Flat vs Eggshell Paint: Which One is Best for Your Project

flat vs eggshell paint
Buying flat vs eggshell paint from a paint store

When choosing exterior or interior paint, one important decision is flat vs eggshell paint. Both paint finishes have unique characteristics and the best uses. Understanding their differences can help you make an informed decision about which is right for your project.

Flat paints provide a more matte finish with minimal shine, making them ideal for low-traffic areas such as bedrooms and dining rooms. In contrast, Eggshell paints have a slightly higher sheen level, making them easier to clean and better suited for high-traffic areas like children’s bedrooms, laundry rooms, hallways, kitchens, and bathrooms.

Knowing the differences between these two finishes can help you choose the best option for your project.

When undertaking a painting project, selecting the ideal product is essential. To acquire the desired result, it’s imperative to understand different paint finishes and their benefits and drawbacks.

Though you don’t need to be a professional painter, being aware that flat vs eggshell paints are two distinct categories could make all the difference in your results!

What is Flat Paint?

Flat paint is a type of interior wall and ceiling paint with a matte finish that does not reflect light. It has virtually no gloss, which gives walls a smooth, velvety appearance without giving off light glare. Flat paint has a higher ratio of pigments with 0-10% paint additives. The fewer additives, the more flat finish.

It is often used in a bedroom, hallway, living room, family room, dining room, and other areas where people want to create an inviting atmosphere with muted colors. It also helps hide surface imperfections on walls, such as cracks or bumps, by absorbing more light than other paints.

The main benefit of using flat paint is that it provides excellent coverage because its matte texture allows more pigment to be absorbed into the wall than high-gloss paints. The low-additive paint makes it easier to apply multiple coats without streaking or running.

The low gloss also makes the color more vibrant because there’s no glossy sheen reflecting off the wall. It can help create an inviting atmosphere in any room you choose to use flat paint in. Additionally, since flat paints absorb more light than other paints, they can also help reduce glare in bright rooms or near windows.

The main disadvantage to using flat paints is that they are much harder to clean than eggshell or satin finishes due to their higher level of paint sheen. Scrub flat paint too hard, and you could remove the paint finish. It also scuffs easily and doesn’t hold up well in high-traffic areas.

Note that paint sheen has nothing to do with a paint color’s light reflectance value (LRV), which measures the amount of light a paint color reflects. The light reflecting off a paint sheen is light glare. The sheen doesn’t alter the color’s LRV, although it can change how your eyes perceive the color.

Flat and eggshell paints are more suited to interior vs exterior paint. Exterior surfaces need durable paint that can withstand the elements.

What is Eggshell Paint?

Eggshell paint is popular for homeowners who want a more soft sheen than flat paints offer but don’t need the glossy that comes with a semi-gloss paint. Its name comes from its soft, velvety texture, which resembles an eggshell in appearance. It also has low reflectivity, giving walls a muted finish that still offers some shine.

The primary benefit of using an eggshell paint finish is that it hides imperfections in walls almost as well as a flat finish. It is ideal for old houses or apartments with walls that have minor flaws or blemishes because those imperfections won’t be as noticeable. Also, eggshell paint is easier to clean than flat paint without losing its color.

While it varies by manufacturer, eggshell paint has 10-15% additives.

When applying eggshell paint to your walls, it’s important to remember that since the surface has more sheen than other finishes, any brush strokes or roller marks will be visible after application. As such, you’ll need to make sure you apply evenly and lightly so as not to leave any visible marks when you’re done painting.

You can also opt for high-quality paint like Sherwin-Williams and a higher-quality brush or roller if possible—this will help ensure smooth application and reduce the number of visible brush strokes when finished.

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Flat vs Eggshell Paint: Which One is Best for Your Project 3

Flat vs Eggshell Paint: Which is Best for Your Needs?

If you’re considering a painting project, you’ve probably encountered endless options for paint finishes. Should you go with a flat or eggshell? How do you even begin to decide which is best for your needs? Let’s look at two of the most popular paint finishes and how they differ—flat vs eggshell finish.

Flat Finish

Flat finish paints are just that—flat. Not glossy, not shiny, and not reflective. So why is this ideal for walls in some cases? Flat paint is great for hiding imperfections in walls because light won’t bounce off them and expose any flaws or uneven surfaces on the wall.

The downside to flat paints is that they don’t hold up well to scrubbing or even washing, so if your walls have to endure a lot of traffic—like in a kitchen or bathroom where there will likely be moisture buildup—you may want to reconsider this option.

Flat paint is generally best for low-traffic areas and surfaces that do not require frequent cleaning, while eggshell paint is a better choice for high-traffic areas and surfaces that may need to be cleaned more often.

