  • Try painting the tile’s outer edge first. Afterward, you can use a roller or sprayer to paint the interior of the tile.
  • Allow the paint to get dry before applying a second coat

3) Acoustic Drop Ceiling Tiles

Acoustic tiles are excellent for concealing eyesores, e.g., wiring. However, they may look dreary after a few years and often require painting. Painting acoustic drop ceiling tiles is not very easy, and the most challenging part is finding the right paint.

This ceiling tiles type can change the acoustics in a room. Regular ceiling paint can affect the sound-absorbing qualities of the tiles. Thus, it is necessary to use paint that will not affect the acoustic qualities.

Acoustic coat, a paint designed for sound-absorbing surfaces, is a flat water-based paint and this paint helps to block noise further and enhances the acoustic tiles’ abilities.

You can paint acoustic drop ceiling tiles using a brush, a roller, or a sprayer. It is best to allow the tiles to dry in between paint coats. You can check the drying time on the paint’s label. For complete coverage, I recommend applying more than one layer of paint.

4) Cork Ceiling Tiles

Cork ceiling tiles, a natural alternative to traditional tiles, can be hard to paint as they are incredibly porous surfaces. Painting cork ceiling tiles requires using a sealant on the cork tiles.

To keep the tile’s porous texture, it would help if you used a regular stain-killing primer. The primer must have a stain-killing or blocking additive. This is because the cork tile pores make it prone to stains.

You can get a smooth surface using a shellac primer to fill the cork’s pores. Shellac, one of the best stain-fighting primers, also dries fast. For a complete coverage appearance, most cork surfaces require two layers of primer.

After the primer dries, it is necessary to use 220-grit sandpaper to sand. This will help remove any impurities drawn out by applying the sealant. You can paint over the shellac primer with latex or oil-based paint.

Can You Paint Fiberglass Ceiling Tiles

Though it is difficult to paint fiberglass, it is possible to paint it. you will just need to make sure that you a special paint that is meant for fiberglass and follow these things below;

  • You need to use a primer designed for use on fiberglass.
  • You need to be careful not to brush or roll the paint on too thick, as this can cause the paint to crack and peel.
  • You need to allow the paint to dry thoroughly between coats.

How to Spray Paint Ceiling Tiles

If you are professional in painting, you can use a sprayer to paint your ceiling tiles. I mentioned the word “professional” because spray painting requires a lot of patience, and you must ensure that every surface asides from the tiled ceiling are covered. Therefore, it is also necessary to cover the light fixtures.

It is easy to use a sprayer or spray paint when the tiles are not in the grid system. You can spray paints that are specially made for ceiling tiles. However, if you can’t get one, ordinary ceiling paint is an option. You can get standard ceiling paint and put it into a paint sprayer.

Regardless of your choice, ensure to wear a mask and protect yourself. It would be better if the room were well-ventilated as spray paint contains many harmful chemicals.

Here are some tips on how to spray paint ceiling tiles:

  1. Start by thoroughly cleaning the ceiling tiles with soap and water. This will help the paint to adhere better.
  2. Next, sand the tiles lightly with a fine-grit sandpaper. This will create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to.
  3. Once the tiles are sanded, apply a primer. This will help the paint to stick to the tiles better.
  4. Finally, paint the tiles with your desired color. Use a light coat of paint and let it dry completely before adding additional coats.

How Much Paint is Needed to Paint Ceiling Tiles

Sometimes, knowing how much paint you will need for your ceiling tiles can be challenging. Usually, two coats of paint should be used on your ceiling when painting; however, you may use one, and it will still yield a good result.

For instance, acoustic drop tiles require only one paint coat, primarily if you use it for NRC qualities and not just covering an eyesore. Using only one coat helps conserve some of the natural sound-absorbing technology from the tile.

However, if your acoustic drop tiles are covered in stains, the stains will show through one coat of paint. The stain might, however, not show through the coat if you use a good primer.

When calculating how much paint you will need for your project, kindly note the following.

