Semi Gloss Vs Eggshell Paint

How does semi gloss vs eggshell paint compare?  What surfaces should they be used on and can they be easily cleaned?

While they may look similar at first glance, there are some key differences between the two that can impact their performance and overall appearance.

Let’s compare the differences between the two paint finishes and why you should choose one over the other. 

semi gloss vs eggshell paint
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Semi Gloss Vs Eggshell Paint

One major difference between semi gloss vs eggshell paint is the level of shine or glossiness they provide. Semi gloss has a higher ratio of binder to pigment in its mixture, which means it reflects more light and provides a more noticeable glossy finish.

Eggshell paint has a lower ratio of binder to pigment, which results in a flatter, more subtle finish that can better hide imperfections on the wall.

Semi Gloss PaintEggshell Paint
Glossy FinishFlat Finish
Trim, Cabinets, Bathrooms, DoorsLow Trafficked Walls
Can Rub Clean, More DurableLess Durable, Might have to Retouch
20-59% Reflective5-19% Reflective


What Exactly is an Eggshell Paint Finish?  

An eggshell paint finish is exactly that.  When you look at an eggshell, the surface is not shiny and doesn’t reflect light.  Eggshell paint has an approx 5-19% sheen to it so it looks flat or low luster.  

As eggshell paint dries on your surface, it leaves behind a smooth, matte (non shiny) finish.

Is Eggshell Paint a Semi Gloss?

No, eggshell paint finish is flat like an eggshell and only reflects a small amount of light.

What is a Semi Gloss Paint Finish? 

Semi gloss is between eggshell and gloss paint.  It dries with a sheen that reflects light and looks shiny.  I find it looks cleaner and adds a touch of class to a room.  This paint finish will draw the eye to the area and brighten up the room. 

Industry standard lists its’ paint sheen at anywhere from 20 to 59%.

Semi Gloss Paint on Walls 

Semi gloss is king for trim work like baseboards and window trim.  Also looks amazing on cabinets, in your bathroom, hallway, on interior and closet doors.  Use it in your kids bedrooms and on your furniture makeover DIY.

You know, surfaces that are in high trafficked areas and might take some abuse.  It’s durable and super easy to clean. 

You’re not going to want to use this finish for spraying paint on your walls though.  

Semi gloss will show more of the lumps, bumps and other random imperfections on your walls.  You’ll need to make sure to be vigilant with your prep work.  

If your walls are not so great, stick with low sheen like eggshell or flat for walls. 

Eggshell Paint on Walls 

Eggshell paint is perfect to use in specific situations.   So what do you use eggshell paint for?

Is eggshell paint good for walls?  Yes, eggshell paint looks great in dining, bedroom or living rooms and tends to hide imperfect areas on your walls.  This is  because the flat finish fools the eye into thinking the wall is smooth since it doesn’t reflect light.  

Works better at hiding those lumps and bumps than semi gloss or even satin finishes.  This will reduce the amount of prep work you need to do to remove blemishes on your walls before painting.

Although it holds up better and is more durable than flat or matte finishes, it’s still not very durable.  We recommend using eggshell in medium to low traffic areas.  

Eggshell paints don’t resist stains like grease, fingerprints etc. That’s why we don’t recommended this finish for kitchens, bathrooms, doors or trim work. 

Eggshell is OK for ceilings because it is flat and low luster.  It hides imperfections on your ceilings and doesn’t reflect light.

Compare paint finishes for all your projects with the great post from BEHR.

How to Clean Semi Gloss Vs Eggshell 

Check out this handy advice from Sherwin Williams and get those walls cleaned up right!

Quick Cleaning Chart: Semi Gloss Vs Eggshell Paint

Semi GlossEggshell
Soap and Hot Water Soap and Hot Water
Ammonia and Cold WaterMight Need to Retouch Paint
Can Rub more, No Hard ScrubbingDon't Rub Too Hard, No scrubbing


How to Clean Eggshell Paint 

Because eggshell paint isn’t very durable, you’ll need to take care when cleaning the surface.   

You can’t scrub hard or use abrasive cleaners or you’ll end up with discolored and faded areas. 

Best to use all natural solution such as hot water and vinegar with a soft clean cloth.  You can also try hot water with a small amount of dish soap. 

Use your judgement, but you might want to just retouch the problem area and call it a day. 

NEVER use a magic eraser or anything similar to clean your walls. They actually mess up your paint bigtime, leaving a dull mark on your paint. I learned this the hard way and had to repaint parts of my dining room! Rookie mistake.

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How to Clean Semi Gloss Paint 

Semi gloss paint is much more durable and easier to clean than eggshell paint.  That’s why we recommend it for high moisture and trafficked areas like your kitchen or bathroom.   

You can wipe the grease and hand prints right off semi gloss without too much issue. 

Using a soft cloth or sponge, add a small amount of dish soap to hot water and rub your problem area until gone.   


When deciding between semi gloss vs eggshell paint, it’s important to consider the specific needs of your space. If you’re looking for a paint that will be easy to clean and maintain, or that will stand up to heavy use, semi-gloss may be the way to go. If you want a more subtle finish that can hide wall imperfections, eggshell might be the better choice.

Semi Gloss Vs Eggshell Paint FAQs

What do you use eggshell paint for?

Eggshell paint is perfect for walls that will not see too much traffic like your bedroom, living room or dining room. It’s not stain or dirt resistant so we don’t recommend it for kitchens, bathrooms or hallways.

Is eggshell paint good for walls?

Yes, eggshell is great for walls in your dining, bedroom or living rooms and tends to hide imperfect areas on your walls. 

Is eggshell OK for ceilings?

Technically you can use eggshell for ceilings if that’s all you have. Mostly, we recommend using a flat paint specially made for ceilings.