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Best Emulsion for walls and Ceilings

Updated Jun 12, 2022 | Posted Sep 4, 2019 | Product Advice, Professional insight | 25 comments

Best Emulsion for Walls and Ceilings

Mike Gregory


Ok, I’m going to take you through the choices I think you should look at when deciding on the best emulsion for walls and ceilings. The first thing to bear in mind, as any decorator will tell you, trade paint is a little more expensive, but far superior to retail. Just because a tin of paint has the word “Dulux” on it, don’t think that automatically makes it a good choice. Get yourself to a Trade Centre and buy quality. If you’re looking for an online trade paint supplier then you won’t go far wrong with The PaintShed


I’m going to take you through the main brands of vinyl matt emulsion in this blog, and I’m going to be quite critical, as I think the quality of some of these products have dropped slightly in recent years because of budget and the rising costs of materials. Picture framing and roller marks can be an issue with many brands of emulsion nowadays.


If you want something a little more durable, then check out my earlier review on the best durable matt emulsions. Or if you are picking out paint for a kitchen or bathroom, check this one out.


Armstead Vinyl Matt


Armstead is the value brand owned by AKZO Nobel, who also manufacture Dulux. I wasn’t going to include any of the value paints; however, Armstead is quite an interesting one. Sold side by side with Dulux in Dulux Decorating Centres, Armstead is by far the cheaper product. It also has a lower sheen level, meaning you get less problems with picture framing and roller marks. The only downside is the opacity isn’t there in the pale colours, meaning you sometimes need to apply a third coat. Other than that, I think it is a far superior product to its Dulux counterpart.

I’ll give Armstead vinyl matt emulsion an 7/10


Johnstone’s Covaplus


Covaplus from Johnstone’s is everything you need from a vinyl matt. Price wise it sits in the middle of the other options on this page. Opacity and ease of use are good and you can expect a true flat matt finish. Johnstone’s Decorating Centre are very good at matching colours from other brands. So, if you need a Farrow and Ball colour mixing into a better paint, then JDC is the place to go.


Covaplus is up there in terms of quality and value for money. There are better emulsions if you don’t mind ordering online, but this a great choice which is available from a wide range of trade paint outlets.

8/10 from me!


Tikkurila Vinal Matt


This is an awesome product!! Tikkurila vinyl matt is relatively new to the market, but professional decorators absolutely love it. Opacity is very good, as is ease of use. The finish is spectacular!! No visible flashing and it leaves a luxurious depth of colour which I absolutely love!! I used this paint for the first time a few months ago and fell in love with it straight away. Since then, I’ve used it many times in my clients’ homes.


This is the best standard vinyl matt emulsion I have ever used. It is a massive step up from the usual brands such as Dulux, Crown and Johnstone’s. It is available online and it is fantastic value for money!

Easy 10/10!!


Johnstone’s Perfect Matt


Johnstone’s perfect matt is not a standard vinyl matt emulsion. It is a high-end product designed to out perform luxury designer brands such as Neptune or Little Greene. It does just that too.


Perfect matt has a very flat finish which is lovely and rich. You can touch this paint up without issue, there is never any flashing and it is even durable. Ease of use and opacity are bang on as well. Paint manufacturers normally design paint backwards. They work out what a product needs to cost to fit a certain place in the market, then produce the best product they can for that budget. Johnstone’s perfect matt is different. They made the best emulsion they possibly could and worried about the price afterwards! It is expensive though. In fact, it’s double the price of Covaplus. If price isn’t an issue, then this genuinely is the best emulsion for walls and ceilings on the market.


Crown Trade Vinyl Matt Emulsion


Crown Trade vinyl matt gives you the true flat matt finish you would hope to achieve from this type of emulsion. This is the cheapest option out of all the products on this list. Being a flat matt, it will hide minor imperfections well.

