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I consider Farrow & Ball Estate Emulsion to be a very good paint.    Estate Emulsion is not a difficult paint to apply by either brush or roller.   The finish is a very pleasing dead flat matt, it is often described to me as organic and soft on the eye.   Due to its near flat sheen small surface defects appear relatively inconspicuous if compared to what they would look like when painted with a vinyl emulsion.  However, this is no excuse to slack on the preparation; these designer paints deserve thorough   preparatory work, so they can appear at their best.

I seldom find that 2 coats are sufficient to achieve a solid uniform colour depth, especially when applying it on top of standard vinyl emulsions. The lighter and mid colours almost certainly need 3 coats, whereas the darkest ones can take many more.   I find the Reds’ in particular problematic.

Due to the cost of Farrow and Ball Paints a simple solution to the opacity issue, is to buy a less expensive brand of paint, which is near the Farrow & Ball colour and base the wall area with that.    This will then give you a chance to discover any unsightly surface defects and rectify them before applying you finishing paint.    If you do opt to follow this advice, then use a flat emulsion or super matt in preference over vinyl matt; as the coverage will be better and it should cost slightly less.  

Proper surface preparation is essential to achieve the best result with this paint.   The surface should be free from all grease and dirt by using an appropriate degreasing agent.  Scraped back sanded and then sealed any powdery or flaking areas (Efflorescence) and seal with the appropriate primer.  Seal any water stains.   If required was down the entire area with warm clean water and allow to dry.     Rub down  the entire area and fill any surface defects with a good quality filler such as Polyfilla One Fill, once dry, smooth out the filler, and remove dust.

New plaster should be mist coated/sealed with a diluted mixture of 5 parts paint to 1 part clean water.

Applying overly thick paint is not always the most sensible use of your product or time as it can result in an unsightly surface finish, extended drying time, and the possibility of surface cracks appearing in the future.   Do not layer this paint on in the hope of coverage, apply consistent, even layers for the best results.

Durability and washabilty is an issue for Estate Emulsion.  There is no doubt that this paint is easily marked and scuffed so think about how and where to use it.   The paint will soon show signs of wear in high traffic areas where as in a less busy places the paint will hold its beauty for many, many years.    For me houses are for living in, so for the sake of repainting a wall or two every few years I would choose the colour and paint finish I liked rather than making a compromise which I would grow to regret.

Farrow & Ball also produce Modern Emulsion which is much more tough and durable; however for me it does not have organic aesthetics as the Estate Emulsion.   

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Paint Category

Coverage per litre


Available Tin Size

Application Methods

Suitable  Surfaces

Quick Facts

Farrow & Ball

Dead Matt Emulsion

14 m2

£ 45.00 per lt           Advisory   

For use on internal walls and ceilings in low traffic areas.

1 lt

2.5 lt

5 lt

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