Even as a Professional Decorator, I know that choosing the best emulsion for a particular job can feel a little overwhelming. Choosing the best WHITE emulsion paint can be even more complicated. This is because manufacturers walk a fine line between quality and price when developing a product, and Titanium Dioxide (the white in white paint), is one of the most expensive ingredients. That means that a lot of the best performing emulsion paints in tinted colours do not have the same level of performance in white.
In this blog I’m going to talk a little bit about the things you should consider when choosing a white paint, and then give you my recommendations. If you don’t care much for the how and when, and want to skip ahead to the best white emulsion choices, then feel free.
One of the most important pieces of advice I can give you is to stick with “Trade” products. Most manufacturers make different paint lines for different markets. Retail paint is sold from DIY stores like Homebase and B&Q, and is made to a tighter budget from inferior ingredients. Trade paint may cost slightly more, but the overall performance is much better. Always look for the word “trade” on the tin. Dulux TRADE vinyl matt is much better quality than Dulux Vinyl Matt.
It’s worth mentioning that unless you are entitled to a trade discount with favourable rates, it is often cheaper to buy trade paint online than it is from a trade paint outlet. For that reason, I’ll link a recommended website with each of my paint recommendations.
The Different Types of White Emulsion Paint
Before we can get into the best white emulsion paint, we need to look at the various products that are on offer, and what you should consider for each job. I’ll briefly run through them now –
Contract Matt Emulsion
Contract matt emulsion is generally a lot cheaper than vinyl matt, but contains a lot less polymer binders. This means the paint remains porous and not very durable. Some Decorators use contract matt to paint ceilings, but I prefer to avoid it altogether.
Vinyl Matt Emulsion
Vinyl matt is the paint most people use on walls and ceilings. It’s the easiest paint to find a good finish when using white too. Still not overly durable (which wouldn’t be a massive issue in most colours, but white can start to look dirty rather quickly).
Durable Matt Emulsion
This may be the best white emulsion paint to use on walls. As the name suggests, durable matt emulsion is a step up in durability from traditional vinyl matt. It’s fine for use in most high-traffic areas, bathrooms, and kitchens. However, a lot of durable matts have poor opacity, so go with one of my recommendations.
This has a higher sheen-level than matt, but it’s a step up in durability again. Great for bathrooms and kitchens with heavy condensation, or commercial buildings. However, the overall finish is not as desirable.
Specialist Ceiling Paints
Want the best white emulsion paint to use on a ceiling? Nowadays we have a range of specialist ceiling paints to choose from. Each has an ultra-low sheen level and has been developed to avoid flashing and roller marks. These are the products I use when painting a ceiling.
The Best White Vinyl Matt Emulsion to Use
Right, let’s get into my recommendations!! I’ll give you two options for each type of paint. These are genuinely the best trade options on the market in my own professional opinion.
Crown Trade Vinyl Matt
Crown Trade Vinyl Matt is a fantastic emulsion in white. Opacity is unreal, and it doesn’t even cost that much. It isn’t as durable as some of the other products on the market, but the finish is spot on.
Another reason I like this paint is it’s low-sheen level, which gives it a luxurious feel. This is a great choice if you want to find a quality product that doesn’t break the bank.
Johnstone’s Perfect Matt
Johnstone’s Perfect Matt is the premium option. It is far better than a standard trade product.
In fact, it was developed to compete on quality with the much more expensive designer brands that are available. The finish is a very contemporary flat matt, which is perfect for both walls and ceilings. Not only does this paint look good, but it is also fairly durable. Perfect Matt is a fantastic white emulsion and one I’d highly recommend. It may cost a little bit more to buy, but it’s a superior product.
The Best White Durable Matt Emulsion
Crown Clean Extreme
Crown Clean Extreme is a fantastic product in any colour. Durability and overall finish are spot on, and it’s a joy to use. Opacity is fairly good in white (much better than most other durable matt emulsion products). This paint is reasonably priced too.
I go through a lot of Crown Clean Extreme in various finishes, simply because it’s so easy to work with and achieve a good result. No defects like flashing and picture framing, just a flawless finish every time.
WRX Wall Paint
This is a bit of a curveball, because WRX Wall paint isn’t what I’d call a mainstream product, but it’s one I use often.
The opacity and durability are absolutely brilliant, as is the finish. Application can be a bit of a faff because it “pulls”. I tend to cut in with a brush, let it dry, then roll afterwards. Providing you do that, you’ll love this paint.
The Best Acrylic Eggshell Paint in White
Crown Clean Extreme
Crown Clean Extreme also takes a spot for the best white eggshell paint. Opacity, ease of use, value for money, and overall finish are all great. This is a quality paint for a bathroom, kitchen, or walls in high-traffic areas.
Crown make a “mould inhibiting” version of this paint, which has anti-fungal additives. This is a good tool for preventing mould from reoccurring in troublesome areas.
