All About Eggshell Paint

Interested in eggshell paint? The finish of an interior paint is based on the amount of sheen it displays. All paint reflects light to some degree.

Sheen is the means that painters use to distinguish among different levels of light reflection. Common paint finishes are gloss, semi-gloss, eggshell, satin, matte and flat.

A gloss finish has the highest amount of sheen and a flat finish has the lowest amount of sheen. In some instances, eggshell is the name of the color of the paint.

As it relates to the finish, eggshell paint refers to the relative amount of sheen the paint displays.

Characteristics of Eggshell Paint Finishes

Eggshell PaintEggshell paint has a mid-level sheen. Eggshell finishes are often identified as having a somewhat dull surface with a light shine.

Beyond those general characteristics, there is not one singular standard for eggshell paint.

Individual manufacturers determine how eggshell paint will look and perform for their various product lines. In general, the paint industry has not established precise standards for any paint names.

The Master Painter Institute (MPI) has issued a set of gloss and sheen standards. The standards measure sheen level on a scale from zero to 100. A zero is flat. A finish with a sheen level of 100 is glossy and has a look similar to the smoothness of a glass mirror.

Whether a paint manufacturer chooses to follow the MPI’s standards is up to that paint manufacturer. Although very influential within the industry, as a trade association and not a governmental regulatory agency, the MPI does not have the power to compel manufacturers to adhere to its standards and recommendations.

Comparison of Eggshell Paint to Other Finishes

Eggshell finishes are closest in appearance to satin finishes. Both eggshell and satin represent a compromise between matte and gloss finishes. Manufacturers include fewer minerals in glossy paints than they do in matte paints.

When they add more minerals to the mix, the paint takes on a duller appearance. In some instances, using a primer before painting a wall with an eggshell paint helps to create a more consistent sheen across the entire wall. An eggshell finish will hide more imperfections in the surface of the wall than will a glossier finishes.

Popular Ways to Use Eggshell Paint

The dominant factor for choosing whether to use an eggshell finish in a particular room is just a matter of preference. The user’s preferences include the look and wear of the paint. In a glossy room, the person in the room can expect a lot of light to reflect off the walls.

Too much light reflection may not work well in the sleeping areas of the house. In living areas, too much gloss may cause distracting shadows near table lamps.

Eggshell is a neutral finish that is appropriate for a wide variety of spaces. When choosing a finish, you should take into account how easy or difficult it will be to clean the surface under normal wear and tear. A major factor in that decision is to know what type of dirt is likely to build up on the wall.

Eggshell Finish PaintIn kitchens, grease and grime are of concern. In bathrooms, mold and mildew are the dominant problems. In living and dining rooms, furniture marks against the walls create problems over the years.

Residue from fireplaces and heavy use of candles can create a film in any room. Fingerprints and hand prints, in particular near room entrances and light switches, can create problems.

Along baseboards, the main problem is scuff marks from shoes and furniture. High gloss paint has a smooth finish that is easier to wipe or wash than lower gloss finishes. Matte or flat finishes are not as easy to clean because they lack the protective barrier that characterizes glossy paint.

Matte paints are more likely to absorb the moisture from the water or cleaning solvent applied to the walls. Eggshell finishes are favored where the user can expect some dirt, as in living rooms, hallways, bedrooms and dining rooms. Eggshell paint is not the ideal choice where the user will need to wipe the wall daily.

Where to Buy Eggshell Paint

Eggshell paint is widely available. It is a staple among household consumers and found in many homes.

Popular brands of eggshell paint include:

      • Benjamin Moore
      • Sherwin-Williams
      • Glidden
      • Valspar

These paints are available in large home improvement centers, hardware stores and specialty paint shops. Given the variations across brands, you probably want to purchase samples and test them on your walls to see how the paint will perform before painting an entire room or house with any specific type of eggshell paint.


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