Eggshell Paint vs Semi-Gloss Paint (Which One is Better?)

Eggshell and semi-gloss paints are popular paint types among DIYers and for good reasons too. But what’s the difference between both types of paints?

The difference between eggshell paint and semi-gloss paint is based on the level of sheen in both paints and the appearance of the finish. Semi-gloss paints have a high level of sheen or gloss in the paint formula making the finish glossy and reflective. Eggshell paint on the other hand doesn’t have as much sheen.

This means the finish is not as glossy or reflective as semi-gloss paint. The presence of sheen in semi-gloss paint makes it harder, stronger, and more resistant to moisture than eggshell paints. However, eggshell paint reveals more color while semi-gloss paint reveals more gloss.

What is Eggshell Paint?

What is Eggshell Paint?

Eggshell paint is a low-sheen paint that is usually water-based. In the hierarchy of paints, according to sheens, eggshell paint comes immediately after flat paint and is usually categorized as matte paint. Though eggshell paints have a hint of gloss in the formula, the gloss is very low when compared to the gloss in semi-gloss paints.

The presence of a low sheen in the eggshell paint gives it an almost matte finish. Low gloss also means that the paint doesn’t reflect light as much. Instead of being reflective, an eggshell finish will make the paint color vibrant. The water-based nature of eggshell paints means that the paint is thin and it dries fast. On average, eggshell paint will dry fully in under an hour.

So what is eggshell paint used for? Let’s find out.

What is Eggshell Paint Used For?

  • Eggshell paint is used to change the color of the surface
  • The paint is commonly used on home décor like flower vases and ornaments
  • Eggshell paint is used to hide dents and imperfections in the surface
  • Eggshell paint is also used to give color to clear finishes like polyurethane varnish
  • Eggshell paint is used in arts and design work.

Next, let’s check out semi-gloss paints.

What is Semi-Gloss Paint?

What is Semi Gloss Paint?

Semi-gloss paints are usually oil-based paints that also have a high level of sheen in their formula. The paint when dry forms a super hard and moisture resistant layer on the surface. This layer makes the paint protect the surface better. It also makes it difficult for moisture and oils to penetrate the finish.

You should know that semi-gloss paints are usually thick due to the high sheen in the paint. The thick and oil-based nature of the paint means that it dries slowly. On average, semi-gloss paint will take 2 hours to dry enough for a recoat.

You should also know that you are required to sand between coats of semi-gloss paint. The need for sanding between coats and the long dry time of the semi-gloss paint makes it more difficult to apply than eggshell paints.

So what is semi-gloss paint used for? Let’s find out.

What is Semi-Gloss Paint Used For?

  • Semi-gloss paint is used to achieve a glossy finish
  • Semi-gloss paint helps to protect wood
  • Semi-gloss paint is used over water-based paints
  • Semi-gloss paint offers impressive moisture resistance to porous surfaces like wood

So is semi-gloss paint better than eggshell paint? Let’s find out by comparing both paints.

Eggshell Paint vs Semi-Gloss Paint

To compare both types of paints, we’ll use their features to see which paint is superior.

Here is a table that shows the major differences between semi-gloss paint and eggshell paint.

 Eggshell PaintSemi-Gloss Paint
Level of SheenLowHigh
Strength and DurabilityAverageVery good
Dry TimeLess than an hour2 hours
Wood ProtectionPoorGreat
Moisture ResistancePoorVery Good
Cleaning and MaintenanceRequires frequent maintenanceDoesn’t require much cleaning
The FinishMatte with a hint of glossGlossy

Next, let’s check out these differences in detail.

Level of Sheen

Semi-gloss paints have more sheen than eggshell paints. At least 45% – 50% of semi-gloss paint has sheen in it. Eggshell paints on the other hand only have about 10% sheen. The massive difference in levels of sheen between both paints is what makes their finishes different.

Paint Thickness

Semi-gloss paint is thicker than eggshell paint. This is because semi-gloss paints have more sheen and are usually oil-based. Semi-gloss paints also have more binders that hold the paint particles together. The combination of these substances in the paint formula makes it thick.

Eggshell paint on the other hand is not as thick as semi-gloss paint. This is because eggshell paint is water-based and the paint has a low level of sheen.

Dry Time

Eggshell paint dries faster than semi-gloss paint. This is due to the water-based nature and low level of sheen in the paint formula. Semi-gloss paints take longer to dry because the paint has more sheen and is thicker than eggshell paint.

For paint to dry, the solvent (or liquid) in the paint has to be completely evaporated. Since the water in eggshell paint will evaporate faster than the oils in semi-gloss paint, eggshell paint will dry faster. On average, eggshell paint dries in less than an hour while semi-gloss paints take at least 2 hours to dry.

