The Complete Guide to Painting Over Eggshell Paint

Eggshell paint is a popular choice for interior walls because of its low-sheen finish and durability. However, there may come a time when you want to change the color scheme of your room. You might be wondering how to paint over eggshell paint. 

Repainting eggshell paint is easy as long as proper preparation is carried out. Before you begin, ensure the surface is clean and free of dirt, dust, and other debris. Remember to clean the surface, sand lightly, apply a bonding primer, and use quality paint.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What kind of paint you can use over eggshell paint
  • What you need to know about sanding
  • What you need to know about priming
  • How to paint over eggshell paint

What Kind of Paint Can You Use Over Eggshell?

Paint Finishes

When it comes to painting over eggshell surfaces, there are several paint finishes that can be used. These include flat, matte, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. However, it is important to note that since eggshell still has a bit of gloss to it, it is crucial to remove this glossy layer beforehand in order to ensure that the new coats of paint adhere properly.

Once the glossy layer has been removed, the surface is now suitable for all kinds of paint finishes. Flat paint finishes have a non-reflective finish and are great for hiding imperfections in the surface. 

Matte finishes have a similar non-reflective finish but tend to be a bit more durable and easier to clean. Satin finishes have a slight sheen and are great for high-traffic areas as they are resistant to stains and scratches.

Semi-gloss finishes have a higher sheen and are even more durable and resistant to stains. Gloss finishes have the highest sheen and are great for adding a dramatic, high-gloss effect to a surface.

Paint Types

If you want to repaint over eggshell paint, it’s essential to determine which type is suitable for painting over the existing eggshell paint. Typically, you can choose between oil- or water-based paint.

Oil-Based Paints

Oil-based paints are traditional paints that use oil-based solvents to form a thick, durable film. This type of paint is ideal for surfaces that require a strong protective coating.


  • One of the most widely known advantages of oil-based paint is its durability. It tends to be less susceptible to weather, humidity, temperature changes, and wear and tear, making it a popular choice for exterior painting.
  • Oil-based paints also produce a smooth, high-gloss finish, often used on doors, trim, and shutters to enhance their appearance.
  • The added chemicals within oil-based paint can also provide extra protection to the surface it is applied on.


  • The chemicals in oil-based paints can harm the environment and your health, which can be concerning for those with pets, children, or chemical sensitivities.
  • Unlike water-based paints that can be cleaned with soap and water, oil-based paint requires harsher solvents such as turpentine or mineral spirits for clean-up.
  • Oil-based paint can take longer to dry than water-based paints, which can be a disadvantage if time is a factor.

Water-Based (Latex) Paints

Water-based paints, also known as latex paints, are a type of paint that uses water as its main carrier or solvent. This makes it a safer, more eco-friendly option than other paints on the market that contain harsh chemicals and solvents.

Due to its numerous advantages, water-based paint has become a popular alternative to oil-based paint. Here are the pros and cons of using water-based paint for your next painting project.


  • Water-based paint usually does not contain VOCs, harmful chemicals that can pollute the environment and cause health problems.
  • Water-based paint has less odor than oil-based paint, making it a great option for indoor projects where strong smells can be bothersome.
  • Because water is the primary solvent in water-based paint, it is easy to clean up brushes and other tools with soap and water.
  • Water-based paint dries faster than oil-based paint, which saves you time and allows you to apply additional coats sooner.
  • Water-based paint offers a wide range of colors that can suit any taste.


  • Water-based paint doesn’t work well in wet climates since it may not dry, causing the paint to peel or crack over time.
  • Depending on the type of surface being painted, water-based paint can require more coats to achieve the same level of coverage as oil-based paint.

Using Water-Based Paint over Oil-Based Paint

While it’s generally not recommended to use water-based paint over oil-based paint, proper surface preparation can achieve a beautiful and durable finish.

Before even thinking about painting, it’s important to ensure your surface is clean and debris-free. Use soap and water to clean the surface thoroughly, and dry it completely before proceeding. If there are any areas with stubborn grime, a degreaser can be used to ensure the surface is completely clean.

Once the surface is clean, it’s time to sand it lightly. This gives the surface some tooth, allowing the new paint to adhere properly. Use fine-grit sandpaper and go over the entire surface lightly.

