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Farrow & Ball vs. Sherwin-Williams: Which Paint Is Better?

Are you getting ready to paint but can’t decide between Farrow & Ball and Sherwin-Williams?

Both brands are known for their easy application, smooth finish, and vibrant colors, but which paint is better?

In this comparison of Farrow & Ball vs. Sherwin-Williams, you’ll learn how they differ in coverage, durability, ease of use, colors, price, availability, and more.


Use the links below to navigate the comparison:


Paint Lines

Sherwin-Williams has many paint lines, but the most popular include the following:

  • SuperPaint: SuperPaint is an acrylic latex paint that includes the primer. It is available in multiple finishes, including flat, semi-gloss, satin, and velvet. It is a durable paint that holds up to frequent cleaning.
Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint Interior
Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint Interior
  • Duration: This is one of Sherwin-Williams’ most durable paints. It’s made for high-traffic areas and contains anti-microbial agents and stain-blocking technology. It’s available in flat, matte, satin, and semi-gloss sheens.
Sherwin-Williams Duration
Sherwin-Williams Duration Interior
  • Emerald: This is Sherwin-Williams’ most premium (and most expensive) paint line. Like Duration, it includes agents that inhibit the growth of mold and mildew. It’s super washable and provides exceptional coverage (even over dark colors). This paint is available in flat, matte, and satin finishes.
Sherwin-Williams Emerald Designer Edition Interior
Sherwin-Williams Emerald Designer Edition Interior
  • Cashmere: This paint is rich looking, with a silky finish. It has a built-in primer and is easy to apply and maintain. It comes in flat, pearl, and eggshell finishes.
Sherwin-Williams Cashmere
Sherwin-Williams Cashmere
  • Captivate: The most affordable of Sherwin-Williams’ paints. It has a built-in primer and is easy to apply. It’s available in flat, satin, and semi-gloss sheens.
Sherwin-Williams Captivate Interior
Sherwin-Williams Captivate Interior
  • Resilience: This is the exterior acrylic latex paint line from Sherwin-Williams. It resists moisture and warping or buckling and works well on siding, clapboard, shakes, shingles, plywood, metal, and concrete.
  • Specialty Lines: ProClassic Waterborne Interior features a non-yellowing finish and smooth application for commercial and industrial space. Latitude Exterior Acrylic Latex is resistant to rain in as little as one hour of painting. Lastly, SnapDry paint is a door and trim-specific paint. It can dry in as little as one hour, making projects easy since you don’t have to worry about doors sticking.

Farrow & Ball doesn’t have paint lines. Instead, they organize their offerings by finish. There are five interior finishes and two exterior finishes, including:

Farrow and Ball Finishes
Farrow and Ball Finishes
  • Modern Emulsion (interior walls and ceilings): This tough interior wall paint is washable, scuff-proof, and mold and mildew resistant. Modern emulsion finishes are matte, and a gallon of it will cover up to 480 square feet with a drying time around 2 hours.
  • Estate Emulsion (interior walls and ceilings): This paint has a chalky, matte finish. A gallon will cover 570 square feet, with a sheen of 2% and a drying time of approximately 2 hours.
  • Estate Eggshell (interior metal or wood): This finish is a low-shine, water-based satin paint. It has a sheen of 20% and a drying time of 2 hours. You will get 480 square feet out of a gallon of paint.
  • Modern Eggshell (interior metal, wood, or concrete): This is Farrow & Ball’s most durable interior paint finish. Besides floors, you can use it on cabinets, radiators, and furniture; anywhere that is high traffic or high use. It has a sheen of 40% and a drying time of 2 hours. It covers 480 square feet per gallon.
  • Full Gloss (interior metal or wood): Full Gloss is a water-based, ultra-high gloss finish with a sheen of 95%. It’s suitable for interior and exterior use and holds up against peeling, flaking, and fading for six years. It covers 480 square feet per gallon.
  • Exterior Eggshell: Like Estate Eggshell, this paint finish is also low shine with a sheen of 20%, but it’s formulated for outdoor spaces. It remains flexible when dry, which makes it longer lasting in differing weather conditions. It resists fading, peeling, and flaking for up to 6 years while inhibiting mold and mildew growth. Like other Farrow & Ball paints, it dries in 2 hours, and a gallon of this paint will provide up to 529 square feet of coverage.
  • Exterior Masonry: This is recommended for brick, render, and concrete. It’s super matte, long-lasting, and has the highest level of water permeability of all Farrow & Ball paints so that surfaces can breathe. The exterior masonry finish resists flaking, peeling, and fading for 15+ years. It has a low sheen level at 2% and a dry time of roughly two hours. One gallon of exterior masonry paint will cover 325 square feet.

