Has vinyal emulsion paint vanished? Quality is now rubbish

6 Aug 2013
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United Kingdom
I hadn't done any home decorating for a few years. So am shocked at the nature of modern emulsion paints. I recently bought Crown mix and match colour from the local Crown professional decorator centre, and Dulux white from a DIY chain. (I've always bought paints from one of the big 3 or 4 manufacturers.)

I would have hoped that the onward march to the sunlit uplands of improved paint technology would have continued over these years. But what do I get instead?

- these do not appear to be vinyl emulsion any more and no longer dry in a latexy rubbery layer in, say, a paint tray. Paint inside the tin lid quickly dries hard into crumbly lumps which then drop into the tin.

- paint dries very matt, and with an almost chalky surface, which is quite easily marked by hands, and which is not tough if you wash it gently with a sponge and water, when dry. Colour actually comes off on the sponge! Not remotely scrubbable, as vinyl used to be. As soon as water touches the dry emulsion paint, it goes darker, as it actually absorbs the water.

- painting the Crown emulsion on old plaster covered by lining paper: on a not very hot day, and even thinned considerably, the paint was drying out before it could even be brushed out, leading to a poor appearance.

- not very impressed with opacity from either manufacturer either

I worked in a Berger warehouse many years ago when vinyl was quite new, and the cheaper pre-vinyl option was 'Superflat'. These new emulsions seem to have regressed back to that point.

The last emulsion paint I previously bought 8 years back was Berger (from the same decorator centre, they no longer sell it) and it was a dream to apply, both emulsion and gloss had excellent coverage, opacity, and a beautiful smooth finish. It's not just rosy memory, because I still have two cans, and they still go on beautifully. I also used to get very good results with McPhersons. Looking online, seems that Crown have taken over both McPhersons and Berger.

What is going on here? My son had a similar experience with Dulux mix and match emulsion - a very matt chalky finish that was easily marked.

These new emulsion paints don't smell at all - is it EU regulations of something. Anyway, the smell of vinyl emulsion was nice!

Next room I do gets oilbased eggshell (Johnson's from Screwfix) with my own tint added to colourise it. That should last and last.

Does any manufacturer still make a decent vinyl emulsion that actually applies well, and takes gentle cleaning.

I'm very surprised at this lack of quality from our two largest paint manufacturers. (One person has suggested to me, don't know if it is true, that they may well import their paints now, rather than making them in UK.)

Thanks and best wishes

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Hi Tony, you're right and Dulux have recently admitted that they have dropped the quality of their paints. In the trade it was noticed immediately and i think i'm right in saying Dulux have cited the reason is to keep prices from increasing although their products in my mind were creeping up towards the premium paint prices anyway. Its a shame, Dulux were an excellent brand but since being purchased by Akzo they've got worse and worse, they made a huge loss in the last financial year, well into 8 figures and now they are dropping so far out of favour with the trade it will filter through to the diyers.

I've found Johnstones to be ok as my mid range brand and use a lot of little green for clients that don't mind paying a bit extra, its an excellent paint, looks great on the wall and applies very nicely, it also touches up far better than most. More and more i'm applying durable labelled paints because i know the standard emulsions just wont cope with life in the average family home. Again little green do an excellent durable matt called intellimatt and i've found the johnstones durable to be ok and is at least a true matt finish unlike dulux diamond, no surprises there eh?

Come back and ask if you would like any specific advice on a paint brand, i don't use crown but i'm sure plenty on here do and between us we've probably used them all at one time or another.
It was posted on another forum that they have stated it in an article in the financial times.
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I can

What's the link?

have you actually seen the "admission" yourself?

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