Dulux or Johnstone’s Paint, which is Better?

Updated Jan 18, 2024 | Posted May 8, 2020 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 15 comments

PPG, who own Johnstone’s Paint, are the biggest coatings manufacturer in the world and a favourite with Decorators. Dulux is widely known as the best paint brand amongst homeowners, but which is better in reality, Dulux or Johnstone’s paint?

In this blog I’m going to take you through some of the more mainstream TRADE  products from each brand and compare them with each other. I’ll base everything on my own experiance as a Professional Decorator. There are a lot of differences in performance and I think you’ll find it useful when choosing between Dulux and Johnstone’s paint.

If you have a trade account with Dulux or Johnstone’s, it is often better going direct to the respective trade counters to buy your paint. If you do not have a trade account, it is almost definitely cheaper buying trade paint online. A good trade website I have found is The Decorating Centre online, where you will find a wide selection of both Dulux and Johnstone’s products at a reasonable price. Click here to visit their website.

 

Johnstone’s Jonmatt Vs Dulux Supermatt

 

I thought we’d start with contract matt as it’s often the first paint to be used on a project. Both these products are generally used to prime bare plaster, finish on a ceiling, or a “builders’ finish” on a newbuild.

Johnstone’s Jonmatt is a very strange paint. Opacity is unbelievable and you can easily cover bare plaster in two coats. The issue I have with Jonmatt is it dries way too fast and if you don’t keep a wet edge you will notice flashing. It doesn’t touch up either, so it’s useless on a building site. If someone marks a wall or ceiling, then you’re painting the whole thing again I’m afraid.

Dulux Supermatt on the other hand, is outstanding all-round. Opacity is great, no flashing or picture framing and a nice flat matt finish. A lot easier to work with than Jonmatt too. Dulux Supermatt is by far the better product, although it is slightly more expensive.

Johnstone’s 0 – 1 Dulux

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Johnstone’s Covaplus Vs Dulux Vinyl Matt

 

Ok, let’s do vinyl matt emulsion next, and this one is a very easy choice. Johnstone’s Covaplus in my opinion is one of the best standard trade emulsion paints on the market.

It dries flat and you have very few issues with roller and brush marks.  You can pay big bucks for something that performs even better, but Johnstone’s Covaplus is generally fine.

Dulux vinyl matt has improved in recent years, but it still isn’t as good as Covaplus! It is expensive, has a high sheen level and roller or brush marks can be a big problem.

So, when choosing between Dulux and Johnstone’s for a vinyl matt emulsion, go for Johnstone’s every time.

Johnstone’s 1 – 1 Dulux

Johnstone's Covaplus is a great emulsion to use in a lounge

Johnstone’s Durable Acrylic Vs Dulux Diamond Matt

 

These are both good products, and both have their merits. Johnstone’s Acrylic Durable Matt is an easy paint to use, has great opacity, and is very durable. I have no issues using this paint at all.

Up until recently, Dulux Diamond Matt wasn’t very good. However, they have reformulated it, and now it’s a masterpiece.

Bursh and roller marks melt into each other when you use Dulux Diamond Matt, leaving you with a flawless finish. The sheen level is very flat too, which means you’re left with a very contemporary ‘chalky’ finish with a cosy depth. It isn’t quite as durable as Johnstone’s Durable Acrylic Matt, but it’s still perfect for high traffic areas and kitchens.

I’m going to give this one to Dulux. They’re both good, but Dulux Diamond Matt is one of the best durable emulsion paints available.

Johnstone’s 1 – 2 Dulux

dulux diamond matt is better than Johnstone's Acrylic durable

Johnstone’s Satinwood Vs Dulux Satinwood

 

Both of these products have great opacity and are lovely to apply. I’d say the Dulux leaves a slightly nicer finish. The real test for quality oil-based paint in white nowadays is how long it will stay white for. This is down to VOC restrictions, but that is another blog entirely. Johnstone’s oil-based Satinwood does not last very long at all before it starts to discolour, whereas the Dulux can look brand new for years. Go for the Dulux Satinwood and avoid Johnstone’s at all costs.

Johnstone’s 1 – 3 Dulux

Johnstone’s Aqua Guard Vs Dulux Diamond Satinwood

 

AHHH!!! Water-based satinwood!! Dulux Diamond Satinwood is fully water-based and leaves a spectacular finish. It is quick and easy to apply, but you need to keep going over your work because it sags and runs. This can make your overall experience a nightmare!

