Newly painted dining room

Most people recognize that paint color can make a small room feel larger or create a feeling of intimacy in a large room. However, many are unaware that paint sheen impacts how the paint color looks on their walls. 

Paint sheen is how much light reflects off a paint’s surface. Interior paint sheens range from gloss (high sheen) to flat. The glossier the paint, the more it reflects light. As a result, high gloss paint colors look darker on interior walls, while flat paint colors appear lighter. 

That’s a significant reason why interior eggshell paint is so popular. Eggshell paint has a moderate amount of sheen, which results in more accurate color perception. There are six levels of sheen in interior paints.

Interior Paint Sheen Levels

Room painted olive green

There are six different levels of paint sheen, although paint companies do not necessarily offer all sheen levels in all the types of paint they manufacture.

Gloss/High Gloss

Use high gloss paint for high traffic areas such as front doors, trim, molding, and kitchen cabinets. The higher the gloss, the more durable the paint because it contains more enamel. That also means it shows more imperfections on the painted surfaces, although they are much easier to clean.

Semi-Gloss/Soft Gloss

A step down from high gloss in luster, semi-gloss paint is mildew-resistant, making it well suited to living areas that experience a lot of moisture, use, and abuse. Commonly used on kitchen and bathroom walls and garage doors, semi-gloss paint is easy to clean.

Satin/Pearl

Satin finishes have a “velvety” feel. This highly versatile paint sheen is excellent for active rooms such as playrooms, kids’ bedrooms, and family rooms. It’s also used frequently for interior trim and window frames.

Eggshell

Interior eggshell paint gets its name because its sheen is similar to that which naturally occurs on an eggshell. It has little shine, making it more effective in hiding surface imperfections. Interior eggshell paint is more challenging to clean than gloss paints but far easier than matte or flat paints. It is commonly used throughout a home’s living area, especially dining rooms, living rooms and dens, adult bedrooms, and hallways.

Matte

When you want the look of flat paint in a room exposed to moisture (such as a bathroom), use a matte sheen instead. Nearly as shine-free as flat paint, matte finish paint provides excellent depth of color but can withstand frequent washing. Use matte paint in busier areas like hallways, family rooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms.

Flat

Flat paint does not reflect light and has no sheen at all. This feature means that more of the paint pigment comes through, hiding imperfections. In areas where paint color depth is deemed essential for artistic reasons, use flat sheen paint. Flat paint is widely used as ceiling paint and low-traffic areas such as formal dining rooms and living rooms.

Why and When to Use Interior Eggshell Paint

Painting a room light blue using interior eggshell paint

If there’s such a thing as a universal paint, it would be eggshell sheen acrylic latex. Interior eggshell paint is the most popular sheen level for both professionals and do-it-yourself painters, and acrylic latex is a quick-drying, low-odor, affordable option. If you have to pick a single paint to use on nearly every interior surface of your home, choose eggshell. The only area that it’s not well-suited is ceiling paint. 

High-impact surfaces like the window trim and door frames do better with glossier paint, such as semi-gloss or high gloss. However, if you don’t like the look of gloss, interior eggshell paint is an excellent alternative for those applications.

Eggshell Paint Benefits

Painted living room

There are several benefits of using eggshell sheen paint. We’ve listed three of the most important below.

Conceals Imperfections

Because interior eggshell paint is a low-sheen finish, it tends to hide bumps, grooves, and pitting quite well. The more a paint reflects light, the more it highlights flaws in the painted surface. True matte and flat paints are the only sheen levels better than eggshell at hiding surface imperfections.

Applies Easily

When applying paint, adjacent rows can show where they overlap. This pattern is known as lapping—the more gloss in the paint, the more noticeable the lapping effect. When you use eggshell paint, adjacent rows tend to melt into each other. You don’t have to paint fast to avoid making the overlap more apparent. You can take a break without worrying that you’ll come back to a wall full of paint stripes. For this reason, interior eggshell paint works well in larger spaces, such as living rooms.

Cleans Easily

Matte and flat paints are hard to clean and show burnish marks if you make too many attempts. Interior eggshell paint has just enough enamel in it to give it enough sheen to prevent stains from soaking in. Burnishing rarely occurs with eggshell paint.

Are Eggshell and Satin Paints Basically the Same?

Kitchen and dining area freshly painted

No, they are not. Although people often use the terms eggshell and satin paint interchangeably, there are distinct differences in how they look and feel on the painted surface.

More Matte

The sheen level of interior eggshell paint is slightly less than satin paint. Although sometimes hard to see with the naked eye, place the two side by side, and the difference becomes quite evident. 

Pigment volume concentration, or PVC, is a painting term that describes the ratio of a paint’s color pigments to its binders. The lower the PVC number, the glossier the paint. Satin sheen paint’s PVC ratio runs 30% to 35%. Eggshell sheen paint is at 35% to 40%. In other words, satin paint is between 15% and 30% glossier than eggshell paint.

Lower Cost

Sheen is a factor that affects paint cost. Glossier paints are more expensive because they have more solid binders in them. Glossier paints are also heavier than the same volume of lower-sheen paints. You can feel the difference just by lifting the paint can. 

Interior eggshell paint costs 4% to 5% less than satin. That doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up when you paint an entire house.

Less Durable

The paint becomes steadily more durable as you move through the sheen levels from flat to high gloss. Glossy paint contains more enamel, a significant contributor to paint durability. Interior eggshell paint is a step closer to flat paint than is satin, so it is slightly less durable.

Bernardo’s Painting Is Your Quality Painting Contractor in Honolulu

Whether your project involves interior eggshell sheen paint or something entirely different, Bernardo’s Painting has provided unmatched quality since 2003. We offer interior, exterior, and commercial painting throughout the Honolulu area. Contact us today for a consultation!

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