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Egg Shell Paint vs Semi Gloss – (What Is The Difference?)

Egg shell paint and semi gloss

If you are choosing paint for the interior of your home, you will find that there are many more factors than just what color of paint you want to use.

There are different types of paint that look and act differently from each other.

For the question of “egg shell paint vs semi gloss: ?” there is a difference in that egg shell paints are water-based and dry much more quickly than semi-gloss paints, which are oil-based. Egg shell paint has a slight sheen to it that is less glossy than semi-gloss.

What Is Egg Shell Paint?

Egg shell paint is a water-based paint that is easy to use and to make touch ups as well.

Egg shell has just a bit of a sheen to it and it is sometimes considered a matte or flat finish, although it does have a slight sheen with just a hint of gloss in it.

Low glossiness means that it doesn’t reflect as much light, so the egg shell finish will make the paint color more vibrant. Being water-based, means that the paint dries quickly and it is thin as well to allow it to dry quickly.

Egg shell paint is less expensive than semi-gloss by just a bit, which won’t matter if you are using it in one small room on the walls.

However, if you are painting your entire home as a large project, the difference in price should be considered.

For an example of the cost at Home Depot, the Glidden Essentials egg shell paint is $79 for a 5 gallon bucket.

The same brand at the same store for semi-gloss paint in the same size is $120, so it’s about double the price of egg shell paint. You can see how a large project would differ greatly in cost between the two types of paints.

Egg shell is the type of paint and not the color of an egg. You can find pre-mixed egg shell paint in several different hues of bright white, off white, pinkish, grayish, greenish, yellowish and golden tones as well.

Different home improvement centers carry different brands and paint colors in egg shell or you can have your paint tinted to get the color you desire.

Where Is Egg Shell Paint Commonly Used?

Couple painting room with yellow egg shell paint

Egg shell paint is often used on the walls in most rooms of your home. It requires more cleaning and maintenance than semi gloss paint does and most people avoid it in very high traffic areas such as kids’ rooms, bathrooms and kitchens.

It’s also best to avoid it in areas of high humidity such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms, because they have poor moisture resistance.

Normally, your ceilings will be painted in a matte finish that doesn’t reflect like egg shell paint does, but you can choose to paint your ceilings with it also if your wish to.

Homes with several young kids and pets may not be the ideal setting for egg shell paint as it can get dirty with hand prints and spills and it requires more cleaning and maintenance.

What Is Semi Gloss Paint?

Semi gloss paint is oil based and it has a high amount of sheen or shine on it to reflect light in a room.

It makes a moisture resistant layer on the surface of your walls to help to protect the walls from dings and dents as well as stains.

It also seals out moisture and oils so they can’t penetrate the paint and mar your walls.

Semi gloss paints are much thicker than egg shell paint because of the high sheen in the paint. It takes longer to dry because it is oil-based and thicker.

These types of paints require you to sand them between each coat of paint, which will also make your painting project take longer to complete because of the longer drying time and sanding needed.

Semi gloss paints cost about twice as much as egg shell paints, but they are thicker and have better coverage, so you may need only one to two coats of paint on your walls.

Semi gloss paint colors are very abundant indeed. You can find just about any color you can imagine in them from demure and light colors to exceptionally bold and beautiful colors.

Where Is Semi Gloss Paint Commonly Used?

Semi gloss paint can be used on the walls of any room in your home where you want to achieve a glossy and bright finish.

It also protects and seals wood very well, making it a great choice for baseboards, crown molding and trim of any type around your windows and doors.

Semi gloss paints are often used on top of water-based paints, such as egg shell paint or matte/flat paint.

This type of paint is excellent in being moisture resistant to any porous surfaces made of wood.

Key Differences Between Egg Shell Paint vs Semi Gloss

Doing a side by side comparison of egg shell paint and semi gloss to list their qualities, pros and cons can help you to decide which of these two types of paints you wish to work with.

Sheen Level

semi gloss paint sheen

Egg shell paints have less sheen or glossiness to them than semi gloss paints. Egg shell paints have about 10% sheen and semi gloss paints include between 45% and 50% sheen in them.

