Distemper vs Emulsion: Difference and Comparison

Painting your house is not less than a chore. We all plan to decorate our house with utmost beauty. When it comes to the wall, it becomes a little choosy.

The type of paint you choose will decide the result you get. Distemper and Emulsion paints are the ones used primarily in every house.

Key Takeaways

  1. Distemper is a water-based paint with chalk and glue as its main components, while emulsion paint is a water-based paint with acrylic or vinyl as the primary binder.
  2. Emulsion paints offer better durability and water resistance than distemper paints, making them suitable for interior and exterior surfaces.
  3. Distemper paints are more affordable but require frequent repainting, whereas emulsion paints are costlier but last longer and need less maintenance.

Distemper vs Emulsion

Distemper is a water-based paint made from chalk, lime, and pigment, and has a matte finish, dries quickly, and is suitable for interior walls and ceilings. Emulsion is a water-based paint made from synthetic polymers, pigments, and additive, has a smoother finish, and is more durable.

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Distemper can be directly applied on cemented surfaces. Distemper paints are not long-lasting as compared to Emulsion. However oil-based Distemper stays long up to 3-5 years.

Distemper includes 3 types of paint which are, Acrylic distemper paint, Synthetic distemper paint, and UNO Acrylic distemper paint. 

Emulsion needs whitewash and putty coating before application. Emulsion paints are durable and last a few years. Emulsion paint gives a  smooth sleek look that’s why Emulsion is demanding among interiors.

The emulsion also has 3 types of paints, Vinyl soft sheen, Vinyl matte, and Vinyl silk. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonDistemperEmulsion
DefinitionDistemper paint is a type of water as well as oil-based paint.  The emulsion is a type of water-based paint.
CompositionDistemper is made up of chalk, lime and water. The emulsion is made up of small polymer particles that have pigments inside.
ApplicationIs directly applicable on cemented walls without any primer coating. Emulsion paints need primer coating before their application.
DurabilityIt is less durable than Emulsion. Distemper paint takes time to dry and can last up to 3-5 years.Emulsion paints dry quicker than any other paints. And can last a few years.
Cost Distemper is cost-effective.The emulsion is more expensive than Distemper.
Coverage 10 square meters with 1kg of oil-based distemper and 14 square meters with 1kg of water-based distemper can be covered.About 14-meter square is covered with 1 litre of emulsion paint.

What is Distemper?

Distemper is an ancient type of paint, it was also used in World War 2. It is made up of chalk, lime and water, and also contains animal glue such as resins and caseins.

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These paints can be applied directly on cement surfaces. Hence, is known as cement paint. In total there are 3 types of distemper paint :

  1. Acrylic Distemper Paint, accommodates more than 1000+ shades, presents a wide variety of water-based interior wall paints.
  2. Acrylic Distemper Paint gives you the best quality of paint with a matte finish. These paints are also ascribed to fast drying time.
  1. Synthetic Distemper Paint has a uniform matte film over it which can be easily wiped off using a wet cloth for cleaning dust. This quality will give a wonderful look to your walls.
  2. Over time, the oil film of the paint becomes harder which gives better durability making it easy to wash.
  1. UNO Acrylic Distemper Paint is suitable for interior walls at a very convenient price. This paint will give your home a very fresh and new look as the shades keep hold of their brightness. Available in more than 950 shades.

Distemper paints are very cost-effective. It does not crack in the sunlight. With the application of whitewash, it can give you a smooth basic finish other than just a rustic look. It has a distinct smell.

What is Emulsion?

In an emulsion, water is used as a solvent in which binder, pigment and other particles are mixed. The outer surface of emulsion paint is hard which makes it easy to wash off the dirt or stain.

Also, these paints are humidity resistant which is well appropriate for kitchens. They have 3 types of Emulsion paint namely, 

  1. Vinyl Soft Sheen, helps in attaining longer durability. Having normal humidity resistance and capable of maintaining a high moisture area as compared to the other 2 types.
  1. Vinyl Matte, is more hard-wearing and repellent of damage. As it gives a fully matte finish, applying it to light-wear areas can work wonders to the whole look. 
  1. Vinyl Silk Emulsion is a type of paint composed of tints ground up in a varnish medium and durable finish. Famous for its glossy sheen. It takes a little time to dry and has an odour. They give the advantage of being able to clean the brushes in water.
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It does not smell like other oil-based paints. These paints are very durable and can last for a few years. Emulsion paints come in 1ltr, 4ltr, 10ltr and 20ltr of packs. Different types of equipment like spraying, rolling, brushing, etc can be used. 

Emulsion paint gives a silken smooth catchy look to the walls with perfect coverage and is the most prevalent choice for home interiors.

Emulsion paints are less toxic than any other paint, almost all manufacturing companies have claimed that it has zero volatile organic compounds.  

Main Differences Between Distemper and Emulsion

  1. Distemper paint is more prone to getting or peeling off when wet, on the other hand, exposure to water won’t affect the colours of emulsion paint.
  2. Distemper can only be applied to walls and surfaces while emulsion paint can also be applied on wooden furniture, metals,  and papered walls.
  3. Distemper paint does not provide many qualities so it is not very expensive as compared to emulsion paints. 
  4.  Application of Distemper is effortless work. Emulsion requires experienced painters. 
  5. Distemper gives more of a rustic look. And emulsion gives a sleek, matte and smooth finish.
Difference Between Distemper and Emulsion
  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41340261
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/sic.1998.43.Supplement-1.235

Last Updated : 12 July, 2023

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