Pros of Flat Paint:

  • Hides Imperfections: Flat paint is known for its ability to hide imperfections in the surface to it is applied. This makes it a good choice for imperfect walls and ceilings, such as dents, cracks, or unevenness.
  • Easy to Touch-up: Flat paint is also easy to touch up, as it does not reflect light, making it easier to match the existing paint color. This is especially useful if you need small repairs or touch-ups to your walls or ceilings.
  • Cost Less: Because it has fewer additives, flat paints are more affordable than other paint finishes per gallon.

Cons of Flat Paint:

  • Not as Durable: Flat paint is not as durable as other types of paint and is prone to scuffing and chipping. They don’t hold up as well as glossy paints when exposed to water or other liquids. If you’re planning on using it in a bathroom or kitchen area where moisture might be present, you may want to opt for a different type of product.
  • Not Easy to Clean: Flat paint is also not as easy to clean as other types of paint, as it is prone to staining and may require more frequent cleaning. They will scuff easily, requiring frequent touch-ups over time.

Eggshell Finish

Eggshell finish paints have a subtle sheen that gives them more durability than flat paints. They can withstand more wear and tear than their flatter counterparts, making them more suitable for high-traffic areas like kitchens and bathrooms.

Eggshell paint also allows light reflection without making any imperfections on the wall too obvious while providing enough luster to look good under lighting fixtures or near windows where natural light shines through. It’s generally easy to clean with just soap and water as well!

Flat paint is a good choice for interior walls and ceilings that aren’t touched often. Their lack of additives makes them harder to keep clean. On the other hand, eggshell paint is more durable and easier to clean than a flat paint, making it a good choice for surfaces that receive a lot of wear and tear.

Pros of Eggshell Paint:

  • Easy to Clean: Eggshell paint is easy to clean and maintain, as it can be wiped down with a damp cloth. Furthermore, eggshell paint is easier to clean than matte finishes because dirt and smudges can be wiped away.
  • Hides Imperfects Well: The smooth finish of eggshell paint also helps hide imperfections on walls while still reflecting some light. This makes it ideal for high-traffic areas like hallways, kitchens, and bathrooms.
  • Durable Low Luster Paint: Eggshell paint provides a low luster finish that is more durable than flat paints but not as shiny as satin, semi-gloss, or gloss paints. It’s also more durable than flat paint and resistant to scuffing and staining, making it a good choice for high-traffic areas.

Although eggshell finishes are more durable than flat finishes, they are not as hardy as semi-gloss or gloss paints and can become marked up more easily over time if not properly maintained.

Cons of Eggshell Paint:

  • Less Coverage: The additives a paint has, the less surface coverage it has.
  • Not As Easy to Apply: Eggshell paint can be difficult to apply without leaving brush strokes or roller marks visible in the finished product. This means it’s important to use good painting techniques when applying them, which can be tricky for those who lack experience with painting projects.
  • Some Blemishes Show: We listed this as a pro and a con. Eggshell paint does a very good job hiding surface imperfections, just not as well as flat paint. s not as effective at hiding imperfections on the surface as flat paint finishes.
  • May Need Frequent Touch-ups: Eggshell paint may also require more frequent touch-ups, as it is less durable and more susceptible to scuffing and staining than other types of paint.

Other Paint Choices to Consider

One important consideration is the finish of the paint. Two common options are flat and eggshell paint, each of which has unique properties and best uses. We’ll look at when to use flat vs eggshell paint, comparing and contrasting their characteristics and applications.

It’s worth noting that other types of paint finishes are also available, such as satin, semi-gloss, and gloss, which have their unique characteristics and best uses to match the perfect paint color.

  • Satin paint has a slightly glossy, smooth finish and is known for its durability and resistance to staining. It is a good choice for high-traffic areas and surfaces that need to be cleaned frequently.
  • Semi-gloss paint has a shiny finish and a soft glow and is highly durable and resistant to staining. It is a good choice for trim, doors, and other surfaces that may receive a lot of wear and tear. See Eggshell vs Satin and Eggshell vs Semi-Gloss for more.
  • High-gloss paint has a highly reflective finish and is known for its durability and resistance to staining. High-gloss paints are a good choice in the long run for surfaces that require frequent cleanings, such as kitchens, children’s rooms, and bathroom cabinets.

When choosing a paint finish, it’s important to consider the specific needs of the surface you will be painting. Factors to consider include the amount of traffic the surface receives, the level of humidity or moisture in the area, and the level of wear and tear the surface is likely to receive.

When to Use Flat Paint

  • Walls and ceilings with imperfections: Flat paint is known for hiding surface flaws when applied. This makes it a good choice for imperfect walls and ceilings, such as dents, cracks, or unevenness.
  • Low-traffic areas: Flat paint is not as durable as other types of paint and is prone to scuffing and chipping. It is not recommended for use on surfaces prone to high levels of wear and tear, as it may not hold up well over time. Therefore, it is best suited for low-traffic areas where it is not likely to receive a lot of surface touching.