The only downside to Crown Trade vinyl matt is it doesn’t seem to have much in the way of polymer binder (the vinyl bit), meaning it’s more like a contract matt.  This can lead to dragging when applying additional coats and you can sometimes see roller marks. The finished wall or ceiling is never very durable and can easily scuff.

Out of the three big trade outlets, I’d say Crown Decorating Centre is the most welcoming to the general public.

I will give Crown Trade Vinyl matt a 7/10, mostly because I think it represents value for money. However, sometimes it’s worth spending a bit more money for a better product.


Dulux Trade Vinyl matt


Dulux is the most expensivestandard  trade vinyl matt on the market and it also has the most problems. The sheen level of Dulux Trade vinyl matt emulsion is just too high, meaning picture framing and roller marks are a nightmare. It is more durable than the other choices and opacity is bang on. The finish however, is terrible.

I’ll give Dulux Trade vinyl matt a 4/10. I know some decorators do swear by it, but for me it is too expensive for such a flawed product


The Best White Emulsion for Ceilings


There once was a time when it didn’t really matter which emulsion brand you used on a ceiling. They’d look great regardless. However, for whatever reason, we started experiencing more and more problems with picture framing and roller marks. For this reason, I thought I’d add a little bit about my two favourite white emulsions to use on a ceiling. Both products I’m about to mention are fairly specialist, but well worth tracking down.


WRX Ceiling Paint

I told you they were Specialist!! WRX ceiling paint is a pure brilliant white emulsion that looks fantastic when applied to a ceiling. Once dry, the paint has a rich “snowy” feel to it which I absolutely love!! Opacity and ease of use are awesome too. You can pick this paint up from TopDec Decorating Supplies.


Tikkurila Anti-Reflex

This is the paint you should use if your ceiling is light critical. You will never see any roller marks or picture framing because the paint finish is a perfect matt. The opacity of Anti-Reflex isn’t very good, so expect to have to apply an additional coat, but everything else about this product is brilliant. It is even durable, so you can use it in a kitchen or bathroom. This product has been voted the best ceiling paint many times on the Decorators Forum UK, so that gives you an idea of its popularity. Available online.


Teknos Teknoceiling


Teknoceiling is a very new product. Available online, this dull matt emulsion is available in white, or any pale colour. You will never see any roller marks or picture framing, meaning it is the perfect emulsion for ceilings in large, open plan, or light critical areas. I love this paint!! Full Teknoceiling review here.



And they are my thoughts I think you should consider when choosing the best emulsion for walls and ceilings. I hope you found it useful

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Updated Jun 12, 2022 | Posted Sep 4, 2019 | 25 comments

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  1. James

    I have been using dulux trade vinyl Matt emulsion for 21 years and never had a problem with it. Does have a higher sheen level I agree. Prob use a flat Matt for ceilings but For walls VM is absolutely fine.

    • Chrissy

      Just put some on my ceiling and wish I hadn’t started. It looked bright white before painting the dulux looks as though it’s dirty not brilliant white at all .. looks darker than the previous white and has a greyish tinge. Trying to lighten the room snd it’s having opposite effect. Dulux more expensive than previous paint used and half the product 🤦‍♀️

    • John Scott

      Sorry James but I totally agree with the author. Dulux Trade vinyl matt brilliant white is no-where near the standard it once was.
      It now flashes terribly and working on your own there’s no way you can blend in the cutting in with the roller. Hence “picture framing”.

      I’ve been a P&D since I began a 4 Yr apprenticeship in 1976 and Dulux is frankly overpriced for what it is.

      In the 70s Valspar was a go to paint for the trade then lost out to Dulux, Crown, Johnstons and Macphersons. However I’ve now started using Valspar again on walls.

      The reason we’re all on this site is obvious. We are not happy with the standard of finish from modern day B/W for ceilings.

