I have been a professional Decorator for just over two decades. In that time, I have used hundreds of different brands, thousands of finishes and tens of thousands of colours. In this blog I want to talk about eggshell Vs matt paint, which you should use and when. I’ll even give you some product recommendations based on my own experience.
It’s important to know there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer. I think that most people would agree that matt is more desirable on walls and ceilings in terms of aesthetics, but it isn’t as durable as eggshell.
Eggshell generally looks better on woodwork, but there are times when you need to blend plaster with wood, and eggshell just won’t look right. This is especially true when painting a Media wall, or tying to match the colour of your wall to the woodwork.
Eggshell for Walls and Ceilings
Eggshell used to be a popular choice for walls and ceilings when I started my craft. It has a higher sheen level than matt, contains more polymer binders, and is more water resistant. This makes it perfect for tough commercial settings, bathrooms, and kitchens that suffer from heavy condensation.
However, the finish isn’t as desirable, particularly on flat plaster. The slight sheen draws attention to any imperfections in the plaster, and defects such as flashing and picture framing can occur unless you choose a good-quality product.
Eggshell still has its place, and I do use it on a regular basis, particularly when painting bathrooms. Condensation just runs off it without marking, and you can give it a quick wipe over without damaging your paint work.
My favourite eggshell is Armstead Trade. It isn’t too expensive and doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t. This product is just a good old-fashioned trade paint. It flies on, doesn’t look cheap and plasticky, and is reasonably priced.
Matt Emulsion for Walls and Ceilings
Matt paint is much more desirable in terms of finish but isn’t as durable. You might use a vinyl matt in a bedroom, lounge, or rooms with low traffic.
Durable acrylic matt paints are better suited for high-traffic areas like hallways, or rooms with challenging environments like kitchens, utility rooms etc. These contain a different type of poymer, which makes the paint more durable than vinyl matt, but still not as durable as eggshell.
Matt is by far the most popular finish amongst homeowners, and it’s the finish I use more than any other. My favourite vinyl matt emulsion is Johnstone’s Covaplus, and I think most other Decorators would agree with me.
You can pay more for premium products like Johnstone’s Perfect Matt, but Covaplus provides you with a lovely matt finish, is easy to use, has great opacity, all at a reasonable price.
My favourite durable matt emulsion is the newly formulated Dulux Diamond Matt. It is quite expensive, but it’s a stunning paint product. You’ll find it easy to apply and it shows absolutely no defects. Brush and roller marks melt away and blend into each other well.
The best thing about this matt paint is the quality of finish. It’s rich and luxurious with a lovely depth to it. It’s a true “matt” too, with an extremely low sheen level.
I really do like this paint. I can’t recommend it enough.
Matt Emulsion for a Ceiling
Gone are the days when any old emulsion was ‘fine’ to use on a ceiling. A lot of homeowners now have large open plan rooms with loads of natural light. Because of this, specialist ceiling paints were developed to have as little sheen as possible.
These ultra-matt paints look softer and are designed to avoid shadowing. This also takes your eye away from defects in the plaster. The best matt emulsion for a ceiling in my opinion is Tikkurila Anti-Reflex.
Anti-Reflex was the first specialist ceiling paint to hit the UK, and although there are a few good options on the market now, this one still leaves you with the best paint finish.
Apply generous coats when using this paint, as it will help you achieve a better finish.
Matt Vs Eggshell Paint for Woodwork
Any woodwork that is likely to take a knock, like windows, skirting boards, or internal doors should not be painted with matt without a varnish to protect the paint work.
There are matt ‘trim paints’ on the market now, but they tend to mark and scuff so easily that I wouldn’t bother with them. You should stick with satinwood, eggshell or gloss 9 times out of 10.
The eggshell I like to use on woodwork is Crown Fastflow. This is a hybrid paint, meaning it is primarily water-based with a little bit of alkyd oil mixed in for good measure. This just helps it to flow and helps with durability.
You’ll find it easy to use, and very easy to achieve a good finish with. Moreover, the finish lasts, and this eggshell paint stays looking new for years after you’ve applied it.
The only time I would consider using matt paint on walls is when I’m trying to blend the walls in with the woodwork. Painting woodwork the same colour as walls is becoming popular, and it can look fantastic. Sometimes I paint media walls with plaster and MDF units with one product to get the full effect.
Matt is always going to look better than eggshell as a paint finish on walls, so the best option is to use durable matt emulsion on both walls and woodwork. Durability is still an issue, so consider coating your matt woodwork afterwards with Polyvine Decorators Varnish.
I hope this blog has given you all the information you need to help you choose between matt and eggshell paint. For walls and ceilings, it’s a trade-off between durability and aesthetics. Woodwork is a much easier choice.
Regardless of which finish you go for; the best piece of advice that I can give you is stick with trade paint. You will always achieve a better finish that will last longer if you choose a trade paint over retail.
Eggshell Vs Matt paint – Which is Better – by Mike Gregory