Farrow & Ball Modern Emulsion Review

Updated Jan 21, 2024 | Posted Feb 22, 2020 | Product Review, Paints | 4 comments

As decorators, we have all heard the stories about Farrow & Ball Modern Emulsion. “Overpriced crap! Middle class status paint! The neighbours must see farrow & ball tins coming in when the painter arrives!!”

I’ve used it a lot, and to be honest I haven’t had many issues. No more than I have with any other brands. I tend to buy Modern Emulsion directly from Farrow & Ball, click here to see current prices.

The modern Emulsion is Farrow & Ball’s equivalent to a durable matt. I found the opacity and coverage to be very good, even without using the recommended primer. However, I normally do use it as I feel you get a better depth of colour when you have completed the work.

The finish has a very slight sheen (not huge). Picture framing can be an issue, but if you cut and roll one wall at a time you can avoid this.

Modern Emulsion can flash, but I found if you finish each roller stroke from top to bottom it helps a lot. A good quality paint roller is essential. It’s fair to say it can be tricky to get a good finish with this paint.

The Farrow and Ball colour range is excellent with some classic and contemporary choices.

As a Decorator, I’m not entirely convinced Farrow and Ball Modern Emulsion is worth it’s price tag. It doesn’t bother me because I do like using the paint and it’s my clients who pay for it. However, (personal preference, so don’t shout at me), I tend to suggest a colour match in a paint I know looks good.

Johnstone’s Perfect Matt is a premium trade brand. The sheen level is low, leaving a contemporary finish. It’s durable, and it looks gorgeous. Merchants always say, “colour matches are never 100% accurate”, but I have never seen a difference when ordering from The Decorating Centre Online. Click here to learn more.


That said, I would have no issues using Farrow and Ball Modern Emulsion in the future, just follow recommended instructions and you can’t go wrong. You can buy direct from Farrow and Ball. Click here to see their website.


Best Tools to Apply Farrow and Ball Modern Emulsion


If you’re going to pay a premium for luxury paint like Farrow and Ball Modern Emulsion, then it’s worth buying the best tools for the job. After all, having good tools will enable you to achieve a better finish.

Modern emulsion glides on, so you want a soft(ish) brush to apply it with. The ProDec Ice Fusion is perfect. It has tapered bristles from base to tip, meaning it holds more paint. Springy bristles make controlling the paint easy, and you can strike sharp lines with ease. Click here to see online prices.

As for the roller, you need a medium pile nap to apply Modern Emulsion. Hamilton Perfection (green) is fantastic for this type of material. It holds loads of paint and distributes it evenly, leaving no orange peel at all. Click here to see online prices.

Farrow & Ball Modern Emulsion Review – by Mike Gregory


What do Other Decorators Think of Modern Emulsion?

I tend to judge paint products on the level of quality they deliver for the price it’s available and I’m sorry, but Farrow and Ball Modern Emulsion falls short! The sheen level is too high for a designer emulsion and you occasionally need to apply a third coat. Worse still, a separate primer, then two coats of the emulsion. I don’t understand how an emulsion that costs almost £100 per gallon can be so poor.

Lee Thornton

I don’t mind using it to be honest. I don’t think it’s a bad as decorators make out. I have Farrow and Ball colours in my house, but they’re matched into Johnstone’s Perfect Matt instead (only because I have an account with Johnstone’s).

Dean Johnston

It isn’t worth it’s price tag!! The sheen level is too high, you’re supposed to use a separate primer, you can’t touch it up and it doesn’t cover very well!! I don’t understand why it’s so popular, it’s cr*p

Dan James

Updated Jan 21, 2024 | Posted Feb 22, 2020 | 4 comments

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  1. richard

    Johnstones colour matching.is first class on FB and every other paint company.
    The machined are 32k v 16k in other stores making much more accurate.
    There is a colour matching team that sends out code to each branch when requested only takes a few minutes when u in. Far more accurate system. I was gob smacked just how accurate the matches are.

    • Andy Scott

      Yes I have used johnstones for years. Some customers like the finish FB gives though, especially the estate emulsion.

  2. Jason maguire

    I no its expensive but do like estate emulsion

  3. Cathy

    I really love F&B paint but their modern emulsion is difficult to store. We kept 3/4 of a tin we had left over in our garden shed and it is completely unusable after the winter. It has separated and there is a rather putrid watery layer on top of solid paint which has become gritty and won’t mix. A warning about this would have been helpful!! £40 wasted.


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