      Dulux and Johnstons are obviously well aware of the problems hence their “flawless” matt finish appearing on the market. But goodness me! How do you justify £120 for a 10 litre tub of emulsion 😳

      Thank you Mike for the reviews. I took your advice on the Tikkurila. Two coats over a smoke stained artex ceiling may not have produced a brilliant white ceiling but the client was impressed none-the-less. Dried perfectly even.

      Oh well, only 3 and half years to retirement at 66 and by then Ill be too knackered to care 😴

  2. Paul Gruber

    I find Albany supercover a fantastic paint,good coverage and flat matt

  3. Michael

    Allways used Dulux vinyl Matt on walls, on celings well take your pick on high matt finish

  4. Alex

    I agree, although the Dulux range does seem to cover well I find that on some walls and ceilings that have a lot of natural light coming through you get shadowing affect which can make if look patchy, I’ve tried using finer roller heads and still get complaints, I find using the Armstead on ceilings has helped, and I tend to use Johnstone’s cove plus on the walls although on some colours I have had to apply 3 coats to get a decent covering, Johnstone’s have recently bought out a new product called perfect matt which I have yet to try but other decorators that have used it seem to swear by it, I guess it’s each to there own at the end of the day, but I find Johnstone’s and Armstead are the products that work for me at the moment.

  5. jan gorsuch

    Please could you tell me what is best for woodwork, especially in the hall. I would like a matt durable, washable product? Dulux oil based eggshell has been recommended, any good?

    • Mike Cupit

      Dulux oil-based eggshell would be perfect

      • John Scott

        I’m sure Mike would agree, don’t use white or B/W oil based Dulux eggshell. The white especially will look more like a cream than a white within a few months.

        I love Dulux oil-based eggshell which I use in my own home. The finish, in my opinion, is unmatched after applying two coats to prepared woodwork.

        However go for a very pale off white and it will tone in with most colour schemes. Any future marks can be removed with a well known kitchen cleaner.

  6. tim surmeli

    builders told me to get farrow and ball…thoughts on this before i go out and spend a fortune!

    • John Scott

      If you have a country estate home tim go for it.

      Otherwise don’t! In a busy home you will live to regret its use. Lovely finish no argument but you will need to re-paint the entire room or wall if it gets scuffed.

      You can’t sponge it and you can’t touch it up as it will flash.

      For the record I’ve actually worked in country estate houses so know what I’m talking about. Now heading to retirement after 46 yrs in the trade.

  7. Hilary

    It has been really enlightening for me to be brought up to speed this morning, looking for a good FLAT MATT emulsion. I was brought up in our family`s small decorating business, employing at one time 12 decorators but going down to 4, (from the the back of the shop) which started 100 years ago this year. I eventually took over the business (aged 40) when my Dad retired, giving in to his earlier opinion when I left school that “girls don`t do that”. I have retired from the decorating business but am still involved in the refurbishment side of building, gravitating and recommending Armstead to anyone who asks my opinion but after reading this most interesting article I shall definitely be going for Johnstone`s when quality is marginally more important than cost. Thank you for writing it.

    • Mike Cupit

      What a nice comment. Thank you Hilary

      • Lisa

        Hi Mike
        Please can you tell me what is the best white Matt paint to use to touch up the walls in a new build? Also I have some skirting boards and windowsills to paint that just have the primer on. What is the best paint to use as I don’t want gloss or a high sheen finish? Thank you

  8. Maria Malone

    I have a whole house to decorate from plaster and I am going to use a paint sprayer can you recommend a paint please? I need to do the first wash what would you suggest and then for the main coats thereafter? If you need to know the sprayer it is a Wagner Airless ControlPro 250 M Paint Sprayer. Thanks

  9. John B

    Hi All …,What ever paint you choose, just try and ditch that roller for a bit of ‘laying off’. We’ve come a long way from Artex so why spoil it with Orange Peel. ?

    • John Scott

      Nice memory John. You obviously haven’t brushed a ceiling with an eight inch brush! It was damned hard work keeping your edge going I can tell you.