When to Use Eggshell Paint

  • High-traffic areas: Eggshell paint is more durable than flat paint finishes, making it a good choice for high-traffic areas. It is resistant to scuffing and staining, making it a good choice for high-traffic areas such as hallways, living rooms, dens, and bedrooms.
  • Kitchen and Bathrooms: Eggshell is better suited for a laundry room, kitchen, or bathroom than flat paint finishes. However, we actually prefer a satin finish because it’s more durable, easier to clean, and resists mildew and mold growth.

Flat vs Eggshell Paint for Walls

Flat paint is ideal for hiding imperfections in the walls since it doesn’t reflect light. The downside of using flat paint is that it’s more difficult to clean than other paint finishes. If you have kids or pets running around the house, this might not be the best option since dirt and grime can accumulate easily on a flat-painted wall.

In our opinion, eggshell is better for walls, especially in kids’ bedrooms. Thanks to its slight sheen, eggshell paint is easier to clean than flat paint and can even be wiped down with a damp cloth. However, because eggshell reflects light more than flat does, allowing some (not all) surface imperfections will appear more noticeable.

Flat vs Eggshell Paint for Ceilings

We prefer flat paint for ceilings. It offers a great way to hide imperfections on your ceiling while providing a smooth finish. It is also excellent at blocking out light reflection. However, it is not as easy to clean as flat paint and can easily become stained or damaged if exposed to moisture.

Eggshell paint offers a slightly low-gloss finish with just enough shine to reflect some light without making any blemishes stand out as flat paint does. However, we rarely clean ceilings, and they are rarely ever touched. While eggshell finish reflects some light, flat finishes reflect less, making it ideal for ceilings.

Flat vs Eggshell Paint FAQs

Which is better for hiding imperfections: flat or eggshell paint?

Flat paint has a matte finish and is known for its ability to surface blemishes on the surface it is applied. It is also highly absorbent, making it a good choice for high humidity or moisture areas. Eggshell paint has a slight sheen and is more durable and resistant to scuffing and staining. It is also easier to clean and maintain, as it can be wiped down with a damp cloth.

What is the difference between flat and eggshell paint?

Flat paint has a matte finish and is known for its ability to hide imperfections in the surface on its application. It is also highly absorbent, making it a good choice for high-humidity or moisture areas. Eggshell paint has a slight sheen and is more durable and resistant to scuffing and staining. It is also easier to clean and maintain, as it can be wiped down with a damp cloth.

Which is more durable: flat or eggshell paint?

Eggshell paint is more durable than a flat paint, as it is resistant to scuffing and staining. Flat paint is prone to scuffing and chipping and is not recommended for use on surfaces prone to high levels of wear and tear.

Is flat paint a good choice for high-traffic areas?

Flat paint is not as durable as other types of paint and is prone to scuffing and chipping. It is not recommended for use on surfaces prone to high levels of wear and tear, as it may not hold up well over time. For better results, use Eggshell paint for high-traffic areas, as it is more durable and resistant to scuffing and staining.

Is flat paint a good choice for ceilings and walls?

Flat paint is a great option for ceilings and walls, as it is known for its ability to hide imperfections on the surface it is applied. It is also highly absorbent, making it a good choice for high humidity or moisture areas.

Is eggshell paint a good choice for kitchen cabinets?

Eggshell paint is a good idea for kitchen cabinets, as it is more durable and resistant to scuffing and staining. It is also easy to clean and maintain, as it can be wiped down with a damp cloth.

Is eggshell paint a good choice for trim and doors?

Eggshell paint is a good choice for trim and doors, as it is more durable and resistant to scuffing and staining. It is also easy to clean and maintain, as it can be wiped down with a damp cloth.

Can I touch up flat paint easily?

Flat paint is easy to touch up, as it does not reflect light, making it easier to match the existing paint color. However, it is not as durable as other types of paint and is prone to scuffing and chipping, which may require more frequent touch-ups.

Can I touch up eggshell paint easily?

Eggshell paint is easier to touch up than flat paint, as it reflects more light and is easier to match the existing paint color. However, it may require more frequent touch-ups due to its susceptibility to scuffing and staining.

Conclusion

When choosing the right color and paint finish options for high-traffic areas, trim, doors, kitchen cabinets, ceilings, and walls, it’s important to consider the specific needs of the surface you will be painting.

Factors to consider include the level of wear and tear the surface is likely to receive, the level of humidity or moisture in the area, and the desired level of durability and ease of cleaning.

Flat paint is a great option for hiding imperfections in areas with high humidity, while eggshell paint is more durable and easier to clean. It’s worth noting that other types of paint finish options are available, such as satin, semi-gloss, and gloss, which have their unique characteristics and best uses depending on the surface’s specific needs.

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
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