Eggshell vs Satin Paint: What Is the Difference?

Whether you’re getting ready to paint your walls or a piece of furniture, choosing the color isn’t the only thing you have to do; you also need to select a sheen. As you peruse the cans, you may find yourself wondering, “Eggshell? Satin? What does that even mean, and how are they different?” If so, settling the eggshell vs. satin paint debate is, in a word, tricky.

For eggshell vs. satin paint, the main difference is sheen. Eggshell has just a little bit of luster, at times where it’s just barely noticeable. There’s a velvety sheen with satin, with light hitting the surface, creating a soft glow. However, the two stand apart in other ways, too.

Both satin and eggshell are popular finishes, so you won’t have any issue accessing either one. Additionally, your color choices aren’t limited in either of these sheens, so you can’t use that to decide which to get either. Instead, it’s helpful to explore the pros and cons of eggshell vs. satin paint.

Eggshell vs Satin Paint

Eggshell vs. Satin Paint: Key Points

When selecting paint, it’s common to focus on the color. The issue is that the sheen you choose does matter. Along with impacting the overall look, each option has other benefits and drawbacks. If you don’t consider them, you may select a paint that doesn’t meet all of your needs.

Here is a quick overview of the key points to consider when choosing between eggshell vs. satin paint:

 Satin PaintEggshell Paint
AppearanceStrong color with a slight sheenStrong color with very little sheen
FinishVelvety lusterVery gentle luster
DurabilityReasonable durability and stands up well to wear-and-tearSusceptible to wear issues since it has lower toughness and less flexibility
CoverageReasonable coverageGreat coverage
MaintenanceResists damage and is easy to clean, standing up reasonably well to scrubbing. Touchups may be noticeableEasier to scratch and scuff, so scrubbing hard during cleaning can leave marks. However, touchups blend in well
CostModerate CostLower Cost
Ease of UseHarder to apply evenly due to the sheen. Touchups are potentially noticeableEasier to apply than most other finishes, and touchups don’t stand out as distinctly, if at all

What Is Eggshell Finish?

What Is Eggshell FinishEggshell paint has just a hint of shine, sitting between satin and flat on the sheen scale. Only a small amount of light that hits the surface is reflected. At times, this can create an incredibly soft glow. In others, it’s so slight that it isn’t even noticeable, particularly at a quick glance.

By having just a touch of sheen, the paint color is a tad more dynamic than if the finish was flatter. There’s an extra bit of depth, upping the level of visual interest.

The sheen of a paint is determined by the ratio of pigment to binder. With lower shine paints, there’s more pigment and less binder. For example, eggshell has less binder than higher gloss paints, including satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. However, it has more binder than you find in flat or matte paint.

Binder doesn’t just impact the sheen of paint; it also affects durability. The more binder, the tougher the paint is overall. Since eggshell is a low-binder paint, it isn’t as durable as the higher gloss options. As a result, it’s more challenging to clean as scrubbing can cause damage. However, it does outperform flat and matte paint in this department.

Moisture resistance is also determined by the amount of binder. Again, less binder means less resistance, so eggshell paint won’t stand up to humidity or water and higher gloss alternatives.

When it comes to application, the eggshell finish is easier to apply. Streaks and unevenness are far more common with higher sheen paints. Since eggshell is low-sheen, it’s far easier to apply it evenly.

Additionally, touchups aren’t as noticeable with lower-sheen paints like eggshell. When the shine is lower, it also makes the paint better at disguising imperfections since light won’t reflect off of dents or divots as much.

When it comes to cost, less sheen usually means cheaper. Overall, eggshell is pretty affordable on a per-can basis. Additionally, since it offers strong coverage, you may not need as much paint to get the job done, leading to another way to save.

Eggshell Paint Pros and Cons


  • Affordable
  • Great coverage
  • Easy to apply
  • Touchups blend better
  • Hides imperfections


  • Less durable
  • Harder to clean
  • Lacks moisture-resistance

What Is Eggshell Paint Used For?

Eggshell paint isn’t as durable as higher-gloss sheens, so it isn’t usually used in high-traffic areas or on high-touch surfaces. Plus, since it isn’t moisture-resistant, it’s not a great choice for humid areas.

Instead, eggshell paint is generally best in situations where contact is minimal. It can be an excellent option for master bedrooms and home offices. The same goes for formal living rooms and dining rooms, as well as adult or teen bedrooms.

In some cases, eggshell is even a good choice for ceilings, particularly in darker rooms. It adds just a hint of sheen without overwhelming the space.

What Is Satin Finish?

What Is Satin FinishSatin paint has a soft, velvety shine, creating a gentle glow when light hits the surface. When it comes to shine, it’s in the middle of the sheens you typically find with paint. The shine is noticeable, but it usually isn’t dramatic or overwhelming.

The higher amount of binder makes satin paint more durable than lower-sheen alternatives, including an eggshell finish. As a result, it stands up better to wear and tear, making it a solid choice for higher traffic areas or high-touch surfaces.

