Best white paint: 10 best shades and where to use them

Looking for the best white paint? It can be one of the trickiest shades to nail, so we've rounded up the best options for walls, woodwork, and more

Included in this guide:

Best white paint: 10 of the best colours and stylish ways to use them
(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

In theory, choosing the best white paint should be easy. I mean, it's just white, right? That is until you come to consult a paint chart and realise there are potentially ten different whites you can choose from. And that's just the Farrow & Ball options! Add a few more paint manufacturers to the mix and you're suddenly swimming in paint charts, colour swatches and have spent a small fortune on sample pots looking for the perfect shade. 

To make it even trickier you'll soon come to realise there isn't in fact just one best white paint; the best option for you needs to be tailored to your room - because as we all know the same shade can look very different depending on where you place it -  and light plays a huge part in that. 

The general rule is that in North-facing rooms it's best to avoid whites that have cool blue or green undertones as these can make a room feel cold and a tad miserable, so look for whites with gentle red or yellow undertones to lend warmth to the walls. In South-facing rooms which are blessed with much warmer natural light anyway, pretty much anything goes, and you can work with whites with cooler undertones or milky warmer shades.

So, whether you're looking for the best white paint for the walls, skirtings, a kitchen or bathroom, cool-toned or warm, browse on to find the best option for you.

Farrow & Ball Ammonite

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

1. Farrow & Ball Ammonite Estate Emulsion

The best white paint for walls; the shade that works in pretty much any room

Specifications
Finishes available: Estate Emulsion, Estate Eggshell, Modern Emulsion, Modern Eggshell, Full Gloss, Exterior Eggshell, Exterior Masonry
Coverage : 35m² per 2.5L tin
Drying time : 2hrs
Reasons to buy
+A white that works in pretty much every space+Not too cool and not too warm+Good in modern or period properties+Plenty of finishes available
Reasons to avoid
-Definitely needs two coats as quite a thin formula-Not the most affordable option

Although it can be tricky to suggest the definitive best white paint for all interiors, if we had to stick all our eggs in one basket, this would be it. Ammonite from Farrow & Ball is one of the brand's bestselling shades, and once on the walls, it's easy to see why.  

It's a grey-toned white that's that elusive mix of neither too warm nor too cool, meaning it lends a light and airy look to sun-filled spaces and doesn't feel cold in a North-facing room. 

The depth of tone will add character to a more modern property and look right at home in a period property too.

Bring out the warmth of the shade and create a fresh look by pairing with pure white woodwork, or create more of a statement by contrasting with a darker grey tone. 

Little Green Shallows in the best cool toned white paint

(Image credit: Little Greene)

2. Little Greene Shallows Absolute Matt Emulsion

The best cool-toned white wall paint for south-facing rooms

Specifications
Finishes available: Intelligent Matt Emulsion, Intelligent Eggshell, Absolute Matt Emulsion, Intelligent Gloss
Coverage: 14m² per l
Drying time : 2hrs
Reasons to buy
+Perfect greyish white for rooms with lots of light+Thick creamy formula gives good coverage+Plenty of finishes available
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most affordable option

Better suited to light, south-facing rooms Shallows by Little Greene is edging on almost being grey. We love pairing this white paint with a slightly more obvious grey (Grey Teal has been used in the bathroom above) to further highlight those cooler tones. This colour would look gorgeous in a light and airy open-plan kitchen or in a large bathroom. Just be aware it risks looking harsh in a sun-deprived room, so avoid using it in north-facing rooms or hallways.

Slipper Satin is the best warm white paint

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

3. Farrow & Ball Slipper Satin Estate Emulsion

The best warm white paint for North-facing rooms

Specifications
Finishes available: Estate Emulsion, Estate Eggshell, Modern Emulsion, Modern Eggshell, Full Gloss, Exterior Eggshell, Exterior Masonry
Coverage : 35m² per 2.5L tin
Drying time : 2hrs
Reasons to buy
+Warm tones work well in cooler North-facing rooms+Plenty of finishes available
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most affordable option

The off-white Slipper Satin wall paint from Farrow & Ball takes its name from the delicate colour of silk used in traditional ballet slippers.

