In this blog I’m going to take you through the choices I think you should consider when deciding on the best emulsion for walls and ceilings. I’ll explain the different finishes available, and then offer up the best products for each.
The first thing to bear in mind, as any Decorator will tell you, is to buy trade paint. It may be a little more expensive, but it’s 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.
Unless you’re entitled to a trade discount, it’s generally cheaper to buy trade paint online. If you’re looking for an online paint supplier, then you won’t go far wrong with The Decorating Centre Online, who offer great prices and can generally match colours across different brands. So, you could get a Farrow and Ball colour in, say, a Johnstone’s Trade product.
The Different Paint Finishes Available and Where You Should Use Them
There are different types of emulsion and each one suits different rooms. I’ll take you through them briefly.
- Vinyl Matt – This is your standard emulsion that can be used in most rooms in your home. The finish is low sheen, but it isn’t very durable. So, you wouldn’t use it in a kitchen, bathroom, or high traffic areas.
- Durable Matt Emulsion – As the name suggests, durable matt has a similar finish to vinyl matt, but is more durable. This is the best emulsion to use in a kitchen, high traffic areas, or if you have pets or small children.
- Acrylic Eggshell – This is a step up in durability again and is better suited for bathrooms and areas of your home that suffer from condensation. The sheen level of eggshell is higher than matt, which leads to a less desirable finish.
The Best Vinyl Matt Emulsion for Walls and Ceilings
Armstead Vinyl Matt
Armstead is the value brand owned by AkzoNobel, 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 Decorator Centres, Armstead is by far the cheaper product.
It also has a lower sheen level, meaning you experiance less problems with picture framing and roller marks. The only downside is the opacity isn’t great in the pale colours, meaning you sometimes need to apply a third coat to cover a very strong colour.
That said, I do still love this paint. It’s a proper trade quality emulsion that leaves you with a great finish and is reasonably priced.
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.
Covaplus is up there as one of the best standard vinyl matt emulsion paints available, and it is the industry leader amongst Professional Decorators. There are better products available, but you will need to pay a premium to use them.
The Best Premium Matt Emulsion For Walls and Ceilings
The products I have talked about so far on this blog are the best of the standard trade paints, and are probably the most popular. However, there are premium paints available that are even better. I tend to stay away from designer brands, simply because they often come at an inflated price which doesn’t reflect the quality.
If you don’t mind paying a little bit more, and you genuinely want the best emulsion for walls and ceilings, then either of the two products I’m about to talk about are perfect.
Johnstone’s Perfect Matt
Johnstone’s Perfect Matt 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 fairly 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 one of the best options on the market.
Dulux Heritage Velvet Matt
This is another high-end paint for walls and ceilings. Dulux Heritage Velvet Matt is absolutely stunning in every way! Flow and opacity are spot on, and it feels silky when you apply it. The finish is so deep and rich that you will notice the quality every time you walk into the room.
It is expensive, but the price tag is justified. The only real downside is the limited choice of colours. Don’t get me wrong, the colours Dulux have picked out are all stunning, much more desirable than the Farrow and Ball colours in my opinion. However, there are only a few dozen pre-mixed offerings. All the rest of the paint products on this list can be matched into any colour.
The Best Durable Matt Emulsion for Walls and Ceilings
Dulux Diamond Matt
If you need something a little bit more durable, then Dulux Diamond Matt is probably the best in my opinion. It isn’t quite as durable as some of the other options like Crown Clean Extreme (which is also a good product), but the finish is unreal.
A lot of durable matt emulsion paints show defects like flashing and picture framing. Dulux Diamond Matt leaves a rich deep finish with no defects. Roller and brush marks blend into each other nicely, which results in a flawless finish.
Opacity is fantastic, except in white, which sometimes needs an additional coat. That is my only real gripe through. The quality of finish makes this the best emulsion for light critical kitchens and hallways. I love this paint!
The Best Acrylic Eggshell Emulsion
As explained earlier in the blog, acrylic eggshell has a higher sheen level than matt. This is less desirable on walls and ceilings. However, if you’re painting in a room with a lot of condensation, a bathroom, a busy kitchen, or a commercial setting, then the durability of eggshell makes it the best option.
