Eggshell Vs. Semi Gloss Paint (Differences & Which One To Use)

Last week I decided I wanted to paint a room in my house. It looked a little rough, so I thought a touch of paint would help. I went to the store to pick out a color and was overwhelmed by how many different types of paint there were. I narrowed it down but had trouble deciding between eggshell and semi-gloss. I didn’t know what the difference was or what it would look like on my walls. 

Eggshell paint has a gloss percentage of between 10% to 25% and is best for those looking for imperfections on their walls and in less busy areas of the home. Semi-gloss paint has a more noticeable gloss finish and dries harder, is more durable, and lasts longer than eggshell paint. 

Eggshell and semi-gloss have their differences, but both are acceptable for use in the home. This article will cover everything you need to know about them including their pros and cons, how well they touch up if they cover imperfections, and much more. 

What Is Eggshell Finish?

Let’s start with eggshell paint. It has a low-sheen finish that looks similar to the finish of an egg. It’s most commonly used on woodwork because of its smooth, elegant finish. Not only that, but it’s much easier to clean than other types of paint. 

Eggshell paint can be made from oil-based paint, acrylic, and latex as well as natural eggshells. You can find it in many different colors and it’s not as expensive as other types of paint, making it the ideal type for those on a budget. 

Eggshell Paint finish has a low sheen finish that looks similar to the finish of the egg.

Some great things about eggshell paint are that it produces a smooth finish that gives a sleek look to the walls and it’s easy to clean. If you have kids or pets, you don’t have to worry about your walls getting ruined. Fortunately, if you have multiple rooms you need painting, eggshell is cheaper than other types of paint such as semi-gloss and high-gloss. 

What a lot of people don’t like about eggshell paint is that it can be a pain to apply evenly. Sometimes there are areas that look patchy or uneven. Additionally, it’s less durable than other types of paint and it isn’t as moisture-resistant. It’s best not to use it in high-moisture areas such as bathrooms or kitchens.  

Pros of Using Eggshell Finish

Before you commit to anything, you should always be aware of the pros and cons of the product. There are quite a few pros to using eggshell finish, all of which I’ll go through with you. I’ll discuss its durability, light reflection, mold resistance, and more. 


I’ll admit that eggshell isn’t as reflective as semi-gloss, but it does still have some reflectiveness to it. Eggshell paint has decent reflectivity, but not so much that it shows imperfections on your walls.

The light reflecting off of the paint will bring out the color of your room, making it ideal for small rooms. This can make your room appear larger than it really is. 

Eggshell paint has decent reflectivity, but not so much that it shows imperfections on your walls.

Mold Resistant

You wouldn’t have to worry about this as much in your main living area as you would in your basement or bathroom. Mold and mildew can grow in damp, warm conditions without a lot of airflow. This is why bathrooms are the perfect breeding ground for mold. 

Eggshell paint offers some pretty good mold resistance for your bathroom walls. If you want this, you have to purchase mold and mildew-proof eggshell interior paint. It’s a self-priming, water-based paint that offers a 5-year mold and mildew-proof film guarantee. It’s ideal for basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. 


Eggshell paint does offer some durability, but not as much as semi-gloss. However, it’s more durable than flat paint. When it dries, eggshell paint forms a protective barrier around itself.  This makes it the perfect finish for rooms with low traffic or kids’ bedrooms. However, even though this paint is slightly durable, it may need some retouching if you use it in areas such as living rooms and hallways. 

Easy to Clean

If you have pets, kids, or a heavy-traffic house, you’ll benefit from eggshell paint. Since it’s not as durable as semi-gloss, it has to be well-maintained. You can’t scrub eggshell paint using abrasive cleaners or you’ll have discolored and faded walls. You should use a natural solution such as vinegar and hot water with a soft cloth of some kind. You can even substitute the vinegar for dish soap.  


Paint coverage is how much paint that can cover a certain amount of space. Eggshell can cover twice the area as semi-gloss paint with the same amount. This means that you’ll save both money and time. This is because you won’t have to buy as much paint as you would with semi-gloss. 

