Can You Paint Over Eggshell Paint? (With Different Paints)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

Eggshell is a low gloss finish used on interior walls and furniture. However, sometimes you want to paint over it. So, can you?

You can paint over an eggshell finish with other paints. But you must sand it with fine-grit sandpaper first to remove its low gloss finish. If you don’t remove it, the new paint won’t stick over it.

Sanding will remove the low gloss the finish has and create a textured layer for the new paints to stick to. 


Paints don’t stick over an eggshell finish properly because of the presence of the gloss. So, you must either strip or sand the eggshell finish to remove its glossy finish and allow new paint to stick. 

Eggshell isn’t a high-gloss finish, but it still contains more sheen than flat, milk, or matte. When dry, it forms a soft glossy layer that repels any liquid. This glossy finish makes it difficult for paint to penetrate or stick. 

However, topical paints, stains, or sealers can stick to an eggshell finish directly. Topical finishes don’t need to penetrate the surface to stick; they can stick over the top layer. Some topical sealers are; gel stain, polyurethane, and some varnishes.

Also, if the eggshell finish is damaged, wet, or chipped, or sealed with another topcoat, paint won’t stick to it. So, you must fix the finish and remove the topcoat (if any). 

Can You Paint Over it?

You can paint over an eggshell finish only if you follow the right steps; you must clean, sand, and prime (optional) the finish before applying new paint over it. These steps clean the finish and create tiny scratches that allow the new coating to penetrate and stick. 

However, if the eggshell is sealed, it can be difficult to paint over it. Sealants are water-resistant, hard, and prevent moisture from penetrating, so paint won’t stick without removing it. To remove sealants, you must use a paint-removing solvent or chemical-based stripper.

Painting over damaged or wet eggshell finish is also hard because you must repair the finish first.

Do You Need To Sand or Prime?

Can You Paint Over Eggshell Paint Without Sanding or Priming?

You shouldn’t paint over eggshell paint without sanding because it has a glossy finish that needs to be sanded off to allow new paint to stick. If you don’t sand, the new paint won’t be able to penetrate its finish, so it won’t stick.

However, priming before painting over it isn’t necessary. Priming is necessary only if you want to change the color shade of the finish. For instance, if you want to go from a dark-color finish to a light-color finish. Or if the finish is damaged or stained.

Here’s when you should prime:

  • Use a primer if the finish is damaged. 
  • If the finish is stained or exposed to moisture, use a stain-blocking primer.
  • Use moisture-resistant primer if the finish is wet. 
  • If you want to change from a dark to a light finish, you need a primer coating to prevent the dark finish from showing through.
  • If the finish is filthy, you need a primer coating over it.

Even though priming isn’t necessary, it can help the new paint stick better. However, sanding is necessary. Use fine-grit sandpaper to sand an eggshell finish before painting over it.

How To Paint Over Eggshell Paint?

Painting over eggshell paint can be difficult, especially if you don’t follow the right steps. Not to worry, though; this guide will show you how to do this in 4 simple steps. But first, here are the tools you need:

  • Sandpaper
  • Clean rags
  • Primer
  • A gallon of paint
  • Rubbing alcohol or TSD
  • A paint bucket
  • Lacquer thinner

1. Prep The Finish

Prep The Eggshell Paint

First, you must clean, degrease, and wipe the finish before painting over it. If you don’t, the filth and dust on the coating will prevent good paint adhesion and prevent the new coating from sticking. 

To clean it:

  1. Use a solvent. You can use rubbing alcohol or a degreaser (such as TSD) to clean the finish.
  2. Pour the solvent into a clean rag. 
  3. Use the dampened rag to wipe off the stains and grease from the surface. 
  4. Once the eggshell paint is clean, let it dry for a few hours. 

2. Sand The Finish

Sand The Eggshell Paint

Eggshell has a soft glossy finish that repels moisture (to a degree), but this glossy layer won’t allow paint to penetrate its finish, so it won’t stick. You must remove the glossy layer by sanding it off and then apply the paint.

But, before you sand, you need to know if the finish is sealed or not. If it is sealed, you must use a chemical-based paint stripper to remove it, then sand it. 

To know if the finish is sealed, flash a bright light over it. If the finish is shiny or reflective, it is sealed. If the finish isn’t reflective or appears dull, it isn’t sealed. 

To sand eggshell paint, use 220-grit sandpaper. After sanding, there will be dust nibs on the surface. You must wipe these off so they don’t cause bumps and pimples in the new finish. You can do this using a clean rag or a soft brush.

3. Prime The Eggshell Paint

Prime The Eggshell Paint

Applying a coat of primer is optional, but it can help with paint adhesion. But, if the finish is damaged, chipped off, or has different imperfections, applying a stain-blocking primer over it is necessary.

Also, if the finish is wet, you must apply a moisture-blocking primer. The primer will prevent moisture and stains from bleeding through the new paint. 

To apply primer, use a brush and apply 2 coats. Wait until the first coat dries before applying the next one. 

4. Apply The New Paint

Apply The New Paint

Once the second coat of primer is dry, apply the new paint. 

If you used a stain-blocking primer, you can use oil or water-based paint over it. If you didn’t use a primer, you must only use water-based paints.

To apply paint over eggshell paint, use a brush and apply 3 coats. Wait for each coat to dry, sand the coat, then apply the next one. You must sand between coats, except for the final coat. 

Once the final coat of paint dries, seal it with polyurethane, lacquer, or varnish. A sealer will protect the new finish from damage and help it last longer. 

Types of Paint You Can Use:

Types of Paint You Can Apply Over Eggshell Paint

Next, let’s check out some common paint types and see if they can be used over eggshell paint or not.

Flat Paint

You can’t apply flat paint over the glossy finish of eggshell, You must sand or remove the glossy layer first, and then apply the flat paint. 

The gloss is moisture-resistant and will prevent a flat finish from sticking. Also, the gloss is oil-based and flat paints are water-based, so they aren’t compatible. 

Chalk Paint

You must sand the eggshell finish before applying chalk paint over it. Chalk paint has impressive bonding qualities, so you don’t have to sand the finish as much. Instead, just graze some parts of the eggshell paint finish.

However, chalk paints are thick, dry fast, and don’t offer great protection to the surface. So, you must seal the finish.

Semi-Gloss Paint

Semi-gloss paint doesn’t stick well to eggshell paint because it only sticks to textured surfaces. So, you must sand the eggshell finish first, and then apply the semi-gloss paint.

Satin Paint

Satin paint won’t stick to eggshell paint if you don’t remove the glossy sheen first. Depending on the type of semi-gloss paint you use, you might also need to apply a primer.

High-Gloss Paint

High-gloss paint can be applied over eggshell paint, but it’s best to strip the existing finish first. This is because high-gloss paints are reflective and will reveal the texture of the surface underneath. So the imperfections in the existing finish will be revealed.

Aside from this, it’s time-consuming and difficult to prep an existing finish for high gloss. To do this, you’ll need to clean, degrease, sand, and prime it. So if you think of the workload, it’s better to just remove it.


Wax can be applied over eggshell paint. However, wax can be thick and selective when it comes to surfaces. So it’s best to test out it on a part of the finish first before applying it over the whole surface.

Oil-based Paint

Oil-based paints can go over eggshell paint, but you must sand the existing first. That’s because oil-based paints can’t stay over a slick or glossy finish.

Water-based Paint

Eggshell paint can be painted over with water-based paint. That’s because water-based paints are easy to apply, dry fast, and have a bright color finish that hides the imperfections in the finish.

However, they don’t offer good protection, so you must seal the finish if it will be used in a high-traffic area.

Final Words

In summary, you can use all types of paints over eggshell paint, but you must sand or remove its glossy finish first. If you don’t, most paints won’t be able to penetrate its coating, so they won’t stick.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

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.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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