Emulsion Paint Recommendations

Since I started my blog in early 2021, I think the main recommendation I’ve been asked for is emulsion paint. I first wrote a recommended list of emulsion paints back in 2021 and as we hit 2024, things have changed.

Not only are there more emulsion paints on the market with specific purposes, but some have flat out become rubbish. With that in mind, I’ve decided to create an updated recommendation list, something that hopefully lasts a good few years before it needs updating.

I will go into more detail about the different emulsions later in this blog post but if you can’t be bothered to read through my mad ramblings about flow, consistency and how much you’re going to get splattered in the face when you roll on the emulsion, here’s a fancy little table with my personal recommendations for 2024.

My favourite emulsion paints

Emulsion PaintWhen to UsePrice Range (5L)Rating
Johnstone’s CovaplusIf you want a high quality white emulsion£25 – £304.9/5
Zinsser PermawhiteIf you need something mould resistant£60 – £704.8/5
Lick Paint ProIf you want an environmentally friendly emulsion paint£70 – £804.4/5
Isomat PremiumIf you’re painting heavy traffic halls and stairwells£60 – £704.7/5
Farrow and Ball Modern EmulsionIf you want a varied selection of stylish colours£80 – £1004.5/5
Goodhome Tough and DurableIf you’re looking for a good emulsion at a budget price£20 – £254.4/5
Macpherson EclipseIf you need a ceiling paint that doesn’t flash£15.99 – £19.194.9/5

1. Johnstone’s Covaplus

Best for white emulsion.

Johnstone’s Covaplus has been my go-to white emulsion for a good few years and whilst they’ve tinkered a bit with the formula, it’s still unbeatable for me.

It covers in 2, even when going over dark colours, and is just so ridiculously cheap for what it is.

In my experience, the second coat tends to cover much better than the first. Sometimes the first coat can make you think that you’re going to need 456 more coats but once the second coat has dried, you’ll see it’s spot on.

In general, you don’t need to fuss around as it goes on well straight from the tin but if you do want that extra bit of flow, you can water it down slightly which will make application slightly better.

Overall, good opacity, coverage is competitive with other brands, good flow straight from the tin and it’s cheap as chips.

2. Zinsser Permawhite

Recommended for its anti-mould properties.

If you’ve got issues with mould in your kitchen or bathroom (or any other high humidity areas for that matter) I and countless other decorators would put our reputation on Permawhite being the best emulsion for you.

Permawhite is excellent in steamy areas and I always insist that any of my friends or family need to use this stuff if their rooms have poor ventilation.

I’ve even used this in my own shower room and it’s lasted 6 years and counting.

As some pros will tell you, it doesn’t have great covering power and can sometimes take up to 4 coats to achieve an opaque finish you’ll be happy with but for its anti-mould properties, the extra time and effort is absolutely worth it.

3. Lick Paint Pro

A solid eco-friendly choice that mimics trade-standard emulsion.

Lick initially entered the market to compete with the likes of Little Greene and Farrow and Ball and after trying their retail emulsion I wasn’t impressed (and started to dread jobs where customers were providing Lick paint).

Lick Pro on the other hand is really good stuff and offers tradesmen and DIYers an emulsion that is simple to apply, has solid coverage and, if it’s important to you, is one of the most environmentally friendly emulsions on the market.

Image of 3 tins of Lick Paint

I’ve found that you do need to water the emulsion down by about 10% to help with flow and I also wouldn’t recommend using their own branded tools for application. I used their brushes to cut in and after washing found that the bristles lost their shape and are now basically unusable.

Overall, a good emulsion that’s on the pricey side which is unfortunately the price you have to pay if you want environmentally friendly paint in this day and age.

4. Isomat Premium Color

The emulsion you need for high-traffic areas.

Over the past year or 2, I’ve made Isomat’s Premium Color my go-to scrubbable emulsion and can vouch for its premium quality. Yes, it’s 3 times as expensive as the best retail paint Goodhome Durable (which I will get to further down) but in my opinion, it’s worth it.

Admittedly, I haven’t tried it in white yet but every colour I’ve used has gone over the previously painted surface in 2 coats maximum.

It covered a very badly stained commercial kitchen in 1 coat and held up over a pizza oven for 18 months before the restaurant was sold. I know some people go for Crown’s Clean Extreme but I would pick it over Crown’s version any day.

5. Farrow and Ball Modern Emulsion

The most stylish-looking emulsion on the market.

Historically, I haven’t been the biggest fan of Farrow and Ball paint but I’ve used F&B Modern Emulsion again recently and must say, I’ve been somewhat impressed.

Although it doesn’t flow as well as standard trade paint, it’s got great opacity and it didn’t flash on the odd touch up I had to do.

Next week I’ve got a large dining room to paint with Hague Blue and I’m actually looking forward to it. I’ve used the Hague Blue colour on a previous occasion and the colour is beautiful but I must say it was quite difficult to work with. I’ll try and give an update after I’ve used it for a second time.

I appreciate many decorators aren’t fans of Farrow and Ball but from my recent experience, I’d be happy to start recommending the Modern Emulsion again.

6. Goodhome Tough and Durable

An emulsion that’s as cheap as chips.

Goodhome Tough and Durable divides opinion in the decorating trade – many professionals will argue that it’s retail standard and shouldn’t be used on the job whereas others swear-by its performance.

I’m somewhere in the middle.

I wouldn’t personally use this on a professional job but if you’re working on a budget or you’re a DIYer and are just looking to decorate your house, I would say it’s worth a go.

It’s certainly better than any other retail emulsion paints which can sometimes take 4-5 coats+ to reach full opacity.

In my experience, you can achieve a good finish with 3 coats and watering a 5 litre tub down with a cup of water makes it much easier to apply.

FYI, Toronto is the colour in the photo above – I really liked the way this came out after 3 coats.

7. Macpherson Eclipse

There’s a reason they call this Eclipse (and it’s not just a marketing thing).

If you’re looking for an emulsion that’s not going to flash in critical lighting, Macpherson Eclipse would be my recommendation.

Eclipse is dead-flat and has great obliterating qualities which helps cover up any imperfections on your ceilings.

Furthermore, I’ve never had any flashing issues with this paint unlike some ceiling paints I’ve used in the past.

Its quality is on par with Tikkurila’s Anti-Reflex 2 ceiling emulsion but at half the price, there really isn’t any point spending any more than you need to.

Specialist Recommendations

So that’s my recommendation lists covering pretty much any situation in which you’ll need to use emulsion paint. There are quite a few others that I could’ve mentioned for more specialist jobs so I’ll quickly list them below just incase the emulsions above aren’t suitable for your job.

PaintWhen to Use It
Johnstone’s StainawaySuitable for covering nicotine and water stains
Ronseal Anti-CondensationUse if your walls are prone to condensation build up
Dulux Heritage Matt EmulsionIf you want the highest quality and best looking emulsion on the market