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Satin vs. Eggshell: Which is Right for Your Next Paint Job?

You’ve agonized over color choices and are finally ready to visit the paint counter. Then comes the question you weren’t expecting, “Satin or Eggshell?” And you freeze.

You might ask, “What’s the difference?” but then you’re leaving the fate of your walls in the hands of a stranger.

Don’t panic. You can choose, but first, you need some more detailed info. Here you will find out how Satin compares to Eggshell, where they differ, and which is right for your next paint job.

Let’s get into the Satin vs. Eggshell debate!

Man rolling blue paint onto a wall. Being educated about satin vs. eggshell finishes will help you make the best paint choice for your project.

How to Identify Satin vs. Eggshell

What to Know About Paint Sheen

When the paint tech asked, “Satin or Eggshell?” they wanted to know which sheen you would prefer. And though you may not know it now, you probably do have a preference!

Aside from brand and color, a feature of paint that you can choose is the sheen. Also known as the finish, the sheen is the amount of light that reflects off of the paint. We will use both terms interchangeably.

The higher the sheen, the more light it reflects. High-sheen paints will appear brighter and glossier. Lower sheen paints will reflect less light. These less reflective paints will appear to have little or no gloss.

Does Finish Really Matter?

The finish you choose is essential for a few reasons. A higher sheen will make a room appear brighter, even with dark-colored paint. It is also less forgiving of imperfections on the wall you are painting.

The opposite is true of paints with a low sheen. Because they are less glossy, dents and scratches on the surface will better blend in with the paint.

Using a paint roller to paint a wall teal.

What to Know About Eggshell

The easiest way to remember what an Eggshell finish looks like is in the name. This finish looks very much like, well, an eggshell! It has a low sheen but is less noticeable than a flat or matte option.

Paint in an Eggshell finish will have a subtle shine and may even appear darker in low light. Because it is less reflective, you can expect it to be more accurate to color than glossier mixes. Remember, the more light a paint reflects, the brighter it appears.

What to Know About Satin

Satin finish follows the same naming convention as its Eggshell counterpart. If you have seen a high-shine satin fabric, you know what to expect from a Satin finish. It is more reflective, so it has a higher sheen.

Paint in a Satin finish will appear glossy and bright, especially compared to Eggshell. Keep this in mind when choosing very light or dark colors. It is also worth noting that there are higher gloss finishes than Satin…but that’s another article.

How Do They Compare?

Angled view. of open cans of bright paint colors.

The differences between Satin vs. Eggshell extend beyond their glossy (or not) finish! Read on to learn how each compares in application, durability, and cost. You will also discover which is better for beginners.

Satin vs. Eggshell: Which is Easier to Apply?

Overall, professionals agree that the lower the sheen, the more forgiving the paint when applying. An Eggshell finish will provide more even coverage which means fewer coats. Touch-ups will also blend in more quickly, making this an ideal option for beginners.

The glossy finish in a Satin paint will highlight imperfections on your wall. Eggshell will be better for your project if you want to avoid repairing every dent and scratch or sanding between coats.

Let’s Talk About Durability

While Eggshell is easier to apply, the extra effort required by a Satin finish will pay off in the long run. The added sheen in Satin paint is more than just for a glossy look. It also adds a repellent, wipeable layer of protection.

Consider which walls in your home receive frequent bumps and touches from children or pets. A Satin sheen paint makes sense in these spaces for a more durable, longer-lasting finish.

Satin, and other high-gloss finishes, will hold up better over time than their duller counterparts. Quickly but gently, wipe away any marks or debris. Do not use too much pressure or an abrasive rag. You could scrub away that beautiful, protective sheen!

Comparing Costs: Satin vs. Eggshell

It might surprise you, but the cost could differ even if you select the same color paint from the same brand. Paint composition changes from sheen to sheen. And as the level of the sheen increases, so does the cost.

Yes, Eggshell paint will come in at a lower price than Satin paint. But don’t give that fact too much weight when choosing. The difference is usually only a matter of a few dollars per gallon.

The costs of your next paint job don’t stop once you’ve chosen the paint. There are many tools to consider, from rollers and brushes to drop cloths and more to consider.

Selecting the tools you use to apply your prized color matters too. While the friendly paint counter tech mixes up your paint, ask them what tools they recommend, or visit our Painting Tools page for recommended products.

Satin vs. Eggshell: Which is Better for Beginners?

There are certainly benefits to both Satin and Eggshell paints. But for a first-time DIY painter, Eggshell is a better choice. You will appreciate the more straightforward application, coverage, and touch-up ability.

But even if you’re a beginner, a Satin finish is an option for your paint project. Arm yourself with patience and the fortitude to prep the wall. Prepare to apply multiple coats to achieve even coverage, and pick up that Satin paint!

Looks Matter and So Does Your Opinion

Two new paintbrushes lying on pint color wheels.

You are now familiar with Satin vs. Eggshell paint finishes. Among the differences between them, their appearance is an important one. But what do most people prefer?

In recent years, Eggshell has gained popularity. Its depth in color and less reflective finish are favored in bedrooms and living rooms. Because the finish can withstand scrubbing and touch-ups, it is also suitable for hallways.

Don’t Declare a Winner Yet!

Satin has held its place in the ranks as well. Its glossier finish, thus protected, makes it an excellent choice for high-traffic rooms. Playrooms and kitchens will benefit from Satin’s easy-to-clean shine.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Both Satin and Eggshell have benefits depending on what you are looking for.

Just as you might sample paint colors to determine which you prefer, sample them in Satin vs. Eggshell. Look at them at different times of day and with the lights on and off. Notice how the color and sheen shift as you do.

Consider your unique project, needs, and the appearance you like more. A clear choice will emerge.

Satin vs. Eggshell: What Will it Be?

Using a paint roller to paint a wall gray.

You’re now armed with everything you need to determine if Satin vs. Eggshell is right for your next paint job. Walk up to that paint counter and confidently announce your choice. You’ve earned this moment. Enjoy it!

Once you’re ready to take your paint know-how to the next level, head over to our DIY Painting Tips page. You will find answers to even more of your home improvement questions. You may even find the inspiration for your next painting project!