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Difference Between Eggshell & Satin Paint

Updated July 19, 2017

Paint is an easy and affordable way to transform any room. The colour choices are endless and manufacturers are making advancements every day to make paint easier to apply and good for the environment. There are also five different finishes available in paint, from a matt or dull finish called flat paint, to an ultra shiny finish, called gloss. In between the extremes are eggshell, satin and semigloss. For interior wall applications, eggshell and satin are the most used finishes.

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Paint Ingredients

There are three ingredients in paint. Pigment is the first ingredient that gives paint its colour. The second ingredient is a binder, which gives paint adhesion, integrity and toughness. Liquid, also called the carrier, is the final ingredient. The liquid gives paint its consistency, makes it possible to apply the pigment to a surface and evaporates as the paint dries leaving the colour and binder on the surface. The binder, which binds the pigment to the liquid, also gives paint its gloss. The higher the binder percentage in the mix, the glossier it is and the more light it will reflect.

Eggshell Finish

Eggshell paint finish was introduced in the 1970s and got its name from an eggshell. When you look at an eggshell straight on, the surface looks dull, but if you look at an angle, there is a slight sheen. The eggshell finish is achieved by replacing a percentage of the pigment with binder that provides more lustre and allows the paint to be scrubbed for cleaning. Eggshell paint appears matt straight-on, but has a slight sheen if you look at the wall on an angle.

Satin Finish

A satin finish paint has a higher percentage of binder than eggshell and has more sheen once dry. Without appearing glossy, a satin finish reflects light and is more durable than an eggshell finish. A satin finish has a velvety, smooth appearance that's also very elegant. A satin finish is good for interior and exterior application. It's also used for painting wood trim and doors.


Eggshell and satin paints works well in high-traffic areas such as hallways and children's rooms. Because there's a higher percentage of binders in the solution, satin paint is also good for bathrooms and kitchens. The more binder in paint the less likely moisture will penetrate the surface, making satin a safe choice for wet areas. Use a satin finish when painting wood and other trim. A shiny, glossy paint accentuates imperfections on surfaces. Use eggshell if the walls have a lot of irregularities.

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About the Author

Dr. Eugenia Orr has been a columnist since 2006, with work featured in publications such as "Green Business Quarterly," "Our Annual Green Book" and "N'Digo Magapaper." She holds a Doctor of Education in ethical leadership, a master's degree in urban planning/policy from the University of Illinois and a B.F.A. in interior design from the International Academy of Design & Technology.

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