      Most ceilings today are too “hot” to lay off as you roll it.
      Surely it creats scuff marks and flashes? Either that or you’re faster than a greyhound with a banger up its bum!

      A good quality Sheepskin roller (worn in) will leave a smooth finish if you gently roll over the area you’ve painted before reloading with more paint. It’s worked for me over 40 yrs 😉

  10. Steve

    Great advice which we listened to, bought Johnstone’s John Matt as a base coat then two coats of Johstone’s Covaplus. Best decision ever made. Much less mess than when previously covering fresh plaster and an excellent matt finish. Very pleased with the result

  11. Murray Hutchison

    Bought Dulux (water based )eggshell to cover existing eggshell on wooden doors. Big big mistake. 3 coats later and am giving up and going to recycle what is left ie£20 worth. It’s dreadfully thin and hard to paint flat even with the recommended synthetic brush. Such a poor product. Off to get Johnstone’s eggshell to save me hours of recoating time.

  12. James Walker

    My painter used Macpherson Trade Vinyl Matt on freshly plastered walls and ceilings. Just a mist coat on the walls which seem fine but a mist followed by a regular coating for the ceilings.

    The walls are fine. The ceiling paint comes off with the frog tape.

    Is this normal? Painter is saying that it is.

    • John Scott

      Hi Mike. As a painter I can assure you the paint is not the problem. It’s 100% the new plaster. Even with a mist coat as a primer the emulsion can’t adhere to the plaster as its very likely got a powdery surface.

      As I’ve said a few times on here (with apologies to Mike) I’ve been decorating since 1976. The building trade has changed very much since then. H&S has improved immensely but standard of workmanship can be really poor. We now have young kids joining building sites with level 3 qualifications after only two years in a college.

      I mentored a young lady to level 3 in P&D and ironically this was in a college! After 2 years she was better qualified than I was. My job description was Estates Painter. She was then listed as Estates Painter & Decorator. Yet she couldn’t climb a set of steps to cut in despite my constant encouragement.

      Having both been made redundant she no longer paints!

      Sorry for the tale but it’s to prove my point.

      Back to the emulsion problem James!

      Plasterers, when I began my trade polished the surface of plaster. I mean polished to a mirror finish. Today they will flatten but with time constraints will not polish. Time is money. Get it done quick, make loadsa money. You thought Harry Enfield was joking. Oh no he wasn’t!

      The harder the surface of new plaster the better the the emulsion will adhere to it.

      How many reading this have papered over your nice painted newly plastered walls a few years later? Yep, and when you pull off your paper to redecorate? Layers of emulsion stuck to the back of the paper. Then the nightmare of removing the rest of the loose emulsion and skimming over the scars with filler.

      So don’t blame your painter or the paint. It’s a society that wants things done quickly with poor preparation and quick as you can application of paints and decorative products. After all, it’s only a lick of paint, not rocket science! It’s sad that when I began work I was proud to be a decorator and tradesman. Now, well if you can get the lid off your plastic tub of paint, you’ve cracked it.

      1994+ Painting & Decorating Association decorators of the year? Two office workers took early retirement and started a P&D business.

      Good luck to them both but I quickly dumped my expensive membership!

      Happy painting everyone.

  13. Steven

    Hi Mike about to decorate a whole house and looking for a washable / scrubbable trade Matt so it’s suitable for a household with young children and pets.

    I noted on your Covaplus review you say “If you finish decorating a room, then scuff a wall whilst you’re moving furniture back, or putting a certain rail up, then I’m afraid you’re painting that wall again”. What product would you recommend in this instance?

    • Mike Cupit

      If you’ve got the budget, go for Johnstone’s perfect matt. If that’s a bit pricey, do for either Crown Clean Extreme or Johnstone’s durable matt

  14. Bryan Streek

    What do you think of Little Greene? Would value a professional opinion.


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