Whether you’re wanting to do some DIY in your own home, or you paint and decorate as part of your trade, it’s important to know the differences in paints to ensure that the right one is chosen for the right job. We will look at what is meant by a paint’s finish, what the differences between eggshell and satinwood are, and for what applications you may choose one over the other.

What Is Paint Glossiness?

Simply put, a paint’s gloss is a measure of its ability to reflect light or its shininess. The two extremes of the paint glossiness spectrum are gloss and matte finishes. Gloss finishes are the most reflective, whereas matte is designed to absorb the most light to give that distinctive ‘flat’ matte look. As well as having clear aesthetic differences, the glossiness of paint can affect other properties too.

The main one of these properties, and probably the most important other than the look of the paint, is its durability and lifespan. Glossy paint tends to have a larger concentration of pigment binder and a smaller amount of pigment. Because of this ratio, the clear pigments tend to dry as a layer on top of the pigment, which is how the paint gets its shiny and smooth finish. This tends to make the paint much more resistant to scratches, dents and stains, as the binding chemicals are more durable than the paint itself. Conversely, matte paint has a high pigment ratio which can give rich, deep colour and often is the more visually desirable.

The Difference Between Eggshell And Satinwood Paint

Eggshell and satinwood are two paint finishes that sit in between the extremes of gloss and matte paint. Each can be used for different purposes depending on your needs. Eggshell is fairly matte with a slight gloss, and satinwood is more glossy without becoming a full-gloss paint.


Eggshell, as you might expect, is named for its similar light-reflective properties to an egg’s shell, meaning that it has a slight sheen when compared to matte paint. As explained above, because the paint does not contain a large proportion of glossy binding materials, it’s fairly matte, but that, in turn, makes it more susceptible to wear and tear than less shiny paint.

Best for: more matte than gloss or satinwood, subtler eggshell paint is another top choice for interiors. If you want to create a shabby chic or period-style finish, eggshell may be your best paint partner. It’s great on plasterboard, which makes it very compatible with modern homes and it can be used on wood and metal too. It’s also a good base for layering paint effects.

Beware: though it is durable, eggshell paint doesn’t quite stand up to the durability of satinwood or gloss, so it wouldn’t usually be the first choice for high-traffic areas.


In contrast to eggshell paint, paint with a satinwood finish contains more of the resin that makes paint glossy, so definitely has a higher gloss factor than eggshell. This comes with the advantages of being more durable, scratch-resistant, and long-wearing. If you are planning on painting a high-traffic area of your home that maybe sees use from a lot of kids, satinwood may be the better choice in this instance.

Best for: a mid-sheen finish is best achieved with satinwood paint, which is used for interior painting for durability. When it comes to painting windowsills and skirting boards, satinwood is becoming an increasingly popular choice because it tends to retain a bright white colour longer than gloss paints, though water-based glosses now perform well in this area. You can more often than not skip the undercoat by using satin-gloss too.

Beware: A primer will help stop your satinwood paint from peeling, helping you to achieve and maintain a sleek finish.

Satinwood’s gloss can also give the illusion of space in smaller rooms, due to its higher gloss level. Because it reflects more light, it makes tighter spaces look brighter and therefore tricks the brain into thinking it is larger. This is a less extreme version of installing a mirror to make your room look bigger, as obviously satinwood paint is much less shiny than a mirror, but the effect works similarly.

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