Eggshell vs Satin (What’s The Difference?)

There are different sheens a paint can have, but eggshell and satin sheens are similar. So, what’s the difference between these two sheens?

Eggshell is a paint with a low sheen or gloss in its formula, while satin is a paint with medium gloss. The difference in sheens makes both paints have different qualities.

Since eggshell has less sheen (or gloss), it dries faster. However, the finish of satin is more durable and lasts longer.


What is Eggshell Paint?

Eggshell paint is usually water-based (there are oil-based versions too), with a low sheen or gloss in its formula. In the chart of sheens, eggshell comes after flat paint, meaning it has more sheen than flat paint. 

The low amount of sheen means the paint dries fast. On average, eggshell paint dries enough for a re-coat in 1 hour. Water-based eggshell dries faster than the oil-based type.

Eggshell paint has a matte finish with a touch of gloss. So, its finish isn’t reflective and doesn’t have a glossy or slick appearance. This is due to the low levels of sheen the paint has. 

You can use eggshell paint:

  • To give wood a color.
  • To tint clear coats.
  • If you want to create murals and other designs on walls.
  • To paint decorative ornaments like flower vases and ceramics.
  • If you want to cover spots and imperfections on the surface.


What is Satin Paint?

Satin paint is a mid-gloss finish that is usually oil-based. In the charts of sheen, satin paint comes after eggshell and under semi-gloss paint. This means it has more gloss than eggshell paint, but less gloss (or sheen) than semi-gloss paint. 

The amount of sheen makes its flow thicker. Since satin paint has a thick flow, it offers better coverage but a longer dry time. On average, satin paint dries enough for a re-coat in 2 hours. 

Satin is strong, durable, and offers good moisture resistance for indoor surfaces. 

You can use satin paint:

  • To get a mid-gloss finish. 
  • To protect porous surfaces from moisture. 
  • Over flat paints. 
  • To tint clear coats.

Satin vs Eggshell 

To compare both types of paint, we’ll use the features of each paint and see which is superior.

Here is a table that indicates the significant differences between these two paints:

Eggshell PaintSatin Paint
Paint ThicknessEggshell is ThinSatin paint is thicker than eggshell
Level of SheenLowAverage
Dry TimeDries under 1 hourTakes about 2 hours to dry
Number of Coats Needed3-5 coats2 coats
Strength and DurabilityGoodBetter
The Paint BaseUsually water-basedUsually oil-based
The FinishMatte finishMid-gloss finish

Next, let’s take a closer look at these differences.

Paint Thickness

Satin paint is thicker than eggshell paint because it has more luster or gloss. Also, most satin paints are oil-based (there are water-based versions too). The oil-based nature and the amount of sheen make its flow thicker. 

On the other hand, eggshell paint is usually water-based (there are oil-based versions too), and has a low amount of sheen, so the paint isn’t thick. 

Level of Sheen

Satin paint has more sheen in the formula than eggshell paint. Satin paint gives a mid-gloss finish, while eggshell gives a matte finish. In the charts of sheen, eggshell paint is under satin paint. 

On average, 40-45% of satin paint contains sheen, while eggshell contains less than 10% of sheen. Since satin paint has more sheen, the paint is glossier, more durable, and thicker than eggshell paint. 

Dry Time

Eggshell paint dries faster than satin paint because it contains less sheen and has a thinner flow. Also, most eggshell paints are water-based, while most satin paints are oil-based. 

Since satin paint is thicker than eggshell, it dries slower. Also, it takes longer for its solvent to evaporate because of the high amount of gloss. The longer it takes the paint solvent to evaporate, the longer it takes the paint to dry. 

However, the dry time of both paints is determined by humidity levels, room temperature, and the number of coats. 

Number of Coats Needed

Since eggshell is thinner than satin paint, you must apply more coats of it. Satin paint has a thick flow; each coat will cover more surface. On average, you need 2 coats of satin paint and 3-4 coats of eggshell paint to properly cover a surface.

Also, you can cover more surfaces with less amount of satin paint. That’s because you can thin it to increase the paint quantity. Of course, you can also thin eggshell paint, but thinning weakens its qualities since the paint is already thin enough.

Strength and Durability

Satin paint is stronger than eggshell paint because it has more gloss. The high amount of gloss gives it a glossy finish that repels moisture and prevents dents and scratches.

Also, since satin paint takes longer to dry, the paint particles have more time to harden and compact, making the paint more durable. The longer the paint takes to dry, the more durable it will be. 

On the other hand, the eggshell finish isn’t as strong or durable as satin paint. That’s because it has a matte finish with a low sheen and no additives. The matte finish doesn’t repel moisture or prevent scratches. 

On average, a satin finish lasts up to 8 years, while an eggshell finish lasts up to 5 years.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Satin paint is easier to clean than eggshell paint because it has a glossy, slick finish that prevents dust and filth from sticking over it. Also, you can wipe off dirt easily from the surface using a damp rag.

On the other hand, eggshell paint has a dry and textured finish that attracts dust, grease, and stains. So, you must clean it more often. But, cleaning it is harder because the dirt sticks to the finish. You must use soapy water or liquid cleaning products to clean it. 

Wood Protection

Satin paint protects wood better than eggshell paint because it has a glossier and harder finish that has better moisture resistance. The moisture-resistant layer protects wood from constant water.

On the other hand, the eggshell finish doesn’t protect the wood as much because it has poor moisture resistance. So, if the finish is exposed to constant water it will get washed off. 

The Finish

Satin has a mid-gloss finish that reflects light, making the finish vibrant and shiny. However, the reflective feature of the finish means that it won’t cover stains and spots on the surface.

On the other hand, eggshell has a dry and textured colorful finish that isn’t reflective or glossy. So, eggshell paint cover imperfections on the surface better than satin. 

Do You Need Eggshell or Satin?

Before choosing, consider a few things:

  1. Finish Type – If you want a mid-gloss finish, use satin paint. If you want a matte finish with a touch of gloss, use eggshell paint. Satin paint is glossier than eggshell paint, making the finish reflective and shiny. The eggshell finish doesn’t reflect light as much.
  2. Cleaning – Satin paints are easier to clean than eggshell paint and you need to clean it less often. That’s because it repels dust and dirt, and you can easily wipe dirt off its glossy finish. 
  3. Sealing – Sealing eggshell paint is easier because of its low-gloss finish. To seal it, do minimal sanding and apply the sealer over it. However, it’s harder to seal satin paint because of its glossy finish. To seal it, you must remove the glossy layer of the paint, and then apply the sealant.
  4. Surface – If you are painting a rough, repaired, damaged, or patched surface, use eggshell paint. That’s because it has more color and covers imperfections better. On the other hand, satin paint finish highlights spots and imperfections once dry. 

Final Words

In the chart of sheens, eggshell and satin paint are next to each other. However, the finish of satin paint differs from the finish of eggshell paint.

Satin paint has more gloss, meaning it has a glossy, reflective, and durable finish that dries slower. On the other hand, eggshell paint has less gloss and a dry textured (matte) finish that isn’t durable but dries fast.

Tony Adams
Tony Adams

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about,

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