Learn more about all the options both brands offer at Sherwin-Williams.com and Farrow-Ball.com.

Volume Solids

You may have seen the term volume solids on paint cans or product data sheets. But what does that mean, and why does it matter?

Paint is made up of solvents, pigments, and binders. When you apply the paint to a wall, the solvents evaporate, and the pigments and binders (the solid components) remain. The term volume solids refers to the percentage of pigments and binders within the formula.

The volume of solids doesn’t necessarily tell you if the paint is of better quality, but it can tell you how much paint you’ll need for adequate coverage. Usually, paint with a higher percentage of solids covers better and requires fewer coats.

Volume solids vary widely across paint brands and individual paint lines. The table below shows the volume solids for each Sherwin-Williams paint. As you’ll see, SuperPaint has the highest volume solids percentage, while Captivate has the lowest.

Unfortunately, Farrow & Ball doesn’t display this information on their website. When I contacted them, they said, “We do not disclose this information, our apologies.”

Sherwin-Williams Interior Volume Solids

FlatMatteSatinSemi-Gloss
SuperPaint44%N/A41%37%
Duration40%40%38%N/A
Emerald41%N/A40%37%
Cashmere40%N/AN/AN/A
Captivate34%N/A40%36%

Sherwin-Williams Exterior Volume Solids

FlatSatinHigh-Gloss
SuperPaint37%37%37%
Duration43%N/AN/A
Emerald42%39%N/A
Resilience39%N/AN/A

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Volatile organic compounds, more commonly known as VOCs, is a term used extensively by advertisers to market paint.

VOCs are any solvents or chemicals found in the paint that are released as the paint is drying.

These chemicals are responsible for headaches and lightheadedness when the paint is still wet. Some VOCs are carcinogens and have been linked to various types of cancer.

Unfortunately, VOCs are sometimes necessary in paint. Without them, the paint wouldn’t solidify as it dried.

The good news is that modern paint requires significantly fewer VOCs, and in some cases, manufacturers have managed to create zero VOC paint (for interior-only latex paint.)

There are federal caps for VOCs in paint. Flat finishes must contain less than 250 grams of VOC per liter of paint. The cap is set at 380 grams per liter of paint for all other finishes.

Fortunately, Farrow & Ball and Sherwin-Williams both offer low or zero-VOC paints. The tables below show how their VOC levels compare.

Farrow & Ball PaintsPaint VOCs (g/l)
Modern Emulsion4 g/l
Estate Emulsion4 g/l
Estate Eggshell15 g/l
Modern Eggshell6 g/l
Full Gloss18 g/l
Exterior Eggshell4 g/l
Exterior Masonry1 g/l
Sherwin-Williams PaintsInterior Paint VOCs (g/l)Exterior Paint VOCs (g/l)
SuperPaint< 50 g/l< 50 g/l
Duration< 50 g/l< 50 g/l
Emerald< 50 g/l< 50 g/l
Cashmere< 50 g/lN/A
Captivate< 50 g/lN/A
ResilienceN/A< 50 g/l

Where It Is Sold

You can purchase Sherwin-Williams paint online or visit one of their owned and operated stores (there are over 4,800 locations in the US).

Sherwin-Williams Paint Review

Sherwin-Williams also has a paint line called HGTV Home that is available at Lowe’s stores or on Lowes.com.

Farrow & Ball is sold in a limited number of independent paint stores and design studios, and the company’s dedicated stores (15 locations in the United States). You won’t find it in major retailers like The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Ace Hardware.

Before you fall in love with a Farrow & Ball color, use their store and stockist finder tool to make sure the paint is available near you.

Colors

When it comes to color availability, Sherwin-Williams is winning the numbers game. They have over 1,700 color choices.

Sherwin-Williams Colors
Sherwin-Williams Paint Colors

Farrow & Ball takes a different approach, offering only 132 featured colors. According to Charlotte Cosby, the head of creative at Farrow & Ball, each color needs to “earn its place on our color card.”

So instead of browsing through hundreds of shades, Farrow & Ball makes the decision less daunting with a limited selection of vibrant colors that won’t go out of style.

Despite their differing approaches, both brands offer tools and resources to help you pick the right colors for your home.

Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap Visualizer allows you to virtually paint a room by using one of their pre-existing photos or uploading one of your own room.

Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap Visualizer
Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap Visualizer

Sherwin-Williams Snap It is a web browser extension that allows you to get a custom paint palette based on a photograph or artwork you find online.

Farrow & Ball opts for a more human approach to their visualization services. For a fee that ranges from $250-500, you can take advantage of a color consultancy with one of their design experts.

In addition to the design consultant, they also offer sample paints for a fee. The samples can be purchased online or at a stockist. For their California Collection, paint swatches are available but can only be ordered online.