Increased toughness also makes the paint easier to clean. Satin paint stands up to a bit of scrubbing. While being overly aggressive can still damage the surface, standard products and pressure usually won’t cause harm.

Additionally, satin paint is more moisture-resistant. That allows it to work better in spaces with higher humidity or where water contact is more likely.

However, with more shine comes application challenges. If it isn’t applied carefully, streaks and unevenness in the sheen can occur. Also, touchups aren’t as likely to blend in, causing them to remain noticeable even after the paint dries.

More sheen can also make imperfections on surfaces stand out. When light hits the uneven spot, it reflects, causing it to essentially highlight the issue.

Satin paint also costs a bit more than lower-sheen paints. Couple that with the fact that more binder means less pigment – altering its performance when it comes to coverage – and you may need more coats than if you use paint with less shine.

Satin Paint Pros and Cons


  • Durable
  • Moisture-resistant
  • Easier to clean
  • Reasonable coverage


  • Harder to apply
  • Touchups don’t blend
  • Highlights imperfections
  • More expensive than lower-sheen paints

What Is Satin Paint Used For?

Satin paint is incredibly versatile, providing plenty of durability while keeping the sheen relatively subtle. It’s a solid choice for high-traffic spaces like hallways and family living areas, as well as rooms where moisture resistance is beneficial, like kitchens and baths.

Since satin paint offers more durability, it’s an excellent option for kids’ bedrooms. You could also use it in laundry areas.

However, satin paint isn’t a great choice for ceilings, as the amount of light it reflects could be overwhelming or distracting. Additionally, if a surface has imperfections, it may cause them to stand out, which isn’t ideal.

What Is the Difference Between Eggshell vs. Satin Paint?

By looking at how eggshell vs. satin compare in specific areas, you can get a better understanding of how the two stand apart. Then, it’ll be easier to choose the right option for your project.

Here’s a deeper dive into how satin and eggshell paint compare on several key points.


Satin finish paint has a noticeable sheen, often having a look that’s described as velvety. With eggshell paint, the shine is far more subtle since the lower amount of binder means it reflects less light.

The higher amount of sheen with satin finishes can influence the look of paint in several ways. Along with creating a glow, it can mean that the color is more easily altered by the hue of the lighting or the color of surrounding objects. When the light hits another item, it can get reflected off the wall, causing the paint color to look slightly different.

Similarly, if the lighting in a room is warmer or cooler, the appearance of the satin paint shifts more than if there’s less sheen. However, the shine does give the paint more depth, something that can be positive or negative depending on the space.

Ultimately, eggshell is less dynamic but may maintain truer color. If extra shine may overwhelm a space, eggshell may be a better choice. However, if you’re looking for more depth and aren’t concerned about potential color shifts, satin might be right for you.


Satin is glossier than eggshell paint, but only slightly. The two finishes are next to each other on the sheen scale, so the difference is fairly subtle.

Both finishes can look incredibly smooth once applied. However, it’s harder to get an even application with satin than eggshell. Inconsistencies are more likely with satin if the correct technique isn’t used. With eggshell, it’s much easier to get an even finish.


When it comes to durability, satin is the winner of the eggshell vs. satin paint debate. With more binder, satin paint is distinctly tougher and more flexible. It’s far better at resisting scuffs and scratches, making it better for high-traffic areas. Additionally, it’s far simpler to clean since light scrubbing usually won’t damage the paint.

Satin paint is also far more moisture-resistant. That allows it to perform better in rooms with higher humidity or water that may impact the surface. Along with remaining in good shape longer, satin may resist mold and mildew.

Eggshell paint isn’t the lowest when it comes to binder, but the amount is low enough that there are potentially durability issues. Scratches and scuffs are far more common, so it isn’t always ideal for high-traffic areas. Additionally, it lacks water resistance.


For coverage, more pigment and less binder is best. Since eggshell paint has more pigment, it offers better coverage in a single coat than satin. As a result, you may be able to finish a project with fewer coats.

However, it’s critical to note that there are many paint product lines that offer one-coat coverage in a range of sheens. Also, since eggshell and satin are next to each other on the sheen scale, the coverage levels are only slightly different, at times to the point where you may not notice a difference.


For maintenance, there are benefits and drawbacks to both satin and eggshell. Satin is easier to clean and stands up better to wear and tear. As a result, it may require less effort to maintain. But touchups will stand out if they’re necessary.

Eggshell is far easier to touch up, allowing you to cover issues without inconsistencies on the surface. If there is any damage that can’t be cleaned away, that could be ideal. However, it’s far more susceptible to damage, making the need for touchups more likely.

Ease of Use

Generally speaking, eggshell is easier to use than satin. The lower sheen means noticeable lines when the paint dries are less likely. In many cases, you can use a traditional W technique when painting large areas without having to worry about inconsistencies in the sheen.

