Decorators Review Johnstone’s Aqua system - the best water-based gloss and satinwood

Decorators Review Johnstone’s Aqua System


Johnstone’s Aqua was recently voted the best water-based gloss and satin on the market by professionals from the Decorators Forum. With this in mind, we decided to ask a number of decorators what they thought about the system.


First, let’s look at the paint. The important thing to remember when using the Johnstones’ Aqua SYSTEM, is you need to use it as a SYSTEM. That means you need to use the Johnstone’s Aqua undercoat before the gloss or satin. This if for both adhesion and opacity reasons. For more information on the Aqua range click here.


You can use Johnstone’s Aqua internally or externally. Recoat time is 4 – 6 hours for each product and you’re normally looking at 3 coats over previously painted or pre-primed surfaces. This is the perfect paint for woodwork such as doors, windows, skirting boards and basically anything else. Oh, and it can be tinted into any colour from Johnstone’s vast range. Quick tip – keep your brush wet (bucket of water handy) and you’ll find the Aqua a lot easier to work with.


You can buy this paint from any Johnstone’s Decorating Centre where you’ll get expert advice. However, often it is cheaper online from a trade website like The Paintshed. CLICK HERE to visit the Paintshed

I have been working back on a job I did in sept 2016 today. Only to paint ceilings and walls after water damage, I can confirm the woodwork looks just as good today as it did when I finished in 2016 using the aqua undercoat and water based gloss, so we won’t be repainting it.

I have been using Johnstone’s Aqua for years because my old boss knew one day, all paint would be water-based.

At first, I hated it with a passion like with most things new. I couldn’t get it to cover, brush marks everywhere, tacking off to quick. Killing brushes.

Now it’s all I use when applying by brush and roller. And I feel I achieve brilliant results, like with most products if you stick with them and learn, you will make it work for you!

I haven’t managed to spray the water-based gloss successfully yet after 2 awful attempts, but the acrylic satin is perfect through the airless.

They both get a 👍 from me.

FineLine Decorating Northampton - best water-based gloss

I’m currently using the satin and the undercoat. I found the consistency quite sticky, my brushes kept clogging up and coverage not great on new timber. However, it does smell lovely. 🤣

Carla Ross - Decorators Review Johnstone's Aqua

I’m a fan of satin, 2 coats on top of aqua undercoat and it looks brilliant every time. Aqua gloss is probably the best water-based version on the market. It is a brush killer though.

Michael Spearman

The satin is great. The Aqua water-based undercoat must be used, no cutting corners!! But it’s a great system. It is hard to clean your brushes out after you’ve finished with them though.

Simon Young - best water-based gloss

Great stuff, just make sure you use the undercoat prior to the gloss and you’re onto a winner. The sheen level is close to oil-based

Simon Sparrow - Decorators Review Johnstone's Aqua

The Aqua undercoat is superb gear which I use it all the time. Not too keen on the satin as it needs extra coats to be solid. Don’t use gloss so can’t comment on that

Steven Markey

I use it a lot, I love it

Kirstin Williams

Pretty much all I ever use great stuff

Gareth Williams - Decorators Review Johnstone's Aqua

I’ve used the gloss on a couple of jobs and it’s been decent. Not great on brushes but does say on tin to wash out in clean spirit. You do have to use the Aqua undercoat underneath otherwise your topcoat will not sit right.

Frank Mongan

100% good stuff. Use it every day

Keith Gailey

It should be labeled correctly. As it’s a hybrid and not a true water-based, thus why it destroys brushes.

Dean Wilkes - Decorators Review Johnstone's Aqua

Very good, I have been using it for a couple years now. Does kill the brushes but even with that it’s good. 99% of the time even the white is a 2-coat system on top of previously painted wood.

Andrew Wood

My go to Satinwood every time! Not used the gloss yet

Nick Dixon

I use nothing else love it. Does trash your brushes though so I just buy cheaper brushes now like Axus or Fat Hog.

Richard Senior

The gloss is pretty decent but as already said, it can be a brush killer

Pete Mcnab

The Aqua undercoat and satin are great. They do knacker your brushes though.


Steve Saus Jones - - best water-based gloss

Used the water-based Aqua gloss loads of times. Great shine to it so it’s a yes from me

Jimmy Dykes - Decorators Review Johnstone's Aqua

I absolutely love the undercoat and satin not used gloss yet but I’ve heard great things about it.

Lisa Hurbz

I found my brushes died while using the Aqua gloss in the sunshine, they kept going hard. I worked out after a while that if you keep a small bucket of water handy and keep swilling your brush every now and again, they’ll last a lot longer and the product is easier to apply.

Joe Marsh

The best “off the shelf” water-based gloss and satin I’ve used. Goes lovely with the Aqua undercoat

Paul Sharpe

I Used the aqua undercoat and aqua gloss on a quick tidy up for an insurance job this week. I could not fault the product or the results. My only moan is my brush took a bashing, more than any water-based paint previously used…. but happy to use again

Peter Kirkham

I think it’s decent. I have been using it since it first came out and get a great finish from it. The only thing I’ll say is you need to keep your brushes wet or the Aqua will wreck them in no time at all.

Barry Spencer Taylor - - best water-based gloss

Aqua undercoat is excellent, I also like the gloss as it’s a decent quick-dry option. I know it will eventually discolour but nowhere near as quick as oil based. Not a fan of the satin though.

Scott Connelly - Decorators Review Johnstone's Aqua

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