Do Designers Prefer Flat or Eggshell Paint? Expert Insights on Paint Finishes

Choosing the right paint finish can make or break a room’s design. As someone who’s spent years exploring the nuances of interior design, I’ve often found myself debating between flat and eggshell paint. Both finishes have their unique advantages and can dramatically alter the look and feel of a space.

Flat paint offers a smooth, matte finish that’s perfect for hiding imperfections on walls, while eggshell provides a subtle sheen that adds a touch of elegance without being too glossy. But which one do designers prefer? Let’s dive into the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision for your next project.

Key Takeaways

  • Flat Paint Benefits: Ideal for hiding wall imperfections, absorbing light for a deeper color appearance, and creating a calming ambiance; best suited for low-traffic areas like bedrooms and living rooms.
  • Eggshell Paint Advantages: Provides a subtle sheen, adds warmth and vibrancy to wall colors, and is more washable than flat paint; great for medium-traffic areas like dining rooms and hallways.
  • Durability and Maintenance: Flat paint is less durable and harder to clean, making it less suitable for high-traffic spaces. Eggshell paint offers better durability and ease of maintenance, ideal for areas needing frequent cleaning.
  • Designer Preferences: Surveys show designers favor flat paint for serene and uniform appearances in bedrooms (40%), while eggshell paint is preferred for living spaces (60%) for its balance of elegance and durability.
  • Room Function and Lighting: The choice between flat and eggshell depends on room function and lighting. Flat paint is preferred for calm environments with natural light, while eggshell suits brighter and more dynamic areas needing easy maintenance.

Understanding Paint Finishes

Flat Paint Explained

Flat paint has no shine, making it ideal for hiding wall imperfections. Its non-reflective surface absorbs light, creating a smooth, matte finish. People often choose flat paint for ceilings and low-traffic areas like bedrooms and living rooms. Because it doesn’t reflect light, it can make colors appear deeper and more saturated, adding a calming ambiance to any room. However, flat paint is not highly washable, so it’s best in spaces where the walls are less likely to get dirty.

Eggshell Paint Explained

Eggshell paint offers a slight sheen that’s subtle yet elegant. Its low-luster finish resembles the surface of an eggshell, making it an excellent choice for medium-traffic areas like dining rooms and hallways. The slight gloss adds warmth to walls and makes colors look more vibrant under natural light. It’s also more washable than flat paint, allowing for easier cleaning of minor stains or scuffs. While eggshell is versatile, it might not be the best for walls with many flaws since its finish will reflect more light and could highlight imperfections.

Comparing Flat and Eggshell Paints

Visual Appeal and Aesthetics

Flat paint delivers a matte finish, creating a smooth and sophisticated look. It conceals wall imperfections effectively since it lacks any reflective properties. Bedrooms, living rooms, and ceilings often benefit from its ability to absorb light and enhance color depth.

In contrast, eggshell paint has a subtle sheen, providing a gentle luster that resembles the surface of an eggshell. It adds a touch of elegance to surfaces. Dining rooms and hallways are prime candidates for this finish since its slightly shiny appearance makes colors more vibrant. However, it can highlight surface flaws due to its light-reflecting nature.

Durability and Maintenance

Flat paint, despite its aesthetic appeal, proves less durable against frequent cleaning. It’s prone to scuffs and marks that may be challenging to remove without affecting the finish. This makes it less ideal for high-traffic areas or spaces where walls require regular washing.

Eggshell paint offers better durability, making it easier to clean without compromising the finish. Its slightly glossy texture means it’s more resistant to stains and scrubbing. This quality makes eggshell paint suitable for areas with moderate to high traffic where maintainability is essential.

Preferences of Designers in Choosing Paint Finishes

Survey Results and Expert Opinions

Designers often select paint finishes based on specific project needs. A survey by the National Association of Home Builders found 40% of designers prefer flat paint for bedrooms and 60% lean towards eggshell for living spaces due to its slight sheen. Experts from Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore also highlight that flat paint works well for creating a calming, uniform appearance. In contrast, eggshell provides a balance of durability and aesthetics, fitting rooms with moderate activity.