Strength and Durability

The strength and durability of paint are determined by how hard and resistant the finish is. Semi-gloss paints usually dry harder than eggshell paints because the paint particles have more dry time to bind together. Since semi-gloss paint is harder, the paint is also stronger and will last longer on a surface than eggshell paints.

You should also know that the glossy layer of semi-gloss paints makes the paint resistant to oils, grease, stains, and moisture. All of these will damage an eggshell finish because the finish is not as glossy as semi-gloss paint.

On average, semi-gloss paints will last up to 10 years on a surface if properly maintained. In high traffic areas, eggshell paint will not last up to 2 years but in low traffic spots, eggshell paint can last up to 5 years.

Moisture Resistance

Semi-gloss paints offer superior moisture resistance. As explained earlier, the presence of gloss in semi-gloss paints makes it difficult for water and oils to penetrate the finish. Since eggshell paints don’t have this glossy layer, the paint is not as water-resistant as semi-gloss paints.

It’s usually best not to use eggshell paint on a surface that will experience moisture. For instance, if you use eggshell paint on your kitchen slab, the finish will come off because the slab will be washed and cleaned frequently.

Wood Protection

Two things that can damage wood easily are moisture (or water) and gouges. If water penetrates wood frequently, then the wood will begin to rot. Also, if the wood has gouges or dents, then it will start to break.

However, semi-gloss paints prevent moisture and gouges. Since the paint is moisture resistant, water can’t get into the wood. The hard layer of the paint also makes it difficult for the wood to develop dents or gouges.

So your wood is safe with semi-gloss paint on it. Eggshell paints on the other hand don’t protect the wood as much since the paint has poor moisture resistance.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Semi-gloss paints don’t attract filth or dust easily because the surface is slick and glossy. This makes the finish easier to clean and maintain. Stains that appear on a semi-gloss finish can be easily wiped off with a damp rag since the stains don’t stick.

Eggshell paint is not as easy to clean and maintain. This is because the finish is neither as slick nor as glossy as semi-gloss paints. So stains will stick better to eggshell paint and you’ll have to do more cleaning and maintenance regularly.

Paint Application

Eggshell paints can be applied by using paintbrushes, rollers, and paint sprayers. The thin flow of the paint makes it easier to apply and control. You also don’t need much sanding between coats of eggshell paint.

Semi-gloss paints on the other hand are harder to apply. For starters, you can’t spray semi-gloss paint unless you thin the paint first. This is because semi-gloss paints are too thick to be sprayed.

You also need to sand between coats of semi-gloss paint because each coat that you apply will dry to form a moisture-resistant and glossy layer. You need to sand off the glossy layer to allow the next coat to stick.

Eggshell paints also dry faster so you can apply more coats and finish painting sooner. Semi-gloss paints take about 2 hours to dry enough for a recoat. That means more time consumption.

The Finish

Eggshell finish gives a matte finish with a hint of gloss on the texture. The eggshell finish is also usually colorful as the paint color isn’t hidden behind a glossy layer. Since the finish reveals more color and doesn’t reflect light, eggshell paints cover imperfections and spots on the surface brilliantly.

Semi-gloss paints offer a bright and reflective finish. Since the finish is reflective, imperfections and spots on the surface will be highlighted. So semi-gloss paint isn’t ideal for damaged, patched, repaired, or rough surfaces.

Should You Buy Eggshell Paint or Semi-Gloss Paint?

When deciding on which paint to go for, consider the list below to make your decision easier:

The Price Tag

You should only go for paints that you can afford. Semi-gloss paints usually cost more than eggshell paints due to the higher sheen and better protection than the semi-gloss finish offers. So if you want a pocket-friendly option, you should go for eggshell paints.

Wood Protection

Semi-gloss paints protect wood from moisture, gouges, and scratch marks. Eggshell paints offer inferior wood protection. So you are better off with semi-gloss paint on surfaces that will be used heavily like countertops and patios. For instance, if you put semi-gloss paint over your wooden countertop, it will not get damaged for a few years.

Would You Want to Recoat?

Eggshell paints are easier to recoat and seal because the paint is not as glossy as semi-gloss or high-gloss paints. Semi-gloss paints however are harder to recoat because you have to sand between each coat. So if you plan on applying multiple coats, you should stick to an eggshell finish.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Semi-gloss paints are easier to clean and maintain. So if you have children or pets at home, this paint will be ideal. Pencil marks, color, food and drink spills, and the likes can be easily cleaned off semi-gloss paint. To clean such stains off of eggshell paint, you’ll most likely need a cleaning solvent.

Final Words

In summary, semi-gloss and eggshell paints are both great choices. So, the one you decide to go for will depend on your taste and needs. Just remember that semi-gloss paint has a glossy finish while eggshell paint has a matte finish.

You should pick semi-gloss paint for protection and eggshell paints for color. Also, remember that semi-gloss paints are usually oil-based and as such difficult to apply. Eggshell paints are much easier to apply since the paint is thin and water-based.

Leave a Comment