Can You Use Emulsion Paint On Wood?

We’ve been asked this question by our clients many times: can you use emulsion paint on wood?

The simple answer is yes but we thought we’d go into a bit more detail about why you’d use emulsion on wood, what types of wood it’s appropriate for use on and also the best way to ensure the emulsion lasts.

With that being said, let’s jump into the article…

Can you use emulsion paint on wood?

Yes, you can use emulsion paint on wood. Whilst we would not recommend using it on wood, the emulsion itself will bond fairly easily when applied to wood and you’ll be able to achieve an attractive looking matt finish.

Why shouldn’t you use emulsion on wood?

Applying emulsion to wood isn’t necessarily the issue – it’s the fact that wooden substrates within the home such as skirting boards, banisters and doors are high traffic areas which means they’ll get touched or knocked a lot.

For high traffic areas you really want to be using a paint that’s more durable such as satinwood or gloss (you can get away with using a high quality eggshell in some circumstances). Emulsion paint simply isn’t that durable and is formulated for use on interior walls and ceilings – areas that are not subjected to the same traffic as skirting boards and doors.

If you decide to use emulsion on wood, chances are, it’s not going to last you that long.

Furthermore, emulsions definitely should not be used on exterior woodwork as emulsion isn’t water-repellent or weather resistant. If applied to exterior woodwork, the emulsion will simply peel away from the surface.

Why would you use emulsion paint on wood?

One of the most common reasons you’d use emulsion paint on wood is when you’re painting your interior and you want to match the colour of your woodwork to the colour you have on your walls.

This creates a nice, uniform finish which is much harder to achieve if using different paints as they will contain different pigments.

How can you ensure the emulsion paint lasts when applied to wood?

If you are convinced that you want to use emulsion paint on your woodwork then there’s one thing you can do to give it a little bit of protection and expand its longevity. Using a suitable coat of varnish on top of the emulsion will act as a sealer so any knocks or scuffs would first need to penetrate through this layer before being able to damage the emulsion paint.

Of course, this is only going to go so far and eventually you may find that you’ll need to paint your woodwork more frequently.


To summarise, you can use emulsion on wood but it’s highly recommended that you use a more durable paint such as satinwood which is able to withstand the pressures of the home environment. If you are going to use emulsion on wood, make sure you use a varnish to seal it. And finally, DO NOT use emulsion on exterior wood unless you want to waste your time and money (and perform a tricky cleanup job).