Eggshell Paint vs. Flat Paint: What should I Choose?

Eggshell Paint Vs Flat

When painting your home, one of the most important decisions you can make is what type of paint to use.

And 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 the difference between the two most common types of paints used in home decoration namely eggshell paint and flat paint.

These two popular options each have distinctive advantages and disadvantages, and understanding these will enable you to get the most out of your home’s next paint job.

What is Eggshell Paint?

As in name, eggshell paint is a kind of paint finish that resembles like the surface of an eggshell.

As compared to more common pain finishes in US and UK, this type of finish offers less of 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.

However, 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 or bedrooms 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 in large enough quantities 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.

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.

Be sure to get a good roller and paint in the proper direction for maximum effect.

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 an any items that could not be removed. Now you are ready to prepare the walls.


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 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.

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 to 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.

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 prevent the paint from splattering. Let it dry and then inspect to see if you need a second coat.

Why is Eggshell Paint Better for Exterior Use?

When it comes to exterior use, there’s no comparison. 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, its durable coating gives it the extra protection it needs to be able to withstand damage.

This makes it the only 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.

How to 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) to 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 Single Coat of Eggshell

Apply only one coat of the eggshell paint you can get 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 like as painted with a flat finish.

Should You Use Flat or Eggshell Paint in Your Home?

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.

The key to getting the right finish is knowing how to apply the paint correctly using the right techniques and tools.

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