Matching Farrow and Ball Colours to Other Paint Brands

Updated May 18, 2024 | Posted May 17, 2023 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 2 comments

Let’s face it, Farrow and Ball is an iconic paint brand, not only in the UK, but also across Europe. Their colours are well thought out, stylish, and easy to navigate (if you can get over some of the silly colour names). However, the paint itself gets mixed reviews, with a lot of people opting to match Farrow and Ball colours to other paint brands.

In this blog, I’m going to explain a little bit about matching Farrow and Ball colours, the accuracy, and the best place to buy your matches. Then I’m going to work my way through each of the most popular Farrow and Ball products, explain the usual drawbacks, and give you a couple of recommended product alternatives.

There are a couple of things to mention before we get going. Firstly, I like Farrow and Ball paint, although I’m aware of the pitfalls with each product. Secondly, I’m a professional decorator, so I tend to stick to trade paint. Retail paint (the type you find at DIY shops), are generally of lower quality. Trade paints, although more expensive, will always give you better results.


How Accurate are Farrow and Ball Colour Matches?


Right, let’s get down to it. Can you trust a Farrow and Ball colour match to be accurate? There are a couple of things to consider. Farrow and Ball, for all their flaws, do use good quality pigments. They have a reputation for using more Titanium Dioxide (a very expensive white dye), than other paint brands.


This strengthens the opinion some have about Farrow and Ball having “great depth”, and “subtle undertones”, and to be fair, the quality of the pigments does contribute to that.

However, it is as much to do with the actual colours as it is the paint. Farrow and Ball use a lot of metameric colours, which basically means the colours look different in different lights regardless of which paint brand you go for (as I said in the opening paragraph, Farrow and Ball colours are well thought out).

It is easy to get Farrow and Ball colours matched. They’re never going to be 100% accurate; all you’re essentially doing, is getting the colour on a different system which is the closest to the Farrow and Ball colour you want.

To get the closest match, you should buy your paint from a merchant who is an expert at this type of thing. Otherwise the colour match might be way out. The Decorating Centre Online make it quick and easy to have a colour matched. All you do is choose the product you want to buy, then type the Farrow and Ball colour name in the appropriate box. Not only do they make it easy for you to get a colour match, but they’re colour experts too, and have their own lab. No merchant I have used can give a closer match. Click here to visit their website.


Which Products to Get your Farrow and Ball Colours Matched to?


I’ll keep this relatively brief. I’m going to go through each of the main Farrow and Ball paint products and give you two comparable trade alternatives for each, as well as linking to pages that offer each product and colour matching. I hope it helps.


Farrow and Ball Estate Emulsion

Farrow and Ball Estate Emulsion is a low-sheen (chalky) emulsion for interior ceilings and walls. It leaves a very contemporary finish but only contains a very small amount of polymer binder. This means the paint is not very durable at all. So, the comparable products should be low-sheen, but more durable.


Johnstone’s Trade Perfect Matt is a premium alternative. More expensive than standard trade paint, but has a very low-sheen contemporary finish, and is relatively durable. Not just that, but this product does have good-quality pigments. It’s a product that is designed to out-perform the designer brands. Click here to see online prices.

If the reason you want a colour match is to save a few quid, then Armstead Vinyl Matt takes some beating. This is a low-sheen trade vinyl matt that looks great and is easy to use. Click here to see online prices.


Farrow and Ball Modern Emulsion

This is a durable matt emulsion designed for use in high-traffic areas, kitchens, or bathrooms with low condensation. There are a couple of issues with Modern Emulsion; the high-sheen level isn’t ideal, especially in modern homes or hallways. The other issue is the poor opacity in certain colours, which means you often need to apply a third coat.

There are a few good trade alternatives which are cheaper, have a lower-sheen and have better opacity. The first I’m going to mention is Crown Clean Extreme, which was voted The Best Durable Matt Emulsion by Professionals on the Decorators Forum UK a few years ago.  

The finish is fantastically rich, it is lovely to use, and the opacity is spot on. I really like this product!! Click here to see current prices.

Can you match Farrow and Ball Colours into Crown Paint?

If you want a good product without spending big, then look at Armstead Durable matt. The finish is good, and it’s easy to use, but the opacity isn’t the best in pale colours. Still a great trade product though. Click here to see online prices.


Farrow and Ball Eggshell

Farrow and Ball has two eggshell products: the Estate and Modern. Estate Eggshell can be used on woodwork, as well as an emulsion on walls and ceilings. Modern Eggshell is best suited for woodwork, or even kitchen cabinets. So, I’ll recommend a good eggshell for walls, and a paint for woodwork. You can have your Farrow and Ball colour matched to either product.

Let’s start with the emulsion; my recommendation is Johnstone’s Trade Eggshell. It’s nice to use, great opacity and is durable. Click here to see online prices.