  • A gallon of paint covers 4oo square feet on a smooth ceiling
  • A can of spray paint is enough to cover about 20 square feet

How Can I Get Rid of Old Stains on Ceiling Tiles?

To achieve a quality paint job, you must have proper preparation, starting with cleaning the tiles. There are a few different ways to clean your tiles which I will explain in this section. Note that these various ways depend on the tiles’ material. In addition, they also depend on how old your tiles are, including the environment.

Sometimes, a simple dusting can do the job. This means you can dust your ceiling tiles with a cloth or fluffy microfiber duster, and that’s it! Sometimes, you can use a lint roller, depending on the material. However, never use a towel or any material that will leave behind pieces of debris on your ceiling tiles. A handheld vacuum cleaner is another great option.

Cleaning acoustic ceiling tiles requires more care. A benefit of this ceiling tiles type is that it comes off from the ceiling easily, therefore, allowing you to dust the ceiling as well as vacuum each tile.

If your ceiling tiles are experiencing water or smoke damage, they can have deep-set stains. Once you get rid of the dust on the tiles, make a bleach and water mixture. It will help if you make this mixture in a spray bottle. Afterward, spray and wipe each tile.

However, if after cleaning your tiles, you still notice some stains, perhaps those stains are too deeply set to remove, you can use a primer. Priming will help conceal any stain left behind.

How Long Do Primer & Paint Take to Dry on ceiling tiles?

The drying time for each product varies, depending on the brand producing them. In addition, it also depends on the amount of airflow in the room or area you are painting. The weather also plays its role as a determinant. A high humidity index outside can increase the drying time.

1) Primer

Generally, the primer dries within one hour and should feel tacky to touch within thirty minutes. It is best to wait at least three hours before painting, though, regardless of whether you are painting with water-based or oil-based paint. This is the standard wait time, although it would help if you read the recommendations on the primer container you purchase.

2) Paint

Paint requires more time to dry. Your paint might feel dry within the first hour, but don’t be deceived. It is recommended that you wait at least four hours before applying another coat if you need to use another. In addition, the curing time is another factor to consider, and the standard curing time for painting is about two weeks.

When painting, ensure that you don’t have any material in the room that could cause premature staining, and also, ensure that you read the paint’s label.


Painting ceiling tiles is easy and stress-free. Since there are different ceiling tiles types, the painting process for each type varies.

It is best to remove the ceiling tiles from the metal grid system before painting. Removing the ceiling tiles from the metal grid will enable you to create a more cohesive look. In addition, it will be easier to paint the ceiling tiles as they are no longer surrounded by metal bars.

I hope this article has been helpful. If you find it useful, kindly share it with others. Good luck with your next painting project!


Can I paint over water-damaged ceiling tiles?

Of course, you can. However, you must first find the water damage. It is necessary to do so to avoid ruining your new paint job. The source of the water damage could be a leaky pipe or a small hole in the roofing.
Once you find the water damage’s source, repair it immediately. Afterward, allow the tiles to dry entirely before painting. If you paint your ceiling tiles while they are still wet, they can prevent the paint from adhering well. If you need the tiles to dry faster, you can use a hair dryer or an electric fan.
Once the tiles dry, please ensure that the tiles are still suitable. If they feel brittle or fall apart when handling them, you would have to replace them. If the tiles are still suitable, try using a stain-fighting and moisture-resistant primer to help prevent the stain from bleeding through the new paint.

Can I paint polystyrene ceiling tiles?

Most gloss paints are unsuitable for polystyrene. Therefore, it is impossible to use such paint as the first coating on polystyrene tiles. However, you can use these paint types on top of emulsion paint. Some people use this method on their kitchen and bathroom ceilings since they provide a surface type that can be wiped easily.

How can I whitewash my tin ceiling tiles?

You can whitewash your tin ceiling tiles by spray painting them with a white oil-based primer. After spray painting them, leave them to dry for at least 24 hours