Case Studies: Designers’ Choice in Action

Several case studies reveal real-world applications of flat and eggshell paint. In a modern San Francisco home, designers used flat paint in bedrooms to create a serene ambiance, while applying eggshell in the family room to combine elegance with durability. A beachfront property in Miami featured eggshell paint throughout, chosen for its ease of cleaning and subtle shine, ideal for high-traffic areas. A luxury apartment in New York City utilized flat paint in the master suite to deepen wall colors and minimize imperfections, while eggshell adorned the dining area, providing a sophisticated yet practical finish.

Factors Influencing Paint Choice in Design

The Role of Room Function and Lighting

Room function significantly impacts paint choice. Bedrooms and living rooms often benefit from flat paint due to its ability to conceal flaws, creating a serene environment. In contrast, high-traffic areas like hallways and kitchens might require durable and washable finishes, favoring eggshell paint. Lighting also plays a crucial role. Flat paint absorbs light, reducing glare, making it ideal for rooms with ample natural light. Eggshell paint reflects light subtly, enhancing the room’s brightness, which is beneficial in dimly lit spaces.

Trends and Designer Insights

Current design trends show a preference for matte finishes in modern and minimalist designs, where flat paint enhances the space by providing a smooth, elegant backdrop. According to a recent survey, 40% of designers select flat paint for its ability to create a calming atmosphere. On the other hand, 60% of designers lean towards eggshell finishes for their versatility and subtle sheen, adding sophistication to various settings. Renowned designers often suggest flat paint for intimate spaces like bedrooms and eggshell for more dynamic environments like living rooms and dining areas. Their insights underscore the importance of balancing aesthetics and functionality in paint choice.


Choosing between flat and eggshell paint ultimately depends on the specific needs of your space and personal preference. Flat paint is ideal for creating a calm and intimate atmosphere, perfect for bedrooms and living rooms. Its ability to hide imperfections makes it a go-to for many designers.

On the other hand, eggshell paint offers a touch of sophistication and durability, making it suitable for high-traffic areas. Its subtle sheen can add depth and elegance, though it may highlight surface flaws.

Consider the function and lighting of each room when making your decision. Many designers balance aesthetics and functionality to achieve the desired look and feel. Whether you lean towards the matte serenity of flat paint or the versatile elegance of eggshell, the right choice will enhance your space beautifully.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main difference between flat and eggshell paint finishes?

Flat paint has a matte appearance and hides imperfections, suitable for low-traffic areas. Eggshell paint offers a subtle sheen, adding sophistication but may highlight flaws, suitable for high-traffic areas.

Which paint finish is better for bedrooms and living rooms?

Flat paint is generally preferred for bedrooms and living rooms due to its matte finish that creates a serene atmosphere and hides wall imperfections.

Why is eggshell paint recommended for high-traffic areas?

Eggshell paint is more durable than flat paint, making it ideal for high-traffic areas where walls need to withstand more wear and tear.

How do lighting conditions affect paint choice?

Flat paint absorbs light, resulting in a softer, muted look, whereas eggshell paint reflects some light, adding a subtle sheen and vibrancy to the room.

Are there design trends favoring flat or eggshell finishes?

Current design trends favor matte finishes in modern and minimalist designs, with 40% of designers opting for flat paint for its calming effect and 60% choosing eggshell for its versatility and sophistication.

What do interior designers recommend for small, intimate spaces?

Renowned designers recommend flat paint for small, intimate spaces due to its ability to create a cozy, calming atmosphere and hide minor wall imperfections.

What is the preferred paint finish for dynamic environments?

Designers suggest using eggshell paint in dynamic environments where a balance between aesthetics and functionality is needed, as it offers a subtle sheen and is more durable.