Dulux Crown or Johnstone’s Emulsion? What to buy

Updated Jul 17, 2024 | Posted Feb 24, 2020 | Product Reviews, Paints | 3 comments

Bit of a strange one this, but as a decorator I’m often asked which is the best, Dulux, Crown or Johnstone’s emulsion. There are plus and minus points for each, which I’ll take you through in a minute. I’m going to focus on vinyl matt, even though there are quite a few different variations on emulsion, each designed for a different purpose. If I wrote about all of them we’d be here all day!

Something to understand is the difference between trade and retail paint. Each of the big 3 (Dulux, Johnstone’s and Crown) make separate versions of each product for each sector. Trade being the premium and retail being the budget. You should always look for the word “trade” on the tin or go to a trade outlet. That way you know what you’re buying. I’m going to focus on trade products in this review. If you’re on the look out for the best durable emulsion click here.


Dulux Trade Vinyl Matt

Dulux seems to be the name most homeowners are familiar with, however vinyl matt isn’t their best product if I’m brutally honest. Opacity and ease of use are good, but for me, the sheen level is too high for matt paint. You can also have an issue with roller marks and picture framing. It is expensive too! I try to guide my clients away from Dulux when talking about emulsion. It’s a shame because Akzo Nobel make some amazing products, just not this one.  Click here to see a full review. You can pick this paint up online, or any Dulux Decorating Centre. Click here to see online prices.


Crown Trade Vinyl Matt

Crown Trade vinyl matt is a little bit understated in my opinion. They don’t pretend to be anything they are not, and pricing is fair. In fact, Crown Trade vinyl matt is the cheapest option on this blog. The overall finish is a very rich flat matt and opacity is spot on. The only issue I do have with the product is the lack of polymer binders which make the paint durable. It seems to mark very easily, so it isn’t ideal for a busy hallway or homes with young children. Full review here. You can pick this up online, or from any Crown Decorating Centre. Click here to see online prices.


Johnstone’s Covaplus

Covaplus is Johnstone’s trade vinyl matt. It sits in the middle of the other two when it comes to price, leaves you with a true matt finish and the opacity is brilliant. There is very little in the way of issues at all really. No flashing or pictureframing.  No complaints really, Covaplus does everything you need it to at a reasonable price. It by far outperforms the other standard vinyl matt emulsions on this review. Full review here. You can buy this paint online, or any Johnstone’s Decorating Centre. Click here to see online prices.


Johnstone’s Perfect Matt


I know I said there are loads of different variations of emulsion paint products and I was going to stick to the mainstream ones, but Johnstone’s perfect matt is definitely worth a mention. Available online, it is Johnstone’s most premium matt emulsion and it’s been designed to compete with the designer paint brands. Yes, it is expensive, but Johnstone’s perfect matt is probably the best paint on this blog by a country mile. Perfectly flat, durable, no issues with picture framing or roller marks, easy to apply and touches up well. If you’ve got the money and you’d rather spend a bit more to get the perfect finish, you need to go for this paint. Full review here. Plus, if you buy this paint online, they can match any colour from any brand. This id ideal for me as a decorator because it means I can let my clients choose Farrow and Ball or Little Greene colours, then get it mixed into Perfect Matt. Click here to see online prices.


My Choice


So, the original question was which is the best paint. For me, out of the standard vinyl matt emulsion products, it is Johnstone’s Covaplus hands down. Followed by Crown Trade vinyl matt, which is still a quality product, then Dulux which is the most expensive and worst performing out of the lot.

I have Johnstone’s Perfect Matt in my own house and I do use it on some of my professional painting jobs, but covaplus offers good value for money. It all comes down to budget.

Unless you qualify for a trade discount, it’s cheaper and easier to buy any of the above products from the Decorating Centre Online and The Paint Shed. Both these sites also match colours from other brands, which is an added bonus.


Best Tools to Apply Vinyl Matt Emulsion


Regardless of whether you opt for Dulux, Crown, or Johnstone’s, using the best tools for the job will make a huge difference when it comes to achieving a good finish. To that end, I thought I’d give my recommendations.

You should use a brush that holds loads of paint, keeps its shape, won’t drag, and is soft enough to ‘lay off’ without leaving brush marks. The best is ProDec Ice Fusion, which ticks all the boxes. Its bristles are tapered from base to tip, meaning there is more room within the brush to hold paint. Click here to see online prices.

You also need a good roller when applying matt emulsion. I like Hamilton Perfection Medium Pile (green). They hold plenty of paint, spread it evenly, and leave no orange peel. Click here to see online prices.

Which Emulsion do Other Decorators Prefer?

