Eggshell vs. Satin Paint: What's the Difference?

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Both eggshell and satin are popular choices for interior walls and many other surfaces, but what's the difference between these seemingly similar paint sheens? Eggshell and satin are commonly used because they are the most balanced paint sheens. They offer decent durability and cleanability without a glossiness that's over the top. Get to know these time-tested paint sheens so you can best decide which is the one for your project.

Eggshell and Satin Paint: Major Differences

Eggshell and satin sit in the middle of the paint sheen scale, making them a perfect mix of not-too-shiny and not-too-dull. This balanced look makes them an ideal choice for most paint projects. So, what really distinguishes eggshell vs. satin?

Eggshell Paint

Eggshell paint is paint with a sheen that is glossier than flat yet duller than satin. It gets its name from its similarity to the surface of an eggshell.

Eggshell paint has been a staple choice for interior walls for decades. It's easy to apply with minimal mistakes and hides flaws well due to its low reflectivity. This is of great value for DIY drywall finishers, as getting joints perfectly smooth at first can be difficult. Its low luster is more reflective than flat, making spaces more dynamic by drawing more of the paint's color into the overall visual.

Eggshell is a good option for those who like flatter finishes but still want to wipe down the walls from time to time. While satin is undoubtedly a more durable option, eggshell is a good all-around sheen for any room. If you like the eggshell look in your kitchen or bathroom, don't be afraid to use it. Just be aware that it may not have the longevity of satin.

  • Low reflectivity hides flaws and imperfect painting effectively

  • Has more durability than flat or matte options

  • Smooth application makes it easy to apply with minimal mistakes

  • Harder to clean than glossier counterparts

  • Not durable enough for high-abuse areas like baseboards and trim

Satin Paint

Satin paint is paint with a sheen that is glossier than eggshell yet duller than semi-gloss. Its balanced look makes it highly durable without being too reflective.

If you were to ask an interior designer or painting professional, they'd likely tell you that satin is the glossiest sheen you should use on interior walls. Going with a higher sheen such as semi-gloss or even high-gloss will result in a highly durable finish that shows every single imperfection—even ones you never knew were there.

  • Average sheen level that shows details without highlighting flaws

  • More durable than eggshell

  • Easier to clean than eggshell

  • Can take frequent cleaning in kitchen or bathroom settings

  • Shows more imperfections than matte, flat, and eggshell

  • Doesn't hold up in high-abuse areas like trim and doors


Satin paint reflects more light than eggshell paint. This could be an advantage or disadvantage depending on your paint project.

Eggshell Paint

Because eggshell has a lower light reflectivity than satin, it's preferred for walls with imperfections or undesired texture. This lower reflectivity also makes eggshell paint better for walls that receive direct sunlight. However, eggshell is generally thought to be too dull for millwork, cabinetry, doors, and other moldings.

Satin Paint

Satin's higher light reflectivity over eggshell will call out more details on moldings and millwork, but beware—it will also highlight the imperfections in your wall. If a few imperfections here and there aren't of great concern, satin does wonders for an interior and its higher luster will let your chosen paint color fully show through.


Satin paint is more durable than eggshell paint. With satin's higher sheen comes a more durable surface.

Eggshell Paint

Eggshell paint isn't known for its durability, so it's an unpopular option for high-traffic areas like entryways and hallways, or rooms that require frequent cleanings like kitchens and bathrooms. However, if low luster is what you're after, it is a much more durable option than flat paint.

Satin Paint

Because of satin's balanced durability and sheen, it's perfect for walls in high-traffic areas or spaces that require frequent cleaning. To get its higher sheen, satin needs more binders than eggshell, which it has to thank for its durability, as they offer more elasticity and scuff resistance.


Satin paint's balance of durability and reflectivity makes it the most versatile paint sheen. While no paint sheen is intended to be ideal on every surface, satin is a great option across many different surfaces where other paints simply won't work.


Satin has a slightly tackier texture than eggshell. With higher sheen comes a tackier surface.

Eggshell Paint

Eggshell's duller sheen leads to the surface feeling smooth, with little-to-no tackiness. Its lower sheen makes it easier to avoid visible paint mistakes like lap marks and orange peel.

Satin Paint

The higher sheen of satin leads to a very slight tackiness on the surface, which is noticeable to the touch. This is due to the additional resins in the satin paint, which give the paint its higher durability and reflectivity.


Eggshell paint is $2 to $3 cheaper than satin paint. Expect to pay $2 to $3 each time you increase the paint's sheen.

Eggshell Paint

Eggshell paint doesn't come at a standard price, as the price is mostly determined by the manufacturer and the quality of the paint. However, the lower sheen makes eggshell generally less expensive than satin.

Satin Paint

Satin's higher sheen comes at a slightly higher price. However, satin's higher durability means it will likely outlast eggshell, so the extra $3 spent will be worth it.

  • Which is better satin or eggshell?

    Satin offers more durability than eggshell paint. However, eggshell will hide imperfections better than satin.

  • What is eggshell finish best for?

    Eggshell is a great option for interior walls, as it hides imperfections well. It is recommended for low-traffic areas and areas that don't require frequent wipe-downs, as its durability isn't as high as glossier options.

  • Is satin paint durable?

    Satin paint is a highly durable option for walls. It can withstand frequent cleanings in areas like bathrooms and kitchens, or any other high-traffic areas.