Johnstone’s Aqua Guard is another level. You need to ensure you use the correct undercoat to adhere to previously painted surfaces. Aqua Guard is a fully water-based paint which is easy to use and leaves a fantastic finish. The opacity and finish are far better than that of the Dulux Diamond.

Johnstone’s Aqua Guard is one of the best water-based satinwood paints on the UK market.

This Definity swings in Johnstone’s favour, although they are both good products.

Johnstone’s 2 – 3 Dulux

Johnstone's Aqua Guard Satinwood

Johnstone’s Trade Gloss Vs Dulux Trade Gloss (oil-based)

 

Not loads of people use oil-based gloss indoors nowadays, simply because of the issue with yellowing. As a decorator I try to point my clients in a different direction. That said, some people still prefer old-school gloss over other finishes, so let’s do the comparison.

Dulux Trade gloss is sticky and hard to apply. It can creep onto another surface after you’ve cut in with it, but the finish is lovely. You need to give this product natural light as it cures, so don’t put furniture back for a few days after you’ve painted.

Johnstone’s is easier to use, leaves an equally good finish, but starts to yellow within weeks of applying it. For this reason, I’ve got to go with Dulux. However, neither are great gloss products.

Johnstone’s 2 – Dulux 4

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Johnstone’s Aqua Gloss Vs Dulux Quick Dry Gloss

 

Both Johnstone’s and Dulux Trade water-based gloss products are in fact hybrid paints. This means they are primarily water-based, but still contain some alkyd oil. This helps with durability, sheen, and open time. Just keep your brushes wet when applying either paint, otherwise your bristles will splay.

You’ll achieve a good finish with either of these paints, but Johnstone’s is by far the better product. The opacity and sheen level are better.

You’ll also find it durable and easy to use. I think most Decorators agree with me on this one. I can remember a poll recently where hundreds of tradesmen took part and voted on the “best water-based gloss on the market.” Johnstone’s was the clear winner.

Jonstone’s 3 – 4 Dulux

Is Johnstone's water-based gloss better than Dulux water-based gloss

Choice and Product Range

 

This is an easy one! Johnstone’s have a product for everything! They have 3 different variations of durable matt, so you can choose just how durable you want your finish. They also have a water-based stain block and finish coat in one called “stainaway”. They’ve got a premium matt emulsion called “perfect matt” which knocks the spots off any designer emulsion out there. The list goes on and Dulux do have an extensive range that will cover most of the products you need, but Johnstone’s is much more comprehensive.

Johnstone’s 4 – 4 Dulux

Final Thoughts

 

Even scores at the end of my blog, which seems like a little bit of a cop-out, but I have been completely honest from start to finish. Both Johnstone’s and Dulux have the odd dodgy product, but they each have very good products too.

I stand by what I said in the opening section. If you are entitled to a trade account, then the best place to buy paint is a trade counter. If not, it is quicker, easier and cheaper to buy your paint online. Plus, by buying online, they can normally match one brand’s colour to another brand’s product. So, you can have a Dulux colour in Johnstone’s products, and vice versa. The best website I’ve found for both brands is the Decorating Centre Online. Click here to visit their website.

 Dulux or Johnstone’s Paint, which is Better? – by Mike Gregory

What do Other Decorators Think?

The Johnston’s Vs Dulux debate is a bit of a crazy topic. When I started in the trade, all we used was Dulux. It was good paint too and all the prices were spot on. Then about 10 years ago we started having problems with Dulux emulsions flashing and the prices went extortionate. So, we switched to Johnstone’s instead.

Johnstone’s emulsions where much better, as were their prices, but they’ve started to dip after a while. Johnstone’s are now as expensive as Dulux on my Trade account, and Johnstone’s Covaplus (once a very good standard matt emulsion) has gone downhill. I think I probably spend more on Dulux again now, particularly on exterior paint.

Moreover, the market has changed. We don’t only have Johnstone’s or Dulux paint to choose from. We have access to European brands like Tikkurila and Teknos which offer better quality products.