Once finished, wipe the surface down to remove any remaining sanding dust. It’s important to choose a high-quality primer specifically formulated to stick to oil- and water-based surfaces. The primer will ensure that the paint adheres properly, preventing any issues with peeling or flaking in the future.

Once the primer has been applied and completely dried, you can apply your water-based paint. Make sure to use high-quality paint, and apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Why Choosing the Appropriate Paint Matters

Choosing the right type of paint is essential to ensuring a successful painting project. The type of paint used in any given project will determine how long-lasting and durable the finish will be, as well as its aesthetic appeal and level of safety.

Oil-based paints are often better for projects that require a glossy finish or have surfaces exposed to moisture, while water-based paints are better for interior projects and those looking to reduce VOCs.

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of both types of paint will help you decide when it comes time to start your next painting project.

Priming Eggshell Paint Before Painting: What You Need to Know

Primer is a type of paint used as an undercoat before applying the final coat of paint. Its main purpose is to create a smooth, even surface for the topcoat to adhere to.

In the case of painting over eggshell paint, primer is especially important as eggshell paint has a slight sheen that can interfere with the adhesion of the new paint.

Applying a layer of primer over the eggshell paint creates a new, neutral surface that the new paint can bond to easily. Primer also helps to hide any imperfections or stains on the surface, ensuring a more even finish.

Primer is available in different formulations, including oil-based and water-based, and comes in various colors. Choosing the right type of primer is important based on the type of paint you are using for the topcoat.

Types of Primers

There are three main types of primers to choose from oil-based, water-based, and shellac. Each of these primers has its own unique properties and benefits, making them suitable for different applications.

Oil-based Primer

Oil-based primer is a popular choice for those who want to achieve a smooth and professional-looking finish on their painting projects.

Its main advantage lies in its ability to provide a flexible surface that can withstand temperature variations, preventing the paint coats from expanding or contracting. This results in a longer-lasting and more durable finish.

Another advantage of using an oil-based primer is that it helps prevent stains from showing through the new coats of paint. This is particularly useful when painting over previously damaged or stained surfaces.

Applying oil-based primer on wood can also help seal the porous surface and prevent tannins from bleeding through the paint product, resulting in a more even finish.

Despite their benefits, oil-based primers have certain drawbacks that must be considered before use. Firstly, they produce significant VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can harm human health and the environment.

To minimize risks, working in a well-ventilated area and using protective kits during application is essential. Oil-based primers also take a relatively long time to dry (more than 24 hours).

Latex or Water-based Primer

Water-based primers, known as latex primers, have numerous advantages over oil-based primers. These primers are fast-drying, usually taking only 3 to 4 hours to dry completely. 

This means you can paint over the primer sooner, which is especially helpful when you’re in a time crunch to complete your painting project.

One of the greatest advantages of water-based primers is their flexibility. They help to even out surfaces and cover repaired areas, creating a smooth and seamless finish. Water-based primers also emit zero VOCs, making them a healthier option for your home or work environment.

However, there are some limitations of water-based primers. They are not ideal for covering deep discolorations or dark stains. Additionally, they may not be the best choice for hardwood and metal surfaces, as they do not adhere as well to these types of materials.

Shellac Primer

If you’re looking for a primer that can provide superior adhesive properties, then you might need shellac primer. This type of primer is known for its fast drying time, as it only takes an hour to dry.

Apart from its quick drying ability, the strength of shellac primer lies in its ability to bond with a variety of surfaces, especially those that are typically difficult to seal. This includes wood knots, pitch pockets, and stubborn tannin bleeding.

One of the most significant benefits of shellac primer is its optimal stain-blocking quality. It can effectively prevent stains from seeping through, making it highly useful for people looking to cover up unsightly blemishes, stains, and marks on their walls.

However, it produces harmful fumes, which can be dangerous when inhaled in large quantities.

Sanding Eggshell Paint Before Painting: What You Need to Know

One of the most important steps is to sand the surface before applying any primer. Sanding helps create a smoother surface ready for painting and gives the primer something to grip onto. 

What Sandpaper to Use for Sanding Eggshell?

