January 19


Star Ceilings – Painted vs Fiber Optic

By NightSkyMurals@gmail.com

January 19, 2024

Fiber optic star ceiling, Fiber Optics, Glow in the dark, home theater, home theater star ceiling, How-to, Painted star ceiling

Add the final touch to your home theater, bedroom, or relaxation space with a stunningly cool star ceiling. But which is the better choice: fiber optics or painted? Let's go over a few things that might help you narrow down your ideal option based on your preferences and circumstances. Also, these are  perfect for B&Bs, RVs, and Airbnb stays. 

Despite potential bias, I'll do my best to be as objective as I can and evaluate each option fairly.

Below is a painted mural by Night Sky Murals

(it's funny, I';ve seen this picture of mine used by multiple painters and fiber optic companies. This is one that I painted, years ago, in Wisconsin)

Wisconsin home theater with night sky mural star ceiling

Fiber Optic Star Ceiling

Fiber optic star ceilings are the way to go IF you need to see stars no matter how much light is in the room.  A painted mural might make it look more realistic, but the stars disappear when the lights come on (unless you have a 365nm UV black light turned on).

fiber optic star ceiling


* Fiber Optics stay visible even with a good amount of light in the room. 

* You can make them twinkle by adding a wheel in front of the lights.

* One/Off switch

* 3-5 different sizes

* You can adjust the brightness

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


* Costly Investment (unless you want to spend weeks doing your own)

* Installation process can be complicated and time-consuming, involving drilling holes in the ceiling and running electrical wires

* Visible holes drilled in the ceiling may not be aesthetically pleasing

* You need a place to hide the controller (usually the attic).

* Fiber optic fibers need to be laid out, and the fibers 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.

* Professional installation is an option, but not all service providers may be knowledgeable on how to install them properly.

Fiber optic star ceilings provide a fraction of the stars that a quality painted mural does, although the fiber optics are bright and visible most of the time.

* The holes drilled for the fibers are visible.

* Only 3 to 5 different sizes of stars.

* Installation can take several days, depending on the size of the project

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

Painted Star Ceilings

This is where I can speak with some authority.

Painted - DIY Option

Creating a star ceiling with just a paintbrush or flicking paint can be OK, but also risky. If you're not a skilled painter, it can go wrong. It may look simple, but there are techniques to master before attempting it.

I've come across many ceilings with failed star murals that still faintly glowed under a single coat of ceiling paint, reminding me of my early mural attempts. However, if you're an artist or know one, feel free to try it freehand.

Go slow and add stars as needed. Alternatively, our DIY Kit can help you achieve a professional-looking result without the guesswork of where to paint the stars.

Pros for the Painted - DIY option:

* Get a star mural on your ceiling without breaking the bank.

* Better than plastic stars, adding a touch of sophistication to your space

* If you aren't satisfied with the result, simply paint over it and start again, or seek professional (painting) help.

* You can claim credit for having painted it.

* If you need to make repairs to the ceiling, you can easily repaint the area yourself.

* Our DIY kit will enhance the appearance of your star ceiling light-years beyond sticker stars and most fiber optic star ceilings. And while it may not be an exact copy of my hand-painted murals, it will come very close to the real thing.

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

Are professionally painted star ceilings expensive? The answer is simple: some are, and some aren't. As for myself, I tend to be pricier than most painters (though usually less expensive than fiber optic installations), though my clients will tell you that they feel they have received great value for the price charged.

A quick word about “Professionals.” It's important to note that not all "professionals" are created equal. Some companies claim to offer star mural painting services, but they simply want to sell their glow paint or a "Star-Painting Business Kit." As a result, the techniques taught by these non-skilled salesmen can be subpar. Be sure to choose your painter wisely.

Here are two examples:

Check out this picture. It's a mural painted by one of the “popular” companies that teach others to paint these murals (I'm not telling you who they are). But, I want to make a point here. You should do your research before hiring someone. The background color in this picture is likely because they didn't have a camera with a long shutter exposure. Speaking of pictures, the one at the beginning of this thread is a mural that I painted (the home theater mural).

(This is NOT Night Sky Murals... This is Another unknown "Professional's" mural)

Star ceiling painted by unknown "Professional" painter

This next pictures are of a mural that I painted on a really nice ceiling with big beams in it.

The pictures show the ceiling in the light, then with only blacklights on, and the last pictures is in total darkness. (Mural by Night Sky Murals)

Dallas ceiling with Night Sky Murals
Dallas ceiling with a Night Sky Mural painted

While it's true that some professionally painted star murals can be expensive, it's important to note that not all of them are. As a professional, I charge a premium for my work, but I also provide a level of quality and expertise that justifies the investment. I'm dedicated to delivering the best possible outcome for my clients and take pride in what I do.

However, it's crucial to be cautious when choosing a professional to work with. Some may claim to offer star mural painting services without the necessary skills or experience, which can result in unsatisfactory results. It's wise to research and ask for examples of their previous work to ensure that you're working with a reputable and qualified artist.

At the end of the day, your home is your sanctuary and investing in its beauty is worth it. If you decide to proceed with a star mural ceiling, I'm here to guide you through the process and ensure your satisfaction with the final product.

Here are the Pros to having a professional paint your 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.

* Consider adding a crescent moon, comet, or shooting star to make your night sky mural look realistic. My aim as a professional is to create a mural that closely resembles a real night sky as seen from a dark location here on earth. While galaxies and nebulae aren't visible to the naked eye, it’s possible to convince me to include small versions of them in your mural. But, too many objects may spoil the overall realism.

* 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.

Cons of 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.


I have tried my best to provide an impartial overview of various star ceiling options. However, regardless of which option you choose, I highly recommend getting a star ceiling installed. These ceilings are incredibly calming and romantic, and they allow you to create a relaxing ambiance in the dark. After designing everything for the light, take a moment to consider the dark and indulge in the peaceful serenity that a star ceiling can provide. You won't regret it.

Now let me show you a really fun option that you can do

If you're a fan of having a day-sky painted on your ceiling, then you'll absolutely love having a night sky mural painted on top of it. During the day when the lights are on, you'll still be able to enjoy the beautiful day-sky. But when the lights go out, you'll be able to escape under a breathtaking night sky. It’s an incredibly cool experience that you will love!

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

Houston-in light

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.

Houston-with black lights

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

Houston-in total dark

Don't hesitate to ask any questions you may have about adding starry details to your ceiling! 

If you're still in the building process and can add wiring for UV strip lights or a soffit, I can offer some suggestions on where to place them or how to build them. 

Whether you're looking for general advice or specific recommendations, feel free to reach out and I'll do my best to assist you.

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