Eggshell vs Satin: Which Paint Should You Use?

In my countless years as a professional decorator, I’ve had many clients ask me: which is better – eggshell or satin? If you’re thinking about doing a spot of decorating yourself, you might be asking this very question.

In today’s article, I’m going to break down the differences between eggshell and satin and offer my advice as to which one I think you should choose, depending on your personal preferences. With that being said, let’s take a look at the differences between eggshell and satin first.

Difference Between Eggshell and Satin

The key differences between eggshell and satin are the sheen level and the hardness of the coating. Eggshell typically reflects less light than satin and thus is better at hider imperfections whereas satin is shinier, dries to a harder finish and is, therefore, more durable.

Examples of Eggshell and Satin

Whilst the above explanation refers to the properties of each paint finish, here are a few examples of eggshell finishes and satinwood finishes to give you a better idea of their decorative qualities.

Eggshell finishes

Kitchen units painted in eggshell.
Staricase painted in eggshell.
A door painted in eggshell.
Trim painted in an elegant eggshell.

Satinwood finishes

Front door painted in satin.
Kitchen cabinets painted in satin.
Back door painted in satin.
Interior doors painted in satin.
Bannisters painted in satin.

As you can see, the examples of eggshell clearly have a flatter (not as shiny) and more elegant finish whereas the satin finishes tend to be a bit glossier and reflect more light.

When To Use Eggshell

Whilst the two paints are somewhat similar, there are some situations in which using eggshell instead of satin would be advantageous.

For example, eggshell is great for protecting your walls in rooms where moisture can be a problem such as in the kitchen or bathroom. It’s not ever advisable to use satin on walls as the sheen is just too much but a soft eggshell can look timeless and elegant whilst offering your walls added protection as opposed to a less durable matt paint.

You could also use eggshell on woodwork around your home, such as on skirting boards and interior doors, for a more contemporary look as opposed to using satin. It’s worth noting that it’s ideal if you don’t have mucky children or messy pets around the house when using eggshell otherwise it can be more prone to damage.

When To Use Satin

Satin is a great versatile paint and can be used for a number of applications, both interior and exterior.

Examples of when to use satin paint include:

  • The woodwork in high-traffic areas such as hallways and doors
  • On high-touch substrates within your home such as bannisters and handrails
  • Exterior metals such as gates and garage doors
  • Front doors if you prefer a soft-sheen finish as opposed to something glossy

This list isn’t exhaustive and you could argue that satin would be preferred to eggshell when painting kitchen cabinets due to its durability and washability.

Eggshell or Satin for Bedrooms?

Eggshell is generally considered to be preferable over satin when painting woodwork in the bedroom. This is due to the fact that it reflects less light and thus can make your room feel darker – facilitating better sleep.

Eggshell vs Satin

At the end of the day, we all have our own tastes so you’ll know more than me which paint finish suits you but it’s worth looking at some of their key attributes in a little more detail.

Which Is More Durable?

Without question, satin is a more durable option than eggshell. As mentioned previously in this article, satin dries to a harder finish than eggshell. This means it can take more general wear and tear than eggshell and can withstand scratches and scuffs whilst also standing up to washing without discolouration.

Speaking of discolouration, if you’re going to be applying exterior paint in an area that receives a lot of sunshine, it’s almost always a better idea to choose satin over eggshell. Some colours can fade with sunlight exposure, weathering or simply ageing. Flatter finishes such as eggshell are more prone to fading and discolouration whereas those protected by a gloss medium, such as satin, tend to last longer.

Of course, it’s worth taking into consideration the quality of the paint you’re purchasing too. For example, a high-end eggshell such as Scuff-X’s will be more durable than a satinwood paint created by Wilko.

Which One Looks Better?

This one is all down to personal preference but the general consensus is that eggshell looks better than satin. The reason for this is that it reflects less light and thus hides surface imperfections and issues that can arise from unskilled workmanship (such as brush marks) to a greater extent than satin.

Of course, if your substrates are in great condition and you personally prefer a glossier finish, satin is the way to go.

Which Is Easier to Paint With?

There’s not really a definitive answer to the question because the main determining factor is the quality of the paint. For instance, if you buy Dulux Trade Diamond Eggshell and Dulux Trade Diamond Satinwood, both are going to go on like a dream as they are high quality.

With that in mind, as long as you’re buying quality paint, you shouldn’t have too many problems with either eggshell or satin.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this guide on eggshell vs satin has given you the knowledge you need to choose the right paint for your next project. The TDLR: eggshell reflects less light and thus looks better whereas satin reflects more light, doesn’t look as attractive but offers more protection than eggshell. Good luck!