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 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 sheen in semi-gloss paint makes the paint more durable and resistant to moisture. 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 after flat paint and is categorized as matte paint.

Eggshell paint has a low amount of gloss when compared to semi-gloss paint. The eggshell paint gives a matte finish and doesn’t reflect light as much due to low levels of sheen. 

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 dries within 1 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 used on home décor like flower vases and ornaments.
  • Eggshell paint is used to hide dents and imperfections on 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 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.

Semi-gloss paints are thick due to the high sheen in the paint. 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 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 the 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. Semi-gloss paints have about 50% sheen in their formula. Eggshell paints, on the other hand, 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. 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 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.

Plus, the glossy layer of semi-gloss paints makes the paint resistant to oils, grease, stains, and moisture. On average, semi-gloss paints 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, 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. The glossy layer of the semi-gloss paint 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.

You shouldn’t use eggshell paint on surfaces that will experience moisture. For instance, you shouldn’t use eggshell paint 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 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, 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 a semi-gloss finish can be wiped off with a damp rag since the stains don’t stick.

Eggshell paint is harder to maintain than semi-gloss paint. Eggshell paint doesn’t have a slick or glossy layer so dust and stains stick more to the paint. If you use eggshell paint, 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 eggshell paint.

Semi-gloss paints are harder to apply. Semi-gloss paint is too thick and you can’t spray it without thinning the paint first. You also need to sand between coats of semi-gloss paint. 

When dry, semi-gloss paint 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. This means you can complete the painting project faster if you use eggshell paint. 

The Finish

Eggshell paint gives a matte finish with a hint of gloss on the texture. The eggshell 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, eggshell paints 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 semi-gloss paint isn’t ideal for damaged, patched, repaired, or rough surfaces.

Do You Need 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

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 the semi-gloss finish offers. So if you want a cheaper option, go for eggshell paints.

Wood Protection

Semi-gloss paint protects the wood from moisture, gouges, and scratch marks better than eggshell paint.

So, if you are panting high-traffic surfaces such as countertops or patios, go for semi-gloss paint. If you use semi-gloss paint for 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 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. Pencil marks, color, food and drink spills, and the likes can be easily cleaned off semi-gloss paint.

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.

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.

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