When you’re getting ready to paint a wall or furniture, you’ll need to select a paint finish. If you’re debating between eggshell vs. semi-gloss paint, understanding the primary differences between those options can help you make the right choice for your project.
The main difference between eggshell and semi-gloss paint is the sheen. Eggshell is nearly matte with just the slightest hint of shine. Semi-gloss reflects far more light, giving it a far more noticeable sheen. However, there are also differences when it comes to coverage, durability, and more.
Since eggshell and semi-gloss are widely used, availability isn’t typically an issue. Similarly, you can get nearly any color in either version, which isn’t usually a deciding factor. Instead, you’ll need to look at the other pros and cons of semi-gloss vs. eggshell paint. If you want to get started, here’s what you need to know.
Eggshell vs. Semi-Gloss Paint: Key Points
When choosing paint, many people focus on color instead of finish. However, the finish you select does alter the overall look. Plus, each option comes with unique benefits and drawbacks that you’ll want to consider.
Here is a brief overview of the eggshell vs. semi-gloss primary differences:
|Eggshell Paint||Semi-Gloss Paint|
|Appearance||Strong color with very little sheen||Strong color with strong light-reflecting capabilities, creating a noticeable shine|
|Finish||Very gentle luster||Strong sheen|
|Durability||Susceptible to wear issues due to lower toughness and less flexibility||Highly flexible and very tough, allowing it to stand up well in higher traffic areas|
|Coverage||Great coverage||Decent coverage|
|Maintenance||Easier to scuff or scratch, so hard scrubbing while cleaning can leave marks. However, touchups blend in well||Resistant to wear and tear damage and easy to clean. However, touchups are often noticeable.|
|Cost||Lower Cost||Higher Cost|
|Ease of use||Easier to apply than most other finishes, and touchups don’t stand out as distinctly||Harder to apply evenly. Touchups are typically noticeable|
What Is Eggshell Finish?
Eggshell paint has only the tiniest bit of luster. It sits between flat and satin paint on the sheen scale, reflecting a hint of light that gives the painted surface the softest glow. Often, the sheen is just barely noticeable, especially at a glance.
The gentleness of the sheen can pull out the paint’s color a tad. It creates a sense of depth that you don’t see with flat paint, making the hue more dynamic.
Paint manufacturers create the eggshell finish by altering the amount of binder vs. pigment in the paint. Since eggshell is lower sheen, that means there is less binder when compared to higher gloss alternatives like satin, semi-gloss, and gloss.
Binder in paint enhances durability as it creates a sheen. Since eggshell is relatively low on binder, it isn’t as tough as higher gloss paint options. It can be a bit harder to clean without causing damage and isn’t as moisture resistant as paints with more binder. However, eggshell does have more binder than flat paint. That makes it more durable than its flat finish brethren.
The lower amount of binder also means that the paint has more pigment. As a result, it’s easier to get complete coverage in fewer coats, even if you don’t go with a one-coat paint. Plus, the lower sheen is better at hiding imperfections on surfaces.
Overall, applying eggshell paint is typically simple. The lower sheen means it is easier to apply evenly than if you go with a higher gloss option. Additionally, touchups don’t stand out as much.
As for the cost, eggshell paint is generally affordable. Its per-can price is on the lower end of the spectrum for paints. Plus, since you may need fewer coats, you might be able to finish a project with fewer cans.
Eggshell Paint Pros and Cons
- Easier to apply and touchup
- Hides small imperfections
- Good coverage
- Harder to clean
- Lower durability
- Not moisture-resistant
What Is Semi-Gloss Finish?
Semi-gloss paint has a pretty noticeable sheen. Due to the higher amount of binder, light bounces off the surface with ease, giving painted surfaces a strong glow.
In some cases, the amount of light reflection can be a bit overwhelming when used over large areas with numerous light sources. However, it can be incredibly beneficial in smaller rooms that don’t get much light or strategically used on specific items.
When it comes to durability, semi-gloss paint is tough. The high amount of binder means it stands up well to wear and tear. Additionally, you can scrub the surface during cleaning without causing damage. Plus, it’s moisture-resistant, making it suitable for humid areas of a home.
Applying semi-gloss paint can be challenging. When paints have noticeable sheens, streaks and unevenness are harder to avoid. The shine also makes touchups more noticeable and can highlight wall imperfections.
Since more binder means less pigment, getting solid coverage can require more coats. While one-coat paints may help in this area, not all will live up to their name depending on the color you’re covering with the semi-gloss paint.
Finally, semi-gloss paint often costs more than alternatives with less sheen. While the price difference may feel negligible if you’re just buying one can, it can add up quickly if you need several cans to paint a larger area.
Semi-Gloss Paint Pros and Cons
- Easy to clean
- Brightens spaces with limited light
- Harder to apply
- Touchups are noticeable
- Highlights imperfections
- More expensive
What Is the Difference Between Eggshell and Semi-Gloss Paint?
