Farrow and Ball Vs Dulux, which is better?

Updated May 23, 2024 | Posted Mar 19, 2024 | Paints, Product Reviews | 2 comments

This is going to be quite an interesting blog; Farrow and Ball V’s Dulux, which is better?

As a Professional Decorator I use both brands on a regular basis. A lot of other Decorators I know opt to have Farrow and Ball Colours matched into other brands such as Dulux and Johnstone’s etc, which isn’t a problem if you order your paint from a trade counter or online by clicking here.

So, if Decorators get colour matches rather than using Farrow and Ball paint, then there must be a problem with it, right?

In this blog, I’m going to work through each Farrow and Ball product, name what I think is the best Dulux equivalent, and then compare the two.

I’m going to stick to Dulux Trade products, simply because Farrow and Ball is a premium brand, so we should compare it to Dulux’s premium range.

Right, let’s get into it.

 

Farrow and Ball Estate Emulsion Vs Dulux Trade Velvet Matt

 

Farrow and Ball Estate Emulsion is a low-sheen (chalky) paint used on interior walls and ceilings. It has a bad rep, simply because it doesn’t contain much polymer binder, meaning the finished paint isn’t very durable.

The lack of binder also leads to defects such as roller marks and flashing. This is because the paint remains porous, so the second (and sometimes third coat) tends to drag.

Estate Emulsion does contain high quality pigments (as do all Farrow and Ball products), so it does have that in its favour. (click here for product info).

Two tins of Farrow and Ball Modern Emulsion
Dulux Heritage Velvet Matt - a better paint than Farrow and Ball
Dulux Velvet Matt is the opposite. It feels like a luxury emulsion as soon as you start to use it. The flow, opacity, and overall finish is superb with this paint. It’s even durable! This is genuinely one of the best emulsion paints available, and the quality dwarfs that of Farrow and Ball.

There is a downside. You can’t get Farrow and Ball colours matched into Velvet Matt unfortunately. It comes in pre-mixed heritage colours (which are rather lovely), so if you need a colour match skip to the next section.

That aside, Dulux Velvet Matt beats Farrow and Ball Estate Emulsion hands down. (click here for produt info).

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Farrow and Ball Modern Emulsion Vs Dulux Trade Diamond Matt

 

This is going to be another landslide in favour of Dulux I’m afraid.

Modern Emulsion is Farrow and Ball’s durable matt paint. At least it’s supposed to be a matt, but the sheen level is quite high. This can lead to defects like flashing. Besides which, a low-sheen (chalky) finish is much more desirable than a shiny one.

You can see imperfections in the plaster when you use a shiny emulsion, and the overall look is less luxurious.

Farrow and Ball Modern Emulsion has an opacity issue too. So, expect it to require a third coat (or one wall primer followed by two coats of Modern Emulsion).

The finish isn’t too bad, and they do use premium pigments, but for such an expensive product I think we should be getting better quality. (click here for product info).

Two tins of Farrow and Ball Modern Emulsion
Dulux Diamond Matt - a durable emulsion paint

Since they reformulated it, Dulux Trade Diamond Matt is an unbelievably good paint. It is durable (not as durable as something like Crown Trade Clean Extreme, but it’s still more durable than modern emulsion).

The sheen level is very low, which leads to a much nicer finish. Brush and roller marks merge nicely into each other. It’s rich, deep, and very desirable. I really do like this paint and it’s so much better than its Farrow and Ball counterpart.

The opacity in white isn’t the best, so you occasionally need to apply an extra coat. But other than that, it’s fantastic, and the opacity in colours is brilliant. (Click here for product info).

 

Farrow and Ball Estate Eggshell Vs Dulux Diamond Eggshell

 

Things get a little bit more balanced now.

Farrow and Ball Estate Eggshell can be used as an emulsion, or as a trim paint for internal doors and skirting boards etc.

It’s a good paint; easy to use, flows well, fairly good opacity, and great for bathrooms and kitchens. You do experience a few defects occasionally (brush and roller marks). However, brush marks can be a plus point if used on woodwork.

Words like ‘traditional’, and ‘hand painted’ suggest that the odd brush mark ‘adds to the character’.  I can see it too. A hand painted door in a traditional colour does look good if you can tell it’s hand painted. (Click here to see product info).

Two tins of Farrow and Ball Estate Eggshell
Dulux Trade Diamond Eggshell - an alternative to Farrow and Ball modern eggshell

Dulux Diamond Eggshell can also be used as an emulsion or a trim paint for doors and skirting boards etc. This is also a good paint, but also shows the odd defect like flashing.

If used in light critical areas, this flashing can make a painted wall look quite cheap. I still like using it, and the opacity and flow are both great, but I think Farrow and Ball Estate Eggshell is better than Dulux Diamond Eggshell as an emulsion.

Estate Eggshell edges it as a woodwork paint too if I’m honest. Dulux Diamond Eggshell isn’t durable enough in my opinion.

I think Farrow and Ball is better than Dulux if you’re comparing Estate Eggshell to Diamond Eggshell, but they’re both good paints. (click here for product info).

 

Farrow and Ball Modern Eggshell Vs Dulux Heritage Eggshell

 

Farrow and Ball Modern Eggshell used to be called “Floor Paint” apparently, but it’s more commonly used to paint interior woodwork and is a favourite for hand painted kitchens.

The finish is good; you do see a few brush marks, but again, it’s not necessarily a bad thing in the right place. It is a brush killer, so keep a bucket of water handy and swill your brush occasionally if you’re working for prolonged periods. The sheen level is a little on the high side too. (Click here for product info).

Farrow and Ball colour display
Dulux Heritage eggshell is better than Farrow and Ball

Dulux Heritage Eggshell is awesome. Easy to use, great flow, and easy to achieve a good finish. I love this paint; I don’t use it very often, but it’s a real treat when I do. It’s as good as a water-based eggshell can be.

