January 13

Star Ceiling… Fiber Optics or Painted?


Star ceiling – Fiber optics vs Painted.

A star ceiling is a definite plus for any Home Theater, Bedroom, B&B, RV, Relaxation room,  AirBnB or pretty much anywhere that will get dark... but what is the best way to go? 

Should you install Fiber Optics or have the ceiling painted (either by yourself or by a professional)? Well, that depends...

(Mural by Night Sky Murals. Black lights help this painted mural shine brighter when there is light in the room)

Theater Room with Night Sky Mural on ceiling

The owner of this home theater built the soffit on a 45-degree angle so that the light from the black lights could reach farther out into the center of the ceiling so the stars would fluoresce (with a UV additive in our paint) during the movie. The angle is also great for charging the paint so that the room can also be used as an “Escape Room” to escape the hustle and bustle and stresses of daily life and to allow you to stargaze and recharge, far out in nature… all while at home

(A Fiber Optic Ceiling with black lights around the edge for looks only)

Fiber Optic Star Ceiling

Obviously, my view is going to be a little biased... but I will try to be fair to all three options.

Fiber Optics

Fiber optics are a great option to view the stars in almost any light. This is a big “Pro” when compared to a painted ceiling. A painted mural acts just like a real night sky and the stars will wash out and disappear when there is in the room. But, fiber optics, because they are bright little lights, will still be visible when the room has light in it.

When there are lights off in the room... the fiber optics are visible and beautiful. When the lights are on... they are still visible and beautiful. And, you even have the option to make them twinkle by adding a rotating wheel in front of the light source.

But, there are also some downsides to fiber optics too... The "Cons"

* They are pricey

* They require a lot of extra work to have them installed, or to install them yourself.

* Holes need to be drilled all over your ceiling and a good amount will be visible.

* Electrical wires need to be run to wherever you will want to hide the controller.

* Fiber optic fibers need to be laid out, holes drilled for each light fiber, the fibers then need to be glued into place and then clipped off.

* If there is no crawl space above the ceiling... then panels need to be prepared, covered, wired and installed.

* If you don't want to do all of the work yourself, then you would need to hire someone to do it for you and they may not have much of a clue on what to do.

* You usually get only about 1/10th of the number of stars that a painted mural gives you (which is still nice for as bright as the lights are).

* The holes drilled for the fibers are visible.

* Four to five different sizes of stars.

* Installation can take from a few days to many days.

But, they ARE nice and the big advantage is that you can see the stars at any time you want basically.

Painted Star Ceiling

This is where I can speak with some authority.

Painted - DIY Option

This option can be both good and bad. Bad if you have no talent as an artist and you plan to just throw up some paint with a paint brush or try to flick the paint onto the ceiling. It looks really easy, but there are definitely some techniques that need to be learned first. I’ve gone in to paint at least 5 or 6 ceilings where I could see, under the ceiling paint, glow paint where the home owner had attempted a star ceiling on their own… and gave up. Whenever I see the glow paint under only one coat of ceiling paint… it reminds me of the first few times that I attempted the murals. 

But, if you or a friend are an artist and you want to freehand it... then go for it. And remember... you can always add more stars later if needed. Don't try to go too crazy at first. Paint, step back and look... and then paint some more.

If you want to paint your star ceiling yourself, but still get a professional quality star mural, then we have a DIY Kit that is we designed to be easy to use, and it’s  taken all of the hard work out of figuring out where to paint the stars so that the ceiling looks good. 

Pros for the Painted - DIY option:

* Cheapest method to get a star mural on your ceiling.

* Usually slightly nicer than the plastic stars.

* You can paint over it if it looks ugly and then try again or call a professional.

* You can claim credit for having painted it.

* If you have to tear out part of your ceiling to fix something up in there... then you can repaint that area yourself.

* If you go with our DIY Kit then your ceiling will be much nicer than the sticker stars. In fact, it will be very close to what I would paint. Not quite, but close.

The "Cons" to the DIY option:

* Sore neck and back

* It's very easy to create a very ugly mural if you aren't careful (excluding the DIY Kit option).

* Free-handing your ceiling won’t get you a star ceiling that is nearly as nice as one done by a professional (again, our DIY Kit will get you very close to what we would do)

* More unnecessary work to perform where you aren't already proficient.

* It is only slightly nicer than the plastic stars.

* It's frustrating.

* You'll probably glow in the dark for a few days from the paint that gets on you.

* Most of the “Cons” are for ceilings that you free-hand. Using our DIY Kit would take away a lot of these “Cons.”


Professionally Painted Option

So, aren't the "The Professionally Painted Options" expensive? Here's the quick and easy answer... Some are. Some aren't. And, by the way, I am. (But, I am usually less than having fiber optics installed)

A quick word about “Professionals” here. There are many people/companies that will teach others how to paint a star mural... but that doesn't make them "professionals." One problem is that most of them have never even painted one themselves. Usually they are either companies who want to sell their glow paint (so they teach you a method which creates a need for their paint, and they usually are terrible techniques)... or they are just lazy people who see a good idea and try to capitalize on someone elses success by marketing a “Star-Painting Business Kit” themselves. And, as a result, the people they “train” have learned really bad techniques from these non-skilled, snake oil salesmen. So you want to be careful who you hire.

