Farrow & Ball Paint

Uncover the history and colours of Farrow & Ball with GS Decorating – a decorator's view on challenges, alternatives, and recommendations

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We are now going to take a minute to review interior designers favourite Farrow & Ball, a traditional English paint brand widely used across the UK. Farrow & Ball are one of the leading designer paint brands, but there are many mixed views on their products. So GS Decorating wanted to create this post to help our clients to have a greater understanding when choosing the paint for redecorating their home. Does Farrow & Ball really live up to its name? Let’s investigate.


We will start with a bit of general background and the history of Farrow & Ball.

farrow and ball decorators

They were established in Dorset in 1946 and are now one of the UK’s leading traditional paint manufacturers. Building on their early success they continued during the post-war years by sticking to traditional manufacturing methods when many other companies had abandoned them and switched to producing cheaper acrylic paints with high plastic content.

Farrow & Ball built their reputation on a quality hand-made product with a deep rich depth of colours that appeal perfectly to period and heritage properties ensuring an authentic traditional finish. The company state:

“We use more high quality pigments and resins and no low quality ‘fillers’, which gives our colours visibly greater depth and purity often referred to as the ‘Farrow & Ball look’. Unlike many other manufacturers we use naturally occurring pigments, such as Umbers in their purest form, and we continue to use natural ingredients such as Chalk, Lime Putty, Linseed Oil and China Clay.”

Another great aspect is that all paints are ecologically friendly, water-based and ‘Low VOC‘ rated. Being made traditionally in Dorset UK using the same manufacturing methods for decades.

Farrow & Ball Colours

Now it’s colour that has become the brands signature with their paint colours loved by traditional paint fans everywhere. Their colours match perfectly when decorating within period homes and heritage properties. With their emulsions and eggshells having a deep, rich, authentic, flat, chalky texture and finish. I have to say I do love many of their colours and so do our clients.

farrow and ball decorators london

Many people will know their greatly named and infamous colours from Elephants Breath, Dove Tail, Slipper Satin and Savage Ground to name a few (great names).  However, the problem with Farrow & Ball, from a professionals perspective, is the dubious coverage of the paint and many pro-decorators questions its durability.

They manufacture various finishes to their paint including Estate Emulsion, Modern Emulsion, Eggshell and many other specialists finishes too which all range in sheen, durability and texture. However, the major questions most decorators have about F&B in today’s households, is that; hand marks, knocks and scuffs etc can all to often be the enemy of this paint. It is softer and chalkier than present-day brands and does not stand up well to the everyday wear and tear of a modern family. Well, it is a traditionally made paint for traditional homes after all and its finish is what many customers love it for.

When decorating your room or home it is advisable to use three sometimes more coats to bring out the best in Farrow and Ball, so be sure to calculate for this when measuring how much paint to purchase or estimating the time it will take to decorate. As a rule of thumb, you would generally estimate double the paint and double the time to a modern-day paint brand.  F&B must also be applied correctly and we recommend preferably using a professional Farrow and Ball painter and decorator to undertake the work. But if you are looking to decorate your home yourself using F&B please follow the specification sheets you can find on their website.

So what do you do if you love the Farrow and Ball colours but have an army of trouble sum tots to take care of? Or you are working to a tight budget? Well, what many people do not realise is that all good paint manufacturers can mix paints to match an exact Pantone colour matching other brands colours like for like. In many properties we use Dulux trade as a rule of thumb, this is due to its high quality, lasting wear and price point. It can also be mixed to match a Farrow and Ball colour offering customers the colour they want with added durability. However, this is not in all situations and some properties call for the use of traditional paint which is where F&B is a great choice.

Farrow & Ball a Decorators View

Farrow & Ball paint is a widely discussed topic among the trade circles with many decorators preferring not to use their paints especially their eggshell on wood finishes.

farrow and ball

To coin a phrase at the end of the day, paint is paint, and comparing one brand to the other can generally be a time consumingly long exercise and can be as tedious as watching it dry! Farrow & Ball is a great product with some truly amazing colours and as professionals, we are always happy to use the paint and colour of your choice but we will always offer you the experience of our expert knowledge.

If you are looking for traditional paint and the deep, rich colours they produce we suggest investigating the following brands (click on the name to visit their sites) :

Farrow & Ball, Little Greene, Papers Paint and Dulux Heritage

If you are not already a customer and in the lookout for high-quality painters and decorators in London and South East area please contact us to see if we can help.

If you are looking for high-quality painters and decorators London, please feel free to contact GS Decorating for more information. GS Decorating has a successful history of undertaking both residential decorating and commercial painting for clients throughout London. Decorating London’s residential and commercial properties we are always happy to help with your up-and-coming projects. If you’re looking for painters in London contact us now.

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