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Best Emulsion Paint in the UK [2022]

Having the best emulsion paint can be the difference between something that is durable and looks great or something that looks patchy and is prone to scuffs and scratches.

If you happen to choose the wrong option, patchiness, scruffs and scratches will render your effort and time as completely wasted. Nobody wants that – so what should you do?

Well, that’s where we come in! As experienced painters with well over 40 years of combined experience, we’ve come up with a ‘best emulsion paint’ guide. Unlike some other resources out there, we’ve not just listed a few paints – we’ve tried and tested the most popular ones and even categorised them according to what you need them for.

That means we’ve picked out the best white emulsion, the best emulsion for ceilings and of course, the best overall. Keep reading to find out which emulsions came out on top!

Best Emulsion Paint Overall: Johnstone’s Emulsion

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Johnstone’s matt emulsion is a must for anyone looking to paint their interior walls. If you take the price, colour options, durability and the minimal fuss is takes to apply, it’s hard to find anything better.

When using a medium pile roller, you should be able to get a fantastically clean looking finish, especially as the consistency of the paint is top notch. You can also get a great finish using a brush assuming you’re not shy when it comes to loading the brush up with paint! This ultimately makes sure there’s no patchiness once the paint has fully dried.

It’s on the lower side of the scale when it comes to odour and VOCs which makes it easier to work with indoors. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your room well ventilated throughout the painting process though!

The paint dries to a matt finish which is typically less durable than other sheens but in our experience it’s still very durable and hard-wearing. It’s been specifically formulated to be washable meaning you can wipe away any marks without worrying about the paint coming off. The full matt finish is perfect for disguising any imperfections on the surface of your walls or ceilings.

Johnstone’s matt emulsion comes in a number of colour options to choose from (around 40) which gives it a pretty big leg up over its competitors. It’s the huge variation of colours that just puts Johnstone’s as our number one emulsion paint overall.

Paint Details
  • Coverage: 12m²/L
  • Touch dry: 1 – 2 hours
  • Second coat: 4 – 6 hours
  • Application: Brush or Medium Pile Synthetic Roller

Pros

  • Is durable and can be wiped
  • Low odour makes the paint easy to work with
  • Has a huge range of colour options to choose from
  • Provides great value for money

Cons

  • None

Final Verdict

Johnstone’s emulsion paint is cheap, durable, pretty easy to apply and ultimately comes in a variety of colours to suit your interior decor. Well worth the purchase.

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Best White Emulsion Paint: Dulux Emulsion Paint

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Dulux are industry leaders in the UK and their Pure Brilliant White emulsion is a good example as to why they take the crown (sorry, Crown).

Dulux’s Pure Brilliant White matt gives a lovely white result with no patchiness and is purpose made for walls and ceilings. The pure white colour does well to make your space look bigger whilst naturally brightening up rooms.

This paint contains Dulux’s Chromalock technology which creates an invisible barrier to protect the colour from wear and tear. This is particularly useful for emulsions on the lower sheen scale as typically they would be less durable and so gives the paint some extra years which will ultimately save you both time and money.

We’d recommend two coats to get a good finish and with the Pure Brilliant White emulsion being quick drying, the second coat should be ready for application after just 4 hours (or even 2 hours in some cases) which means some jobs could be finished within half a day. This is definitely an advantage over something like Johnstone’s which can take up to 6 or so hours to dry.

Being water based means it contains a low amount of VOCs and is ideal for application on interior surfaces where ventilation is poor. Being water based makes cleaning up a lot easier too – the paint can be washed off your brushes and rollers with soapy water.

Paint Details
  • Coverage: 13m²/L
  • Touch dry: 1 – 2 hours
  • Second coat: 2 – 4 hours
  • Application: Brush or Roller

Pros

  • Gives you a smooth, modern finish with no patchiness
  • Chromalock technology ensures the white doesn’t fade or yellow
  • A second coat can be applied after just 4 hours
  • Low VOC content makes it safe to use indoors
  • Easy to clean up afterwards using just water

Cons

  • None

Final Verdict

People can often be caught off guard when buying a white paint and finding it’s nowhere near the shade they were expecting. You won’t have that problem with this paint.

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Best Emulsion Paint for Ceilings: Dulux Once Matt Emulsion

We’ve chosen Dulux Once Emulsion as our best ceiling paint overall with the reason being that it scores highly in all of our testing categories.

It’s suitable for use on any interior walls and ceilings including living rooms, hallways, bedrooms and even bathrooms but use on ceilings is where it really shines.

The viscosity of the paint means that you’re guaranteed to get a great finish after just one coat which is an overwhelming benefit when it comes to ceiling paint. Painting ceilings is a bit of an awkward job, especially for those who are less experienced so getting a decent finish in just a single coat saves a lot of time and hassle.

With the paint being on the thicker side, you’ll be getting an extra benefit too – it ensures the paint doesn’t drip during application (no-one wants paint dripping on their head!).

With a coverage of roughly 11m²/L (far better than other one coat ceiling emulsions) combined with powerful spreading capabilities you can easily cover multiple rooms with just one tin and comes in a variety of different light shades to choose from.

Paint Details
  • Coverage: 11m²/L
  • Fully dry: 4 hours
  • Second coat: 4 – 6 hours (if needed)
  • Application: Brush or Roller

Pros

  • Is durable and will last a long time
  • One coat ensures you save on time and effort
  • Suitable for use in any room in your home
  • It doesn’t yellow over time

Cons

  • There’s a limit on the amount of colours you can choose from

Final Verdict

Minimal fuss, minimal effort and a high quality finish makes this the best ceiling emulsion.

