How To Paint Ceiling Tiles. 6 Things You Should Know

Ceiling tile paint is durable, but exposure to moisture, chemicals, and smoke will inevitably cause them to fade. They may even accumulate ugly stains and chips over time. When this happens, the ideal solution is painting the ceiling tiles. 

When you paint ceiling tiles, you first have to clean them. Wipe off dust with a clean cloth and scrape off chipped paint. Apply all-purpose primer on white ceiling tiles. For colored ceilings, apply a primer lighter than what you intend to paint to avoid altering the final color.

In this article, I’ll discuss how to paint different types of ceiling tiles, how to prep them, and the different techniques to use. 

Can You Paint Drop Ceiling Tiles?

You can paint drop ceiling tiles in two ways. You either remove, paint, and then put them back, or paint without removing them. Both processes can be a little cumbersome, but you’ll need to decide the method that works best for you.

● How To Paint Drop Ceiling Tiles

Painting drop ceiling tiles without removing them saves a lot of time. However, the paint may cause the tiles to stick onto the frame, so you’ll have difficulty removing them later. Also, paint cracks may develop at the seams.

If your drop ceiling tiles are hard to remove or you don’t want the stress of removing and fixing them back, you can do the following:

  • Step 1. Clean the area: Remove cobwebs and wipe the dust on the drop ceiling tiles and frames. If the tiles are made of plastic, you’ll need to sandpaper them because the paint will hold better on a rough surface. 
  • Step 2. Tape the edges: Place masking tapes around the edges to keep the paint from getting onto the walls.
  • Step 3. Remove chipped paint: If there is chipped paint, use a paint scraper to remove it. 
  • Step 4. Wooden furring strips: Prop the ceiling with wooden furring strips. You can do this until you paint the rame. 
  • Step 5. Paint the frame and edges: Paint the frame and edges.
  • Step 6. Dry: Leave them to dry before dropping the tiles down.
  • Step 7. Apply primer: Apply primer on the tiles. If you are painting the ceiling tiles white, you can use an all-purpose primer. However, if the ceiling tiles are colored, you should get a primer that is a lighter shade than the intended color. 
  • Step 8. Paint the ceiling tiles: Use a roller to paint the ceiling tiles. Ensure you use flat paint, as it doesn’t reflect as much. 

If you remove the tiles, follow the same procedure. Paint the frame for uniformity, or leave it as is for contrast. Leave the tiles to dry before fitting them back on the drop ceiling. 

Zinsser Stain Sealing Ceiling Paint (available on has a gloss finish and is easy to clean. The spray paint is easy to use, contains a primer, and is excellent for covering up paint blemishes and stain damage on ceiling tiles. 

Here is a video with tips on how to paint drop ceiling tiles:

Can You Paint Acoustic Ceiling Tiles?

Acoustic ceiling tiles have multiple functions, but the main one is to control sound movement. Before painting acoustic ceiling tiles, you first need to understand the impact of paint on the sound-dampening feature of the tiles. Will it mess it up, or has paint no impact on this function? 

You cannot paint acoustic ceiling tiles with regular paint because it will fill the pores and reduce their soundproofing qualities. Instead, use paint specially made for acoustic ceiling tiles. It will improve the tiles’ appearance and preserve their acoustic properties. 

There are several products in the market to improve the appearance of acoustic ceiling tiles. Before using them, you need to ensure they are suitable for the material and that they will not lower the sound and fire rating of your acoustic ceiling tiles. 

This Brodi Acoustical Ceiling Coating (available on renews acoustic ceiling tiles. It helps cover stain water damage and discoloration. This coating improves the appearance without compromising their acoustic properties. 

Can You Spray Paint Ceiling Tiles?

It’s easy to assume that painting ceiling tiles are like painting walls. However, while the concept is similar, you should get the right tools and paint. For example, spray painting is one of the easiest and fastest ways to paint ceiling tiles.

Spray paint is great for tin, faux tin, and acoustic ceiling tiles. However, ensure you get the spray paint made for acoustic tiles. It leaves a thin paint layer, unlike painting with a roller. 

● How To Spray Ceiling Tiles

Here’s how to spray paint ceiling tiles:

  • Step 1. Preparation: Prepare ceiling tiles before painting. If you have metal ceiling tiles, wipe them with a damp cloth and leave them to dry. If you have acoustic panels made of mineral fiber, wipe them with a dry cloth. 
  • Step 2. Clear the area: Move your furniture to a safe spot to keep paint splatters from damaging it. When you finish painting the ceiling tiles on one side, you can move the furniture to work on the remaining tiles. 
  • Step 3. Primer: Apply the primer, and leave it to dry for a few hours. 
  • Step 4. Spray the ceiling: When it dries, spray the ceiling. Hold the spray can at least one foot (~30cm) from the tiles as you spray. If you hold the spray can too close to the ceiling tiles, you will likely use too much paint. Likewise, if the can is too far, dust particles may get trapped in the paint, resulting in a sandpaper-like effect.

Can You Paint Styrofoam Ceiling Tiles?

Unlike some other materials, styrofoam ceiling tiles are usually unfinished. 

You can paint styrofoam ceiling tiles before or after installation. However, you should be extremely careful when choosing paint for styrofoam ceiling tiles. Avoid solvent-based paints because they’ll melt the styrofoam. 

Some spray paints also have a negative effect on styrofoam. The ideal choices are water-latex-based paints and acrylic paints. Ensure you also use a water-based primer before applying paint. 

Here are the steps to follow when painting styrofoam ceiling tiles:

  • Step 1: Lightly brush the ceiling tiles because these tiles collect dust.
  • Step 2: Apply the primer.
  • Step 3: Wait for 2 hours for it to dry.
  • Step 4: Apply the paint using a roller for larger spaces. For hard-to-reach spaces, use a nylon paintbrush.
  • Step 5: Ensure the paint coating is even across all the tiles. 

This Montana Cans Styrofoam Spray Foam (available on is easy to use, dries quickly, and has a matte finish.   


Ceiling tiles maintain their appeal and appearance for a long time. Water damage and discoloration are usually why people paint their ceiling tiles.

You should be especially careful when painting acoustic ceiling tiles because you need a coating to preserve their soundproof properties.

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