When painting your home, one of the most important decisions you can make is what type of paint to use.
While there are a number of great options on the market, they’re not all suitable for the same types of paint jobs.
Today, let’s take a look at one of the most common types of paints used in home decoration namely eggshell paint.
This type of paint comes with distinct advantages and it’s among the most popular options among professional painters.
The only complaint I have sometimes heard, when you apply the eggshell paint with a paint roller, is the roller not rolling smoothly.
Hence, understanding how to apply eggshell paint on walls, ceilings or furniture correctly will enable you to get the most out of your home’s next paint job.
But before we discuss the exact painting steps, let’s start with some basics.
What is Eggshell Paint?
As in the name, eggshell paint is a kind of paint finish that resembles the surface of an eggshell.
As compared to more common pain finishes in US and UK, this type of finish offers less sheen.
While the finish you get with this is a bit more than matt emulsion paint, it’s always less than satin or silk.
In contrast, eggshell paint proves the far more durable of the two options.
What it is best used for?
Unlike flat paint, eggshell paint does come with a reflective sheen, making it a bit worse at hiding blemishes in your wall.
That being said, eggshell paint forms a hard, durable coating when it’s dry, giving your walls the extra protection they need to stay safe.
This ensures a longer-lasting paint job and makes eggshell paint a great option for rooms with high traffic.
For example, you’ll likely want to use eggshell paint in your living room, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, kids’ rooms, and other high-traffic areas so that you can easily clean any dirt or grime that accumulates.
What’s more, because of its durable coating, eggshell paint holds up better to daily damages, including those caused by children.
This makes it the perfect type of paint for a family home, as you won’t have to worry about redoing your paint every time it gets nicked or drawn on.
How to Paint with Eggshell Paint?
To get the full effect of eggshell paint, you will need to apply it with a paint roller in large enough quantities.
This is to create a thick coat, but not so much to make it sag or drip under its own weight.
You can do this by having enough paint on the roller sleeve to apply generously without having to press too hard so the paint is released.
Be sure to get a good roller and paint in the proper direction for maximum effect.
Step 1- Getting Started
You should begin by removing all furniture, artwork, photos, curtains, and rods from the room being painted.
Next, put painter’s tape around the trim, doorways, windows, and baseboards so that you will not have to clean them up after painting.
Put drop cloths on the floor and any items that could not be removed. Now you are ready to prepare the walls.
Step 2- Do the Preparation
Start by filling any holes with spackling compound.
Use a putty knife to apply and then smooth out so that its edge matches the surface of the wall.
Let the spackle dry before cleaning the walls.
You can then start the cleaning process by wiping down the walls with a damp cloth.
The walls will need to be clean, otherwise, any remaining dirt or debris will make the eggshell paint less likely to stick.
If you are going to paint in a room with high humidity, such as the kitchen or bathroom, then you will need to clean the walls with tri-sodium phosphate (TSP).
Follow the directions when applying the TSP to the walls and let dry.
Step 3- Start Painting
Open the can of eggshell paint and stir it for one minute using a stir stick.
Then, pour a small amount into a bucket.
This is the paint you will use for applying to the edge of the ceiling first.
Use a brush to create the edges for the ceiling and corners of the room.
Now you are ready for the roller.
Step 4- Apply the Paint with Roller
Pour the eggshell paint into the rolling pan, put a generous amount on the roller, and start painting the ceiling first.
Once covered, let the paint dry and then inspect to see if you need to add a second coat.
Once completed, you can now start on the walls.
Paint from the top and work your way down the walls with the roller.
Remember to roll slowly which will avoid the roller marks and prevent the paint from splattering.
Let it dry and then inspect (by shining a work light on the freshly painted surface) to see if you need a second coat.
Step 5- Apply Second Coat if Required
Keep in mind that it will take at least two coats to get the right effect from eggshell paint, so do not worry if the first coat isn’t what you expected.
When shining the light at an angle over the painted surface, you may sometimes notice a few defects.
The uneven sheen, ridges, or bumps that may have appeared are generally due to insufficient paint coverage.
In that case, you will need to do a few eggshell touch-ups using 150-grit sandpaper and a paintbrush for fixing eggshell paint finish problems.
If you notice larger defects or streakings, which is rare if you have painted with a well-loaded roller, it will need complete scuffing.
Plus an additional coat of paint over the surface to fix the issues like lap marks.
Tips for Avoiding Roller Marks with Eggshell Paints
One major reason why eggshell paints leave roller marks after the painting is the consistency.
If you dilute the paint right, most likely you can avoid the problem.
- When using acrylic or water-based eggshell, add 10% cold clean water for thinning
- When using oil-based eggshell, add turpentine or mineral spirits to the paint in a ratio of 1:3
Give the prepared paint a thorough stir before loading your roller.
Besides the above, you will also need to keep the following in mind for achieving the best finish without any roller marks that can be a sore to the eyes.
a) Choose the right roller
Paint roller sleeves are available in a variety of different sizes, materials, and naps.