Crown Clean Extreme Durable Acrylic Eggshell
Any eggshell emulsion is generally easy to use and flows well, particularly when applying the second coat.
The reason I chose Crown Clean Extreme is its overall appearance. Eggshell can, on occasion, look cheap and plasticky once applied.
Clean Extreme is different. The opacity is good, it’s easy to avoid defects, and the finish is spot on. It’s also very durable, and is available as an anti-mould paint, which helps in troublesome rooms.
The Best White Emulsion for Ceilings
There once was a time when it didn’t really matter which emulsion you used on a ceiling. Your ceiling would look great regardless. However, for whatever reason, we started experiencing more and more problems with roller marks.
Apparently paint formulations changed to adjust to changes in modern plaster products. Plus, more people now have large open plan rooms with lots of natural light. Suddenly, a ceiling can be a big feature of a room, so it needs to be flawless. A good ceiling paint needs to be low reflective. Avoid “brilliant white” and go for something softer.
This was the first specialist ceiling paint to pop up on the UK market, and it soon became very popular amongst Decorators. It is still regarded as the best emulsion to use on a ceiling.
You can buy Anti-Reflex in white or pale colours. It’s easy to apply and leaves a great finish. It is genuinely the very best in terms of overall appearance. My only little gripe is the opacity, which isn’t very good, so apply generous coats using a long-pile roller.
It’s well worth it though. If you want the best finish possible on your ceilings, then this is the paint you should buy.
As you might guess from the name, Teknoceiling is another specialist ceiling paint. It is very similar to Tikkurila Anti-Reflex, in that it is a very low sheen emulsion. The finish isn’t quite as good as Anti-Reflex, but the opacity is far better. You will achieve a good finish in fewer coats.
Is vinyl matt emulsion better than matt?
If a paint is ladled “matt”, then is normally a retail paint that is comparable to contract matt. This type of paint does not contain very much polymer binder, which can lead to issues with dragging on application. Contract matt is not very durable either.
Vinyl matt emulsion is a similar product, but with more binders. This makes it a far better paint for walls and ceilings.
How many coats of emulsion should a wall have?
If you choose a good-quality emulsion, two coats are normally all you need on a wall or ceiling. Bare plaster occasionally takes a primer, followed by two full coats of emulsion. You should follow the instructions that come with your chosen paint.
Is matt or silk emulsion best for walls?
Silk is horrible! It looks dated and shows a lot of defects, including brush and roller marks. It also causes problems when you come to paint over it. Matt is much better than silk. Click here for more details.
What do Other Decorators Think is the Best Emulsion?
Tikkurila vinyl matt is the best paint for internal walls, without a doubt in my mind! It’s class 2 wet rub rating, amazing opacity and it goes so far! You can also touch it up without flashing.
Haven’t tried all the fancy gear like Tikkurila, but I can recommend Johnstone’s Covaplus Vinyl matt. Damn! I’ve been using it for years and it hasn’t changed (maybe even improved). Any colour over any colour and it always looks great in two coats. Not too thin not too thick. It is readily available and always in stock, and hey… the price. The price is sooo right. I just love it. Easily my favourite paint for interior walls and ceilings.
I think Albany is the best emulsion for walls. It is brilliant emulsion.
Teknos Pro5 has been my “go-to”, this year and is easily one of the best paints for walls and ceilings. Opacity is superb, colour matches from Topdec have been spot on, dries to a superb flat matt which helps hide any surface imperfections and when dry, the finish has the flat chalky appearance, associated with much more expensive paints.
Add into the mix that, once cured, it has a class 1 scrub rating, is over-coatable in 1hr and it’s hard to overlook in favour of other paints.
Tikkurila is the best emulsion for walls and ceilings. Add a wee bit water and it goes for miles, doesn’t flash and touches up well.
Tikkurila vinyl Matt feels like an old-school matt emulsion.
Tikkurila, Johnsons, crown, MacPherson; I use them on a daily basis…all great paint products… (opacity, viscosity, coverage).
The best emulsion for walls and ceilings is one that doesn’t flash if brushed.
One that doesn’t come off with a damp sponge when wallpapering.
One that is durable for family life.
Tikkurila Optiva5 then.