Price

Farrow & Ball is one of the most expensive paint brands I’ve reviewed. Instead of marketing to the average homeowner, they target luxury home designers who will recommend their paint to clients. Price varies by finish but ranges from $120 to $150 per gallon.

Sherwin-Williams is more expensive than brands like Behr and Valspar but much more affordable than Farrow & Ball. Their prices are in the $70- $110 per gallon range. Sherwin-Williams offers a budget-friendly line, Captivate, which costs between $40 and $50 per gallon.

The table below shows the current prices of each brand’s most popular paints.

PaintPrice Per Gallon*View Price
Sherwin-Williams Emerald Interior$85.49Sherwin-Williams.com
Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint Interior$69.99Sherwin-Williams.com
Sherwin-Williams Captivate Interior$44.49Sherwin-Williams.com
Sherwin-Williams Duration Exterior$93.49Sherwin-Williams.com
Benjamin Moore Resilience Exterior$84.49Sherwin-Williams.com
Farrow & Ball Modern Emulsion Interior$130.00Farrow-Ball.com
Farrow & Ball Estate Emulsion Interior$120.00Farrow-Ball.com
Farrow & Ball Full Gloss Interior$135.00Farrow-Ball.com
Farrow & Ball Exterior Eggshell$150.00Farrow-Ball.com
*Prices are subject to change

What Paint Experts Say

I reached out to Johnson Paint, a paint store in Boston, Massachusetts, that’s been in business since 1939. They’ve been selling Farrow & Ball for decades and know it well.

When I spoke with the paint expert, I asked, “Why is Farrow & Ball so expensive? And how is it different from brands like Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore?”

He said, “Farrow & Ball is a specialty paint brand out of the UK. It’s known for having stronger pigments, so the colors are more vibrant when the paint is on the wall. The downside is that the color choices are limited, and it’s much more expensive than Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams.”

He also mentioned, “There are no major differences in quality between Farrow & Ball and other premium paints. If you like a particular Farrow & Ball color, you can match it with Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams. It might not be a 100% match since the formulas differ, but it should be close.”

I asked if the vibrance of Farrow & Ball is noticeable to the average person, and he said, “There would be a slight difference, but most people wouldn’t notice.”

What Others Are Saying

Sherwin-Williams and Farrow & Ball have earned numerous accolades from independent outlets and design magazines. Here are some recent mentions.

The New York Times Wirecutter named Sherwin-Williams Cashmere the Runner-Up in its list of the best interior paints. It fell short of the overall winner, Benjamin Moore Regal Select, but beat out over 25 other paints. The professional painters interviewed for this article praised its coverage, ease of application, and leveling.

The Spruce named Sherwin-Williams Cashmere the Best Overall Interior Paint, highlighting its silky finish and excellent coverage.

Insider awarded Sherwin-Williams Infinity the title of Best Paint for a Makeover. They mentioned its ability to cover in one coat and resist stains and mildew.

Bob Vila named Sherwin-Williams Duration Exterior Latex Acrylic Paint as their top choice. They praised its low-VOW and self-priming formula.

Country Living named Farrow & Ball their top pick for high gloss interior paint and Sherwin-Williams Cashmere the easiest to apply.

Real Simple picked Farrow & Ball as their top brand for “people looking to splurge” and spoke highly of its striking colors. Sherwin-Williams was mentioned because of the sheer number of choices consumers have, from colors to finishes.

Bottom Line: Should You Use Farrow & Ball or Sherwin-Williams?

Farrow & Ball and Sherwin-Williams both make paint that covers well, looks great, and lasts long, but their target consumers are totally different.

Farrow & Ball is a high-end brand with high-end prices. They offer fewer colors that are carefully curated by expert designers. Instead of providing digital visualization tools so you can pick colors yourself, they prefer one-on-one consultations (for a hefty fee).

Sherwin-Wiliams is a much more accessible brand. They offer over 1,700 colors and several paint lines at various price points. And they provide free online tools to help you find the right colors. You won’t have to travel far to pick up Sherwin-Williams because they have over 4,800 stores in the United States.

For most people, Sherwin-Williams is a more practical choice. You’ll spend much less but still get excellent results.

Farrow & Ball is an excellent choice if you have the budget and need a specific color they only offer. But some options cost over twice as much as Sherwin-Williams.

Another option is to match Farrow & Ball’s colors with Sherwin-Williams paint. But remember that every formula is different, so it won’t be an exact 1:1 match.

Learn more about both brands at Sherwin-Williams.com and Farrow-Ball.com.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He’s studied consumer buying behavior for 10+ years and has managed marketing campaigns for over a dozen Fortune 500 brands. When he’s not testing the latest home products, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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