Painting the Fifth Wall

Help customers create visual interest with ceiling paint

While your customers are accustomed to carefully choosing the color of paint used on the four walls of a room, the ceiling is often overlooked. As a professional painting contractor, you know that the ceiling—sometimes referred to as “the fifth wall”—is an important component of any painting job.

Choosing the right ceiling paint in the right color will go a long way toward ensuring your customer is satisfied with the final outcome.

The Right Color

There’s a reason white and off-white shades are the most common ceiling paint colors. White reflects light, creates the appearance of open space and higher ceilings, and complements most colors, making it a safe choice for most ceilings.

However, that doesn’t mean white is the only or best choice. Using a different color can help accentuate existing room elements, such as natural wood features or coffered ceilings, and give a room a different feeling. Colors draw the eye upward and add visual flair and richness to a room’s design.

“There are no limits on the ways ceiling color can be used, whether to create the illusion of space or complement the colors of the rest of the room, and having that conversation with your customer is a valuable way to build your relationship,” says Emily Kantz, Color Manager for Sherwin-Williams Color Marketing & Design. “Their tendency will be to think of only painting the walls of the room. Guiding them in adding a fifth wall accent feature can not only demonstrate your expertise but add value and profitability to the job itself.”

In general, darker ceiling colors can make a room feel intimate and smaller—perfect for cozy libraries or offices—and can also create dramatic contrasts when paired with light wall colors. Lighter ceiling colors make the room feel larger and brighter, which can be helpful for rooms without windows or another exterior light source. Vibrant, colorful ceilings can add a spark of fun and liven up rooms. (Check out examples of different ceiling colors in action here.)

If your customer is considering a non-white ceiling shade, use top colors recommended by the PRO+ App’s Color Toolkit to point homeowners in the right direction. You can also offer your customer a free Virtual Color Consultation with a Sherwin-Williams color expert.

The Right Paint

When painting ceilings, be sure to use specialized ceiling paint rather than standard wall paint, which has a lower viscosity. Ceiling paints are formulated to be thicker to avoid drips, have better coverage, and come in a flat sheen.

For customers looking to get the best ceiling paint available, recommend Premium Ceiling Paint. It’s the brightest, whitest ceiling paint yet from Sherwin-Williams, boasting high light reflectance and an ultra-flat sheen that hides minor surface imperfections. Plus, with Premium Ceiling Paint’s one-coat coverage, self-priming properties, reduced splatter, and non-lapping formula, your team will be able to apply it faster and be more productive on the jobsite. Premium Ceiling Paint can also be tinted to lighter colors.

PRO+ members can back up this product recommendation and others with fact-filled sell sheets available through customizable marketing materials.


Help your customers create visual interest with little effort by getting creative with ceiling color recommendations. Use these resources to guide customers through the color conversation and find a design that will leave them wowed.