Types of interior paints – Distemper and Emulsion.

Interior paints, as the name suggests is the process of decorating the interior walls of a structure. While thinking of interior painting most people are more concerned about colours, shades, and textures. They never focus on the type of paint to be used for their interiors. The paint types to be used determine the durability, sheen and elegance, and life of the interiors and structures.

Deciding the right interior paint is the first and prime thing to do before going to shades and textures. Each paint type comes with its composition, properties, and functionalities.

This blog is about the type of interior paints that are used extensively in the painting of internal walls.

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Interior paints – Types

The right paint for the interior surface is the first thing to be decided before choosing the paint colours and textures. Following are the major interior wall used extensively nowadays.

  • Distemper
  • Emulsion
  • Enamel paint
  • Textured paint
  • Metallic paint
Interior paints

Interior paints – Distemper

Distemper is the oldest type of paint made out of mixing water, chalk, and pigment. Animal glue or resins are used as binding materials. Distemper was the only paint type available in the early 80s. However, distemper has evolved with time and is now available in a variety of types and grades.
Distempers is also known as whitewash or cement wash but they are superior to whitewash.

Distempers are applied directly over the plastered surface without any primer or putty. Distemper also functions as base coats for other superior paints and thereby helps in increasing the life of surface coats.

Distemper is available in two types

  • Dry distemper ( water based paint)
  • Oil bound distemper (OBD)

Dry distemper

Dry Distemper is a water-based wall paint ingredient whose constituents are chalk lime, glue, and water. Distemper is brush applied and gives a better look than the traditional whitewash. It is available in powder form and has to mix in glue and water. A minimum of three or coats has to be applied to give a smooth finish. You can create a rustic or earthy look with Dry Distemper and is non – washable. This is the most economical paint available for interior surfaces.

Oil bound distemper 

Oil-bound distemper or popularly called OBD consists of an emulsion of drying oil or varnish that resists water. They are available in a ready-mix form and applied with a brush or a roller. On application of a minimum of three coats, you get a smooth matt finish. The main feature of this paint is that it is washable.

The presence of drying oils in Oil bound distemper increase coverage area and enables the surface to dry within four hours. This distemper is usually affordable and durable, as well as gives a smooth matte finish. It is available in many colours. Oil-bound distemper is preferred for interior applications on plaster, brick, and ordinary walls, and ceilings for industrial /residential uses. Oil-based distemper is more durable than dry distemper.

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Distemper availability in market

Distemper paint is available in three main forms

  • Acrylic distemper
  • Synthetic distemper
  • UNO Acrylic distemper 

Acrylic distemper

Acrylic distemper is a water-based acrylic co polymer formulation. The environment-friendly distemper is also most suitable for interior applications. It gives a matte finish to the area it is applied.

Synthetic distemper

Synthetic Distemper is a water-based oil-bound interior wall paint. It is available in a variety of direct shades and gives a good-looking, time-tested, and durable finish for the walls. Being oil bound, the paint film becomes harder over a period, which gives better washability and durability.

Uno Acrylic distemper

Tractor Uno Acrylic Distemper (Asian paints) is a water-based acrylic distemper suitable for interior walls at an economical price. This washable distemper will keep your walls as good as new for a long time and it is available in more than 950 different shades.

Interior paints – Emulsion paints

Emulsion paints are water-based and odourless paint and are the most preferred painting choice for interior walls.

The ingredients constitutes pigments, acrylic resin, solvent, and additives. The acrylic resins are in emulsion forms and function as an adhesive enabling the paint to stick onto the surface and holds the ingredients in place even after drying. The pigments in paints are responsible for colour and protection from UV light.

Emulsion paints are durable, washable, and quick drying. The stains can be washed easily using mild detergents. The VOC emission is very low and it is very easy to maintain the walls and minimises the odours which are a part of other oil-based paints. Emulsion paints requires a primer coat and putty coats before applying finish paint.

Plastic emulsion
Plastic emulsion

Types of emulsion interior paints

Emulsion paints are known as plastic paints/plastic emulsions or acrylic emulsions. But in simple words all emulsions are technically plastic paints and all these are same. Basically plastic emulsion or plastic paint is a water based wall paint. It is based on acrylic and provides smooth matte finish. The main difference between normal emulsion paint and plastic emulsion is the washability factor and presence of acrylic materials.

The plastic emulsions are available in the following types.

Vinyl matt emulsion

Gives a matt non-shiny finish that expertly covers small imperfections on the wall or ceiling.

Vinyl satin emulsion

Gives a subtle soft-sheen finish and is a more durable surface than vinyl matt.

Vinyl silk emulsion

Gives a high sheen finish and is the most durable of all the emulsion paints.

Interior paints – Advantages of Emulsions

Plastic emulsions/ acrylic emulsions gained popularity because of their ease of application, quick drying qualities , do not have any objectionable order like distemper and they have good washability. Stains can be removed easily from the surface with the help of mild detergents. They are humidity resistant and emits very less Volatile organic compound (VOC s).


Plastic emulsion is a much superior quality paint compared to distemper. Distemper can be applied with out any base coats and is very economical where as Plastic emulsion needs base coats and primer coats and is expensive. Considering the superior qualities plastic emulsion is the best choice if we really need a durable and long lasting interior.

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