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Distemper vs emulsion paints: which one is best for your home?

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The paints you choose for your walls revamp the look of your home. Wall Paints enhance the aesthetics of your space making it perfect. The colour combination and the finish of the paint you choose for interior walls have a profound influence on the look of your house, and many people tend to make mistakes while picking the right one.

If you’ve chosen a new paint colour or palette for your home renovation project or have just bought a dream house for your family, you may feel like you’re ready to head to the paint store. But before you do, there’s one more step to choosing your paint—the finish. Paint comes in a number of finishes, and you’ll need to know which finish is the best choice for your undertaking. Most of us are a bit confused between Distemper Paints and Emulsion Paints which are widely used interior paint options. This is a guide to help you make a mindful decision, after an exhaustive list of pros and cons and insight on everything from our expertise and clients’ responses over the years. We have elaborated the basics of Distemper vs Emulsion and have given a detailed account of both.

What are Distemper paints or an OBD (Oil Bound Distemper)?

Commonly, Distemper paint is often referred to as cement paint in the market. This is due to its unique quality. Distemper paints are water-based/oil-based paints that can be directly applied to a cemented surface without a primer coating and last several years. It is one of the oldest types of paint which is made up of a combination of qualities of chalk, lime, water and pigment. These materials include casein and resin which is a product formed from the solidification of milk.There are three different types of distemper paints available in the market: Acrylic distemper paint, Synthetic, and UNO Acrylic distemper, which all have their special benefits. 

Oil bound distemper paint colour for your home - Beautiful Homes

Acrylic emulsion paints for walls & ceilings - Beautiful Homes

What are Emulsion paints?

Emulsion paint mostly refers to acrylic emulsion paint used for walls and ceilings. Water based emulsion paints come with vinyl or acrylic added for durability. It comes in a range of finishes: gloss, satin, eggshell, silk, flat matte or matte. 'matte and flat matte give a non-shiny, non-reflective finish to your walls; eggshell is similar to matte paint for woodwork but has a subtle cracked effect, while silk paint has a slight sheen so is excellent in bathrooms or kitchens as it can be wiped down easily. There are interior emulsion paints and exterior emulsion paints in the market.

Pros & Cons of Distemper paints

The Pros
●    No requirement of prior quoting or application of primer
●    Affordable when compared to other kinds available in the market
●    Life of the paint is more than 3-4 years
●    No cracking up of walls during sunlight

The Cons
●    Might peel off when wet
●    Not completely washable and hence hard stains persist
●    Distemper paints fade away with time. Sooner than emulsion paint

Pros & Cons of interior and exterior emulsion paints


The Pros
●    Emulsion paint has a longer duration when compared with
      distemper. Many a time, they can stay on the wall for more
      than 5-6 years
●    Emulsions have a better odour
●    It does not dry or crack due to sunlight
●    The finishing quality is way more promising than distempers
●    Emulsions do not peel off while drying
●    Emulsions are washable and will not fade with time
●    Emulsions can be painted on wooden surfaces and lining
      papered walls

The Cons

Know about interior & exterior emulsion wall paints - Beautiful Homes

●    Emulsion paint price is higher than distemper paint price
●    Emulsion paint will require primer and putty as a quoting before it is applied on a wall
●    Emulsion paints have a low drying rate in humid weather condition

Distemper Paint vs Emulsion Paint

Know about the finishing difference between distemper & emulsion wall paints - Beautiful Homes

1. Material Finish

The overall finish of a distemper paint is not very smooth and clean. Distemper paints generally give a more rustic finish as compared to an emulsion. Emulsions give a smoother and shiny finish to the wall. Yet, there are higher grades of washable synthetic distemper that cannot be visually distinguished from an emulsion paint.

2. Paint Composition

Distemper is composed of chalk, lime and water which can be directly applied to the wall. It is commonly known as cement paint 

and is a great option for shorter durations. This makes it convenient for rental homes or areas which undergo painting every two to three years. On the other hand, emulsion paint consists of resin as a binder that sticks the paint to the surface. The paint composition has higher quality plastic in it, which gives it longevity. It is cleanable with water and can stay on the wall for a long time.

3. Odour

Application of water distemper emits a distinct smell. It lingers around the room and sows discomfort for the users. Plastic Emulsion paint on walls also has an unpleasant odour. However, both emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) fumes in variable amounts which is dangerous for human inhalation.

4. Cost

The price is comparatively lower for distemper paint vs emulsion paint. Distempers are a cost-effective and inexpensive range of paints while Emulsion paints for walls have impactful and durable surface finishes. Thus, Emulsions can be regarded as cost-effective too because of their lower maintenance and durability.

5. Ease of application

Distemper does not need a pre-application of primer on the wall. On the other hand, emulsion applications need the wall surface to be coated with primer and putty. Moreover, Emulsion Paints application needs professional and experienced painters for more pleasing effects and quality result.

Thus, it is fair to state that distempers are comfortable and easy to apply.

6. Paint Spread

The area of the wall covered by paints on surfaces is inversely proportional to the viscosity of the paint. The more viscous the paint, the less area it covers.

For Distemper Paints:
●    1 Kg Oil Based Distemper (OBD) can cover 10 Sqm. Area (Approx)
●    1 Kg Water-Based Distemper can cover 14 Sqm. Area (Approx)

For Emulsion Paints:
●    1 Kg Emulsion Paint can cover 14 Sqm. Area (Approx)

7. Durability

In the case of durability, there is no doubt that emulsion is a winner between emulsion paints and distemper paints. Emulsion-Painted Surfaces can be wiped clean and can resist hard stains and last for 5-6 years. While the dirt cannot be wiped from a distemper paint.

8. Market Availability

Distemper Paints are easily available in the market upwards of Rs 25 per litre, while the prices of emulsion paints range from Rs 120 to Rs 600 per litre. Almost all leading brands like Asian Paints have both options for you.

9. Surface Preparation

Distemper does not need a pre-application of primer on the wall. On the other hand, emulsion applications need the wall surface to be coated with primer and putty.

10. Colour palette range and texture

There is less variety when it comes to distemper colours for home. Contrary to this, emulsion surface paint finishes have a wide range. It delivers a silken smooth shiny and even appearance to the wall. Adding texture to the wall also enhances its aesthetic. It is easier to hide wall imperfections such as undulations with the help of an emulsion coating.

11. Environment Friendly

Any water-based paint is environment friendly as the oil-based solutions can lead to fumes which could be harmful for human/animal inhalation. Furthermore, Emulsion paints have Volatile Solvents which continue to bleach fumes that can cause dizziness and other health related hazards.


Wall paint is the most significant design element for home interiors. Be it a new project or a renovation, paints instantly add character to the room. The type of paint you opt for is a personal choice, and your home needs customised services depending on your taste. Asian Paints Beautiful Home presents an array of paint options and colour varieties to choose from. At Beautiful Homes Service, you have access to top-of-the-line Asian Paints products to create beautiful walls. With a high range of customisable options, we make sure you find everything you need for your home interior. Our team of experienced interior designers, professional painters understand what you want and paint your walls making them practical and ultra-luxe, as per your preference.

You can visit our website to check various options offered and 

Neutral living room wall colour & minimalistic home design - Beautiful Homes

projects executed by us so far. If you wish, you can book your 3D consultation call to understand the project's process, design, and execution or walk into any of our stores across India. Our current stores are spread across Amritsar, Tumakuru, Raipur, Jaipur, New Delhi, Kochi, Karur, Coimbatore, Bengaluru and Nashik. In addition, we are in the process of opening up state-of-the-art stores across several cities.

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