Roy Castle

Dulux and Armstead is all I use unless client stipulates otherwise. It’s great gear, although I must admit been looking at cheaper alternatives recently. I haven’t used much Johnstone’s paint.

Ross Paton

Johnstone’s should get another point because of the huge difference in price. This compares products but the difference in cost is a joke.

Dean Young

When the lock down started, I had a completely empty refurb to work on for a landlord. Before I bought a load of materials, I thought I’d use up everything that I had in stock- Johnstone’s, Dulux Trade and Armstead- all magnolia and white.

The Dulux Trade p*ssed all over the other 2 in terms of opacity, no contest. Much more depth to the finish. I always knew that was the case, but it was the first time I’d used them side by side.

Jim Ware - Dulux or Johnstone’s Paint, which is Better?

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Dulux coverage, Johnstone for colour tinting. You can get any colour from any brand matched into a Johnstone’s product.

Dan Ezard

Quality varies too much with Dulux. Sometimes the trade paint is thinner and worse than the retail paint, sometimes it’s so thick it’s painful to use. In my opinion Johnstone is always reliable…..

Mark Byatt

Prefer Dulux emulsion, but the price is a bit high, especially when the customer can pick up 3for2 in Homebase (although inferior). Johnstone’s is more reasonably priced. Prefer Johnstone’s waterbased gloss/undercoat. But you can’t beat Dulux Weathershield for exteriors.

Steve Coventry

No one company is better than another overall.

One product may be crap from one, but great from another. Whereas it could be the same scenario but the opposite way round on another product.

Then add into the mix constant reformulation of products mean what’s crap this year may be great next…. Or the other way around.

Similarly, you may have great staff in one store but another of the same brand may be poor.

My point is simply it’s the individual products that should be rated and I make no secret to them that I also use their competitors…

Ste Hanson - Dulux or Johnstone’s Paint, which is Better?

I think it varies in which product you use, as Johnstone’s aqua satin is better than the Dulux version, but Dulux super Matt is better than the Johnstone’s emulsion. Just cherry pick the best paint from each.

George W Irvine

They’re both very good brands of paint. Both have good variety in different paint types for all sort of substrates, within the commercial or domestic sector. Johnstone’s is well priced, covers well. They also match F&B colours which is something Dulux don’t do as good.

However, there isn’t a paint on the market that covers better than Dulux in terms of opacity, in any form of paint. This is why you pay more for it it will cover in two no question. Therefore, Dulux edges it for me but I like both.

James Miles

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Only ever used Johnstone’s retail which I didn’t rate. I use Dulux the majority of the time, but I think the vinyl matt is problematic as it flashes and grins a lot. I tend to stick with the diamond matt, which I think is decent but it’s potent. Interested to hear what Johnstone’s trade is like from other decorators.

Glenn Austin

Updated Jan 18, 2024 | Posted May 8, 2020 | 15 comments

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15 Comments

  1. Richard

    Would the brand new improved Johnstones durable Aqua satin not be a better test v the diamond satin. ?
    Johnsones Paints have improved significantly over last few years.

    Reply
  2. Tom

    Thanks for the insight, as I use a lot of Johnstone’s products.. the hybrid aqua, is great long as you clean your brush out ever hour or so.. stainaway, and perfect matt are the paints leading the way.. cover plus vinyl is good paint to bleaches out very well.. but haveing said all that I do prefer my oil when it comes to wood work.. I done my house 3 years ago in crown, and its still as white as ever.

    Reply
    • David A. Howey

      Hi Tom; used the hybrid aqua twice now, and lovely to apply vs Dulux Diamond (and other brand versions of Diamond formulation. Good observation about thoroughly cleaning brush every hr or so.

      Reply
  3. Stewart

    Is Johnstone’s smooth metal paint better than Dulux metal shield

    Reply
  4. CLAUDE DESOUCHE

    about to use Perfect Matt on two new builds – I am told touching up wont show ? ( been using Dulux only for 40 years ).
    Very keen to find out if that is the case as fed up with Dulux and other brands where a whole section has to be redone !!

    Reply
    • Mike Cupit

      I think you’ll be plesently surprised

      Reply
    • richard

      Great gear johnstones perfect matt.
      They actually sell a new cheaper version leyland branded now too never used.
      Tikkurila anti relfex 2 good also dead matt finish.