On the other hand, semi-gloss does better at hiding imperfections in the walls. It will cover cracks and blemishes that you may want to cover. Eggshell paint may require fewer coats to achieve the same look as semi-gloss paint, but it won’t cover imperfections and it has a lower sheen than semi-gloss paint. 


Eggshell is a budget-friendly option because it doesn’t contain as much resin as semi-gloss. The resin is what makes it more expensive. In addition to this, you have to use more semi-gloss paint to cover the same area due to its higher sheen. You’re going to spend more if you use semi-gloss than you would with eggshell. 

Dries Quickly

Eggshell paint dries pretty quickly. On average, it takes 4-6 hours to dry enough to be touched and is ready for a second coat in 16-24 hours. This is great for those who are looking to get a coat of paint on their walls quickly. You can even do multiple rooms at once as long as they aren’t being used. You could have your whole house repainted in just a couple of days. 

Cons of Using Eggshell Finish

Even though I’ve just spent quite some time explaining all the good things about eggshell paint, it’s now time to move on to the cons of eggshell paint. There are quite a few of them, but if you really want to, you can work around it easily. 

Eggshell Paint

Shows Imperfections

If you have imperfections on your walls, eggshell is going to show them. This means if you have any bumps, chips, cracks or anything else, you’ll definitely notice them, no matter how many coats you put on. Fortunately, these are less likely to be seen with eggshell than with semi-gloss. 

Since eggshell isn’t very reflective, it doesn’t highlight the imperfections like semi-gloss does. This is why a lot of people don’t use eggshell in their basements or kitchens because that’s where many walls have imperfections. 

Hard To Touch Up

Since eggshell tends to show imperfections, touching it up may be difficult. You would have to wipe down the entire wall before applying a fresh coat of paint. Not only that, but if you touch up a piece of wall that may have been peeling, it could peel in that same spot.

It also seems like sometimes when you use eggshell paint as a touchup, it may not dry the same way as the original eggshell paint did, especially if you can’t find the same exact color. 

What Is Semi-Gloss FInish?

Semi-gloss is exactly as it sounds. It is a semi-glossy paint that leaves a glossy finish when it’s dry, but not as glossy as high-shine or full gloss paint. It has a lot more gloss than eggshell, which comes with its own pros and cons. Let’s go through them right now. 

Semi-Gloss FInish

Pros of Using Semi-Gloss Finish

Semi-gloss paint is great for household and outside use because of its great durability. It can withstand much more wear and tear than other paints. Along with this, there are many other pros that come with a semi-gloss paint. 


Semi-gloss paint is much more durable than eggshell paint and can tackle much more wear and tear. This is why it’s mostly used in high-traffic areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, and hallways. A general rule of thumb is the more sheen it is, the longer it’s going to last. It’s less likely to be chipped than eggshell would be. 

If you have pets or children, you would benefit more from semi-gloss paint. If they scrape or make the walls dirty, it’s easier to fix. 

Highly Resistant To Moisture

If you’re painting a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room, you’ll want semi-gloss paint as opposed to eggshell. Semi-gloss is highly moisture-resistant whereas eggshell isn’t. If you paint your walls in eggshell, the moisture can seep through and discolor the walls, but this won’t happen with semi-gloss paint. 

Since it’s so moisture-resistant, you can easily wipe it down if anything splashes on it. Handprints and grease are easy to remove with dish soap and hot water. 

Easy To Clean

As previously mentioned, semi-gloss paint is easier to clean than eggshell. Flat paint finishes don’t fare well with scuff marks, dirt, mud, and other gross stuff that may get splattered. Washing the wall with a sponge or wet cloth will leave behind watermarks. However, on semi-gloss paint, you can wash those marks off with no issue at all. 

Reflects Plenty of Light

If you have a small room that needs some brightness, using semi-gloss paint will brighten it up quickly. Light will shine on the walls and reflect off the glossy finish. This will then brighten up the entire room, making it appear more inviting and larger. The industry standard claims that semi-gloss paint has a sheen anywhere from 20% to 59%. 

