Farrow and Ball Dead Flat Review

Updated Jun 21, 2024 | Posted Aug 25, 2023 | Product Reviews, Paints | 15 comments

Earlier this year Farrow and Ball launched their new Dead Flat paint. It is something they have been working on for the last 5 years. Dead Flat is a durable and scrubbable matt interior paint that is designed for walls and ceilings, as well as woodwork and metal. It is a breathable paint and therefore suitable for painting on to lime plaster.

The beauty of Farrow and Ball paint has always been in their use of natural pigments. This is an important factor that too few fully appreciate, and it is one of the main reasons that there is such depth to the colour – it’s not just marketing as some people seem to think. As far as I know, Farrow and Ball’s new Dead Flat is the only durable and scrubbable truly matt finish paint on the market that contains natural pigments.


My Farrow and Ball Dead Flat Review


Over the years, I have tried many brands of durable and scrubbable matt paint and they tend to have a plasticky feel and often a degree of sheen which detracts from the traditional aesthetic one might want to achieve. This is not the case with Farrow and Ball’s Dead Flat; it goes on like a traditional chalky emulsion giving a timeless feel.

I have long been a fan of Farrow and Ball’s colours and traditional looking finishes, and so I was keen to test out the new Dead Flat. Farrow and Ball previously produced a matt paint for woodwork, but it was not a durable finish like the new Dead Flat that has replaced it.


I found the new Dead Flat to be a tiny bit thicker than the standard Estate Emulsion by Farrow and Ball, but not noticeably so. Opacity and coverage are pretty good and it goes on well. Painting feels very much like using the Estate Emulsion so if you’re used to that there won’t be any nasty surprises. It’s a two-part system with a suitable primer depending on the substrate and the tone of the chosen paint colour to start, and then generally two top coats of the Dead Flat to finish.

Dead Flat comes in a good range of sizes – 0.75 litres, 2.5 litres and 5 litres.

Whilst no paint can be expected to be truly bomb proof in terms of durability, I was really impressed by the scrubbability of the paint, especially the lightest almost white colour I tested, which after scrubbing with a non-scratch scourer to remove numerous marks came up near to perfect.

Purely from an aesthetic point of view the Estate Emulsion is better but if you need a traditional looking matt paint for a high traffic area like a hallway or boot room, or an area where there is the risk of children with sticky hands Dead Flat is the one to go for.



Is Farrow and Ball Dead Flat durable?

Farrow and Ball Dead Flat is very durable, which is why you can use it on woodwork throughout your home. It is more than capable, once cured, of standing up to the knocks that internal doors and windows endure.


 What is the difference between Farrow and Ball Dead Flat and Estate?

Dead Flat and Estate Emulsion have similar sheen levels. However, Dead Flat is a lot more durable, so can be used on internal woodwork, or rooms like kitchens and bathrooms.

The sheen level of Farrow and Ball Dead Flat is a lot lower than Estate Eggshell, and it can be used on more surfaces.


Can I use Farrow and Ball dead flat on radiators?

Yes, Farrow and Ball Dead Flat can be used on radiators, and often looks stunning. Just be conscious that painting radiators can affect their efficiency. You’re essentially wrapping the metal in an insulating layer of paint, which is why specialist radiator enamel is available. Click here for details.


Does this paint need primer?

Ideally, yes. You should use an adhesion primer when painting over oil-based coatings or other difficult surfaces. You will need a wall primer if using Dead Flat on walls. As this is a Farrow and Ball product, I’d suggest sticking with Farrow and Ball undercoats.

Updated Jun 21, 2024 | Posted Aug 25, 2023 | 15 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.


  1. Phil

    Used it on a job a couple of weeks ago and the client had supplied this. I found it really thick and grainy / scratchy feeling when applying with a brush. Knocked it back 10% on the first coat and 5% on the second and 3rd and that did help. Opacity wasn’t great, customer was happy with depth of colour after a 3rd pass but I could definitely see it grinning. Doesn’t picture frame but be aware it doesn’t flow brilliantly, maybe due to the lack of plastics in it like some other flat matt paints. If I used it again I’d definitely pop a capful of Owatrol into it.

    • Marta

      Hi Phil, would you rather advise to match the colour in a different brand? I’m planning to paint a bedroom wall with some wood mouldings done as panelling and I want to use dead flat as I’m looking for a matt/flat finish. Thank you

      • Mick

        Marta, use Teknos Futura Aqua Primer 3 and Teknos Futura Aqua 5 (which is a matt level sheen of 5).

        I painted furniture with that paint mixed to a Farrow and Ball colour.
        It’s a hybrid paint so has some oil in it, but you can wash your brushes and rollers with soapy water.
        The finish is a superb matt finish, no brush or roller marks at all and it’s hard wearing. Re-coatable after 5 hours or so.
        The furniture was a set of Ikea Drawers and a pair of Ikea bedside cabinets.
        No marks or scratches on them up to now.
        It’s reasonably priced too.

        Teknos also do a wall paint which is re-inforced with oil, but brushes can be washed with water, but you will be painting some wood too, so I’d use the Futura Aqua which is for wood, but would also be ok on the wall too.

        It would be a lot cheaper than Farrow and Ball.

        • Marta

          Thank you Mike,
          I actually just had seen your message after I finished my project! At the end, I used the F&B dead flat and as it was a small area I didn’t regret spending extra.
          Would Teknos be good to use for a hallway wall? I need something hard wearing, that it’s not easily stained and can be washed but has a matt finish. I have two boys that love to put their hands on the wall when coming down the stair! Thanks

          • mick

            Sorry Marta, only just seen your question tonight, so apologies.

