Eggshell vs Satin Paint — What are the Differences?

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Choosing the perfect paint finish for your home can be daunting, considering all the various options available in the market. Among the most commonly debated choices are eggshell and satin paint finishes.

Many newbies tend to confuse these two, leading to undesired aesthetics. To help you make an informed decision, we’ll unpack their differences in this in-depth eggshell vs satin paint comparison!

About Satin Paint Finish

Satin paint, ranking midway in terms of sheen between a matte finish and gloss finish, presents a durable, quick-drying option that’s easy to clean.

Its reflectivity enhances smaller spaces by creating depth in illusion. Its resistance to moisture and mold makes it suitable for kitchens and bathrooms.

Slightly tougher than eggshell paint, satin is commonly used on woodwork and in areas needing impact-resistant, easy-to-clean finishes, like children’s bedrooms. It can highlight architectural details without the boldness of a full gloss.

eggshell paint

When To Use

Given its robust nature, satin paint is often favored for areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and kids/family rooms. It’s also preferred for trim work to highlight architectural features.

However, due to its low luster, it’s crucial to apply satin paint on smooth, flat, and defect-free surfaces, as it can accentuate any flaws present.

Pros & Cons

If a slight shine in interior paints appeals to you, satin might be preferable to eggshell. Satin paints, though not as glossy as some, offer a less flat surface appearance in your interior design than matte paint.

They surpass eggshell paints in durability and are easy to wipe clean, resulting in longer-lasting finishes. However, satin’s increased reflectivity can make underlying painting errors and imperfections more noticeable.

About Eggshell Paint and Finish

Eggshell paint, named for its resemblance to an eggshell’s sheen, stands a notch above matte finishes in shine yet falls short of semi-gloss finishes.

painting over walls

This balance produces a muted, depth-enhancing glow that reacts to more light, intensifying in brightness or dimming, depending on the illumination level.

The robustness and easy-to-clean nature of eggshells make them resist stains and scuffs, offering longevity. Its versatility sees it used on various woodwork pieces and in high-traffic spaces, masking imperfections due to its less reflective nature.

When to Use

Eggshell paint, known for its durability and resistance to dirt, is often selected for living and dining rooms. Its ability to better conceal wall irregularities with an additional layer sets it apart from satin or high-gloss finishes.

Pros & Cons

Eggshell paint effectively masks wall blemishes like dents or scuff marks, as well as application errors, thanks to its lower reflectivity from direct sunlight.

While flat paint offers even less reflectivity, eggshell’s slightly higher sheen can add a decorative touch, blending matte’s forgiving nature with a hint of sparkle with less pigment and more binders due to its low reflectivity.

Nuvo cabinet paint

However, cleaning eggshells may be challenging, albeit feasible, with appropriate tools. It may also falter in steamy conditions, like in frequently used bathrooms, where glossier finishes provide better moisture resistance.

Satin and Eggshell Paint Comparison: Main Differences

Appearance, Sheen, and Depth

The appeal of eggshell finishes versus satin largely rests on personal taste. However, when considering their capacity to conceal surface or application flaws, eggshell holds a slight advantage due to their duller or soft sheen.

This difference is attributed to their varying pigment-to-binder ratios or pigment volume concentration (PVC) [1].

Lower PVC equates to higher gloss, and with satin’s PVC 10-15% less than eggshell’s, it offers a more glossy finish. Choose eggshell for a muted low, sheen spectrum or satin for a bit more sparkle, appearing overly shiny.

Winner: Eggshell


The longevity of your paint job in high-traffic areas can benefit from satin finishes, which slightly outperform eggshells.

white paint

This is mainly due to satin’s lower pigment concentration and higher binder content, making it a superior choice for areas like kids’ rooms that endure frequent, rough use with its decent durability and how much light it reflects due to a lower sheen.

Winner: Satin

Ease of Application

The application ease of eggshell and satin paint makes the two similar. Eggshell, being more forgiving of painting mistakes, might be preferable for less experienced painters.

Nevertheless, if you’re uncertain about undertaking a DIY paint job, irrespective of paint type, engaging a local professional painter to handle the task from beginning to end can be a viable option.

Winner: Eggshell

Maintenance and Cleaning

Eggshell and Satin paint’s more glossy finish facilitate easier cleaning. But an eggshell finish is much simpler. Making removal of surface dirt, mold, and food or drink stains simpler.

The higher pigment content in eggshells can make smudge and dirt removal more laborious. Therefore, a satin finish might be a better choice for high-use areas prone to dirt, like kitchen cabinets or children’s rooms/living rooms.

Winner: Satin

Smart Strip Advanced Paint Remover application

Texture and Coverage

Satin paint finishes exhibit a marginally tackier texture than eggshells due to their higher sheen, which is perceptible upon touch.

Conversely, eggshell’s duller and low sheen finish in a smoother, non-tacky surface, simplifying the avoidance of visible paint color flaws like lap marks and doesn’t have a perfect shade. The slight tackiness of satin results from added resins, enhancing its durability and reflectivity to bounce light.

Winner: Satin

Price and Value for Money

With each increase in paint finish reflectivity, expect around a $1-$2 rise per gallon. So, satin, being glossier than eggshell, may cost up to around $2 more per gallon.

Considering an average living room size of 325 square feet, a gallon’s coverage of 400 square feet, and an extra coat application, the additional cost for satin over eggshell is minimal—up to around $4. Therefore, eggshell, being less shiny, is slightly more cost-effective.

painting wood

However, both finishes are versatile and suitable for all surfaces, offering a unified solution that can save time and money.

Winner: Eggshell

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In this satin vs eggshell paint debate, the decision ultimately hinges on personal preference, use case, and budget. Eggshell offers a subtle, forgiving paint sheen and cost-effectiveness, while satin provides a glossier finish and higher durability.

Understanding these qualities will empower you to make an informed personal choice for your next paint project.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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