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Best Emulsion Paint for New Plaster: Wickes Trade

New plaster is extremely permeable which means that when you’re painting it, there’s a good chance that the final finish will flake or leave you with an uneven surface. It’s for this reason, the best emulsion paint for new plaster has to be something that allows the substrate to breathe and continue drying even after application.

With this in mind – we’ve gone for Wickes’s new plaster paint – formulated especially for use on new plaster. The emulsion is based on a blend of polymers and hence can allow the plaster to continue drying (which in some cases can take up to a month).

To be extra careful, we’d recommend a mist coat (watered down coat) first, followed by another 2 coats  to finish.

Paint Details
  • Coverage: 16m²/L
  • Touch dry: 2 hours
  • Second coat: 2 – 4 hours
  • Application: Brush or Roller

Pros

  • Provides a good quality matt finish
  • Allows new plaster to continue drying
  • Suitable for use as an undercoat
  • Easy to clean with just water

Cons

  • Only comes in white

Final Verdict

This paint work well on new plaster but only comes in white. It’s good if you need a quick paint job but otherwise, we’d wait a few weeks for the plaster to dry and use something else.

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Best Emulsion Paint for Kitchens: Johnstone’s Kitchen and Bathroom

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Different rooms tend to require specific paints and that’s certainly the case for environments such as a kitchen which is the reason we’ve chosen Johnstone’s kitchen paint for this category.

Johnstone’s kitchen paint has been specifically formulated to be 10 times tougher than other emulsions and by extension, is much tougher than the others in this article. This toughness makes it ideal for use in kitchens which can be prone to things like grease stains and condensation.

This paint has a lovely consistency and is one of the easiest paints we’ve ever worked with. It’s got a nice thickness with good coverage and dries fairly quickly but not so quick that you can’t work in large areas which is ideal for beginner painters. Like the Dulux Once, the thickness of the paint ensures you’re not going to be creating any mess with drips and drops.

Once fully set, the paint dries to an attractive mid-sheen finish which works well when it comes to brightening your kitchen and making it feel bigger than it actually is. In terms of colours, you have so many to choose from it would be impossible to list them all out without boring you!

Paint Details
  • Coverage: 12m²/L
  • Touch dry: 1 – 2 hours
  • Second coat: 4 hours
  • Application: Brush or Roller

Pros

  • Is very easy to apply
  • Can be used as a one coat paint if used as a refresher
  • Low odour and low VOC makes it more environmentally friendly
  • Has an attractive mid-sheen finish
  • Comes in a variety of different colours

Cons

  • Can be a bit of a nightmare to clean rollers afterwards

Final Verdict

Johnstone’s kitchen paint has been proven to resist grease and other stains and thus gives it the edge over some of the other kitchen emulsions on the market in the UK.

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Best Trade Emulsion Paint: Dulux Diamond Matt Pure Brilliant White

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Dulux Trade’s Diamond Matt is a premium emulsion and with great quality comes a great price. If you’re prepared to pay that extra price, you could well be in the hands of the best quality emulsion around.

So what makes Dulux’s Diamond Matt so good?

Firstly, it’s one of the most durable emulsions on the market. Whilst creating this emulsion, Dulux used their expertise to constantly test and tweak the formula and this ultimately resulted in a paint that’s around 10x more durable than non-trade emulsions.

Secondly, Dulux claim to use ‘stain repellent technology’ which is essentially an undisclosed natural ingredient which has strong water-repellent properties. This means your walls should be difficult to stain and in our experience and according to the reviews of many others, the claim is pretty accurate!

The fact that no other paint manufacturer has access to this ‘secret’ natural ingredient means they should stay well ahead of others for a long time to come.

Finally, if your walls do happen to get a little bit dirty from time to time, this paint is easily washable. The paint can withstand around 10,000 scrubs before it starts to wear away. We’ve not tested it to this extent ourselves but we did find it was easy to clean.

Aside from its obvious practical uses, you also get the same classic Pure Brilliant White matt finish as the other Dulux paints.

You can use the paint anywhere in your house but it’s particularly useful for areas such as stairwells and hallways.

Paint Details
  • Coverage: 16m²/L
  • Touch dry: 1 – 2 hours
  • Second coat: 2 – 4 hours
  • Application: Brush or Roller

Pros

  • The most durable emulsion on the market
  • Resistant to typical household stains
  • The white colour stays white
  • Is easy to apply with either a brush or roller
  • Suitable for use all around the house

Cons

  • It’s definitely not cheap!

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for the very best and price isn’t a problem for you, we’d definitely recommend checking this one out.

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Best Tools for the Job

Having the best emulsion paint is just one step towards giving your home interior a fresh look. The next step is having the right tools to actually apply the paint. With that in mind, here’s the tools we’d use for the job.

Which Roller? Harris Seriously Good

Best Brush: Harris Seriously Good

Best Emulsion Paint Sprayer: Bosch 3000-2

Summary

Choosing the best emulsion paint will allow you to give your home a fresh new look without breaking the bank. It’ll also mean that the final product will be long-lasting which ensures you don’t won’t need to be repainting every couple of years!

By following our guide, you should be able to find the best paint for your own personal project – whether you want to give your kitchen a brand new look or are simply topping up your worn out white ceilings.

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Want to learn more about different paints? Feel free to take a look at our recent “best white emulsion paint” article or some of these helpful guides:

Matt Or Silk Paint for Bedrooms?

Best Flat Emulsions According to Experts

Can You Paint Silk Over Silk?

Can You Paint Grout With Emulsion?

How To Repair Cracked Emulsion

Matt Or Silk Paint for Living Room?

Can You Paint Matt Over Gloss?

Can You Paint A Radiator With Emulsion?

Can You Mix Matt and Silk Paint?

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