            As Phil said Tikurilla Optiva Ceramic 3 is good stuff and I’ve used it myself in a few rooms in our house. Gives a nice chalky finish like F&B.
            Tikurilla prices have really increased in the last couple of years though, as have all the other brands. Tikurilla mixed into Farrow and Ball colours really saved money, but the prices have really gone up now.

            I only used the Teknos Futura Aqua Primer and Future Aqua 3 (a matt) on Ikea furniture (a large chest of drawers and a couple of smaller beds tables) and even though I’m not a professional painter the finish is unbelievable. You’d think it was sprayed on. Using a matt probably helps getting a better finish.

            Because it’s a matt you can’t see any brush marks or roller marks. It’s a hybrid paint so has some oil in just like Benjamin Moore Advance.

            I painted our kitchen cabinets with Benjamin Moore advance about 5 years ago, and the results were really good, but I’d say the Teknos was even easier to use, (I used a mini roller on our Ikea furniture (Two Fussy Blokes mini rollers) and it gave even better results than the Advance. It seemed to dry a lot quicker than the Advance too, and didn’t drip like Advance can.

            We are thinking of getting new bare MDF kitchen cabinet doors and repainting the cabinets and woodwork and I want to use Teknos. It’s so easy to use. And it’s a lot cheaper than Benjamin Moore Advance. The primer (which is an adhesion primer) can be tinted to the same colour as the top coat which saves coats.

            Teknos do a wall paint which I don’t think is a hybrid and I can’t comment on whether it’s any good or not.

            You could use the Futura Aqua 3 on walls though as it’s a flat finish and it should be very durable being a hybrid paint. Not sure though if it would create problems in the future though, if and when you wanted to paint over it with a normal water based emulsion (i.e. there could be adhesion problems).

            If you are painting anything white though, a hybrid will yellow over time.

        • Michele Filippi

          Has anyone had any issues with the new dead flat Farrow and Ball on woodwork not adhering to previously oil based paint finish – used F&B woodwork primer and undercoat and followed spec sheet.

      • Phil

        Hi Marta, apologies for not replying sooner. The site doesn’t update me on responses to comments. I see you say you’ve already done your project but others to consider that will coat both the woodwork and the walls in a matt finish would be Tikurilla Optiva 3 ceramic matt, Isomat Premium matt or even Zinsser allcoat could be an option. Basically any scrubbable matt would be suitable but I would use a shellac based primer, i.e Zinsser BIN or Fossa Block and Bond, on any bare timber first to stop any knots or tannin bleed and then on with your topcoats. Hope this helps.

        • Marta

          Thank you Phil

        • Marta

          Any recommendations for a good Matt finish paint for the walks in the hallway? I need something hard wearing that doesn’t stain easily and can take some dirty fingerprints. Thank you

          • Phil

            Hi Marta, no probs. If cost is no issue then 100% go with Benjamin Moore Scuff X Matt. It’s an absolute dream to work with and is possibly the toughest wearing paint I’ve ever used. This is also suitable for woodwork providing the correct prep has been carried out and an adhesion primer used on old oil based trim paint.
            If budget is an issue then the more mid-budget range would be Tikurilla Optiva 3 or 5, Isomat Premium or Caparol do a tough matt too. Obviously Johnstones, Dulux and Crown do their versions of scubbable matt but the Benjamin Moore trumps all of them in my opinion.

    • Damian

      I’m about to paint quite a few rooms with F&B dead flat, using it for the first time. I’m trying to decide whether to add Owatrol Floetrol or not, you say you would pop a capful in – have you tried that yet? And based on your experience, how much Flowtrol would be best in 2.5l of paint (I’ll probably do a small sample amount before going gung-ho and sticking it into the full 2.5l or 5l pots I have on order, but a starting point on roughly how much to add to this paint from someone who’s used it would really help. Appreciate your advice.

      • Phil

        Hi Damien, I haven’t used it since the job I spoke about in the first comment. The first thing to say is never just tip any floetrol straight into your 2.5L tin. Decant paint into a kettle first and add your floetrol to that. I usually just gauge it by feel to be honest, I would say just a capful into a few hundred mil but I’m sure there would be a guide on the tub. Give it a good stir in and you should be good to go. If it still feels too thick then just add a drop (5%) of water to thin it down.

      • Lorraine

        Hi Damian, just curious how it’s gone, or going, with the dead flat as I’ve had a bit of a nightmare with estate emulsion I’m considering starting again with dead flat?

        • Damian

          Hi Lorraine, I love the dead flat, goes on nicely, especially compared to the estate emulsion.

          Comparing the estate emulsion (sample pot) and the dead flat, I MUCH prefer the finish of dead flat and it’s theoretically scrubbable (not tried that yet) which the estate emulsion is definitely not – breath on that and it marks!

          We used F&B primer, though I’m not sure how much difference that actually made compared to other primers or just painting over old paint.

          There are some not very favourable reviews of dead flat online, but most of those are for the old version (I never used that), but the new 2023 version I found easy to work with.

          I did throw in a splash of floetrol to the dead flat (not the primer, which F&B recommend against) which definitely helped blend cutting in and kept a nice wet edge to work with (my first try I added too much floetrol and it lightened the colour a bit, 2nd try I added just a tiny amount and that definitely made it slightly better to work with without changing colour noticeably.

          (Thanks for your reply too Phil)

  2. Lee

    Farrow & Ball must be the only paint in the world that requires an undercoat on walls before applying their colours.
    Couldn’t be very environmentally friendly. Must be one of the most expensive paints too yet it is a retail brand and not a professional trade paint.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *