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Satin vs Eggshell paint: which is right for you

So you picked your paint color – great job! Now it’s time to pick your paint sheen. Let’s compare satin vs eggshell paint to decide what is right for your next project!

Picking paint colors is hard enough – but once you get to the paint counter you still have to pick which paint you want (brand/type) AND what sheen you want.

Spoiler alert: I almost always opt for eggshell.

Some people are perplexed by this. Don’t you have kids? Pets? Don’t you want… satin?!

I think that a lot of this goes back to older paint, when flat paint would literally wipe off if you scrubbed it.

But anyway, I am getting ahead of my self. Let’s compare eggshell and satin paint finishes to decide what might be right for your home.

What is a paint sheen?

Eggshell is a sheen of house paint. Sheen measures the amount of shine on the finish of a paint. An eggshell sheen is almost matte with just a subtle sheen to it – like an egg’s shell.

Sheens go (from SHINIEST to least shiny):

  1. glossy
  2. semi-gloss
  3. satin
  4. eggshell
  5. matte
  6. flat
Satin vs Eggshell paint

Whats the difference between eggshell and satin paint?

Eggshell and satin paint are two of the finishes that are most popular for interior walls. In that way, you can’t go wrong. But, these paint sheens are not the same! They have some major – and minor – differences.


The most noticeable difference between eggshell and satin paints is going to be how much they absorb vs bounce light.

Satin paint is glossier than eggshell and therefore bounces more light off of it.

This will be more evident in a room with bright natural light – satin paint tends to have more of a glare to it than eggshell.

Satin paint is still quite a few steps away from a high gloss finish, so it’s not glossy. It just reflects more light than eggshell does.

What has more sheen eggshell or satin?

Satin paint finishes have more of a sheen to them compared to eggshell paint.

Durability + Cleanability

What makes satin paint more glossy than eggshell is that it has less pigment and more “binders” – which is basically a resin that makes the paint harder and shinier – and therefore super durable.

But here is the truth: modern paint in premium brands is all formulated to be durable and scrubbable and easy to clean.

Now, if you buy the very cheapest version of the cheapest brand of paint, this might not be the case.

But anything of quality will be cleanable and durable.

Personally, we prefer to use the Behr Scuff Defense line of paint. I have 2 toddlers and 2 pets and I have 0 scuffing or scratches on my eggshell walls. I wipe them with a magic eraser without issue.

Most paint brands have an equivalent paint – or their traditional formulas are built with scrubbing technology.

So, the sheen of paint no longer has too much to do with clean-ability and is more about appearances and looks.

Concealing Flaws and Imperfections

One thing that paint sheen definitely effects is how smooth your walls appear. Paints with a glare to them tend to catch the light, which then draws attention to those imperfections.

If you have textured walls – I actually suggest that you skip satin AND eggshell and instead choose a flat or matte finished paint.

If your walls are smooth drywall but still have a lot of dings and dents, or you have a lifestyle that leads to a lot of wall damage (kids, pets, indoor dart board), I suggest an eggshell finish.

Ease of Application

The glossier a paint is, the more it is going to show brush strokes, drips, or other imperfections in the application of the paint.

For this reason, if you are a DIY home painter, you are likely to be happier with the final look of your paint job if you stick to eggshell or flat wall paint.

Ease of Touch ups

The glossier a paint finish is, the harder it is to do paint touch ups down the line without it being obvious. For this reason, eggshell paint is easier to touch up compared to satin.


Eggshell paint is actually slightly cheaper than satin. The glossier the paint finish, the more binder additives in the paint, which runs up the price.

me painting a wall white

Is satin or eggshell better?

I personally prefer eggshell paint in nearly every application. It’s easier to use, cheaper to buy, and I think looks better on the walls than satin paint.

Is eggshell or satin better for walls?

Eggshell is your best choice for interior walls. In high traffic areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, and kids rooms, be cure to choose a paint with “scrubbing technology” and you should have 0 issues with clean-ability.

What sheen is best for bedrooms?

I prefer an eggshell paint finish in bedrooms, with semi gloss on any trim work and flat paint on the ceiling.

Does satin paint hide imperfections?

Satin paint is going to draw more attention to flaws in the wall compared to flat or eggshell paint.

What is eggshell paint used for?

Eggshell paint is used for interior walls in any room of your house.

What is satin finish paint used for?

Some people choose satin paint finishes for bathrooms, kitchens, and other high traffic areas. I don’t think that is necessary with modern paint technology.

me painting a wall around a window

Troubleshooting with Eggshell vs satin paint

Why is my eggshell paint shiny?

While eggshell paint is an excellent choice, it does have a small amount of gleam to it. If your room has a lot of direct, bright light, there will be a glare.

If you don’t like that look – matte or flat paint will be a better choice for your style. Just look for a line of paint with scrub-ability on the label.

Why does my paint come off walls when wiped?

If your paint is not durable, it was either a low quality paint or was applied incorrectly. Unfortunately, the best bet will be to repaint.

When we first moved into our house, I scrubbed several walls with a magic eraser and it took the paint straight off! The paint was the cheapest possible flat paint that the builder could find.

We have repainted the house in an eggshell finish with Behr’s Scuff Defense Paint and I have had 0 issues with paint scrub-ability since.

Still not sure what paint color to choose?

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Thanks for reading!

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