If you need to paint the walls and ceilings in your garage, and you’re not sure which type of paint you should use, keep reading!
Just because your garage isn’t one of your primary living areas doesn’t mean that it cannot benefit from a fresh coat of protective paint.
As a painter and general contractor for more than 30 years, I have some of my own opinions on this matter. I’ll give you my best advice and some professional tips to help you achieve an excellent result.
OK, you know me, let’s not mess around here chit-chatting all day.
Let’s get into the garage wall and ceiling painting action!
Types of Paint
The two primary types of paint are oil-based and water-based.
I’ve dealt with oil-based paints a lot in the past, and I do not recommend using them for any purpose. They are messy, expensive, and they permanently stain anything they come in contact with. They’re also difficult to clean up after using, often ruining your paint brushes or roller knaps.
Another key negative linked to oil-based paint is that it offgasses high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are horrible for respiratory health.
Water-based paints are also called latex paints. The term “latex” is misleading, because there’s no rubberized latex in water-based “latex” paints.
The term has become used generically. Instead of latex, they use either acrylic resins, or vinyl, vinyl being the cheaper option for manufacturers. Higher quality paints have more acrylic and less vinyl.
Water-based paint is low- or no-VOC. It gives off very little odor. Overall, modern water-based latex paint performs as well as oil-based paint, just without the high VOC levels. Plus, it is much easier to work with and clean up after.
PRO TIP 1: Whether you choose to use oil-based or water-based paint for your garage, either way, it’s important to ensure proper ventilation, circulation, and respiratory protection. It’s typically very simple to maintain ventilation and circulation in a garage, because there’s a big garage door that you can open up.
However, even with plenty of ventilation and circulation, you still want to wear an approved breathing apparatus to protect your respiratory system. I have more than one friend who suffer, daily, with breathing problems now, because they did not follow proper safety protocols years ago.
Should You Use Interior or Exterior Latex Paint in Your Garage?
You can achieve good success painting your garage walls and ceilings with either exterior or interior paint. Exterior paint typically costs more, so it makes sense to use interior paint when it’s possible, and it’s almost always possible.
The only time it really makes sense to use exterior paint for your interior garage walls and ceilings is if you live in an extreme climatic zone where there are intense temperature or moisture changes.
Plus, assuming that you’re working with latex paint, not oil-based paint, interior water-based paint has far fewer VOCs than exterior water-based paint.
Interior latex paint works well for painting garage walls and ceilings, especially if you choose a semi-gloss or high-gloss sheen. Using glossy sheens will help your paint job stand up to scuffs, bangs, dings, grease smears, and other abuse common in garages. You’ll be able to repetitively wipe them down without worrying about rubbing the paint off of the wall.
PRO TIP 2: If you have a large garage that needs its walls and ceiling painted, or you have various other walls and ceilings throughout your home that need painting, I suggest looking into purchasing a high-velocity low-volume (HVLP) paint sprayer. They’re affordable, some costing less than $200.
You’ll be able to wipe out your paint jobs up to 10 times faster, with no need for breaking out brushes, rollers, paint pans, and other old-school painting equipment. You’ll save loads of time and achieve superior results!
Using Exterior Paint in Your Garage
If you do live in an area that’s prone to extreme temperature or moisture changes, or if you have a detached garage, you might want to go with exterior latex paint for painting your garage walls and ceiling.
The resins and exterior paint are more flexible and adaptable than those in interior paints. Because of that, exterior paint is better suited to:
- Resist fading due to ultraviolet light exposure
- Stand up to constant exposure to moisture
- Endure severe temperature changes
- Resist chipping and peeling
- Resist mildew and mold
Before you make the decision to go with exterior paint for painting your garage walls and ceiling, remember that you will have to deal with the fumes that exterior paints give off. Even low-VOC exterior paints contain other compounds that have strong odors. Depending on atmospheric conditions and the specific brand of paint you choose, you may smell these for months or even years.
PRO TIP 3: Be sure to go over your garage walls and ceiling before you apply your primer, scanning for poor drywall finish work, dents, dings, scuffs, nail pops, screws that need driven in further, and other flaws that will show through your paint job. Spend some extra time preparing the surfaces for priming and painting, and you’ll be very happy you did.
Using a Quality Primer in Your Garage
It’s important to prime your garage walls before you paint them, especially if your walls are currently in the form of unfinished drywall. A quality latex primer will ensure that the surface is ready for painting, and also help the paint to live its best and longest life. Plus, a primer will cover up stains and smells, locking them away so that they do not penetrate through your new paint.
Also, consider purchasing a 2-in-1 primer/paint product. These products may be a little more expensive per gallon, but they save you from having to apply the primer coat and paint coat separately. This will save you time, energy, and the risk of injury while painting.
My Closing Thoughts About the Best Paint for Garage Walls & Ceilings
There’s no reason for your garage ceiling and walls to look dingy, dirty, and otherwise unattractive. Giving them a paint job will restore their appearance and protect them for years to come.
I seriously recommend using water-based primer and paint, pretty much regardless of the application. I avoid oil-based products like the plague because they’re just so unpleasant to work with, in my opinion.
If you choose any quality water-based primer and paint, prepare your walls and ceilings carefully, and apply it meticulously according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you’re very likely to achieve an aesthetically pleasing result that you’ll be proud of.
Thank you for taking this journey with me today to discover the best type of paint and primer to use for painting your garage walls and ceiling. Remember to take your time with each step of the process, ensure your safety with proper respiratory protection, and do a good job painting your garage. Painting is a very satisfying endeavor because it makes such a drastic transformation in such a short time.
Enjoy the Paint!