Farrow & Ball Estate Emulsion Paint Review

Farow & Ball Farrow's Cream (No.67) Estate Emulsion Tin

There comes a time when walls or ceilings become dowdy and in need of a new refreshing coat of paint. Well, we have looked around at various choices of paints and finishes and decided to try out something from the more environmentally friendly craftsman end of the market. The chosen paint we are putting to the test is from the paint and wallpaper maker Farrow & Ball.

Choice of Colour and Finish

Farrow & Ball paints are entirely produced in Dorset, England and the company provides an excellent colour guide which presently has 132 real paint swatches glued to card (not the misleading printed type). The guide also includes 10 different varieties of finish, which impressively includes three exterior finishes. The colours are all very natural looking with plenty of graduating hues. Our choice for interior use within a Cornish cottage is their water-based Estate Emulsion in the colour of Farrow's Cream (No.67). The Estate Emulsion is Farrow & Ball's signature chalky matt finish. We have a 5 litre tin which retails at £67.50.

Application & Surprising lack of odour

As is so often the case in older properties, the hallway walls being painted have a variety of different substrates to be covered. However, we were able to use a paint roller for all these surfaces, with a brush to touch in the edges and awkward areas. On opening the tin and stirring the paint we were immediately surprised by the lack of odour coming from this richly smooth and thick creamy Estate Emulsion and this remained the case throughout application and drying. There is a scientific reason for this and that is the low use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) within Farrow & Ball's hand made paints, with this one measuring only a maximum of 6g/l, and thus being less harmful to your environment, and more specifically your health, when using it. So far as the application of this Farrow & Ball paint is concerned, it rolled on easily with a medium thickness roller and the paint coated very evenly. When using the brush to finish the tops of the walls and around awkward beams we found the paint did not run either down the brush handle or wall, and used correctly there are few discernible brush marks left on the surface of the paint as it dries.


On the tin Farrow & Ball claim a 14 square metre per litre coverage and we have no reason to doubt this. Although the Estate Emulsion paint can be watered down for a first coat we decided that the original yellow emulsion paint on the walls was stable and light enough in colour to treat as a decent undercoat. Our first coat went on pleasingly smoothly and evenly and dried to touch well within two hours. It looked very good, but some of the original yellow could be seen ghosting through, particularly over the large areas covered by the roller, so as expected a second coat was necessary. We left the requisite four hours drying time and applied the second coat very quickly. This was a very simple final task and has left a perfect covering of Farrow's Cream that looks great. 

Cleaning Rollers & Brushes

The clean-up process could not be easier. The water-based paint just washes from rollers and brushes under the water tap.


The anticipated chalky matt finish of the Farrow & Ball Estate Emulsion has a truly authentic look of old worldly charm and the whole ambience created by the fine pigments within the colour and finish is quite obviously cast by the maker's care and thoughtfulness during production.

Why Use Environmentally Friendly Hand Crafted Paint?

Now that we've used Farrow & Ball's paint we realise that it is an excellent product that is good to use and leaves a great finish, but added to this is the wonderful fact that it is far friendlier to the environment than most factory mass-produced paints. Still using traditional methods of paint-making with high levels of pigments and rich resin binders that were originally established by John Farrow and Richard Ball, the Dorset company show a real passion in what they do and in looking after the environment. The added blessing of this hands-on method of production and care is that the paint is child and pet friendly, with no headaches or nausea from fumes and very little overall damage to the environment generally - something we should all be concerned in achieving. The paint is also of a quality that means two coats sufficed our change of colour when cheaper, thinner paints would have needed more.

To Sum Up

We think the Farrow & Ball Estate Emulsion is an excellent paint with a chalky matt finish that is particularly suitable for older properties like our Cornish cottage, giving the right feel of authenticity. Its application is easy and coverage very good. If you are decorating an older property and want it to look good then this is the paint for you.

Five Stars