The absence of any cooler undertones means it works perfectly in a North-facing room that's in need of some uplifting warmth, and whilst a lovely creamy white, it doesn't have the more obvious yellow-tones common in other warm whites - in case true cream isn't your thing.

pure white paint - Mylands of London

(Image credit: Mylands of London)

4. Mylands of London Pure White Marble Matt Emulsion

The best pure white paint for creating a blank canvas

Specifications
Finishes available: Eggshell, Matt Emulsion, Gloss, Exterior Masonry
Coverage : 37.5m2 per 2.5L tin
Drying time : 1-2hrs
Reasons to buy
+The best true white paint +Slightly soft, chalky finish 
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most affordable option

A pure white paint can be a great option for a modern or contemporary property, although it can run the risk of reflecting blue tones in a North-facing room, and sometimes it can be a bit harsh on the eyes in a room with lots of sun. 

If you love the desaturated look of pure white though then our top recommendation is the Pure White matt emulsion from Mylands of London

It's a lovely chalk white colour with hardly any undertones of any kind, which can make it the perfect backdrop to adding colour and texture elsewhere in the room.

Dulux Bathroom Egyptian Cotton is the best white paint for bathrooms

(Image credit: Dulux)

5. Dulux Easycare Bathroom Egyptian Cotton Soft Sheen

The best white paint for bathrooms

Specifications
Finishes available: Soft Sheen Emulsion
Coverage: 13m² per L
Drying time: 24hrs
Reasons to buy
+Great for rooms with high moisture +Washable+Protects against mould 
Reasons to avoid
-Long drying time-Smells quite strong 

Dulux have got bathroom paint down, and this formula made it to the top of our best bathroom paints list, so you know it's good. It's been designed to be both steam and moisture resistant, plus its MouldTec foundation protects the paint against mould for up to five years. Over 24 hours, the paint dries to a mid-sheen finish, which repels steam rather than allowing it to soak in.

In terms of colour, we think the Dulux Bathroom Egyptian Cotton is the best white paint for a bathroom. Managing to look both crisp and cosy (who wants to bathe in a cold-toned room?), this versatile colour will work in bathrooms of any size and looks equally lovely in light-filled bathrooms as well as rooms with less natural light. 

You can find more bathroom paint ideas in our dedicated feature. 

Dulux kitchen in Timeless is the best white paint for kitchens

(Image credit: Dulux)

6. Dulux Easycare Kitchen Timeless Matt Emulsion

The best white paint for kitchens

Specifications
Finishes available: Matt Emulsion
Coverage: 13m² per L
Drying time : 5hrs
Reasons to buy
+Low VOC levels+Wipeable+Grease proof
Reasons to avoid
-Only a matt finish available 

Looking for the best white paint for kitchens? We love the Dulux Easycare Kitchen Timeless emulsion

The formula is engineered to stay pristine, with a greaseproof formula that resists stains and makes any marks that do appear easier to wipe off. You will find that most of Dulux's paint colours come in the Easycare Kitchen formulation but we love the look of Timeless. It's a warm white paint, but as the kitchen above shows, it works just as well when combined with both warm and cool tones. 

For more of the best paint for kitchens check out our guide and have a read through our kitchen paint ideas too. 

Little Greene Portland Stone best white paint for bedrooms

(Image credit: Little Greene)

7. Little Greene Portland Stone

The best white paint for bedrooms

Specifications
Finishes available: Intelligent Matt Emulsion, Intelligent Eggshell, Absolute Matt Emulsion, Intelligent Gloss
Coverage: 14m² per l
Drying time : 2hrs
Reasons to buy
+Thick creamy formula gives good coverage

We love the creamy softness of Little Greene's Portland Stone, it's just the perfect white paint for bedrooms – think melted vanilla ice cream (in a very good way). While it looks gorgeous and warming in a light-filled space, it also brings a lovely lived-in feel to darker spaces. It works wonderfully in more traditional style homes, but it's equally at home in a modern space, just pair it with some crisp white woodwork to give it a bit of an edge. 

Check out more inspiring bedroom paint ideas in our dedicated feature. 

