Flat or Eggshell Paint? The Great Debate

But wait! There’s a great debate going on in the paint color department. You know, those people who decide what colors to use for your home’s exterior and interior? Well, it seems like they’re getting caught between flat or eggshell paint.

Do you want my opinion about which one would be better suited for this situation?

It sounds as though we have our work cut out ahead if, indeed, win-win solutions are desired because reading through these articles side by sides comparisons made it quite clear that neither option offers total clarity.

First things first: Similar to colors, paint comes in a variety of sheens that vary in shininess. Keep in mind that different paint companies will usually offer different types of sheens. For example, Benjamin Moore offers seven sheen choices. They are (in order from lowest to highest):

  • flat
  • matte
  • eggshell
  • pearl/low luster
  • satin
  • semi-gloss
  • high gloss

The table below reveals which sheens are ideal for different surfaces and how easy they are to clean.

Adding to the confusion, various paint lines from a single paint brand may provide different or limited sheen options.

For example, while Benjamin Moore’s Regal Select line provides customers with a multitude of sheen options such as flat, matte, eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss, its Advance line is much more limited in scope, only offering Matte, satin, semi-gloss, or high gloss.

Flat or Eggshell Paint

There are many sheen options for paint, but we’re only going to focus on the two most popular ones used for walls.

Because the question is always: What type of paint should I use on my walls- flat or eggshell?

One of the main advantages of flat paint is that it creates a smooth and polished look by hiding any imperfections on the surface. This makes it ideal for builders and painters who want to create a professional finish.

It’s more affordable, can be used to fix any drywall damage, and is easily touchable-up without showing brushstrokes. For new builds, it’s normal for builders and painters to use this type of paint. Often, painters will have to return and repaint areas after the initial painting job is complete.

When an outlet needs to be moved, or new furniture is brought in, and it scuffs up the paint on the wall, they can open a can of leftover paint and touch those spots quickly. With flat paint, there is less work for builders and painters.

However, flat paint is recommended for ceilings and areas of low traffic due to its lack of durability. Eggshell or other higher-sheen paints are easier to clean and do not show marks as easily. If you have children or pets that might touch or bump into walls often, it’s best to avoid using flat paint.

Flat paint walls are dirt and stain magnets, so cleaning them quickly is crucial. If you don’t, the stains will set and be more difficult (if not impossible) to remove. Magic eraser sponges usually do the trick if you’re careful while scrubbing. But if you bear down too hard, you’ll take the paint off the wall and the stain.

As a Color Designer/Consultant, I often choose eggshell for walls because it has many advantages. Eggshell cleans more easily, covers defects better, wears longer, and lasts longer than flat paint.

When you use eggshell paint rather than flat paint on your walls, the scuffs and marks are much easier to clean with only a warm, damp cloth. Eggshell also has a longer-lasting finish– often ten years or more! If you take good care of your walls and aren’t abusive to them, eggshell paint can still look great after all those years, whereas flat painting will likely show signs of wear and tear after just a few short years. In other words: it’s better for everyone involved if you use eggshells!

Compared to flat paint, eggshell paint creates a more luxurious look. The extra sheen produces light reflection, making the colors appear more vibrant and rich. If you want your home to have an inviting feel, using neutral shades with depth is key, which is why I recommend using an eggshell finish when staging homes for sale.

Although there are two drawbacks to eggshell paint, I believe they can both be countered:

1. Eggshell paint costs more.

Yes, it does cost slightly more. For example, Sherwin-Williams paint is about $1.50 a gallon more expensive, and Benjamin Moore paint costs approximately $2.00 more per gallon.

Although paint that is labeled as “premium” only costs around 5% more, it actually requires much more skill and time to apply evenly. This wastes money for builders and painters who are being paid by the hour.

Though initial investment in eggshell paint may be more expensive, this type of paint lasts approximately twice as long as flat paint. You will save money on labor and repurchasing materials in the long run.

2. Eggshell paint can show wall and application imperfections.

Flat paint is the best type of paint to use if you want to make textured walls and ceilings less noticeable.

When you have more experience with painting, it will be more difficult to tell that you made a mistake. Also, if you only need to touch up paint on a small area rather than repainting the entire wall.

Here’s my counterargument:

Professional painters know how to apply eggshell paint without any visible brush or roller marks.

If you’re covering up cracks and dents with paint, it will look dated rather quickly. Instead, take the time to fix those imperfections, so your walls always look perfect.

If you’re living in an older home, don’t worry about the cracks and imperfections in the walls. Embrace them! Eggshell paint will actualize the beauty of your historic home whilst providing increased durability.