The Johnstone’s Covaplus is definitely the best for colour matching and all-round the winner out of the 3. Dulux has great opacity but has a high-price and occasional picture framing, which can leave the finish looking a bit naff.👍🏻

Dan Ezard

Professional Decorator

Johnstone’s because it’s a good drop, not bad value, and they mix to little green or Farrow and Ball colours.

Jack Gibson

Professional Decorator

Johnstone’s Covaplus is easily the best emulsion on the list. I used to use Dulux vinyl matt and to be honest, the Dulux isn’t as bad as people make out.

I love Covaplus though. The finish you get with it is absolutely bang on. It’s just a shame that normal trade emulsions don’t touch up any more.

Scott Murphy

Professional Decorator

Quick summary

Crown- not as workable as the others, particularly in brighter colours

Dulux- far too inconsistent

Johnstone’s , never had an issue 👌

Paul Henderson

Professional Decorator


I like Crown Trade vinyl matt for the finish, but I wish it was a bit more durable and easier to work.  It has to be Dulux for me, simply because it’s easy to use and the opacity is good. I see a lot of negative comments from people claiming to have issues with Dulux, but I’ve never had a problem. I think the finish is good. I haven’t tried Johnstone’s Covaplus yet. Armstead Durable Matt is great too.

Lee Thornton

Professional Decorator

I’m stuck on Johnstone’s emulsion at the moment, I usually like Dulux because it’s been ingrained into me over 25 years of decorating, but I can’t get hold of much at the moment for lack of deliveries. Dulux have been king for a long time, but I feel like they’re sitting on their laurels a bit because the world is moving on and there are new kids on the block like Tikkurila UK. Also, they’re charging top notch prices for paint that is not as top notch as it used to be.

It almost feels as if Leyland has returned with the cheap and cheerful paint of old in the range provided by Johnstone’s. It’s good stuff, the exterior is nice (although I’m not so keen on the darker colour exterior Johnstone’s emulsion as it seems to colour shift in the rain)

Crown have dropped the ball a bit, I generally only use crown as an undercoat if I need to seal something.

Ross Ratty

Professional Decorator

I’ve not used Crown or Johnston’s for years. Dulux is good but very expensive if you’re not on a good trade deal with your supplier. I sometimes just buy mine online.

Tony Freake

Professional Decorator

I would agree with this review. Unless you want to pay out for one of the designer paints, Johnstone’s covaplus is probably the best vinyl matt emulsion on the market. It outperforms Crown and it’s cheaper than Dulux. One of the best things is you can go into any JJC with the name of a colour from a different brand and they will mix it in covaplus for you.

Tim Marshel

Professional Decorator

This blog is a little bit polarized, simply because it just focuses on one product for each. Dulux vinyl matt may be expensive, but they also sell Armstead vinyl matt, which is cheaper and leaves a nicer finish.

I really don’t like Crown because it drags, but Crown Clean Extreme is one of the best durable matt emulsions on the market It’s cheap too. I reckon I get Crown Clean Extreme for around the same price as Dulux vinyl matt.

Joseph Green

Professional Decorator

Crown, Dulux and Johnstone’s have started losing ground now. You’ve got paint’s like Teknos coming through, or Tikkurila. A lot of decorators I know have started switching.

I still use a lot of paint from Dulux and Johnstone’s. For emulsion, I think Johnstone’s CovaPlus is probably the winner out of those two.

Phil Dawe

Professional Decorator

I mostly use Crown paints. Their emulsion is cheap and leaves a lovely flat matt finish. It’s good on ceilings too.

Thomas Graves

Professional Decorator

It’s got to be Johnstone’s for me. I always have issues with flashing when I use Dulux, and Crown isn’t very durable. Johnstone’s doesn’t seem to cover very well, but the finish is awesome.

Tim Davies

Professional Decorator

Updated Jul 17, 2024 | Posted Feb 24, 2020 | 3 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Gregory is a Professional Painter and Decorator who works in the Northwest of England. He mainly sub-contracts for large decorating firms and works on a wide variety of projects.
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  1. Dave Crossman

    As a regular Johnson’s user I’ve got agree with the review.
    I have, however, been using Andura Titanium matt lately with good results. A good price for a durable matt with good opacity and no picture framing.

  2. Jason maguire

    I find all 3 of these are not the easist to use.i no most paints leave roller lines..but at the moment i prefer armstead matt..easist to apply..but does mark easy.however goes on nice.

  3. Andy

    I recently painted the inside of a new extension with Johnstone’s Jonmat Premium Contract Matt. I was astonished at how well it covered bare plaster, even as a first watered-down coat. After drying it almost looked like the finished product. Unfortunately, because I’d watered all of the tin down I only had that to finish it with, but boy that was all I needed! Quite staggering.


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