  • Shop Little Green Portland Stone here

The best white chalk paint Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish Furniture Paint

(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

8. Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish Furniture Paint Chalk White

The best white chalk paint

Specifications
Finishes available: Chalky
Coverage : 14.5m² per l
Drying time : 1hr
Reasons to buy
+Stylish chalky finish +Can be used on different surfaces+Quick drying time
Reasons to avoid
-Not great for high traffic areas-Largest tin available 750ml

Is there an easier way to give your interiors a bit of vintage charm than a lick of chalk paint? The farmhouse vibes you get from chalky white walls will never go out of style, and you can use white chalk paint to quickly upcycle old furniture or even give your kitchen cabinets a revamp – just have a read through our guide to painting kitchen cabinets and painting furniture first. 

So what's the best white chalk paint out there? Well we love Rust-Oleum Chalk White Chalky Matt paint. There's no hint of yellow, it adheres to pretty much any surface and is perfect for distressing. Plus it also comes in a spray paint if you think you would find working with that easier. 

Dulux Satinwood White Cotton is the best white paint for wood

(Image credit: Dulux)

9. Dulux Satinwood White Cotton

The best white paint for trim and woodwork

Specifications
Finishes available: Mid-sheen
Coverage: 12m² per L
Drying time: 6hrs
Reasons to buy
+No undercoat needed +Wipeable+Perfect for areas that will get scuffed 
Reasons to avoid
-Requires a couple of coats for a solid colour 

Tough, durable and hard-wearing, the Dulux Satinwood in White Cotton is perfect for interior woods, especially where there are high volumes of foot traffic. Requiring just a couple of coats, this paint is easy to apply, with no undercoat necessary, unless you are painting over a colour that is particularly strong. 

Technical bit over, let's focus on the colour. We love the look of clean white woodwork, so we've picked White Cotton as our favourite – but you can get Satinwood in all the Dulux shades. This tough, bright white would work perfectly to bring some light into dark hallways, and if you are dabbling with the idea of painting your floorboards white, this is your colour. 

Follow our guide to how to paint floorboards if you want to create this gorgeous look, and take a look at more of the best paints for wood

Child's bedroom painted white

(Image credit: Ikea)

10. Dulux Easycare Washable & Tough Matt Jasmine White

Best white paint for kids' rooms

Specifications
Finishes available: Matt
Coverage: 13m² per L
Drying time : 2-4hrs
Reasons to buy
+Stain resistant+Suits all rooms +Washable 
Reasons to avoid
-It gets more creamy as it drys so order a tester pot first if you are unsure 

Painting a kid's room white may sound like a mad idea, but pick the right paint and you needn't worry about rogue fingerprints, muddy marks or unidentifiable smudges. 'Washable' and 'tough' are arguably the magic words when it comes to decorating children’s rooms, and Dulux Easycare Washable & Tough Matt in Jasmin White is covering them both with this formulation. 

This paint is 20 times tougher than the brand’s standard offerings and is designed to repel liquids so you have time to wipe away any spillages before they soak in. 

In terms of colour, we love the fresh feel of the Jasmine White. Cool without being sterile, it creates an inviting warmth to a room while still looking crisp and clean. Be sure to check out more paint colour schemes for kids' bedrooms and take a look at our roundup of the best paint for kids' rooms too. 

How to choose the best white paint 

South or west-facing rooms are always going to be a dream to decorate, and most white paints are going to work in sun-filled spaces. Choosing the best white paint for a south-facing room really just depends on your style and how you want the room to look, particularly under lamp light. If you like a clean, crisp look, stick with a cool-toned white paint (with grey or bluish undertones), but if you prefer a more relaxed vibe, choose a softer warm white (with yellowish or blush hues) that will feel cosier at night. 

North- or east-facing rooms obviously get less light, and cooler light. So, warmer whites are always going to be more at home in this type of room. Look for white paints that have a creamy undertone for warmth, both day and night.

Test it day and night

As we mentioned above, it's important to consider how your white paint will look under artificial light as well as daylight. So, make sure when choosing white paint that you consider it under both natural and artificial light, and always test a paint colour in your home so you can see how it changes throughout the day. Order a tester pot, paint on to A3 sheets of paper (or the wall if you are feeling committed) and stick them up on all four walls. That's the best method for seeing what it looks like in real life.

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Hebe Hatton
Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer. As a renter, she is always looking for creative ways to make her flat feel like home. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration.

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