Eggshell Paint vs Semi-Gloss Paint (What’s The Difference?)

Eggshell and semi-gloss paints are two popular pants. But what’s the difference between both types of paints?

The difference between eggshell and semi-gloss paint is based on the level of sheen in both paints, and the appearance of the finish.

Semi-gloss has a high level of sheen or gloss in the formula making its finish glossy and reflective. Eggshell paint doesn’t have as much sheen. This means its finish is not as glossy or reflective.

The higher the level of sheen, the better the durability and moisture-resistant qualities are. 


What is Eggshell Paint?

Eggshell is a low-sheen finish that is usually water-based. In the hierarchy of paints, according to sheens, eggshell comes after flat paint and is categorized as matte paint.

It has a low amount of gloss and gives a matte finish and doesn’t reflect light as much. Instead of being reflective,its 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 dries within 1 hour.

You can use eggshell:

  • To change the color of the surface.
  • Over home décor like flower vases and ornaments.
  • To hide dents and imperfections on the surface.
  • To give color to clear finishes like polyurethane varnish.
  • In arts and design work.


What is Semi Gloss Paint?

Semi-gloss paints are usually oil-based and 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.

Its finish is thick due to the high sheen. The thick and oil-based nature of the paint means that it dries slower. On average, semi-gloss paint takes 2 hours to dry enough for a recoat.

You are required to sand between coats of semi-gloss paint. The need for sanding between coats and the long dry time makes it more difficult to apply.

You can use semi-gloss:

  • To achieve a glossy finish.
  • To protect the wood.
  • Over water-based paints.
  • To protect surfaces from moisture, water, and scratches. 

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 these two finishes:

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 about 50% sheen in their formula. Eggshell paints only have 10% sheen in their formula. 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 because it has more sheen and is usually oil-based. It 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 because the paint is water-based and 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 dry harder than eggshell paints because the paint particles have more dry time to bind together.

Since its finish is harder, the paint is also stronger and will last longer on a surface. Plus, its glossy finish makes it esistant to oils, grease, stains, and moisture. On average, it will last up to 10 years on a surface, if properly maintained. 

However, eggshell paint doesn’t have a glossy finish and isn’t resistant to scratches or moisture. In high-traffic areas, this finish will not last up to 2 years. But in low-traffic spots, it can last up to 5 years.

Moisture Resistance

Semi-gloss paint offers superior moisture resistance because its glossy finish makes it difficult for water and oils to penetrate its coating. Since eggshell paints don’t have this glossy layer, the paint is not as water-resistant.

You shouldn’t use eggshell paint on surfaces that will experience moisture. For instance, you shouldn’t use it for kitchen cabinets because the slab will be washed frequently. 

Wood Protection

Moisture (or water) and gouges are two things that damage the wood the most. If water penetrates wood, the wood will begin to rot. Also, if the wood has gouges or dents, it will start to break.

However, semi-gloss paints prevent moisture and gouges. Since its finish 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, semi-gloss paint protects the wood.

Eggshell paints don’t protect the wood as much since the paint has poor moisture resistance.

Cleaning and Maintenance

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

Eggshell paint is harder to maintain because it doesn’t have a slick or glossy layer so dust and stains stick more to the paint. So, if you use it, you have to do more cleaning and maintenance.

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 it.

Semi-gloss is harder to apply because its flow is too thick and you can’t spray it without thinning it first. You also need to sand between coats. When dry, it forms a moisture-resistant and glossy layer, you need to sand off the glossy layer so the next coat can stick. 

Eggshell paints dry faster than semi-gloss paints. Semi-gloss paints take 2 hours to dry, while eggshell paint takes 1 hour.

The Finish

Eggshell paint gives a matte finish with a hint of gloss on the texture. Its finish is colorful because the paint pigments don’t hide behind a glossy layer. Since the finish reveals more color and doesn’t reflect light, the paint cover imperfections and spots on the surface better.

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

Which One Do You Need?

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

  1. Budget – Go for the paint that you can afford. Semi-gloss paints cost more than eggshell paints due to the higher sheen and better protection than it offers.
  2. Wood Protection – Semi-gloss protects the wood from moisture, gouges, and scratch marks better. 
  3. Re-coat – Eggshell paint is easier to recoat and seal because its finish is not as glossy.
  4. Cleaning – Semi-gloss paints are easier to clean and maintain. Pencil marks, color, food and drink spills, and the likes can be easily cleaned off it. To clean stains off of eggshell paint, you 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. Remember, semi-gloss paint has a glossy finish while eggshell paint has a matte finish.

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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