Leyland Hardwearing Eggshell
Another curveball because Leyland Trade isn’t even a premium range of paint. However, their eggshell is brilliant. Opacity and overall finish are good. I’d put Crown Clean Extreme before this, but Leyland eggshell is still a great trade product at a reasonable price. It’s easy to work with too, so you shouldn’t have any issues with it. A good all-round white emulsion.
The Best White Emulsion Paint for a Ceiling
Anti-Reflex was voted the best paint for a ceiling a little while ago amongst Decorators on The Decorators Forum UK. For good reason too! Opacity isn’t the best, so use a good quality roller when applying it. Howeverm the overall finish is to die for!! It really is lovely! Easy to use, no defects, and a luxurious feel to it.
I know this is primarily a ceiling paint, but I do occasionally use it on walls too.
Bedec Spray Day Light
This is a premium product with a premium price tag, but it gives you a finish every bit as good as Tikkurila Anti-Reflex. However, it has better opacity, so fewer coats needed. If you don’t mind spending a little bit more money on something superior, the Bedec Spray Day Light is the best choice for a ceiling in my opinion.
This is particularly good for hiding defects on bad plaster as there is very little shadowing across a surface.
Is Homebase white emulsion any good?
Homebase own-brand emulsion is a white label product from another brand. It’s a retail paint, which means it is poor quality, but sold on mass at a reasonable price. As a Decorator, I always point people towards trade paint, which may be more expensive, but is far better quality.
What is the most durable white paint?
The most durable white paint for walls is probably acrylic eggshell. The finish may not be as desirable as matt, but the paint will easily stand up to scuffs or condensation.
What is the most common white paint for walls?
Vinyl matt is probably the most used white paint for walls. It contains some polymer binder, leaves a nice finish, and is reasonably priced.
What white paint is used on new builds?
Most new builds are painted using contract matt emulsion. This is for a couple of reasons; Firstly, it’s cheap. Secondly, it allows plaster to breather, so it can be painted before it is fully dry.
Do you sand between coats of emulsion?
Some people sand their walls after the mist coat (first coat). But generally, no, there is no need to sand between coats of emulsion.
I genuinely hope this blog has helped you choose a suitable emulsion. As I mentioned towards the top of the blog, even though there are tens of thousands of products to choose from, it can be difficult to find a good quality white emulsion. At least if you take one of my recommendations, you eliminate the element of chance.
What do Other Decorators Think?
I have used Crown Clean Extreme for a few years as a durable white emulsion and never had a problem with it. I was also impressed with Tikkurila Anti-Reflex when I used it not long ago. It covers well and has a nice finish to it.
It depends on what you’re using the white emulsion for.
Mist coating – Armstead contract
Standard emulsion – Johnstone’s Covaplus.
Ceilings – Tikkurila Anti-Reflex2
All of above best for coverage and whiteness.
Johnstone’s Perfect Matt has everything you want in brilliant white especially for critical lighting areas or bad ceilings👇. It’s the best white emulsion paint on the market, hands down! It touches up beautifully, even over a year later!! I have found that out by going back to a project where they had a leak 16 months later and ended up replacing the bathroom, which caused more touching up to be required.
It is also class 1 scrub rated. For the most durable white you need the Johnstone’s Cleanable Matt. It has great opacity, covers like a dream, and cleans better than Dulux Diamond range or Crown Clean Extreme.
I’m fairly limited on whites which I’ve used but I like the following-
The best flat finish for ceilings is Tikkurila Anti Reflex, which is a nice flat finish, but poor opacity.
The best vinyl matt is Crown Trade, which has good coverage and finish.
The best durable white is Crown Clean Extreme, which is a lovely smooth finish, not always the best opacity but that seems the same for a number of durable whites.
I still love Tikkurila Anti-Reflex 2 on ceilings, but only if its white on white. Sometimes it’s fine with one coat, but I always allow for 2 😉. I also like Crown Covermatt (I think that’s what it’s called?) 2 x mist and 2 x tops and it is flawless. Very good price too. Tried it on a rental refurb this week and it made me nervous to be honest. It was OK, but I won’t use it for that again.
Tikkurila Anti-Reflex2 is the best white emulsion paint for me. Great coverage, dries very flat so hides surface imperfections, can be touched up without flashing.
GoodHome Tough & Durable is brilliant. I’m using Tikkurila Anti-Reflex for the first time on walls and ceiling on my current job and it is beautiful in every way so far, but not sure how durable it will be on the walls 🤞
The best white emulsion for ceilings is Tikkurila Anti-Reflex hands down. It’s light years ahead of any other white paint. For clean-up jobs I love Supermatt, decent opacity, easy to use. For anything durable I like Crown Clean Extreme.
Tikkurila Anti-Reflex for ceilings, the new technology Dulux Diamond matt for walls. Not tried Tikkurila on walls yet but should imagine that’d top Dulux for the best white paint.