Johnstone’s Aqua Vs Dulux Quick Dry

Updated Feb 18, 2024 | Posted Aug 29, 2019 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 7 comments

On a recent project I was asked by the customer to use water-based gloss on the woodwork.  I guess I fall into the “old school” camp, in that I prefer the finish of traditional oil-based gloss, but I’m happy to explain the pros and cons of each and use whatever the customer prefers. I have read a lot of content about waterbased on The Decorators Forum UK.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I’d prepped and undercoated the wood, and started glossing it using half a tin of Dulux QD I had in the van. It soon became apparent that I wouldn’t have enough to finish the job, so at a convenient point I nipped out to my local Brewers and bought a tin of Johnos Aqua Water Based Gloss.  Back at work, figuring I had just enough of the Dulux left to paint one more door, I cracked on… but embarrassingly there wasn’t enough to complete the door! So, assuming that the difference between the Johnstone’s and Dulux Quick Dry would be minimal, I painted the panels of the door (an old-fashioned 4 panel door) using Dulux Quick Dry, and the rest of the door with Johnstone’s Aqua.  OK, it was a dumb thing to do, I’m embarrassed to admit to having done it. But the difference between the two paints, when seen side-by-side, was quite staggering. So much so that I’m going to have to go back now and repaint the ****** door!

In use, the Johnstone’s Aqua product had far fewer of those annoying little drips. Is it just me? I find with many water-based paints that I’ll paint something, it looks fine, so I move on. Then an hour later little drips start appearing. I thought at first it was just me, being “old school” and still getting used to these paints, but there were definitely fewer drips (in fact there were none at all) where I’d used the Johnstone’s Aqua Waterbased Gloss.


Hard to tell from the photos, but my impression was that the opacity of the Johnstines was slightly better as well.

But the killer blow was the gloss level of the finish. This is why I’m going to have to repaint the door, because at the moment it looks like I’ve painted half of it with gloss and half with satin! The gloss level of the Johnstone’s product is so far ahead of the Dulux one that I’ve just had to go and get the empty tin out the bin to check I wasn’t using satin by mistake! In the photo below is Johnston’s is on the left, Dulux on the right.


Johnstone's Aqua Waterbased Gloss V's Dulux Quick Dry


OK, so I get this week’s Dumb-Ass decorator Award for doing something stupid. I was almost too embarrassed to share this, but then I figured my stupidity could provide useful learning for others. So enjoy a laugh at my expense by all means, but I hope the side-by-side comparison is helpful to someone. Johnstone’s Aqua is available to buy online.


Final Thoughts


It just goes to show that there is a gulf in quality when it comes to water-based products and a dinosaur like myself seriously needs more education in the subject. I have since learnt that neither of these products are fully water-based. They are in fact hybrids, meaning they have a certain amount of oil, or alkyd in them.

Hybrid gloss is a compromise between water and oil-based. It has all the benefits of water-based in that it’s quick drying and easy to clean, but it is easy to control and get a good finish with it. The downside is hybrid paints, like oil, will yellow over time. Something else to bear in mind. That said, they won’t discolour as fast as oil-based paints will.


Water-Based Gloss – Johnstone’s Aqua Vs Dulux Quick Dry by Robin Gofton.

You can buy both of these products from a wide range of stockists, but it is often cheaper to buy your trade paint online unless you qualify for a trade discount. I have linked to each product below.

Johnstone’s Aqua Gloss – Click here to see online prices.

Dulux Quick Dry Gloss – Click here to see online prices.

Updated Feb 18, 2024 | Posted Aug 29, 2019 | 7 comments


  1. Mark

    I used qd other week thinking was totally water!, Kept saying bloody gd stuff goes on like oil gloss also saying am sure it’s hybrid! Checking tin, water based. Only to find out I was right it is hybrid! Well this week using aqua system can say it’s a far better product u/c fantastic (takes loads of water!) covers great. So me personally Aqua system all-day.

    • Kris Saunders

      Dont feel bad about using 2 different glosses. Because i always wanted to know which was beter between jonos and dulux hybrid.
      Jonos looks lovely nice to see its shinier.
      Woukd you saw flow and level beter? What about brush marks.

      What brushes did you use

  2. BDS

    We’ve used wb for a long time due to the type of work we do.
    Tried most over the yrs.
    The best we’ve found is Zinsser all coat. The worst prob Crown and dulux.

  3. Darren Webb

    In my opinion Johnstones wb gloss is by far the best! I’ve tried so many different wb glosses over the years but won’t use anything else now. The satin & undercoat are far superior aswell!

  4. Stuart @powpad

    I used Dulux QD supplies by client for a new build offices. Yes I do agree it seems lack-lustre in its sheen and more Satin than Gloss. I’m now enthused to try Johnnos Aqua in the next domestic job requiring that finish and sheen. Thanks for the review- I get a lot from these and appreciate an honest insight gained form experience so thank you

  5. Scottie

    Scottie Wright Johnstones Aqua is a decent paint. The hybrid finish is very close to oil finish ,levels well and has a decent “walk out the door” whiteness. (Some of these wb finish dull) My one area of concern with all water based paint is the high touch areas like handrails. Water bases ALL seem to collect and hold dirt and hand grime far more than oil. It makes sense, oil is a smoother ,slippery surface to run your hand up. Also , W/B may not yellow, but they certainly do fade and appear “not fresh” after period of time. So oil may yellow but it certainly harder wearing. The debate between oil and water has not be won yet for me.

  6. Alex

    I find Johnstone’s are ahead when it comes to the quick drying products, there aqua undercoat is great but I still find using oil base products is always going to be the option of choice, but if the customer requires a quick drying odourless product then I would personally use Johnstone’s ever time, I agree with BDS also that zinceer all coat is another great product.


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