Best Emulsion Paint Reviewed 2022

Emulsion can be a slightly confusing blanket term in the context of paints, because it does actually cover a lot of bases and paint types. Scientifically speaking, an emulsion is the combination of something like oil and water – together they aren’t soluble, but can be mixed together. In painting terms, it’s the mix of a pigment for the colour and a water base combined. The water base usually evaporates quickly, leaving the colour behind. No, you’re not watching paint dry, you’re reading about it.

Basically, lots of paints can be an emulsion, but not every type is. But the advantages or water-based emulsions are making them an ever-more popular choice for a wide variety of applications, not just the classic interior walls and ceilings.

With such a wide range to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. There can be emulsions for specific uses, emulsions with different finishes, and so we’ve tried to make the process a little bit simpler for you by researching the top picks for emulsion paints available to buy today. Read on for our detailed break down.

NameCoverageDry TimeCost
Dulux Once Matt Emulsion11 m2 /l4 hours£
Johnstone’s Colour Vibe Matt Emulsion12 m2 /l4 hours££
Johnstone’s Matt Emulsion Vinyl13 m2 /l4 hours£
Leyland Trade Vinyl Matt Emulsion14 m2 /l3 hours£
Dulux Matt Emulsion13 m2 /l4 hours£

Dulux Once Matt Emulsion

Dulux Once Matt Emulsion

Dulux’s Once paint range makes the bold promise of being able to save you time on your DIY projects. However, it’s not just an empty statement, and is something Dulux backs up with this specifications of this paint. This matt emulsion can, in most applications, provide sufficient coverage in just one coat – that said, if you’d like a stronger colour or are covering a bolder paint beneath, more coats might do the trick.

Another time-saving element of this paint is the dry time, which at just 4 hours, leaves you plenty of time to move onto other projects once you’ve finished painting. Dulux offers 8 colour variants in this range, all coming in a matt finish. With the matt finishes, they’re understated but still offer bold colour, with a good range of neutral tones to choose from as well as couple on the more vivid side of things. The paint is also largely odour-free, making it very easy to work with.


  • One coat
  • Lots of colours
  • Smooth finish
  • Low odour


  • A little thick

Johnstone’s Colour Vibe Matt Emulsion

Johnstone's Colour Vibe Matt Emulsion

The clue’s very much in the name here; when you want a pop of gorgeous colour, then this might be very much what you’re looking for. A matt emulsion coming in 4 bold, distinctive colours, this would be the perfect choice to bring strong colours into a room, perhaps as a statement wall or combined with other paints into patterned areas.

As a matt paint, it has the very useful bonus feature of being able to hide minor surface imperfections once dried. As with the majority of emulsion paints, this is water-based and as such dries very quickly. It’s also pretty low odour, something which makes it significantly easier to work with, and can be used for most major interior surfaces including walls and ceilings. On top of that, it’s also reasonably good value, which is a consistent hallmark of Johnstone’s.


  • Colour options
  • Quick drying
  • Low odour


  • Thin consistency

Johnstone’s Matt Emulsion Vinyl

Johnstone's Matt Emulsion Vinyl

Johnstones vinyl matt emulsion paint is available in dozens of different colours from apple flower to new duck egg, so you won’t be stuck for choice! The finish is matt so you don’t get any glare from light hitting it. Because it’s a vinyl paint, it means it also hardwearing which is great for walls in high traffic areas as it can be wiped with a damp cloth.

The coverage is on pair with most of the other paints at 13 m2/l. The drying time also fairly good at just 4 hours, it also has a low odour so your room won’t be smelling of paint for days to come. The texture of the paint can be described as creamy which helps minimise the number of coats you’ll need to do. Due to its structure it will also help hide imperfections on the wall, nothing too big but small imperfections can be covered.


  • Gorgeous colours
  • Quick drying
  • Low odour


  • Middling value

Leyland Trade Vinyl Matt Emulsion

Leyland Trade Vinyl Matt Emulsion

Leyland Trade are a mainstay brand for many professional tradespeople in the UK with their high quality paints and decorating supplies. So the option to use the same paints as the professionals without a massive markup is a great one. This multi-purpose vinyl matt emulsion is a great choice that provides excellent coverage and a smooth finish.

It excels on walls and ceilings but could also be used elsewhere indoors. Leyland Trade also highlight how the high opacity of this paint leaves behind a beautiful bold finish once dry. 9 different colour options are available that fall within the more standard palette of household colourways.This is also a good choice for lightly damaged walls, as the matt finish will help hide any surface imperfections. It’ll dry ready for a second coat in 2-4 hours, but in many cases may not need a second as the consistency of the paint offers great coverage.


