Why Decorators Hate Silk Emulsion

Posted Feb 23, 2023 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 1 comment

Silk Emulsion is the devil! As a professional decorator, I absolutely hate it. Not just when I need to use silk emulsion, but I hate turning up to a job and being asked to paint over it. I’m not on my own either, all decorators I know hate silk! For good reason too. Want to know why? Keep reading.


The Cosmetic Problems with Silk Emulsion


Silk Emulsion has a high sheen level, so it looks quite ‘glossy’, which used to be desirable. However, it doesn’t suit modern homes and looks very dated. Not only that, but because of the high sheen level, every imperfection on your walls and ceilings is highlighted.

You can see every roller mark, brush mark, and indentation. Flashing and picture framing are commonplace and is very noticeable. This is a particular problem in larger rooms with a lot of light.


The Technical Issues with Silk Emulsion


The overall finish of a freshly painted room may be lacking when you’ve used silk emulsion, but the problems don’t stop there. Silk is very polymer heavy, which can often lead to problems further down the line.

You might experience adhesion issues when you come to paint over your silk, so your new emulsion does not stick. You can overcome this by cleaning your silk, giving it a quick sand, then using trade paint, but you still need to be conscious of adhesion.


There is another reason decorators hate painting over silk, and that is the issue of crazing. As silk is polymer heavy, it can expand and contract according to its environment. When you paint over it, the silk emulsion expands due to the water in your new paint.

Your new paint dries first, and the silk contracts afterwards, causing your new paint to crack all over. This is called crazing and it is horrendous. If you have this problem, then it might be worth checking out this blog.


The Alternatives


You should be starting to understand why decorators hate silk emulsion. I would advise anyone to avoid it wherever you can. I thought it might be useful to include a section on the alternatives.

Most people who choose silk, are looking for a durable emulsion. If you want something that looks better, then durable matt emulsion might be the way to go. If you want something with some sheen to it, but without the issues associated with silk, then acrylic eggshell is the best bet. I recommend Crown Trade Clean Extreme.

This is the best trade alternative in my opinion, and regardless of whether you go for matt or eggshell, it will look infinity better than silk and avoid all the associated problems. Plus, if you buy it from the Decorating Centre Online, you’ll get a good price, and they can match any colour from any other brand. This makes ordering your paint much easier. Click here to see online prices.

Why Decorators Hate Silk Emulsion – by Mike Gregory

Posted Feb 23, 2023 | 1 comment

1 Comment

  1. Simon

    Says it all pretty spot on as far as I’m concerned & glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks it’s a disgusting looking product that’s vile to work with & would’ve been better off never invented in the first place (allbeit that the ‘crazing’ thing can be quite entertaining sometimes as a retro craquelure effect) They are also paints which consistently lack density & obliterating characteristics in my experience.


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