Here are two examples

This first picture is of a mural that was done by one of the popular companies painting and teaching others to paint these murals. (Please don't ask who did this because I won't name them). I show it only to make the point that you need to check around. This picture was taken with a black light on because they probably didn't have a camera with a long shutter exposure. Thus, the background color. BTW... the picture at the beginning of this thread is of one of my murals with black lights also on.

(Another unknown "Professional's" mural)

Badly painted star ceiling

This next picture is of a mural that I painted on a really nice ceiling with big beams in it. The pictures show the ceiling in the light, with only blacklights on, and in total darkness.

(Mural by Night Sky Murals)

Mural on ceiling with beams - in light
Mural on ceiling with beams - with blacklights on
Night Sky Mural on ceiling with beams - in the dark

Having said that... I have seen some work done by other artists that really surprised me because the murals they painted were actually really nice. They were much better than I had expected them to be after learning who had taught them to paint. But, these “nice” murals were painted by people who were already muralists before they decided to add star mural ceilings to their portfolio.

So please be careful when hiring an artist and try to see their work first... or at least have them drop by with, or send you a sample of their work that you can look at. I mean... do you really want to spend all that time decorating your home... only to have an amateur come in and destroy your ceiling? There are good artists out there... but you need to search to find them.

As for the cost... You can find people who will throw some paint up on your ceiling for anywhere from $1 to $4 per square foot. My prices start at $12-$17 per sq. ft... and can go as high as $20 per sq. ft., depending on the detail and preparation before I can paint. I'm more expensive than most, but I am fair and the value that you get, I’ve been told, comes out to be a much better deal.

OK... here are the “Pros” to having a professional paint the mural:

* The look is Incredible! (When done right by a true professional)

* Painted night sky murals blow fiber optics away in the dark. (Fiber optics excel in well-lit areas) But for realism... there is no comparison to a painted mural.

* You can have a realistic looking Milky Way in your painted mural, that has a cloudy look to it and has thousands and thousands of tiny little stars.

* You can have other deep space objects and the moon added in. (I suggest only having a… crescent moon, a comet or, a shooting star because my goal is to make the mural look as close to what a real night sky would look like from a remote location on earth. Galaxies and Nebula aren't really visible with the naked eye from earth) But, it is possible to have all those things with a painted mural.

* You can create the illusion of mountains surrounding the room when the mural is brought down the walls.

* Ceiling fans and heat registers can be painted so that they disappear into the night sky... and they don't become black holes when the room is dark.

* If you feed some professional painters smoked brisket (ahem!) they might even throw in a shooting star or two.

* Virtually invisible in the light (on lighter-colored ceilings).

* Thousands of stars in the mural... compared to hundreds with fiber optics and DIY options.

* 15 to 20 different sized stars in the murals. This is what creates an incredible 3D look.

* Paint that will glow for 8 - 10 hours (the smaller stars will fade in about 3 to 4... and the larger stars will glow longer).

* Our paint will fluoresce under a black light to make some stars visible during a movie. Not as bright as fiber optics, but more natural looking.

* The mural actually changes the longer the lights are off. The mural will look one way when the lights are first turned out... and totally different 3 hours later.

* The stars seem to twinkle... naturally. Something about the way the paint does its thing and also the Rods and Cones in your eyes will have you swearing that the stars are really twinkling… because they are!

* No smell.

* Can be painted on most finishes.

* Usually done in a day.

* No need for a crawl space in your ceiling for the mural to be painted. Nor is there the need to add a false ceiling. You regular ceiling is just fine.

* Invisible in the light... just like the real night sky. Your room looks like it always has in the light.


The ”Cons” to having a painted mural:

* The cost can get up there, but usually less than nicer fiber optic star ceilings.

* You need a fairly dark room to be able to see all of the smaller stars that give it the 3D effect.

* You need a good UV light source to charge the paint for 10 minutes (Still, plugging in a black light is easier than wiring for fiber optics).

* You could get a bad professional (Do your due-diligence)

* Some stars will possibly be visible in the light on darker ceilings. 

- Note: The murals are virtually invisible on light colored ceilings that also have some texture.

Here is what the painted murals look like in the light and in the dark. 

Well, I’ve tried to give a fair overview of some different options for a star ceiling. But, whatever option you choose... get a star ceiling done. They are so incredibly relaxing and romantic. You've designed everything for the light... do this one thing for the dark. You will be glad you did.

Let me show you a really fun option that you can do

If you have a day-sky (blue sky and clouds) painted on the ceiling... then we think that you’d love having night sky mural painted on top of that. When the lights are on, the day-sky will be visible. When the lights go out... the night sky will appear. It's very cool!

Day-sky with a Night Sky Mural painted on top of it. Obviously the Night Sky Mural is invisible in this picture of the ceiling in the light.

Night Sky Mural on top of day sky mural

This is the same day-sky with the room lights turned out and a blacklight on. The stars that you see are not glowing, they are fluorescing under the UV light.

Day-sky with Night Sky Mural painted on it, under blacklight

Day-sky (from a different angle) showing off in total darkness. The Milky Way was hard to capture in this picture.

Day-sky with Night Sky Mural painted on it- in dark

Please feel free to ask any questions that you have and I will try to answer them for you.

If you are in the building stages... and can still add in wiring to power UV strip  lights... I can help you decide where the best places would be to have them placed. If you can still add a soffit around the top... I can share some good ideas about how to build that too.

So, if you are considering stars in your ceiling.. ask away and I will try to help you out.


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