Understanding the differences between eggshell vs. semi-gloss paint makes it easier to determine which option is best for your project. By making a direct comparison in key areas, seeing how the two stand apart is simpler. Here is a deep dive into the differences between semi-gloss and eggshell paint.
When it comes to appearance, the primary difference between eggshell and semi-gloss paint is the sheen. While eggshell has only the smallest amount of luster, semi-gloss has a noticeable shine.
However, the differences in the light-reflecting qualities can do more than impact the glow from a surface. Since semi-gloss is more reflective, the perceived color is influenced by light bouncing off of the surface. When hit by light directly, the hue of a semi-gloss paint may seem lighter.
If light bounces off of an object or surface before hitting the semi-gloss paint, the color of the object the light struck first may impact how the semi-gloss paint looks. The reflected light adds a hint of the object’s hue, causing the semi-gloss paint to look differently.
While eggshell has a bit of sheen, it’s far less reflective than semi-gloss. As a result, its color stays truer when struck by light directly or hit by light bouncing off of nearby objects.
It’s also important to note that semi-gloss paint makes surface imperfections more noticeable. Light bounces off of the blemishes, causing them to stand out. Since eggshell doesn’t reflect as much light, it’s better at disguising imperfections.
As discussed above, semi-gloss has a stronger sheen than eggshell. While eggshell paint has a gentle glow, semi-gloss is highly reflective.
Even with the sheen differences, both eggshell and semi-gloss paint can look very smooth if applied correctly. However, it’s easier to end up with streaks when applying semi-gloss paint, causing inconsistencies in the finish.
For durability, semi-gloss paint outperforms eggshell. The higher percentage of binders in semi-gloss make the surface tougher and more flexible, allowing it to stand up better to wear and tear and scrubbing. Plus, it’s better at resisting stains, dings, and dents while also being moisture-resistant.
Eggshell has far less binder. While it’s tougher than flat paint, it isn’t nearly as durable as semi-gloss. Staining is more common, as well as dings, dents, and scratches. Scrubbing while cleaning may damage the surface if done aggressively, and the paint isn’t moisture-resistant.
Since the amount of pigment in a paint impacts coverage, eggshell outdoes semi-gloss in this category. Eggshell has more pigment, increasing the odds that you can get great coverage in as little as just one coat.
When semi-gloss paint, there is far more binder, leaving less room for pigment. While there are one-coat versions on the market, they may not meet expectations depending on the color it needs to cover.
Both eggshell and semi-gloss paint have points going for and against them with it comes to maintenance. Eggshell is harder to clean and may be less durable. However, eggshell is easier to touch up. The touched-up areas tend to blend reasonably well with the rest of the surface, making them less noticeable when the paint dries.
Semi-gloss is notably easier to clean and is far more durable. However, touchups are almost guaranteed to stand out. The sheen won’t be even in the area where the touchup happened, causing it to stand out from the rest of the surface.
Ease of Use
Overall, eggshell is easier to use than semi-gloss paint. When applied to a surface, eggshell blends reasonably well even if you bring wet paint over dry. Since the sheen is low, you aren’t likely to get noticeable lines or streaks. Since that’s the case, using a typical W method while painting can work well, making it a more straightforward option for most people.
With semi-gloss, crossing wet paint over dry is going to cause inconsistencies. As a result, you need to apply the paint quickly and with more care, reducing the odds of overlap that could lead to lines.
For instance, painting a wall with semi-gloss paint requires a single-swipe approach. After adding paint to a roller, a person would do a single vertical line from top to bottom. Then, they’d need to reapply paint to the roller and add an adjacent stripe, using that process repeatedly until the entire wall is done.
Otherwise, a paint sprayer may be necessary. With a sprayer, you can get even coverage without any lines, reducing the odds of streaks or other finish imperfections.
For touchups, eggshell is also simpler. Since the sheen level is lower, it blends with greater ease. With semi-gloss, the high shine surface makes touchups more noticeable, mainly because there will be inconsistencies with the sheen.
Generally speaking, eggshell tends to cost less than semi-gloss. The price difference can run between $2 and $10 per can if you look at paint from the same brand and choose the same line. However, the price gap can be larger or smaller.
In many cases, a $10 difference for a single can might not seem like a big deal, but it can add up quickly. On average, a single gallon of paint covers up to 400 square feet. If you need two to three cans of paint to handle a single coat, that’s a total price difference of $20 or $30. If two coats are necessary, the cost difference hits the $40 to $60 range.
It’s essential to look at the total cost for your project. If you’re painting a large space, even a small per-can price difference adds up, potentially causing your project to cost hundreds of dollars because you chose semi-gloss over eggshell.
In reality, you can choose any paint finish you’d like for practically any project. However, both eggshell and semi-gloss paint are better suited for certain situations.
Since semi-gloss is durable and moisture-resistant, it’s a solid choice for kitchens and bathrooms. It’s also an excellent option for high-touch furniture and cabinets since it’s easy to clean.
