london farrow and ball decorators

Farrow & Ball Paint

Check out our updated Farrow and Ball Paint Review 2020 here

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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11 Responses

  1. I have read this several times and it is an excellent post. Keep on writing some more!!

    Not sure if you have come across the latest issue with farrow and ball estate eggshell – it is not drying as expected, which is disrupting the production process and causing one more head scratch. As you say, horses for courses, it is not industrial quality paint, but how many F&B hurdles are we supposed to jump?

  2. I have championed F&B for some years now, it isnt a modern paint hence its suitability for the period look in period property, why use a paint like F&B when you can have F&B.the colours are amazing and the names appeal to the romantic within

    But, I can no longer defend the indefensible, particularily when Little Greene are able to produce a paint that meets expectations. In addition to this ” the ladies who lunch” are absolutly delighted to be offered LG as F&B was so yesterday !!


  3. I’ll start by saying that I’m just amateur decorator, but I have more time on my hands now so I do things properly (no more skimping on prep-work just to get the colour on in a weekend!). But I’m so disappointed.
    I’ve just religiously sanded, filled, re-sanded, primed, undercoated (Crown oil-based) and re-sanded my cottage windows in preparation for appling F&B water based eggshell. I used a decent brush and even with light brushstrokes, and working fast because the paint goes treacley very quickly I’m left with brush marks on my previously smooth surface. Even with another sanding and another top coat I’m still left with what looks to me like a very botched job – grrrrrr.

    .. and don’t get me started on the Estate emulsion I used the on walls and ceilings – streaky even after three coats. No more Farrow and Ball for me, I’ve have finally learnt my lesson!

    There is one question after all this and that is, ‘Where do I go to get my chosen colour mixed and what is the best paint type to have it mixed into?’.

    1. Try adding a product called Floetrol to the water based Estate eggshell. It is a paint conditioner and helps the paint to stay open longer and reduce brush marks. Also, it is essential to use a top quality synthetic brush such as those in the Purdy XL range. I have used this combination to great effect and obtained a completely smooth brush mark free finish.
      I would not recommend using the Estate egshell over an oil based paint as there could be problems with adhesion
      If you haven’t been put off water based products by this experience. I would suggest for the woodwork, you could also try Sikkens BL Satura which gives a beautiful finish.

    2. Hi,
      After being greated with the potential price tag of £64.00 for 5 litres – I considered enough was enough.
      Dulux paint centres are the places to go. I suggest you buy a test pot of the F&B colour that you like, then paint a small amount (2/3 coats) onto a piece of mdf or similar – take this along to the Dulux Centre for them to scan. Your 5 litres of far superior quality paint will pnly cost you £32.00…So exactly half price!

  4. I too will not be buying farrow and Ball paints again.
    I have loved the chalky colour range but after spending £250 on paints I am left with paint that chips, paint that is thin and paint that requires 3 coats.
    I will give up the need for a chalky finish just to have paint that applies well.
    We even tried contacting Fand B regarding the finish quality but they were not interested just said that we must have not prepped the surfaces properly.
    If that was the case then why did another well known make go on beautifully with none of the above issues.
    Fed up and feel ripped off.

  5. Ironic that I read all these posts AFTER I applied the estate eggshell. Darn it. F & B was recommended by our designer – a must have. I have owned 8 homes and handled the interior painting on all. I am trying to figure out what all the buzz is about this paint? Sorry, unless you enjoy bragging about your “$100 per can” paint job, no one is going to notice. I have been waiting for that magical F & B experience that some have written about – you know, the “depth” and sheen in different sunlight” etc. Hey, get off the acid – all I see are brush strokes.

    It really doesn’t cover any better than premium big box paints (at 1/3 of the cost). It sets up so quickly you can’t keep a wet edge. Although I haven’t experienced it yet, it sounds like these finishes are delicate – great choice if you live in a museum.

    I too worked hard to prepare the wood with a premium primer that, frankly, looked better on the trim than the final coats of F & B. I have 7 gallons of this dog sitting in my basement – some for trim some for walls – and hope I can return what is left so I can take my small fortune up to Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore and get equal or better quality paint, same work effort, better durability for a fraction of the cost.

    Enjoy the trip F & B clones..

  6. Has anybody tried to paint modern emulsion over filler lately?
    It crazes while drying then splits .Had it happen twice on two different jobs.Would be nice to be warned,will have to try thinning with a little water over the filer.This does not happen with Dulux mid sheen products or Leylands.Have been decorating over 25 years everyday,used to love Farrow and Ball,but starting to not like it as much.The water based gloss is the worst.I talk people out of that every time.Not too impressed with eggshell either.Estate emulsion is nice though.

  7. I bought F&B exterior wood primer and undercoat, and exterior eggshell for my front door.
    After spending £800 for the (Victorian) door to be stripped back to bare wood, repaired and made perfect for decorating, it was duly painted by the decorator, who put on 4 coats of the eggshell. Looked OK for 3 months, then in 4th month, chips appeared at any joints and then peeling started.
    Now, 6 months after painting the door looks shocking and I will have to strip it back again and start all over – and never, ever again with F&B!!

    1. It might be the primer used F&B isn’t the greatest but that still shouldn’t happen, it’s not that bad lol … What primer did u use?

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