Choosing the proper paint sheen for your project can be tough when there are so many available options. Between flat and high gloss are options such as eggshell and satin, which makes matters more confusing when you try to differentiate one from the other. While eggshell and satin are somewhat similar, each has its strong points, so choose the best one for your specific applications.

Roller with paint on the wall
credit: IvanMikhaylov/iStock/Getty Images
Hand painting on white wall.

From Flat to High Gloss

Understanding the differences between eggshell and satin begins with knowing their places along the glossiness scale. The more glossy the paint, the more durable and washable it is. Flat paints are generally not very durable or moisture-resistant. A flat or matte paint is at the lowest end of the shine scale, followed by eggshell, satin and semigloss. High gloss is the most shiny and most durable paint option.

Eggshell's Areas of Excellence

Eggshell paint sits between flat and satin on the sheen scale. While it doesn't look shiny, it's slightly more durable than flat or matte paint. Eggshell paint gives you a flaw-hiding finish for living room, bedroom and dining rooms walls -- essentially, anyplace not subject to a lot of moisture or dirty fingerprints.

Satin's Strong Points

Satin paint provides a mid-range option between flat and high-gloss finishes. It's durable enough to wash, making it a good choice for children's rooms, hallways and entryways. Satin provides a good, all-around option for walls in most rooms. While it's not quite as moisture-resistant as semigloss paint, satin is durable enough to use in a bathroom or kitchen.

Drawbacks of Eggshell and Satin

Every type of paint sheen also has its drawbacks. Eggshell paint isn't as durable as glossier finishes, so you may want to skip it for use in a bathroom, kitchen or play area where fingerprints and moisture are valid concerns. Satin paint is more durable than eggshell, but it also shows flaws more readily because of the added glossiness of the paint. Satin holds up fine in a hallway, for instance, but you may wish to go with a glossier option for door and window trim, especially if children and pets share your home.