  • Dries quickly
  • Great coverage
  • Hides imperfections
  • Low odour


  • A little prone to yellowing

Dulux Matt Emulsion

Dulux Matt Emulsion

Dulux are, by and large, held up as one of the biggest paint manufacturers in the UK, and for good reason; their products are consistently high quality and relatively affordable, representing a good balance. This simple and straightforward matt emulsion, part of the ‘Cool Neutrals’ colour range, follows suit for a number of reasons.

The texture and finish is one of the most obvious plus points for this paint. With a ‘creamy’ texture (no, do not use it for cooking) it’s an absolute breeze to apply to walls and ceilings, but would probably also suit other household surfaces. Dulux’s own ‘Chromalock’ technology is employed here, which prolongs the life of the colour for a lovely long-lasting finish. It dries in 2-4 hours, and will need 2 coats for optimal colour and coverage. Also, as a water-based paint, it’s fairly low odour as well, adding to the ease of working with it.


  • Great finish
  • Lasting colour
  • Quick drying


  • Colour may be flat

Which Emulsion Paint To Go For?

Emulsion paints are tremendously varied in their applications, and while it can seem a little daunting to know where to start, hopefully our guide to the market’s best offerings has helped you to narrow down your choices a little but. To make the process even easier for you, we’ve summarised our top picks for the best overall emulsion paint, as well as the best value emulsion paint.

Best Emulsion Paint – For all-out quality, Johnstone’s Matt Emulsion Vinyl should be your pick. With some truly stand-out colours, pretty reasonable value and high quality of finish, you’d be hard-pushed to find a better quality emulsion.

Best Value – For outright value, it’s hard to beat Leyland Trade Vinyl Matt Emulsion. Quite simply, it’s a large quantity of very high-quality paint, the kind trade professionals use, for a fairly paltry sum. If you’re decorating on a budget, you can’t go wrong here.

Emulsion Paint FAQ

What is emulsion paint?

Emulsions, in a scientific context, are a combination of two substances that cannot dissolve together. For paints, this means that the pigment is suspended in water. Once applied to a surface, the water evaporates and leaves behind the finished paint.

How to dispose of emulsion paint

Paint is not easily disposed of or recycled. This will vary from council to council, but many local authorities will have paint collection/donation schemes in place where you can take your old paint to be disposed of professionally.

How long does emulsion paint last?

Unopened, a tin of emulsion paint has a lifespan of around 10 years. The general rule of thumb is that if there is any sort of unpleasant odour, severe separation or simply if the paint ‘looks’ off, then it probably is.

How long does emulsion paint take to fully dry?

While this does vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, most emulsion paints are relatively quick drying. Usually, you ccan expect an emulsion to be touch dry in 2-4 hours, and re-paintable after 4-6 hours.

How to remove emulsion paint

The first thing to do is be ready with a mask, goggles and gloves, because the chemicals used for paint removal usually have strong fumes. Starting from the top down, paint on the paint remover as thickly as you can, then leave it until the paint begins to bubble and blister. Once you’ve left it the recommended time, use a flat scraper and carefully remove the paint, washing the wall down with fresh water and a clean sponge once you’re done.

How to get emulsion out of carpet

As most emulsions are water based, warm soapy water will do the trick very capably, provided the paint is still wet – just simply blot the stain with a clean, damp cloth. However, if it’s dried, then you’ll need to gently scrape away as much of the dried paint as you can, before using warm soapy water to loosen it. Repeat the scraping and dampening process until it’s clean

How to paint over flaking emulsion

Flaking paint tends to occur when previous coats of paint were not properly primed or applied. The way to deal with this is to first remove the offending flaky paint with a scraper. Once the loose paint is dealt with, you’ll need to apply a primer and a filler to prepare the surface and fill in any divots. Then, sand the area down with medium-fine grit sandpaper and then you’re ready to paint.

How to remove emulsion from UPVC windows

The simplest way to get rid of emulsion paint from a UPVC window is to use methylated spirit. Apply some to a clean cloth, wipe it over the emulsion and, once softened, simply wipe it clean with a different cloth.

How to remove emulsion from clothing

In much the same way as carpet, the trick is to try and dab at it with a damp cloth, preferably soaked in warm, soapy water, until it’s gone. If that doesn’t entirely work, carefully try and scrape away any bits of paint you can, repeating the dampening and scraping process. If you’ve removed most of the visible paint, put the clothing into the washing machine with a stain removal solution as a final step.

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