Best Emulsion Paint 2023: Coatings For Walls and Ceilings

Best Emulsion Paint Buying Guide: Welcome to A Lick Of Paint’s roundup of the best emulsions for painting walls and ceilings in 2023

The best emulsion paint is one that covers well, has decent coverage rates, and lasts before you decide to re-decorate.

When looking for the best coating for walls and ceilings, an emulsion is the best option and comes in different sheens such as Matt and Silk.

We look at the UK’s Best Emulsion Paint for DIY coating projects on your walls and ceilings.

Application of the emulsion can be made by brush, roller and in some instances sprayed (check the manufacturer’s data sheets).

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How We Chose the Best Emulsion Paint

Here at A Lick of Paint, we are lucky to review many products. We have tradespeople who have worked as painters. We deal with paint suppliers and manufacturers but ultimately the reviews are based on our application of the paint.

We will apply each paint and test the products at various stages and do this in a home setting. We use expert painters who have years of experience in the trade. Our tests are completely independent of any supplier or manufacturer and 100% our own opinions.

The paint product tests are run in the same conditions using the same application methods and the results are discussed by the reviewers to come to a combined decision. This enables us to provide a fair consistent review without any personal preferences.

The team has over 75 years of experience in paint applications enabling us to review and provide independent opinions on a range of interior and exterior coatings.

1. Johnstone’s Trade Covaplus Vinyl Matt

Like an easy-to-apply emulsion with good opacity and coverage? This is the paint for you.


Coverage Rate: 12- 14m2/L | Base: Water | Gloss Finish: Flat Matt | Designed for: Interior walls and ceilings | Available sizes: 1L/2.5L/ 5L/ 10L | Application: Brush/Roller/Spray | Product Data Sheet

Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent Coverage Rates
  • Flat Matt Finish
  • Durable for Matt Finish

Reasons to Avoid

  • Very Little at this price

When looking at the different emulsions we based our findings on the coverage, opacity, and ease of use. With these factors in mind, the best emulsion paints we applied was the Johnstone’s Trade Covaplus vinyl matt.

The Trade range by Johnstones is the choice of paint used by professional painters and decorators. It is an excellent choice for interior rooms on plaster surfaces such as ceilings and walls. The paint dries to a Matt finish that is able to withstand light cleaning.

The finished result has no clear patchy areas or bleed through and is a suitable choice where low sheen is desired. It can be recoated after 2 hours. The newer formulation has a longer wet edge which means the user has more time to get the roller on there to smooth out.

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2. Leyland Trade Super Leytex


Coverage Rate: 13m2/L | Base: Water | Gloss Finish: Matt | Designed for: Interior walls and ceilings | Available sizes: 5L/ 10L/15L | Application: Brush/Roller/Spray | Product Data Sheet

Reasons to Buy

  • Quality Matt Finish
  • Perfect for bare plaster
  • Breathable Paint
  • High Opacity

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not Very Durable
  • Very quick to dry

The Super Leyex by Leyland Trade is an excellent choice of emulsion for recently plastered walls. This is because the paint has a permeable film that allows the plaster underneath to release moisture which can take months to completely dry.

This choice of paint can save time and money due to the fewer coats required over bare plaster. A quality trade product available to the consumer. It is a popular choice for new houses or refurbs where replaster work has taken place.

The paint isn’t the most durable however and you must take this into account. The paint is also quick to dry meaning you have to get it on the walls and ceiling pretty sharpish.

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3. Tikkurila Anti-Reflex 2


Coverage Rate: 12- 14m2/L | Base: Water | Gloss Finish: Flat Matt | Designed for: Interior walls and ceilings | Available sizes: 1L/2.5L/ 5L/ 10L | Application: Brush/Roller/Spray | Product Data Sheet

Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent Coverage Rates
  • Flat Matt Finish
  • Durable for Matt Finish

Reasons to Avoid

  • Availability
  • Opacity not great

Tikkurila has been in the UK decorative paint market for very little time compared to some of the big players but they have some excellent products on their shelves. The anti-reflex is a superb option for painting ceilings.

The positives far outweigh the negatives when it comes to the Anti-Reflex 2.

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4. Armstead Trade Contract Matt


Coverage Rate: 15m2/L | Base: Water | Gloss Finish: Flat Matt | Designed for: Interior walls and ceilings | Available sizes: 10L/12L/15L | Application: Brush/Roller/Spray | Product Data Sheet

Reasons to Buy

  • Quick Drying
  • A good sheen level
  • Excellent Coverage

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not good opacity

Armstead is manufactured by Akzo Nobel which also owns the Dulux brand(see below). This is an excellent choice of Matt emulsion and hides minor imperfections very well.