Using semi-gloss paint will brighten your wall quickly. Light will shine on the walls and reflect off the glossy finish.

In addition to being used on walls, you can use semi-gloss paint on trim work such as baseboards and window trim. Since these tend to be brighter colors, it can reflect more light and brighten up a room as well. 

Cons of Using Gloss Finish

Even though semi-gloss seems to be perfect, it does have its downfalls. There are several reasons why some would choose not to use semi-gloss paint. It’s mostly because it can really highlight imperfections and it can be a pain to apply. 

Semi Gloss Paint

Highlights Imperfections

The high sheen of semi-gloss paint may leave an attractive shine, but this shine can make imperfections pop out more than eggshell would because it reflects so much light. Semi-gloss paint can make bumps and scratches pop out, so you need to put in some prep work before you begin painting. Additionally, it may reveal brush strokes if you aren’t careful. 

Shouldn’t Be Used Outside

I say this very carefully. It’s not that semi-gloss shouldn’t be used outside, it’s that it’s not attractive when used outside since the shine is so intense, it can incorrectly portray the color you’re going for. So honestly, this is completely up to you. If you’re using white semi-gloss paint, it’s probably okay to use outside since it can’t really be portrayed as any other color. 

Tough To Apply

Semi-gloss paint dries pretty quickly. On average, it takes 4-6 hours to dry enough to be touched and is ready for a second coat in 16-24 hours. This is great for those who are looking to get a coat of paint on their walls quickly. However, it’s tough to apply. 

Semi-gloss paint requires primer and a few coats before it looks its best. This is a type of paint that may be better for experienced painters who are able to put in the additional work. 

Key Differences Between Eggshell & Semi-Gloss Paint

There are honestly two key differences between eggshell and semi-gloss paint. First, eggshell doesn’t have as much of a shine as semi-gloss paint. Second, eggshell is less durable than semi-gloss paint. Sure, eggshell paint may be less expensive, but it won’t last as long as the more expensive semi-gloss paint and will need more frequent touchups. 

10%-25% shine20%-59% shine
Best for low traffic areasBest for high traffic areas
Likely to chip and peelWon’t chip and peel/more durable
Doesn’t require prep workRequires prep work
Covers up to 350 sq.ft per gallonCovers up to 400 sq. ft per gallon

How Expensive are Eggshell and Semi-Gloss Paint?

Eggshell and semi-gloss paint are close in price. Semi-gloss paint is a couple of dollars more expensive than eggshell, but it’s made from stronger compounds. It uses more resin than eggshell, which is what makes it more expensive. Below is a table that shows some of the most popular types of eggshell paint and semi-gloss paint and how much they cost per gallon. 

Paint BrandSemi-Gloss CostEgGshell Cost
BEHR Premium$39.98$33.98
Valspar Signature$22.98$20.98
Sherwin Williams Showcase$24.98$22.98
Benjamin Moore Regal$31.99$22.99
James Alexander$38.00$38.00

As you can see from the table, you can expect to pay between $2 and $9 more per gallon for semi-gloss paint than you would for eggshell paint. 

Which Finish Should You Choose

Do you prefer shine or a flat matte finish? Can you afford the extra $2 per gallon and make the time to do the extra steps for semi-gloss paint?

These are a few things you need to take into consideration. Some people love the flat look of eggshell paint, but others appreciate more of a shine on their walls. 

In all honesty, if you live in a house with just adults, you could get away with using eggshell paint since it’s less likely to take on damage if there are only adults in the home. If you have kids or pets, you should go for the semi-gloss since it’s more durable and easier to touch up if anything were to happen to it. 


Eggshell and semi-gloss paint are very different from one another. They each have their own shine effect, they each have their different durabilities, and one is more expensive than the other. I would honestly choose semi-gloss over eggshell for any paint job because it’s moisture-resistant and more durable.

Not only that, but it can withstand being cleaned without leaving marks behind. If you don’t want to spend the extra on semi-gloss for the shine, you can add a little bit of water to eggshell paint and it will give it more shine. 

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