This is what makes each of the paints look different from each other in your finished painting projects.

Thickness Level

Since egg shell paint is water based, it is thinner than semi gloss paints that are oil based.

Semi gloss paints have more binders in them to hold the paint particles all together as well.

The more sheen in a paint, it means the more binders in the paint to make it thicker.

Drying Time

The drying time differs by quite a bit between these two types of paint. Semi gloss paints dry harder because they have more binders in them.

This makes it dry more slowly but the paint is stronger and lasts much longer than egg shell paint does.

It takes less than an hour for egg shell paint to dry completely and it takes at least 2 hours for semi gloss paint to dry completely, so this can add a lot of extra time for drying between coats of paint.

Paint Durability

Since semi gloss paints dry harder, they will also protect your walls and trim and last longer. The glossy layer of it protects your walls from grease, stains and moisture.

All of these items will damage egg shell paint because it has much less gloss or sheen to it.

You can plan on your semi gloss painted walls to last up to 10 years. In higher traffic areas, egg shell paint will not even last 2 years, but if it is in low traffic areas without getting damaged, it can last up to 5 years.

Moisture Resistance

Semi gloss paint is much more moisture resistant than egg shell paint because of it’s high gloss and hardness when it’s dry.

This makes it perfect for kitchens and bathrooms and any other humid areas.

Wood Protection

The hardness and thickness of semi gloss paints will protect wood items much better than an egg shell paint does.

Semi gloss prevents moisture and gouges in wood, so water won’t reach the wood and begin to rot it.

Egg shell paints have poor moisture retention though.

Maintenance And Cleaning

Semi gloss paints have a slick coating on the gloss and so they don’t attract dust or dirt as easily as egg shell paint does. Even stains on a semi gloss painted wall can be wiped right off with a damp rag.

Stains tend to stick pretty badly to egg shell paint due to its lower sheen and lack of slickness, so it will take more maintenance and cleaning if you use egg shell paint.

Paint Applications

You can use egg shell paint with a paintbrush, a roller or a paint sprayer because it is thin enough to spray it and control it.

Semi gloss paints need to be thinned first in order to spray them though, because they are too thick to be sprayed due to the oil-based nature of them.

You also need to sand between each coat of semi gloss paint so it can dry properly and form a glossy layer that will be moisture resistant.

You are sanding to sand off the glossy layer before applying a new layer to help the paint stick to the surface.

Egg shell paints dry more quickly so you can spend about half the time on your project compared to semi gloss paint.

Is Egg Shell Paint Better Than Semi Gloss?

Not necessarily, each of the two types of paints have their pros and cons associated with them.

Semi gloss costs more but is more durable even though it takes longer to dry between coats.

Egg shell paint is less expensive and dries twice as fast, but it isn’t as durable in high traffic areas.

Can I Paint Egg Shell Paint Over Semi Gloss Or Vice Versa?

man sanding off gloss paint

You can paint egg shell paint over semi gloss paint, but you will need to sand the semi gloss first in order to remove the glossiness.

You should also use a primer first and then sand your surface again before painting it with egg shell paint.

In order to paint semi gloss paint over egg shell paint there is also some prep work to do.

You should sand your egg shell paint and then paint a coat of flat paint on it, then allow it to dry and paint it with semi gloss.

If you don’t use the flat paint or a primer first, the new semi gloss paint won’t stick to the egg shell paint.

Final Thoughts

Both egg shell paint and semi gloss paint are good products and you should now be able to decide which type you want to use on your walls and trim in your home.

Most professional painters use a combination of both to obtain the best paint jobs possible.

About Lisa Bohrer

Lisa is a native Texan who says she wears many hats. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, farmer, animal lover, fisherwoman, gardener, and college student. Lisa is a sophomore at Liberty University where she is taking classes to earn her Associates Degree in Creative Writing. She and her husband of 35 years fill their days with life on the farm raising goats and chickens, and then most evenings she can be found at the computer writing, or researching a topic that has piqued her interest.

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