Using semi-gloss in rooms with low light can brighten the space. The reflective quality allows light to bounce with ease, making darker rooms seem lighter than if a flatter paint was used. While you can use it in larger, well-illuminated rooms, too, some may find semi-gloss to be a bit overwhelming in that scenario.
Choosing semi-gloss for trim and molding is also an option. It’ll make those features a bit more noticeable, allowing them to stand out even if the semi-gloss paint color matches the lower-sheen wall color. It’ll give the space a bit more visual interest.
Eggshell paint isn’t as durable, so it’s better suited for spots with less traffic and less direct contact. It’s a strong choice for ceilings, adding just a hint of sheen without overdoing it. Dining rooms and teen and adult bedrooms are also great options and home offices and some living areas.
You could try eggshell in a kid’s bedroom or hallway. Often, the end look is suitable in those spaces. However, since there may be more traffic or contact, the lower durability might not be ideal.
What Paint Is Better: Eggshell or Semi-Gloss?
In the end, neither eggshell nor semi-gloss paint is inherently better than the other. Instead, one may be a better choice than another in specific situations. As a result, you need to consider your project and its goals to determine which is best for you.
In general, eggshell is better for large, low-traffic areas where moisture isn’t an issue. The lower sheen isn’t going to overwhelm a room and leads to truer color. Plus, it’s easier to apply, decreasing the odds of noticeable streaks across large walls.
Semi-gloss is a stronger choice if there is potentially a moisture issue, which can occur in bathrooms and kitchens. Additionally, with its improved durability and ease of cleaning, it’s a solid option for high-touch surfaces. Finally, its light-reflecting qualities can make semi-gloss the better choice for rooms without much light, as the sheen can brighten the space.
However, you aren’t required to follow that guidance. If you prefer a particular sheen for your project, you can certainly go with the paint that gives you what you’re after. Just be aware of any difficulties that come with your selection, ensuring you’re ready to navigate the potential challenges.
How to Make Semi-Gloss Paint Eggshell
If you’ve applied semi-gloss paint to a surface and want to reduce the shine, there are ways to do it. The easiest way is to use a clear eggshell finish topcoat. With that, you’ll reduce the sheen without altering the paint color below. Plus, it usually only takes a single properly applied coat to get the job done.
You could also try a commercial deglossing agent. With those, you’ll want to follow the manufacturer’s directions when you prepare the liquid, as the process can vary from one product to the next. When done correctly, you’ll end up with less sheen on the surface. Just make sure you do a test spot first to confirm the final look is an eggshell, as some may leave you with a flat finish instead.
It’s important to note that deglossing agents can be harsh. Using one in a room that isn’t well ventilated isn’t ideal. Additionally, wearing gloves and a mask is a must for safety.
Finally, you could try lightly sanding the painted surface to reduce the sheen. For larger areas, that process can be incredibly labor-intensive. You’ll need to do a consistent job across the entire surface and use the proper technique. Otherwise, you could end up with unevenness or scuff patterns.
Additionally, you’ll need the correct grit number to create a smooth, even finish without removing too much paint or harming the surface. Usually, you’ll want to start with sandpaper in the 350 to 400 grit range for your first test. If that doesn’t reduce the gloss enough, you can shift down to a lower grit number. However, dipping below 200-grit can be risky, so keep that in mind.
If you’re thinking about sanding, start with a test spot. Use sandpaper with a high grit number and choose an inconspicuous location. Lightly scuff the surface, wipe it with a damp rag, and let it dry to check the result. That way, you can see if it reaches your preferred sheen level before you dive deeper.
How to Make Eggshell Paint Semi-Gloss
If you have eggshell paint on a furniture or wall and want to increase the sheen to a semi-gloss, your best bet is a clear semi-gloss topcoat. It’ll let you add more shine without altering the underlying color.
Just be aware that semi-gloss clear coats can have streaking and inconsistency issues, just as you’d experience with paint. You’ll need a keen eye to avoid overlaps and streaking, so you’ll want to work methodically.
Can You Mix Eggshell and Semi-Gloss Paint?
Technically, mixing eggshell and semi-gloss paint is possible. If you do, you end up with an intermediate sheen, resulting in the satin finish range.
However, taking paints that are more than one step apart when it comes to sheen and combining them isn’t easy. If you don’t do a thorough job, streaks and sheen variations are likely to occur, creating an uneven finish.
If you’re going to try and mix eggshell and semi-gloss paint, using a mechanical mixer is your best option. That approach is far more effective than trying to mix by hand, making it more likely that you’ll get a consistent result.
Since that’s the case, buying your preferred color in a satin finish could be the better choice if you’re looking for a sheen between eggshell and semi-gloss. You’ll get a mid-level amount of luster without having to worry about consistency issues.
Ultimately, the main difference between eggshell vs. semi-gloss paint is the sheen. However, there are also durability, ease of use, coverage, cost, and other differentiators. While eggshell is more affordable and easier to apply, it doesn’t do as well for durability. Semi-gloss is tougher and easier to clean, but it costs more and is harder to use.
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