The woodwork paint is easy; Johnstone’s Aqua Guard is one of the best water-based satinwood products on the market. It performs brilliantly, whether you have it mixed in white, or tinted to a colour. It is easy to use, will never discolour, and is very durable. Click here to see online prices.


Final Thoughts on Matching Farrow and Ball Colours to Other Paint Brands


I hope this blog has helped. I know a lot of Decorators get Farrow and Ball colours matched to other paint brands for various reasons. Although I like designer brands like Farrow and Ball, trade paint normally gives you better results at a cheaper price.


Work Carried Out by Other Decorators Using Farrow and Ball Colour Matches

Allan Hay

The colour in this lounge is Farrow and Ball Cardroom Green. Instead of using Farrow and Ball paint, we had the colour matched to Johnstone’s Trade Covaplus.

This is a low-sheen vinyl matt emulsion which Decorators like us use on a regular basis. It’s a lot cheaper than Farrow and Ball Estate Emulsion, and we were a lot more confident in achieving a professional finish with it.

David Sku Skutela

This media wall is Farrow and Ball Stiffkey Blue which we matched to Johnstone’s Aqua Guard.

It was a lot of work, but Aqua Guard is an amazing product. It’s fully water-based, easy to use, and very durable. You need a good product when you’re dealing with strong colours like this, otherwise they mark easily or leave a poor finish.

We were really pleased with how it turned out.

Derek Craig

The colours in this hallway are Farrow & Ball Skimming Stone (top of the walls) and Green Smoke (bottom of the walls). The Skimming Stone was matched to Crown clean Extreme, and the Smoke Green is Crown Trade Fastflow Satin.

I prefer using trade paint where I can, and my client was happy for me to get colour matches on this job. Clean Extreme is a good durable matt emulsion which is perfect for high traffic areas.

Crown Trade Fastflow is another good product. It’s an undercoat and two topcoats, but the finish is great.

It’s easy to get colour matches in both products.

A hallway painted in Farrow and Ball clolours

Johno White

We painted this kitchen in Farrow and Ball Stiffkey Blue matched into in Johnstones Trade Cleanable Matt.

Cleanable Matt is Johnstone’s most durable matt emulsion. That makes it perfect for this job for a couple of reasons:

Durable paints are better for kitchens because they stand up to steam and grease.

Dark colours tend to mark easily, particularly blues and reds. By using something that goes above and beyond in terms of durability means this finish is more likely to last.

Callum Gardener

We used Farrow & Ball Vert De Terre mixed to Johnstone’s Trade Durable Matt Emulsion in this kitchen.

Matching Farrow and Ball colours to other paint brands is something we do on a regular basis. Mosly Johnstone’s paints. There are several jobs I could have shown you as examples.

Johnstone’s Durable Matt Emulsion is a good quality product that we can always depend on.

Rick Rickman

All this, including the stairs and landing was painted in Farrow and Ball Pointing matched to Johnstone’s Covaplus. We’re painting the whole house from top to bottom, all in Farrow and Ball colours.

My customers are chuffed to bits with how it’s going. I have never really had a problem with Farrow and Ball, but I’m used to using Johnstone’s, so that’s the brand I have most confidence in.

Farrow & Ball Pointing

Gavin Baker

My customer wanted Farrow and Ball Elephant’s Breath in this hallway. After I advised on the price and the touching up issues that might happen if we used Farrow and Ball, I suggested we got it mixed into Valspar Trade Tough Matt. She agreed.

She loved the finish so much that we ended up painting her utility room in the same colour match and paint.

Farrow and Ball in a hallway

Updated May 18, 2024 | Posted May 17, 2023 | 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.


  1. Dan

    Great article. It‘s good to know that Farrow & Ball use a unique mix of pigments in their paints. No wonder they are expensive and why colour matches can get close, but never exact. From the article it sounds like you definitely need to start with a colour expert.

    Ignoring opacity and finish, do some trade paints lend themselves better to a truer Farrow & Ball colour match?

    I’ve noticed variation between paint brands I’ve used to colour match Farrow & Ball paints. For example, if I use Tikkurila compared to Johnstone’s, sometimes the colours are different to each other. They’ve been tinted to the same Farrow & Ball shade.

    Is this to do with the paint shop or the pigments used in creating each paint brand’s tinted product.

    If anyone has any thoughts on this, they’d be gratefully received.

    • Niamh

      They are different because the copies are different colours. You can’t match any paint brand’s colours, they are all unique. If you have a Johnston paint it’s a Johnston colour not a Farrow and Ball colour. They may be similar but never the same. Each brand has its own colourants. f you buy a sliced bread in Aldi, Lidl and M&S they are all sliced bread but different recipes. That is why they are different colours.


Submit a Comment

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