Farrow & Ball Estate Emulsion Review

Updated May 23, 2024 | Posted Oct 16, 2019 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 14 comments

I keep seeing so much negativity on the Decorators Forum UK about Farrow & Ball Estate emulsion, I thought I’d put together my own review. I am a professional decorator who works on high end buildings in Edinburgh. Take it or leave it, but paint is pretty much my life and I use farrow and Ball regularly.


Opacity and coverage


Farrow and Ball try to hard sell you the primer toners for certain colours, which is not needed in my opinion, as experience has told me only some require them.

I used Farrow & Ball “All White” on previously painted white ceiling and opacity was fine, coverage not so good. The first coat very draggy and soaked in fast. Second coat much better and glided over. (maybe the primer would have helped to stop it dragging, but a lot of expense for that isn’t justifiable. Two coats of Estate Emulsion was all that was needed.

Deeper colours I would always use the appropriate Farrow and Ball primer. I did a room in Arsenic and primed first with the mid tone primer. The depth of colour was amazing, and the emulsion flowed lovely over it. Opacity is pretty good on the darker tones and coverage is excellent.


Is Farrow and Ball Estate Emulsion Value for money?


On the fence with this. It’s pretty expensive, over £100.00 for 5 litres emulsion and primers are around £60.00. Compared to other premium brands it sits well if used correctly. What lets it down is the need for a primer and with a additional £60.00 per average room it’s a lot. That said, Farrow and Ball is a premium product and you can tell the difference when looking at your finished walls. You get what you pay for I suppose.


The Overall Finish


The finish in estate emulsion is pretty good (not perfect) not many paints are. I found it’s not as chalky a finish as I remember it being in days gone by. I don’t know if Farrow & Ball have changed the formula for the Estate Emulsion, but it now has a slight sheen to it.


One massive downside of this paint is it scuffs too easily. No good if you have young children or pets. Another disadvantage is you can’t touch this paint up either.


So, is Farrow and Ball Estate Emulsion Any Good?


The proof in the pudding is whether I’d use it in my own house. The answer is yes, but only because I love working on my own gaff, so the prospect of an extra coat doesn’t bother me. When a customer asks for Farrow and Ball, I advise about the additional cost and give them the option to get the colour mixed up in a cheaper brand.

Overall, I’m going to give Farrow and Ball emulsion 7/10. There are designer paints out there which are a similar price bracket but don’t need a specific primer. The durability issues put me off a bit too. If I’m paying a premium, I need my paint to performed well. Farrow and Ball Estate emulsion is good, but I’d expect better from a premium paint.



Farrow & Ball Estate Emulsion Review - Decorator's forum UK

This is a low-sheen emulsion used for interior walls and ceilings. You might use it in a bedroom or lounge, but it isn’t durable enough for high-traffic areas.

Editor's Rating:


  • Lovely depth.
  • Very desirable colour range.


  • Can drag on application.
  • Some colours have poor opacity.
  • Expensive.

Where to Buy


Farrow and Ball Estate emulsion is available in around a million different outlets including the biggie which is B&Q. The thing that gets me is it seems to be the same price everywhere!! I have a feeling Farrow and Ball set the price a manufacturer is allowed to sell at. I prefer buying directly from Farrow and Ball. Click here to see their website.

This review was written by a Professional Decorator

Updated May 23, 2024 | Posted Oct 16, 2019 | 14 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. john marcroft

    spot on review, in jersey we are now told to use a thinned down coat of the finished colour as a mist coat, we have currently done a full house with the modern emulsion and that is nothing but trouble but I like the estate despite the need for additional coats.

    • Trevor Smith

      I have used all Fb products over the yrs, but as with other comments I now give clients the option and also suggest they purchase it too as there’s no profit margin as no discounts for trade…
      And when ever there’s a fault Fb do not accept responsibility but blame everything but their products…rant over

  2. Anton marsh

    F&B is aimed at the wealthier end of the market as a premium brand, unfortunately considering the extra price it’s not really any better than any of the big 3. It’s durability is certainly questionable given its price. Little Greene is far superior in the same price bracket for off the shelf. Farrows colours though are incredible, just about all my clients choose them, but obviously get it mixed in a more durable brand.

  3. Claire

    Personally I prefer Little Greene paints to F&B …I recently bought a couple of tester pots of similar colours and the LG was far superior coverage.

  4. Mark Finlayson

    Personally I think it’s great paint , my only negative is with the modern emulsion it’s a bit like kitchen & Bathroom paint in that you have to let the brush work dry before you roll it as the roller seems to ‘work-up’ the cutting in…..like the review I always give the customer the option of having F&B colours mixed in a cheaper alternative as £80 for 5 litres of paint is excessive regardless the brand.

  5. Jed

    In your third paragraph you said it was ‘draggy’ on a previousy painted surface sir.
    Maybe it was the surface which caused that, not the paint?
    I’ve used F&B for many years and never experienced any problems.

  6. Ian Cooper

    Have been using valspar v700 colour matched as a primer recently with excellent results, the v700 doesn’t have the finish of f&b but is a great base coat due to built in primer and high opacity.

  7. Richard

    Johnstones trade centres have the colour matching totally bang on, the machines are 32k colours compared to 16k at the other merchants.
    They have a central team that matches colours and gives each store the code.
    Far better than colour eye and the like.
    Quite like the Johnstones range, the Leyland trade is actually surprisingly good compared to years ago also l do find.

  8. Steve Clark

    Little Greene is far superior and even the darker shades only need 2 coats. Similar price to F&B too.

  9. Simon Boyes

    More or less every decorator I know have the same opinion about F&B …….Its overpriced poor quality paint… end of

  10. Roger Bell

    Whoever does the marketing at fb deserves a medal the amount of customers I deal with despite me giving them alternatives still go for it amazes me , and these are usually up market business people who in other aspects of there lives would question every penny they spent

  11. Noel austin

    Perfect review me and my team have exactly the same opinion, I would say though the only reason they have the primer out there though is to make more money which is fare enough they are a business, but it is not needed for any colour use a cheaper Branded base coat.

  12. Simon

    Paint & Paper library, Little Green and a family run business in Norfolk called Fenwick & Tilbrook knocks Farrow & Ball out of the park

  13. Laure

    I have just bought a new 5ltr tin of Pitch Blue from my local Community Furniture Store. They have a full range of colours and sell all paints at £2 per litre. Looking forward to painting later today.


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