The Best Contract Matt Emulsion on the Market

Mike Gregory



Trade quality contract matt emulsion is something that comes up on the Decorators Forum UK on a regular basis and everyone seems keen to work out which is the best on the market. I regret to say, there are many I have yet to use, but I can take you through the ones I have.

Contract matt is normally used to prime bare plaster as it contains little in the way of polymer binders and allows the plaster to breathe. It is also the perfect base coat for other emulsion type products. You can use it as a finish coat on ceilings which is the big test as a lot of emulsions show blemishes when used on light critical ceilings.

Contract matt is often used as a finish coat on newbuilds for a few reasons. The first being it’s cheap, but it tends to have better opacity than vinyl matt which means fewer coats. Some brands touch up well which is ideal for snagging and homeowners tend to paint over a “builders finish” anyway.

The massive downside of contract matt is it isn’t very durable. durability isn’t an issue on most ceilings, but you may want to look at a more substantial product as a finish coat on your walls.



Macpherson Eclipse Contract Matt


Eclipse is probably the best value contract matt emulsion on the market in my opinion. The opacity of this stuff is fantastic. You can easily cover bare plaster in two coats. It’s dull as well, meaning you don’t have issues with flashing and roller marks. Macpherson touches up reasonably well, meaning you can snag a room after other trades have been in and butchered your work. Eclipse is available from Crown Decorating Centres.

9/10 for me! My favorite value brand of contract matt by far



Armstead Contract Matt


Armstead is the cheapest on this list and it is a little bit more durable than the others. Unfortunately, the sheen level is an issue and it doesn’t sit very well against itself. In fact, you can have major issues when it comes to flashing and picture framing. Don’t try and touch this stuff up!! For some reason a lot of painting contractors still use this on big newbuild complexes and I don’t understand why because it looks awful. It does spray quite nicely, and it makes the perfect mist coat, but that’s about it. Armstead is available from Dulux Decorating Centres.

4/10 for me. It would be lower, but the price reflects quality which is how it should be. There is a place on the market for Armstead contract matt.



Johnstone’s Jonmat – Premium Contract Matt


Jonmat is a bit strange! Opacity is absolutely bang on! It’s easy to apply as well and it dries flat. The issue you have with it is the drying time, and no, it doesn’t take too long. In fact, it dries as it leaves the brush. Great for spraying but a bit of a pain via brush and roller. You can’t touch it up at all. Jonmat is quite expensive as well. You can buy this product from Johnstone’s Decorating Centre



Leyland Leytex


Leytex is very cheap, powdery and heavy. So much so you get a lot of heavy sediment at the bottom of your bucket. Horrible to apply via brush and roller, flashes like crazy. It’s not very good as a mist coat either as it doesn’t seem to adhere very well, neither do other products when coating over the top of Leytex. Surprisingly it looks amazing when it is sprayed. Not the best contract matt emulsion on the market, but you get what you pay for and I think Leyland Leytex is designed specifically for the spray painters. To them, this is gold. This one is available from Johnstone’s Decorating Centre too.



Leyland Contract Matt


Also available at Johnstone’s Decorating Centres, the Leyland contract matt sits in-between Leyland Leytex and Jonmatt and is more what I’d call a “standard contract matt”. It does everything you need it to do!! Opacity is good, it primes bare plaster and it doesn’t flash too much. The other advantage is its another cheap product. If you shop at Johnstone’s, then this is the one I’d go for.



Tikkurila Anti-Reflex


Now the Anti-Reflex, I didn’t know whether to include this or not as it’s a durable matt, advertised as a contract matt. It has a soft, luxurious deep finish which looks second to none. Opacity is poor and you can only use it on bare plaster when applying Anti-Reflex as your topcoat. Tikkurila Anti-Reflex is probably the best finish on a light critical ceiling you can get. It is just lovely! I’m still not sure whether its a contract matt though!!



Dulux Supermatt


This is by far the best quality contract matt on this list. Opacity is bang on, it dies nice and flat, you can get it tinted into any colour and it looks lovely in white. With quality comes a bigger price tag and Supermatt is also the most expensive contract matt on this list. You can buy Supermatt online from the Paintshed by clicking here.



Caparol CapaDin


Caparol CapaDin, available at Hashtag the Paint Shop, easily has the best overall finish out of any contract matt emulsions on this list. It is slightly more expensive than the others, but the opacity is brilliant, and the sheen level is a dead flat matt. This eliminates roller marks and flashing.


The finish has a soft depth to it which is lovely. This is the only contract matt I’ll use as a finish coat on some of the larger open-plan rooms, where ceilings and walls can be problematic.

10/10 – perfect score from me


Retail Contract Matt


Don’t even bother looking at these!! Retail paint, the type you’d see in DIY outlets is made to a very low budget and contains low quality materials. It’s sold to DIYers who don’t know the difference and is often just labelled “matt”. If you use this paint you may be compromising the bonding between your plaster and any future coats of paint. Contract matt is not expensive, so just go for trade and be safe.


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