This one goes to Dulux, but they’re both good products. (Click here for product info).

 

So, Which is Better, Dulux or Farrow and Ball?

 

I think I’ve been quite fair in my assessment of each of the products I’ve touched on. Opinions may differ depending on who you ask (I did check with other Decorators and listed their responses towards the back end of this blog).

If you’re going to pitch Farrow and Ball Vs Dulux Trade as a whole, then for me, Dulux is far better. They have a much more substantial range of good quality, hard working products.

I will throw in a couple of caveats; Dulux do not have an alternative to Farrow and Ball’s Dead Flat. And Farrow and Ball genuinely use very good quality pigments. For example, they use more titanium dioxide than Dulux do.

But Dulux is just better in so many other ways. If I had to pick just one brand to use, I wouldn’t even consider Farrow and Ball.

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FAQs

 

Is Farrow and Ball owned by Dulux?

No. Farrow and Ball is owned by Hemple, who is a German company. Hemple also own Crown Paints.

 

Why is Farrow and Ball paint so expensive?

Farrow and Ball do use expensive pigments, which probably bumps the price up slightly. However, I do know that retailers make a set 30% profit on Farrow and Ball, which is more than they do with most other brands. Prices are generally set by Farrow and Ball rather than the merchant.

 

Is Dulux cheaper than Farrow and Ball?

If you buy Dulux Trade from a trade counter and do not have an account, then your Dulux paint may be more expensive than Farrow and Ball. However, if you order it online by clicking here, then it’s almost definitely going to be cheaper.

 

Why is Farrow and Ball paint so popular?

Marketing!! Well, partly down to marketing anyway. Farrow and Ball make you feel like you’re buying into a lifestyle by using their paint. It isn’t just that though; Farrow and Ball have a clever range of colours, most of which are metameric (they look slightly different in different lights), and they use expensive pigments.

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What do Other Decorators Think?

I think Dulux Heritage will be the new Farrow and Ball. The colour range is similar, except its cheaper, covers better, goes on a dream.

Never had a problem with 2 coats of Heritage. Farrow and Ball is overpriced, not very nice to work with, darker colours 3 coats minimum (granted I’ve not used it since 2010, might have changed)

Daniel James

Professional Decorator

Dulux Heritage is far better than Farrow and Ball or Little Greene. You get way more bang for your buck 👌🏻 saying that, I don’t mind using either of those, but I love it when they choose Heritage as I’ve never had a problem with it.

Sarah Hunt

Professional Decorator

Dulux Trade is not necessarily better than Farrow and Ball and it’s still expensive. However, the Dulux Heritage range is probably one of the best I’ve used. I have never had a problem with it. The coverage is great, finish is great and its better value for money compared to little Greene or Farrow and Ball.

David Koch

Professional Decorator

Dulux Heritage is a lot better than Farrow and Ball for me. Even without the price difference, Dulux Heritage paint leaves a far better finish in my honest opinion.

Roy Fish

Professional Decorator

Farrow and Ball is just a fancy overpriced name to be honest. Dulux Heritage in my opinion is better. The coverage is amazing and for the price compared to the big names is a no brainier

Curtis Aaron Johnston

Professional Decorator

Farrow and Ball is a decent brand. The issue is there are other brands that are just as good or better at half the price! Also requiring less coats. It’s a designer paint, you’re paying for the name. It’s like buying a Moncler coat over a Berghaus. Both do the same job, ones £400 the others £1600!

Simon Young

Professional Decorator

Farrow and Ball is well overpriced and is poor quality. The fact you need to use their wall primer 80% of the time is ridiculous. I’d rather use House of Hackney paints! Dulux trade again, I don’t feel is that great. Their Heritage range is far more superior and better finish without issues.

Richard Cooper

Professional Decorator

Dulux heritage leaves a far better finish in my opinion. I find it covers far better and I’ve never had any issues with it.

David McGregor

Professional Decorator

I prefer Dulux. That’s what I’ve been using most part of over 20 years. But I’m happy to put other brands on if that’s what the customer wants. Sometimes get Farrow and Ball colours mixed in Dulux for the first coat because I know the opacity is bad.

Raymond Scott

I use Farrow and Ball a lot in Dorset and can’t understand why some painters moan about it. It’s quality and they have great sophisticated colours. It costs a bit more, but the customer pays for the paint anyway.

Lawrence Dagnall

Updated May 23, 2024 | Posted Mar 19, 2024 | 2 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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2 Comments

  1. Andrew (DIYer)

    Can I please ask which paint you would choose between:
    – Dulux Heritage Velvet Matt
    – Tikkurila Optiva 3
    – Farrow and Ball Dead Flat
    – Isomat Premium
    I am looking for a durable matt finish for a hallway which is suitable for DIY application. F&B modern emulsion in our kitchen is bombproof but possibly too much sheen for the hallway and slightly imperfect walls.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Michael Jones

    I’m not a professional but have used various paints in my own home and in relatives homes.
    Tikkurila Optiva 3 and 5, Little Greene intelligent matt and absolute matt, Fenwick and Tilbrook.

    My son and his girlfriend asked me to paint their living room with Farrow and Ball Estate Emulsion. They liked a colour and didn’t want to risk a colour match by another brand. I had heard bad things about it, mainly on decorating forums, so I warned them it wasn’t supposed to be any good and wasn’t hard wearing. They still wanted it.

    Applied the primer first, then first coat which was very patchy and had me worried, but the second coat was lovely. It really did have a rich, depth of colour, which I’m not sure I’d seen before. I’d need to use another brand in a very similar colour. I’d use it myself in my own home after that experience.

    Reply

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