Since each one of them has its own use, you should pick the right one for eggshell paint.
The best roller cover you can pick for eggshell paint is of wool fiber with a 3/8-inch nap.
However, if you are applying flat paint, you can pick a roller with a short nap.
Longer naps are better for textured finishes.
However, in a pinch, you can use a 1/2-inch nap roller sleeve for applying eggshell paint finish.
Just make sure you apply the paint right and avoid roller stipples.
b) Avoid reloading more often
You can do this by keeping your roller fully loaded while painting with eggshell.
When loading your paint tray, you should keep enough paint so that you can cover the roller sleeve well.
Also, while applying the paint do not try to squeeze your roller completely before reloading.
This may save you some paint but will most likely produce paint ridges and marks you do not want to get on the surface.
c) Roll only in one direction
Unlike flat paints, you cannot roll with eggshell the way you want.
This means when applying eggshell finish to your walls, ceiling, wooden floors, or doors you should roll in a single direction.
It should be either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
Typically, you should avoid backing the roller when you have finished with a coat.
Instead, bring your paint roller back to where you have started to apply the paint the same way.
Also, you should never stop your roller in the middle.
Keep a wet edge and focus on ending the course before you want to take a break.
Can You Paint Eggshell Over Eggshell?
Eggshell isn’t very glossy. Which means neither it’s flat nor too shiny.
But eggshell paints come with some glossiness that can create adhesion problems when you need to repaint them.
With that said, if it’s a freshly eggshell painted area you want to paint right over you can do that.
But if the eggshell paint is already dry or it’s an old surface (like your walls, woodwork, or furniture), you will need to prep the surface first.
Only then it will be feasible to paint the eggshell over it.
Typically, the eggshell paints will not bond very well to an already applied eggshell sheen finish.
Its therefore important that you abrade the existing coating, or else you will see the new paint peeling and flaking away fast.
When you need to repaint, prepare the surface well to promote adhesion and use the right tools by following these steps…
- Clean the surface with a cloth or a broom
- Protect the edges and floor with painter’s tape and drop cloth
- Strip the eggshell finish using a palm sander and 180-grit sandpaper
- Make sure you do not over-sand the surface. Your goal should be only to remove the existing finish
- Apply the fresh coat of eggshell paint using a roller or a brush (for smaller surfaces or where the roller does not reach)
- Let the freshly applied paint dry and apply a second coat if required for an evener and smoother finish
Can You Make Eggshell Paint Finish Look Flat?
While no painter will ever want to do this because of the higher cost of eggshell paint finishes, this can be achieved by applying some techniques.
1- Mix Eggshell and Flat
You can mix some flat paint (of the same color) with your eggshell paint to make them look flat.
2- Flat Paint Over Eggshell
By applying a coat or two of flat paint over an eggshell finish you can get a lower sheen that may look flat.
3- Apply a Single Coat of Eggshell
Apply only one coat of eggshell paint you can get a lower sheen like that of flat paint.
Eggshell paints usually come with reflective particles that add to their reflective properties and make the paint look shinier after application.
However, you will need to apply more than one coat to the surface for getting more shine.
The more layers you put on, the more light can get reflected back to make it shine better.
So, if you are applying only fewer coats it’s possible that the surface will not shine much and will look as painted with a flat finish.
Why is Eggshell Paint A Better Option for Exterior Use?
When it comes to exterior use, there’s no comparison of eggshell.
Since these are neither dull nor too shiny it also looks great on a variety of siding types such as stucco, horizontal wood, HardiePlank, and others.
Flat paint may never be used outdoors.
Because it’s not chemically composed to stand up to the elements, you can expect that any type of harsh conditions—including intense sunlight—will damage your paint and ruin the exterior look of your home.
For this reason, be sure NOT to consider flat paint for any type of job outdoors—no matter how simple it is.
Eggshell paint, however, does offer a few exterior uses.
For example, you may choose to paint your door with eggshell paint—or even your windowsills.
Remember, the durable coating of eggshell paints gives it the extra protection it needs to be able to withstand damage.
This makes it the best option of the two that you should consider when working outside.
By sticking with eggshell paint here, you’ll be able to get the great look you want without having to sacrifice durability or quality.
With that in mind, do remember that because there are different kinds of eggshell paint (oil-based, etc.), you’ll need to carefully choose the one that’s best suited to your job—no matter if you’re working on the interior or the exterior.
The Bottom Line
Due to the fact that eggshell finishes can resist stains better than flat, these are often most suitable for outdoors and can also be best used in kitchens, bathrooms, kids’ rooms, and other high-traffic areas.
However, as these are relatively expensive and have a higher sheen, a flat finish can be used if you are working on a tight budget or desire to get a clean nicer look without worrying about the shine.
No matter, what you choose, it’s important to remember that you always start with only clean surfaces.
Do not forget to remove the old paint and apply the right primer and paint with the most suitable roller.
The key to getting the right finish with eggshell paints is knowing how to apply them correctly using the right techniques and tools.
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Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.