Sanding eggshell paint before painting is a crucial step in the preparation process. The goal of sanding is to create a smooth and even surface so that the new layer of paint adheres better. However, using the right type of sandpaper is important to ensure optimal results.

For eggshell paints, you will need a combination of 120- and 220-grit sandpaper. The 120-grit paper will remove surface imperfections like blemishes and bumps, while the 220 grit is ideal for smoothing the surface before painting.

How Much Do You Need to Sand Eggshell Before Painting?

A quick pass over the surface may not be enough to prepare it properly for painting. Therefore, spending enough time on sanding is important, and ensuring that you cover every area.

On average, you should aim to sand the surface until it appears dull and free of any shine. This should help create an even, smooth surface ready for the new paint.

If you plan on painting a large area, using a power sander instead of sandpaper may be beneficial. This will save time and energy while still providing the same results.

Can You Paint Over Eggshell Without Sanding?

It is not recommended to paint over eggshell without sanding. Without sanding, the new layer of paint may not stick properly and could lead to an uneven or patchy finish.

Advantages of Painting Over Eggshell Without Sanding

Sanding can be time-consuming and tedious, so it’s understandable why some people skip this step when painting. However, there are certain advantages to painting over eggshell  without sanding.

For one, the process is much faster since you don’t need to take the time to sand the surface. Another benefit is that you won’t have to worry about creating dust or making a mess.

Disadvantages of Painting Over Eggshell Without Sanding

While painting has certain advantages over eggshell  without sanding, it’s important to be aware of the potential drawbacks. The most significant is that the new paint may not adhere properly and could lead to a patchy finish.

Additionally, skipping the sanding step means that you won’t be able to get rid of any imperfections on the surface, which could result in an uneven finish.

Other Options for Painting Over Eggshell

There are several options available for painting over an eggshell finish that don’t involve sanding. One of the most popular methods is using deglossers.

These products contain chemicals that dissolve the top layer of the eggshell finish, providing a smooth surface for the new paint to adhere to.

Aside from using deglossers, another option is to use a liquid sander or paint strippers. This product can be applied directly to the eggshell finish and works by softening the top layer of the paint, allowing it to be easily removed. Liquid sanders are effective at creating a smooth surface for the new paint to adhere to, without the hassle of sanding.

This method is particularly useful if you’re dealing with a large area or several layers of paint. However, these can be harsh chemicals, so always read and follow the instructions carefully, and wear protective gear such as gloves and goggles.

It’s important to note that regardless of the method you choose, it’s essential to clean the surface thoroughly before applying any products or paint. This ensures the best possible adhesion and a professional-looking finish.

How to Paint Over Eggshell Paint

Tools and Materials

Step 1: Prepare and Protect the Surrounding Areas

Before you begin painting, it’s important to prepare the area by protecting nearby surfaces from stains and splatters. Cover furniture and floors with drop cloths or plastic sheets to protect them from paint.

Next, remove any hardware, fixtures, and switch plates from the walls. You should also scrape away any old paint or wallpaper that may be present. Finally, open any windows to ensure adequate ventilation in the room.

Step 2: Remove the Gloss Layer

To prepare the surface for painting, you must sand away any existing gloss. Use 120-grit sandpaper and a sanding block for best results. Work in small sections until the entire wall is dulled down and shine-free. Once you’re done, wipe away any dust with a tack cloth.

Step 3: Clean and Prime

Once the wall is prepped and sanded, you’ll need to clean it of any remaining dust before priming. Start by wiping the surface with a damp cloth to remove any lingering debris. 

Once the walls are dry, use Zinsser’s B-I-N Primer-Sealer to prime the walls for painting. This will help the paint adhere better and provide a uniform base for the new color.

Step 4: Begin Painting

Once the primer is dry, it’s time to begin painting. Use a brush or roller to apply the first coat of paint. Work in sections and use long, even strokes with your brush or roller for best results. Follow up with a second coat of paint for full coverage if needed.

Joshua Milton

Joshua Milton is a passionate DIY and home improvement enthusiast. With his expertise in various projects, he provides practical tips, step-by-step guides, and creative ideas for transforming your living space.

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