      Reply
  5. Ian Howie Robert Howie & Son

    Johnstone’s covaplus is a terrible product. coverage for the price is on a par with contract materials, recent contract coating something 4 times with Johnstone’s doesn’t make it viable in my books, the fact it also is so friable that you can’t wipe it makes it appalling product.
    As for the comments on cost, seriously if one product can save you time & money it’s worth it’s weight in gold Johnstone’s isn’t it. Durable Matt coat a wall 5 times recently as the client had picked this product covered great he hated the sheen level on it closer to an eggshell than Matt. Finished up getting Tikkurila Optiva 3 at my expense to rectify it. Johnstone’s satin runs terribly, covers & dries great, but draggy & horrible to work with, why on earth you’d go through the pain of their products I have no idea, too many problems with their stuff blinded by I will give you 40% discount for crap paint & people buy that, no comparison in products sorry we pick products that perform not sub standard products like Johnstone’s

    Reply
  6. Shanaz

    Hi, needed some advice for skirting boards and doors not sure which gloss to buy, gloss over satinwood and I don’t want it going yellow, I am also not wanting Matt effect. Also something that will last long and wipeable. I have a busy house of kids. I’ve painted my bathroom door with Johnstone’s satin and it’s so rough doesn’t have that sheen effect. I hope someone could help me in this

    Thanks

    Reply
  7. Jasper

    On balance Johnstones every time. I have a trade account at the local trade centre who are always super helpful and their newer range Perfect Matt is superb and the water based Aqua Guard satin goes on like a solvent based satin. Plus as mentioned they have products for nearly everything.

    Reply
  8. Maureen

    Just painted a wall twice in Johnstone’s dark blue and when you touch it, it leaves a light mark. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Mike Cupit

      Dark blues are terrible for scuffing. I’d suggest using a durable emulsion

      Reply
  9. Stuart MacPherson

    I used johnstones white matt for a base coat to cover a sky blue room it was ok but needed a second coat, gave it a second coat of johnstones white vinyl silk , it was ok but still a bit see through, so I gave it a third coat of johnstones white vinyl silk, still did not cover well but it caused blistering on the last coat. does anybody know why these bubbles or blisters appeared

    Reply
    • idyll

      That is because it is white silk, doesnt really matter what brand you used to be honest in my experience.
      You need to get the surface as white as possible with matt first (however many coats it takes) and then go with 2 coats of white silk.
      However, it will still look like you can see through it, especially around the edges where you have brushed, I just think its something to do with the silk finish in white, I always try to convince people not to go down that road.
      Ive used Johnstones, Dulux, Valspar, Macphearsons, Crown, Wickes (Which Im told is made by Dulux)….
      Doesnt matter, it still gives that same effect that appears like you can see through it.
      The last time I tried was in a house that had been in a fire:
      3x cleaning the surfaces and sanding
      2-3x coats of Zinsser B.I.N
      2x coats of contract matt (but still wasnt white enough)
      1x coat of undercoat (now it was bright white)
      2x coat of white silk (now it looks transluscent again…)

      Reply
  10. idyll

    Good article, but as someone mentioned, what might be good one year isnt the next and vice versa.

    You really have to just try them and see for yourself, different paints act differently and need different techniques or brushes/roller types etc.
    Also, the weather, temperature, humidity levels etc really affect how a paint performs too, so it is really difficult to test all of these things completely fairly.

    I liked reading about the Jonmatt though, I hated that paint!
    Always so lumpy, I was forever wasting time picking out lumps out of the tub before starting and even then when you start more just appear on the wall!
    Another thing I noticed which you mentioned is that it dries very quickly, well it was clear to me that this is a very highly pigmented paint (hence the opacity) and you really need to thin with water if you want it to move anywhere, but this is the hardest paint I have worked with trying to gauge how much water needed to be added.
    I had like 48 tubs of this stuff at one point, so I would get a tub to the right consistency and then mix a couple more tubs in advance with the same amount of water and when I finished the first tub Id move to the next… one might be too thin and another too thick, so I would just spend more time trying to get the consistency right than actually putting it on the walls.

    Swapped to Leyland Super Leytex for spraying and wow, I really do not rate Leyland paints at all!! But this stuff was great.
    When I moved onto another project and still had some of this left, I tried it out with brush and roller to see how it was and its great, covers in nearly 1 coat and just so much easier to work with than Jonmatt at a fraction of the price.

