Farrow & Ball vs. Olympic: Which Paint Brand Is the Ultimate Choice?

Bob Thomas

As an experienced painter and decorator, I’ve seen it all.

The good, the bad, and the oh-so-ugly when it comes to paint brands.

Today, I’m going to put my experience to good use as we compare two major paint brands – Farrow & Ball and Olympic.

Quick Summary

Looking for the key points? Here’s your rundown: Both Farrow & Ball and Olympic are excellent choices, each with their unique strengths. Farrow & Ball excels in unique color options and eco-friendly formulation, but comes with a higher price tag. On the other hand, Olympic offers a durable paint at a more affordable cost, but its color range may not be as broad as Farrow & Ball. Continue reading for a deep dive into the comparison.


Farrow & Ball, established in 1946 in Dorset, England, is known for its richly pigmented paint and artisanal approach. If you’re a fan of rich colors and premium products, this might be the brand for you.

Olympic, on the other hand, has been an American staple since 1938. They’ve made a name for themselves with durable and affordable paints suitable for a variety of projects.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to consider the specific needs of your project when choosing a paint brand!

Coverage and Durability

When it comes to coverage, Farrow & Ball’s rich pigments can cover a surface splendidly, usually in two coats.

Their paints are also quite durable, but with their matte finishes, you might notice marks more easily.

Olympic, on the other hand, also promises excellent coverage with fewer coats, especially with their ONE lineup.

It also packs a punch in terms of durability and is particularly noted for its resistance to wear and tear.


Let’s be frank; Farrow & Ball is a luxury brand, and their prices reflect that.

You’re paying for the rich pigments and the overall quality.

However, if you’re on a budget, Olympic offers reliable quality at a much more wallet-friendly price.


You can find Olympic paints in many big-box stores and dedicated paint stores across America.

Farrow & Ball paints can also be found in specialty paint and home improvement stores, as well as through their online store.

Pro Tip: Always check the store locator on the brand’s website to find the nearest retailer.

Color Options

If unique colors are your jam, you’ll adore Farrow & Ball.

They offer a curated selection of 132 diverse shades. 

Olympic offers a wide range of colors too, but they might not have the same depth and uniqueness as Farrow & Ball’s colors.

Environmental Impact

Farrow & Ball really shines here – all of their paints are water-based and their operations are carbon neutral.

Olympic has also made significant efforts to reduce their environmental impact with low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints.

Sheen and Finish Options

Farrow & Ball offers a variety of finishes from matte to high gloss, as well as specific formulations for different needs.

Similarly, Olympic offers a range of sheens and even has lines dedicated to different types of projects.

Ease of Application

Both brands are relatively easy to work with.

Farrow & Ball paints go on smoothly but remember, due to their rich pigmentation, a primer might be necessary to prevent color bleeding. 

Olympic paints are also user-friendly, applying smoothly, and many of their paints come with primer included, which can save you some prep time.

Personal Experiences  

During my long years as a professional painter and decorator, I’ve had the pleasure of working with both Farrow & Ball and Olympic paints.

Each brand has unique attributes that set it apart from the other.

I’ll never forget the first time I used Farrow & Ball paints on a project.

I was redecorating an old Victorian home. The client wanted a classic, yet distinctive look.

After evaluating several brands, we opted for Farrow & Ball due to their historic color palette and superior depth of color.

The moment the paint touched the wall, I was amazed by its rich pigmentation.

It gave the room a sophisticated feel that other paints just couldn’t replicate. 

However, the process did require an additional layer of primer and a few more coats of paint than expected due to its high pigmentation.

On the other hand, I was working on a project for a family with young children. 

They needed something durable that could withstand the trials of family life.

I recommended Olympic paints because of their strong resistance to stains and scuffs.

The paint applied smoothly, even over the kids’ old crayon marks, and the family was delighted with the vibrant finish.

Plus, the paint’s durability has stood the test of time; even after a few years, the walls still look fresh and clean.

What I’ve come to realize from these experiences and many others is that there’s a time and a place for each paint brand.

As a painter, it’s essential to understand your client’s needs, the specific requirements of the project, and how the paint will behave in different circumstances.

Both Farrow & Ball and Olympic have their own strengths and will excel when used in the right situation.

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. Are Farrow & Ball and Olympic Paints eco-friendly?

  A: Yes, both Farrow & Ball and Olympic prioritize environmental sustainability.

Farrow & Ball’s water-based paints are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and they’ve been committed to reducing their environmental impact for years.

Similarly, Olympic has a line of zero-VOC paints, and their products often contain a high percentage of recycled paint.

Q. Can I use Farrow & Ball or Olympic paint for exterior projects?

  A: Absolutely. Both Farrow & Ball and Olympic produce exterior paints designed to withstand the elements.

Farrow & Ball’s Exterior Eggshell and Full Gloss paints are resistant to flaking, peeling, and color fade for up to 6 years.

Olympic, on the other hand, offers a variety of exterior paints, including those that offer weather and UV ray resistance.

Q. Which brand offers more color options, Farrow & Ball or Olympic?

  A: While both brands offer a variety of colors, Olympic has a larger selection.

Farrow & Ball offers a curated range of 132 colors, each with a rich story and inspiration behind it.

Olympic, however, has a significantly larger color palette, offering thousands of shades to choose from.

Q. Do Farrow & Ball and Olympic paints have different finishes?

  A: Yes, both brands offer a variety of finishes. Farrow & Ball offers estate emulsion, modern emulsion, estate eggshell, modern eggshell, full gloss, and dead flat.

Olympic provides flat, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss finishes.

It’s important to choose the right finish depending on the surface you’re painting and the look you want to achieve.

Q. How do the prices of Farrow & Ball and Olympic compare?

  A: Farrow & Ball is considered a premium brand, and its prices reflect that.

Olympic, on the other hand, is a more affordable option.

The exact cost will depend on the type and finish of the paint, as well as where you purchase it from.

Q. What’s the drying time for Farrow & Ball and Olympic paints?

  A: The drying time can vary based on the type of paint, the conditions in which it’s applied, and the number of coats.

Generally, Farrow & Ball recommends a drying time of 1-2 hours for touch dry and 2 hours for recoat.

Olympic also suggests a similar time frame.

Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on the can for the most accurate information.

Q. Can Farrow & Ball and Olympic paint be used on all surfaces?

  A: Both Farrow & Ball and Olympic manufacture paints suitable for various surfaces, including wood, metal, plaster, and more.

However, it’s always a good idea to check the label or consult with a paint professional to ensure you’re using the correct paint for your specific project.


So, Farrow & Ball or Olympic – which one is the ultimate choice?

Well, the decision really depends on your individual needs and preferences.

If you’re looking for a luxury experience, unique colors, and eco-friendly formulation, and don’t mind spending a bit more, Farrow & Ball should be your go-to.

On the other hand, if you’re after durability, ease of application, and more budget-friendly options, Olympic is an excellent choice.

Remember, as a painter and decorator, I’ve learned that there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to paint.

Consider your project’s specific needs, your budget, and your desired look before making the final call. 

As Bob Thomas, a seasoned professional in the painting and decorating industry, I’ve personally worked with both Farrow & Ball and Olympic paints in various settings.

I can vouch for the qualities discussed above based on my hands-on experience.

My goal is to provide you with the most accurate information to assist you in making the best decision for your painting project.

Suggested Products:

Farrow & Ball

  1. Estate Emulsion: This is a signature chalky matte finish that’s suited to most interior walls and ceilings. It provides a classic, heritage feel and is available in 132 colors.
  2. Modern Eggshell: This finish is perfect for interior wood and metal surfaces, including kitchen cabinets, furniture, and flooring. It offers a slight sheen and is very durable.
  3. Exterior Eggshell: This is a flexible and water-resistant paint that’s perfect for exterior woodwork. It is resistant to flaking, peeling, and color fade for up to 6 years.


  1. ONE Interior Paint + Primer: This product offers excellent coverage and durability for interior walls. It has great hiding power and resists stains and scrubs well, making it perfect for high-traffic areas.
  2. Maximum Stain + Sealant in One: This is a high-quality exterior product that stains and seals wood in one step, protecting it from water damage and UV rays while enhancing the natural beauty of the wood.
  3. Assure Exterior Paint: This paint offers a durable and weather-resistant finish for exterior walls. It’s easy to apply and provides great coverage, making it a popular choice for homeowners.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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