With satin, you might see lines if the paint isn’t applied properly. Usually, you’ll need to do single, straight line passes that line up next to each other. For example, you might have to make a series of vertical stripes going from the ceiling to the floor. Otherwise, a paint sprayer might be your best for an even result.


Overall, eggshell paint is a bit less expensive than satin. However, the difference can be quite small, often ranging between $1 and $3 per gallon can, depending on the product line.

For smaller projects, that slight difference is inconsequential. However, if you’re doing a large project, it can add up. That’s particularly true if you could get one-coat coverage with eggshell, but satin requires two. For instance, if you need four cans to finish the project, the price difference could be around $12.

If you need two coats for satin but only one for eggshell, then the price difference is far more significant. Along with the $12 difference, you’re also buying four additional cans of paint, causing the total to be significantly more than double what you would have spent on eggshell.

Eggshell vs. Satin vs. Semi-Gloss

Satin finish

Eggshell and satin paint are neighboring finishes on the sheen scale. The next one above satin is semi-gloss, a higher shine paint that features far more binder than you find with eggshell and notably more than you get with satin.

In some cases, there are benefits to using semi-gloss. It offers more durability and water resistance, which can be ideal. It can also highlight intricate patterns more effectively, making it a great way to highlight decorative trim pieces.

However, semi-gloss is noticeably shiny. As a result, it may be a bit too intense for some people or purposes. For example, it could easily overwhelm a smaller room like a bathroom.

Additionally, semi-gloss makes imperfections stand out far more than satin or eggshell do. If the surface isn’t in pristine shape, semi-gloss usually isn’t a great choice.

Can You Paint Satin Over Eggshell?

You can paint satin over eggshell paint as long as the paint bases are compatible. Both satin and eggshell finishes are available in water-based and oil-based paints.

If the current paint is oil-based, water-based paints may have trouble adhering correctly. As a result, you may want to use a bonding primer between the paints, ensuring proper adhesion. While using oil-based paint over water-based ones won’t necessarily cause as many issues inherently, some preparation is still wise.

However, if the satin and eggshell paint have the same bases, you won’t have as many issues. While you’ll want to make sure that the surface is clean, extra preparation like sanding or priming may be unnecessary.

Eggshell vs. Flat

Flat paint is essentially the lowest sheen level available. While eggshell usually has a subtle sheen, flat essentially has none. That makes flat paint incredibly easy to apply, as you don’t have to worry about any shine-related streaks. Touchups practically disappear once they’re dried, too, and the coverage is typically exceptional.

However, flat paint has barely any binder. As a result, it isn’t particularly durable and won’t stand up to scrubbing at all. It also lacks moisture resistance.

While eggshell paint isn’t the most durable option, it’s generally tougher than flat paint. Additionally, it’ll do a bit better when it comes to wear and tear, comparatively speaking.

Is Eggshell Paint Washable?

Eggshell paint won’t stand up to scrubbing, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be washed at all. Instead, you’ll need to use gentle cleansers and soft materials – like microfiber cloths – to reduce the odds of damage.

It is important to note that there are eggshell finish paints explicitly designed for washability. With those, you’ll get more durability, making it easier to clean.

Can You Mix Eggshell and Satin Paint?

Yes, you can mix eggshell and satin paint to create a finish that falls between the two. Since the two paints are next to each other on the sheen scale, they’ll blend with relative ease. However, you’ll want to make sure you do a thorough job. Otherwise, you might end up with some unevenness in the shine once applied.

Is Eggshell Paint Good for Walls?

Eggshell paint can work well for walls, particularly in lower-traffic areas. The reduced shine keeps the paint from overwhelming a space, leading to a calmer atmosphere. As a result, eggshell is a popular choice for master bedrooms and formal living and dining areas.

However, it might not be the best choice for rooms with a lot of traffic and higher chances of contact. For instance, the lower durability isn’t ideal for many kids’ rooms or hallways. In family rooms, it might not be a great choice, either.

Similarly, the lack of moisture resistance means it may not be a great option for kitchens or bathrooms. Instead, going with a higher sheen finish like satin may work better in those areas, reducing the odds of mold, mildew, or water-related damage.

Which Paint Finish Hides Imperfections: Eggshell or Satin?

If you’re hoping to hide imperfections, it’s best to go with less shine. Overall, light bouncing off the dings and dents makes them more noticeable. Since eggshell reflects less light than satin, that’ll make it the better choice if your main goal is to disguise imperfections.

However, that doesn’t mean that eggshell is the best option available. Instead, matte and flat paint both do better when it comes to hiding imperfections. Those finishes are lower sheen, reflecting even less light than eggshell. As a result, they are usually the best if disguising issues is your top priority.

Which Paint Is Better: Eggshell vs. Satin

Ultimately, neither eggshell nor satin paint is inherently better. Instead, they’re each more appropriate in different situations. For instance, if durability, washability, or moisture resistance are a must, satin is the best choice in that case. If you’re looking to hide imperfections, get better coverage, or want a more accurate color, eggshell could be the way to go.

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