    When it comes to coloured wall paints though, personally I have found Valspar one of the best.
    In the tub when mixing it feels like its so thin and watery, but because of this it flows tremendously well and the opacity is fantastic, almost covering in 1 and a 2nd just to finish off, even with a drastic colour change.
    I cant remember what they put in this paint but its not as heavy as vinyl and definately not as stringy (Vinyl can be a pain for that stringy gooeyness that makes it splatter everywhere and difficult to spread).
    You also didnt need to add any water, works and flows perfectly straight out of the tub!

    Recently used the Johnstones Durable acrylic and for the price and performance I really did not rate it, it didnt cover that great, was drying out too quick (so messing around finding the correct water mix to get it to flow again) and it really wasnt durable at all!

    When it comes to trim paints, You mentioned Johnstones Aqua being fully water-based, which is not entierly correct.
    It is a hybrid, so mixes an alkyd resin with a water base, but it does still contain some level of oil.
    Reading through the comments where people suggest to wash your brush regularly is because of this, the oils set in if you dont wash them constantly and that can be a pain, but that is also which it suggests using a solvent brush cleaner on the back of the tin!
    Also, as seems to be a trend with many johnstones paints, you really need to thin it first to get it to work right, so you have to spend some time working out what the right consistency is based on the temperature and humidity in the room otherwise you will struggle to get a good flow with it and will find it starting to run all over the place when you look back at what you have already painted.

    I also used Crowns Fastflow which is a hybrid, and it is pretty similar, I would maybe say works a little better and is a little less oily, but still also needs to be thinned like Johnstones.

    The best hybrid I used was Colour Trend’s, which was again less oily and easier to use, but I painted that in my own place where I lived for 5 years straight on top of shellac (couldnt be bothered with sanding haha) and it stayed bright white and super durable, even with me bashing all of my tools into the doors and frames all the time.

    Dulux’s water based gloss I believe is an acrylic and I honestly wasnt a fan, brush marks everywhere and you really have to lather that stuff on, but you can leave your brush wrapped in plastic for days and it still washes out easy, so definately better than hybrids for that.
    I only used their white though, compared to Johnstones waterbased Acrylic which was a colour and that went on fantastic and again clean out easy, but this is really not a fair comparison, because Valspar also do a fantastic woodwork paint which I have used in many colours, but their white is awful, similar to using white silk, it always has that translucent look to it.

    My advice is if going white, go hybrid, but learn to get the water/paint mix right and you will be very happy with the results, but if going for a colour then acrylic or Valspar is just awesome straight out of the tin!

    Oilbased on the other hand, yes, its going to go yellow, especially where there is no sunlight it will yellow much quicker and some brands more than others.
    But this is hard to say whether one brand is better than another, because Dulux had a batch one year where everyone complained that it had badly yellowed within 2 months so….
    The main thing really with oilbased is similar to wall paints, you want it to be opaque whilst still being able to flow, but Dulux is really difficult to work with, its way too thick and you really need to thin it to get it flowing just right, but keep topping up with white spirit from time to time otherwise it starts getting draggy and difficult to move, plus you really do have to keep checking behind you to make sure drips/runs are not starting if you hit a bit when the gloss was not thinned enough.
    Crown is probably one of the best oilbased glosses I have used from experience, but dont be alarmed when it goes on yellow, when you look at it again the next morning it will be bright white…. but again, it will yellow over time and quicker if not exposed to sunlight, it smells bad but it flows well and is more durable.

    There are pro’s and Con’s to both water based and oil based.

    So as I started this, I said you really have to try everything really, one brand might have one good product and is bad at another, and this might change from batch to batch, but it is very good to read through articles like this to build up a picture of other peoples experiences, especially with things like the mentioning of “sheen” levels to suposidly matt paints.

    There is one thing that I can say for certain though… Dont buy B&Q’s or Wilko’s own brand paint unless you want an expensive paint for what you get and have to do 4-5 coats to cover a wall! it ends up costing way more for the extra tubs you have to purchase to finish off and a hell of alot more in labour!
    The only own brand paint I would recommend is Wickes which actually has great coverage and I have been told is made by Dulux (would need confirmation however) but without the price tag!

    Reply

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