Emulsion is by far the most common type of paint used for interior walls and ceilings. Durable and easy to apply, it’s available in a wide variety of brands, finishes and colours. You can even get natural emulsion paints which are eco-friendly and free from harmful petrochemicals.
But what is emulsion paint, exactly – and how did it become the standard choice for home decorating projects? In this guide, we’ll explore some frequently asked questions about emulsion, including what it’s made from and why it’s perfect for interior walls and ceilings. We’ll also share some of the best emulsion paint brands for your DIY endeavours.
What Is Emulsion Paint Made Of?
Emulsion paint, also known as latex paint in the US, is a popular type of water-based paint used for interior decorating. Often shortened to just ‘emulsion’, it gets its name from its composition. A typical emulsion paint is made from:
- Water (up to 50%)
- Pigment (colouring)
- A binder
- Additives such as hardeners and preservatives
The binder, or emulsifier, may be a synthetic polymer – e.g. vinyl or acrylic resin – or a natural alternative. Its job is to suspend microscopic particles of pigment throughout the paint, preventing it from separating. That’s why it’s called an ‘emulsion’: a stable blend of ingredients that do not normally mix. Auro make emulsions that are plant-based and contain no petrochemicals.
What Is Emulsion Paint Used For?
The first emulsion paint, which used acrylic as a binder, was introduced to the public in the 1940s. It was marketed towards homeowners and professional decorators for use on internal walls and ceilings.
As a modern alternative to solvent- or oil-based paint, emulsion had many advantages. It released fewer nasty-smelling fumes and was much easier to wash out of brushes and rollers. Additionally, it dried faster, and retained its colour well over time.
Today, emulsion is still regarded as the ideal paint for interior walls and ceilings. However, because it is not weather-resistant, it’s not the best choice for exterior surfaces. Similarly, emulsion is not typically used for woodwork (e.g. skirting boards) as it is not as durable as gloss paint.
What Types of Emulsion Paint Are There?
Emulsion is available in a variety of finishes, including matt, satin, silk and eggshell. This makes it an extremely versatile paint, suiting a wide range of applications and stylistic preferences.
The two most popular emulsion paint finishes are silk and matt. Silk emulsion paint has an attractive sheen which can make rooms feel lighter and more spacious. Matt paint has a contemporary, flat finish and is great at covering imperfections.
It also comes in practically every shade imaginable. Emulsion paint colours encompass everything from greys and whites to pastels, brights and jewel tones.
How to Use Emulsion Paint on Walls
Even for those with little painting experience, emulsion paint is incredibly easy to use. It requires minimal preparation – simply open the tin, stir the paint well and pour it into a painting tray. It has a smooth, even consistency which offers great coverage.
Emulsion can be easily applied with a standard paint roller or brush. It doesn’t require an undercoat, though a primer may be advisable on surfaces with high or uneven absorbency. Two coats of emulsion should work for most projects, and there’s no need to sand the surface in between. See our step-by-step guide on how to paint a wall here.
What Are the Best Emulsion Paint Brands?
There are many brands of emulsion paint available. We recommend choosing a natural emulsion low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Inhaling VOCs can cause sickness and dizziness, with prolonged use being linked to respiratory problems.
If you’re looking for a low-emission, eco-friendly matt emulsion available in a huge range of colours, Auro 555 is a good choice. It’s available in 96 shades, all with excellent covering power, and is free from petrochemicals and plastics. What’s more, it contains no animal-based ingredients, making it a vegan-friendly paint.
A solid contender for the best white emulsion paint is our own Greenpaints Emulsion. Made in The Cotswolds, this soya-based emulsion is sustainable, natural and low-odour, with a beautiful satin touch finish.
Where Can I Buy High-Quality Emulsion Paint?
Head to the Greenshop Paints online store to discover a wide selection of high-quality, eco-friendly emulsion paints. A variety of brands, colours and finishes are available for you to explore.
All of our paints are low-VOC and made from natural, sustainable ingredients – better for you and the planet. We also stock a range of painting essentials such as primers, glazes, brushes and rollers.
Explore our range of natural paints: