Distemper (OBD) Vs Emulsion Paints – Which One to Choose

Are you looking forward to change the color palette of your home? Feeling probably lost with all the varied available paint choices? Well, we can assure you that the choice of paint selection for your home decor does not confine it to shades and themes. 

Selecting the right paint product for your home also defines the type of paint applied on the surface. Before choosing paint, the user must be aware of the pros and cons of the available paint.

To know more about the various types of available paints, you can follow our blog on Types of Paints.

In this article, we will be discussing the choice between Distemper Paint and Emulsion Paints. Which of the two available options will be better as per your requirements?

What is A Distemper Paint or a OBD (Oil Bound DIstemper)?

Distemper Paints are made with compositions of lime, chalk, and pigment. These are bonded with materials with adhesive nature namely resin. They are commonly named cement paints as they can be directly applied on cement wall surfaces without any coating or resurfacing.

Even Primer is also not required when you choose to paint your walls with distemper. Distemper Paints are often stated as Common Man’s Choice because they are quite affordable.

Pros of Distemper Paints

  • Comparatively Affordable as compared to other available types of paints
  • No surface treatment required before application
  • Painted Surfaces do not crack after sunlight weathering

Cons of Distemper Paints

  • Painted Coat can peel off when wet
  • Non-washable hence, vulnerable to stains
  • Fading effect after a long exposure
  • Comparatively less quality as compared to other paints

What are Emulsion Paints

Emulsion Paints are used on surfaces for silken sheen finish quality. The reason for such an elegant finish is because of the plastic mixture composition. This type of paint is popular due to its excellent coverage and even surfacing with excellent durability.

Pros of Emulsion Paints

  • Better durability as compared to Distemper Paints
  • Does not have weathering effect of Sun
  • Does not peel off while drying
  • Washable and Does not fade away after a long period

Cons of Emulsion Paints

  • Comparatively Costlier
  • Requires pre surface treatment like primer and putty before application on walls
  • Takes longer to dry

Factors to be Compared (Distemper vs Emulsion Paints)

1. Choice of Color Palette

Distemper paints have a limited availability and range of shades. Whereas, for a wide range of available choices, Customers can choose Emulsion paints Palette for their décor.

2. Paint Composition

Composition of Distemper Paints constitutes chalk, lime, and water as a solvent. On the other hand, Emulsion paints are mixed with varied chemical pigmented particles mixed in a binder solvent.

3. Odour

Incase of odour and Fumes it is advisable not to directly inhale paint fumes. However, emulsions have lesser odour than distempers but the VOC content is harmful for inhalation.

4. Surface Finish

Distempers can be applied directly on rough surfaces too. This can lead to rustic and rough finishes but can be made smooth when applied on smooth surfaces.

Emulsion Paints are known for their silken smooth sheen finish. This gives emulsion-painted surfaces an elegant look.

5. Cost Comparison

Distempers are a cost-effective and affordable range of paints but Emulsions have impactful and durable surface finishes.

Thus, Emulsions can be considered as cost-effective too because of their low maintenance and durability.

6. Surface Preparation

Distempers can be used on surfaces directly without any treatment or patching.

Emulsions require coating of putty for even and plain surfaces. Also, applying primer coats can be helpful for emulsion paints to emerge beautifully.

7. Ease of Application

Emulsion Paints application requires skilled and experienced painters for better effects and quality output. Thus, it is fair to state that distempers are easy for application.

8. Area covered on Paint Spread

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


Distemper Paints: 1 Kg Oil Based Distemper can cover 10 Sqm. Area (Approx)

                              1 Kg Water-Based Distemper can cover 14 Sqm. Area (Approx)

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

9. Durability

In the case of Durability, There is no doubt to choose emulsion paints over distemper paints. Emulsion Painted Surfaces can be wiped clean and can resist hard stains.

Emulsion Paints are durable than distemper paints.

10. Eco friendly Impact

Only water-based paints are environment friendly as the oil-based solutions can lead to fumes which could be harmful.

Also, Emulsion paints have Volatile Solvents which continue to leach fumes that can cause dizziness.

11. Market Availability

Varied Choices of Paints are available in Leading and popular Brands like Berger, Nerolac and Dulux, Asian Paints, Nippon, and many more.

Distemper Paints are available in the cost range of 25 rs to 200 rs per liter. Whereas, Emulsion paints are available in the cost range from 150 rs to 900 rs per liter.

The above-stated price values are for indicative purposes only and depend upon the quality, Solvent Base, and Brand market value of the paint.

– Anshul Kulshreshta