It may be the budget offering offered by Akzo and Dulux but we think that this is a great product even if the opacity isn’t quite matched to the others. It is suitable for internal use in all rooms throughout the house. Ideal as a priming coat and mist coat choice and then top coating with quality topcoat paint.

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5. Dulux Trade Vinyl Matt


Coverage Rate: 17m2/L | Base: Water | Gloss Finish: Matt | Designed for: Interior walls and ceilings | Available sizes: 1L/2.5L/ 5L/ 7.5L/ 10L | Application: Brush/Roller/Spray | Product Data Sheet

Reasons to Buy

  • Coverage Rate
  • Good Opacity
  • Easy to apply

Reasons to Avoid

  • Shiny for a matt finish

The trade emulsion is available by big dog Dulux. It is fairly durable as standard matt emulsions go. The coverage rate is good. It is also very thick paint that will cover bare plaster in just two coats. The first coat will need watering down first to create a sealing bond.

The paint is easy to apply but the sheen level is one of the shinier Matts on offer and as a result is doesn’t quite hide all imperfections that show up on walls and ceilings.

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Emulsion Paint Buying Guide

best emulsion UK

Painting internal walls and ceilings is a project that is regularly carried out in homes across the UK and the rest of the world. Whether this is to redesign a room or if there has been recent refurbishment there may be bare plaster that requires coating.

There are different grades of emulsion and the difference is normally the quality of the ingredients and additives of the paint. Ideally, you will want a paint that doesn’t require many coats, has a degree of durability and is there to last.

To aid in your next emulsion paint purchase we have brought together some key factors to help inform your decision.

Vinyl Matt vs Vinyl Silk

At the one end of the finish spectrum, you have Matt or Flat Matt emulsion and on the other, you have Vinyl Silk Emulsions, but what are the differences?

Matt Emulsions are:

  • Great to use on uneven surfaces and plasterwork as they hide a multitude of sins.
  • Flat paint and gives a smooth look
  • Good at uniform shades throughout the room as there is less light to bounce off.
  • Less durable
  • Good to use in rooms and areas with less traffic.

Silk Emulsions are:

  • The opposite of Matt- they will give a shiny appearance.
  • Ideal for areas of high traffic- kid’s rooms, hallways, stairways and entrances.
  • More durable and can be cleaned more thoroughly
  • Not great at hiding imperfections

Drying Time of Emulsion

If time is an issue, an important factor is to look at the re-coating time from the manufacturer. Conditions will obviously play a part in this. Areas that have good ventilation and some heat source may allow the paint to cure faster.

It is allows recommended that you follow the manufacturer’s datasheet, information on the tin, or online for the time you should allow between coats. This information is provided to allow the best possible finish with the minimum number of coats.

Preparation of Areas

Cleaning any walls and ceilings down first is always a good idea. There may be unseen cobwebs and dirt that may affect the paint further down the line. Treat these first if any plaster is flaking or there are bumps in the plasterwork.

If there are any cracks or holes, ensure that these are treated with the appropriate fillers. Sand down the areas and ensure that the surfaces are smooth and ready for the paint to be applied.

If you are painting on bare plasterwork ensure that you use the correct paints to seal it. You may need to apply a mist coat first.


The most common methods of applying emulsion are brushing and rolling or a combination of both. Paint spraying is becoming a popular option and this works well with emulsion over walls and ceilings, just check to see if the paint is suitable, it may need to be thinned down with water.


Once completely dried the painted surface can be wiped down lightly with warm soapy water. It depends on the durability of the emulsion used and how vigorously this can be carried out. There are specialist paints for areas that are likely to get very dirty and stained.

The surface can always be painted over again if it is the worst-case scenario.


As with any DIY painting project, preparation is key. There are ways you can save time and sometimes money by purchasing quality emulsions that do not require repainting over and over again.

Painting the walls and ceilings of the room can have a big impact. It can make the room appear bigger or smaller, warmer or colder. With the right materials, this can take a day or two normally to decorate a room completely.

The paints mentioned are suited to a variety of budgets and each DIY user or decorator normally has their special preference and this can alter over the years. Have a go with the different emulsions and let us know your choice.

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