Eggshell vs. Semi-Gloss Paint: The Battle of Finishes

Bob Thomas


Today, we're delving into a classic painting conundrum - the choice between eggshell and semi-gloss paint.

Both have their merits and are suitable for different applications.

Let's break down the specifics to help you make the best decision for your project.

Quick Summary

Eggshell and semi-gloss are two popular types of paint finishes: Eggshell, with its 1) slight sheen, is ideal for 2) living rooms and bedrooms due to its warm, velvety finish. Semi-gloss, on the other hand, with its 3) higher sheen, is more durable and easier to clean, making it a go-to for 4) kitchens, bathrooms, and high-traffic areas. Remember, the choice depends on your project's specific needs.

Eggshell Paint: An Overview

Eggshell paint has a subtle sheen, similar to the surface of an actual eggshell.

It's a popular choice for most indoor walls due to its attractive, low-sheen finish.

Pros of Eggshell Paint
  • Aesthetic appeal: The soft, velvety finish gives a warm and inviting feel.
  • Durability: It's more resistant to dirt and scuffs compared to flat or matte paint.
  • Easy application: Eggshell paint tends to roll or brush onto walls smoothly.
Cons of Eggshell Paint
  • Not easily washable: It can be tricky to clean without damaging the finish.
  • Imperfections: It may highlight wall imperfections due to its slight sheen.

Pro Tip: If you opt for eggshell, ensure your walls are well-prepared and smooth. Any cracks or bumps can show through this type of paint.

Semi-Gloss Paint: An Overview

Semi-gloss paint, with its noticeable shine, is robust and easily cleaned, making it suitable for areas exposed to moisture or heavy use.

Pros of Semi-Gloss Paint
  • Durability: Highly resistant to moisture and stains.
  • Ease of cleaning: Semi-gloss paint can withstand heavy cleaning, even with harsh detergents.
  • Reflects light: Its glossy finish can brighten up a space.
Cons of Semi-Gloss Paint
  • Highlights imperfections: The glossy finish can accentuate any flaws on your wall.
  • Difficult to touch up: Touch-ups can be noticeable due to the sheen.

Pro Tip: Use semi-gloss paint sparingly. Its shine can be overwhelming if used in large amounts. It's best for highlighting details like trim and doors.

Making the Right Choice

So, how do you choose between eggshell and semi-gloss?

Here's a simple guide:

  • Eggshell for living spaces: Living rooms, bedrooms, and hallways, with less traffic, benefit from eggshell's warm and inviting feel.
  • Semi-gloss for kitchens and bathrooms: These high-traffic, high-moisture areas require a resilient, easy-to-clean paint, which is where semi-gloss shines.

Years back, I had a client who wanted to give her small, dim kitchen a bright, clean look.

We used a semi-gloss white paint which reflected light beautifully and made the space seem larger and brighter.

Plus, any cooking splashes were a breeze to clean off!

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. How do the prices of eggshell and semi-gloss paint compare?

  A: While prices can vary based on brand and quality, semi-gloss paint generally tends to be slightly more expensive than eggshell paint.

Q. Can I use eggshell or semi-gloss paint on ceilings?

  A: Eggshell paint, with its subtle sheen, can work on ceilings but isn't typically the first choice due to its slight reflectivity.

Flat or matte finishes are usually preferred for ceilings.

Semi-gloss paint, with its higher reflectivity, is generally not recommended for ceilings.

Q. Are eggshell and semi-gloss paint suitable for exteriors?

  A: Both can be used for exterior painting, but their suitability depends on the specific area and its exposure to elements.

Semi-gloss paint, due to its durability and easier cleaning, might be preferred for surfaces that need to withstand more wear and tear or weather conditions.

Q. How do eggshell and semi-gloss paints react to temperature and humidity?

  A: Semi-gloss paint is generally more resistant to humidity and temperature changes, making it a good choice for areas like kitchens and bathrooms.

Eggshell paint, while not as resistant, can still be used in these areas if properly primed and sealed.

Q. How many coats of eggshell or semi-gloss paint will I need?

  A: The number of coats required will depend on the color of the paint, the color of the existing wall, and the type of paint.

Generally, two coats are standard for both types of finish, but a darker color over a light one, or vice versa, may require additional coats.

Q. Is there a significant difference in drying times between eggshell and semi-gloss paint?

  A: Drying times can vary based on factors like brand, temperature, and humidity.

However, typically, semi-gloss paints take a bit longer to dry than eggshell paints due to their higher sheen level.

Q. Can I mix eggshell and semi-gloss paint?

  A: While it's technically possible to mix different types of paint, it's not generally recommended as the resulting finish can be unpredictable.

If you want a sheen level between eggshell and semi-gloss, it would be better to look for a satin finish paint.

Q. Is it harder to touch up eggshell or semi-gloss paint?

  A: Touching up semi-gloss paint can be more challenging because the higher sheen can make the touched-up spots more noticeable.

Eggshell paint, due to its lower sheen level, tends to be easier to touch up.


Choosing between eggshell and semi-gloss paint ultimately comes down to the specific needs of your space and the look you're aiming for.

Understanding the properties of each will help guide you to the perfect finish for your painting project.

As always, preparation is key, so take the time to ensure your surfaces are smooth and ready for painting.

If you're still unsure, consider purchasing small samples of each finish.

Apply them to a small section of the wall and observe how they look at different times of day and under different lighting conditions.

This way, you can get a real sense of how each finish will look in your space.

Remember that painting isn't just about color; the finish can significantly influence the overall aesthetic and functionality of your space.

So, whether you're leaning towards the understated sophistication of eggshell or the robust shine of semi-gloss, make sure it aligns with both your practical needs and design vision.

I hope this guide has been useful in explaining the pros and cons of eggshell and semi-gloss paint.

As always, happy painting, and don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any more questions!

Suggested Products:

Eggshell Paints:

  1. Benjamin Moore Regal Select Eggshell: This is a high-quality, durable, and easy-to-apply paint. It offers excellent coverage and a smooth, subtle sheen that's characteristic of eggshell paints.
  2. Sherwin-Williams Duration Home Interior Acrylic Latex (Eggshell): This paint is known for its impressive durability and stain resistance. It's a great choice for rooms that see a lot of traffic.
  3. Behr Premium Plus Ultra Eggshell Enamel: This paint and primer in one provides excellent coverage and a durable finish that's easy to clean. It's also a low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paint.

Semi-Gloss Paints:

  1. Valspar Signature Semi-Gloss Paint: This paint offers a sleek, radiant sheen that's characteristic of semi-gloss paints. It's highly durable and provides excellent scrubbability, making it ideal for high-traffic areas and trim.
  2. Benjamin Moore Aura Waterborne Interior Paint (Semi-Gloss): This is a high-performance, durable paint that resists mildew, stains, and moisture. It's great for bathrooms, kitchens, or any area where moisture and heavy use are factors.
  3. Behr Marquee Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel: This is a highly durable, stain-resistant paint that's perfect for high-traffic areas. It offers a radiant, sleek appearance and excellent coverage.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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