Emulsion Paint Buying Guide

A close up image of some paint cans - varying in colour and brand - with one of the tins open and a brush resting on top of it

Looking for a water-based paint to get the best finish on your walls and ceilings? Emulsion paints are cleaner, better for the environment and don’t smell as strongly as other types of paint. This, along with the fact they’re available in a range of colours, makes them perfect for interior painting jobs when you are transforming a room.

Which emulsion paint is right for me?

While matt and silk are the two finishes you are likely to be pointed towards, there are six options in total when it comes to finding the emulsion paint that’s right for your decorating project.

Matt finish emulsion

Perfect for use on uneven surfaces, matt paint is flat and non-reflective although it isn’t easy to keep clean but is ideal for hiding minor marks and imperfections.

Silk finish emulsion

The opposite of matt, silk gives a shiny, easily washable finish that makes it ideal for children’s bedrooms, hallways and staircases.

One-coat emulsion

Get the job done quickly with this specially formulated, thicker paint. Typically, emulsion paint takes two coats to get the job done but this type can cover most surfaces in just one. Ideal for covering your teenagers dark blue room once they have grown out of it.


Eggshell paint is so called because it has the low sheen of an eggshell. This makes it perfect for a low gloss finish in a living room or bedroom.

Durable emulsion/Satin

This paint is specially created to give a washable and durable finish for cleaning but is ideal for hiding minor marks or imperfections. That could be crayon on kids’ bedroom walls or scuffs along hallways and high traffic areas.

Light reflecting emulsions

The light reflecting particles in this product would be ideal for hallways or small rooms to help make them feel brighter and more spacious.

Magic white emulsion

This paint appears pink when its wet, allowing you to see where you’ve painted. With its special formula, it turns the paint white in under one hour. We recommend this choice when you’re painting ceilings.

What type of paint do I need?

There are a lot of different types of paints for different jobs and here is a how to video to help you choose the paint that is best for your project.

Helpful hint…

Paint tends to change colour as it dries. So if you choose a colour from a colour card, don’t worry if it looks darker immediately after you’ve applied it.

Do I need specialist emulsion for my kitchen & bathrooms?

Regular emulsion paint isn’t sufficient for rooms with a lot of condensation, grease, humidity or moisture. You’ll need to use kitchen and bathroom paint which is moisture resistant and offers 5 year anti-mould protection. It’s special formula resists cooking stains and allows marks to be easily removed without the colour fading.

Take a look at our Kitchen paint and Bathroom paint.

Can I use emulsion paint outside?

Being a water based paint, it is usually recommended that you don’t use emulsion for any exterior work. Products that are used outside have been specially formulated to deal with water, wind and other things like rot. Take a look through our exterior paint range to find a suitable option for outdoor work.

Top tip

When cleaning emulsion from your brushes, first use newspaper to wipe away any excess paint. Next, use soap and water to clean the brushes before rinsing them under warm water and patting them dry with a paper towel.



Writer and expert