What is eggshell finish? Eggshell can be a very versatile finish for paint, polyurethane, or hardwood floors. It has some disadvantages but also has notable advantages in most cases. Let’s take a look at what eggshell finish has to offer.
What eggshell finish is
Eggshell finish is a middle-of-the-road finish, shinier than flat, but not as shiny as satin finish and nowhere near as shiny as glossy. It looks and feels like an eggshell. That implies it’s smoother than flat paint, which can at times feel almost like a chalkboard. But it’s not as smooth and shiny as glass. Eggshell paint will reflect some light back, but it’s definitely more subtle than even a satin finish.
Eggshell paint often costs more than flat paint, but not as much as glossy. A shinier finish is more expensive to make, which translates into a higher purchase price.
Its moderate price makes eggshell finish popular. There are cases where satin finish is a better bet, but eggshell is still a reasonable choice. I prefer satin or even semigloss in high traffic areas like hallways and living rooms and kitchens. Satin and semigloss stand up to cleaning better. But eggshell is a good choice in bedrooms. It’s fine for utility rooms too, but flat paint is cheaper.
Advantages of eggshell finish
Satin finish is reasonably easy to take care of. Since it does have some sheen, dirt and fingerprints don’t stick to it as readily as they do to a flat finish. They also don’t show up as readily as they do to a glossy finish.
An eggshell finish also does a better job of hiding scratches and other imperfections, so you don’t have to repaint as often.
Outdoors, eggshell tends to be more durable than flat. You may still have to paint every five years with eggshell, but the paint job will look better as the five-year mark approaches. And since it’s less expensive than semigloss, the cost savings when painting an exterior is significant.
Indoors, eggshell finish is a good middle of the road choice. On walls, it’s more durable and easier to take care of than flat paint. It does a better job of hiding flaws than semigloss paint. If you’re not a professional and you’re not sure what to get, eggshell finish is reasonable. If you want a good-looking paint job but you’re not out to win awards, it will work well.
And frequently the slightly shiny finish is an advantage. You probably don’t want a glare on your walls.
Eggshell finish does have some disadvantages. Eggshell paint on walls yields a less durable and harder to clean surface than semigloss paint. I’ll argue that if you notice much of a difference between eggshell and semigloss paint in terms of durability, you’re too rough on your house. But there is a difference.
Eggshell doesn’t do as good of a job at hiding flaws as flat paint. So especially on rehab jobs, when a wall has been damaged, flat paint can look better than eggshell in some cases. But either one will hide more flaws than semigloss will.
And since eggshell paint is more expensive than flat paint, many people use flat paint in utility rooms and garages instead of eggshell or satin.
Eggshell’s reflective properties give it a disadvantage on ceilings. So ceiling paint is always flat. You’ll be happier with specialty ceiling paint, or a flat white paint at the very least, on a ceiling.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.