That perfect colour for your home

GOOD VARIETY TO CHOOSE FROM: Colours being blended in a computerised `colour bank' at a paint shop in Thiruvananthapuram. - Photo: S. GOPAKUMAR

GOOD VARIETY TO CHOOSE FROM: Colours being blended in a computerised `colour bank' at a paint shop in Thiruvananthapuram. - Photo: S. GOPAKUMAR  

Choosing the correct colour for your dream home can make you lose your sleep. But times have changed and today there are umpteen number of ways to choose that correct colour for your walls, writes G. Mahadevan.

SELECTING THE right colours for the walls, windows and wood surfaces is perhaps one of the most difficult things about building a home. From arriving at a consensus on which colour would go where, to deciding on the type of finish, to finally zeroing in on the brand of paint to buy... the process is laborious and error-prone.

Or rather this was situation till about a few years ago. Now what with the dizzying array of paint varieties on the shelf, computer-assisted paint section facilities, precision paint mixers and the advice of specialist colour consultants to top it all, painting one's home has never been easier. If at all there is any difficulty today it is in making a choice from among the plethora of shades and brands at a paint shop.

A paint has four essential components - a resin or a binder that binds the paint to the surface, a pigment that gives the desired colour, a solvent that decides the consistency and additives that bind the first three together in the paint solution. Shades and finishes are but proportional variations of these components.

Decades ago painting an exterior wall was a simple affair, at least as far as the choosing the paint was concerned. There was lime and nothing else. Gradually cement-based paints entered the scene to be upstaged more recently by emulsion paints.

For exterior walls there are four classes of emulsion paints - economy, regular, elastomeric and textural paints. Irrespective of the brand, all these varieties have common features such as adequate longevity, resistance to weather, resistance to algal growth and so on. Of these, the elastomeric variety of paints is a recent entrant.

The special feature of this paint is that once applied, its elastic property ensures that the paint covers hairline cracks that develop in the plaster over time rendering them invisible to the naked eye.

The most recent addition to exterior paints is the textural paint that has more or less become a rage in many parts of the country. Costly to a fault, these paints can give pre-designed textures to the painted surface. Some textural paints require a fibreglass board to be affixed to the surface before the paint is applied. There are also special rollers to apply this variety of paint.

For exterior wood surfaces, the trend now is to apply clear paints that are supposed to enhance the natural feel and look of a wooden surface. In earlier days, the preference was for opaque or shade-paints.

Moreover, paint dealers say there is also a movement away from the full-gloss effect for exterior wooden surfaces to the `quarter gloss' or `satin finish.' This holds true for both shades and clear coatings. There are paints that can also give a semi-gloss or a full-matt effect.

Clear paints for exterior surfaces are also chemically superior to their predecessors. Now a customer can choose between a `single pack' polyurethane paint and double pack PU paint.

The latter has an additional chemical component that increases paint longevity by many a factor.

As with exterior paints, those for walls, windows and other surfaces have evolved drastically over the years. Earlier if a customer had to be content with different shades of distemper paints, he can now also go in for different varieties of emulsion paints. Here too, the choice is between the economy, regular, premium and luxury categories; the differences across the categories being the finish, longevity and washability of the paint.

As with exterior varieties, paints for interior walls too come in the textural/designer variety. According to paint dealers these paints are used to give what is called the `wallpaper effect' to interior walls.

According to S. Vijayakumar, paint consultant and senior partner of the Santa Paint House, in Thiruvananthapuram a customer should take care to insist that a dealer shows him all categories of paint available under a particular brand. "Normally we can say that a costlier paint would be of a higher quality. This is not true in all cases. If a customer wants his living room wall to have a washable paint but not one that gives a full-gloss effect, there is no point buying a top-of-the-line variety. It would be a waste of money," he explained to TheHindu-Propertyplus.

The best part about selecting paints today are the software that let a customer see how a surface would look like after getting painted in a particular shade. Better still a customer can also vary the colour combinations for the walls, windows and other surfaces in a room or an exterior wall, keep trying combinations before a final decision.

Almost all the leading paint companies, including Asian Paints, ICI and Berger Paints have made available this software at leading paint shops across the country.

Moreover, computer-assisted paint dispensers and mixers allow a client to order for the exact shade of paint he has in mind. A customer can even create a new shade of paint today. "It is now possible to alter the level of pigment dispensed in a can of white base to create shades that are not there in the company's palette. We do that in our `Colour Kitchen' after the shade is selected in our Colour Café," says Mr. Vijayakumar.

That is not all. Today it is also possible for a customer to walk into a showroom with a photograph, an advertisement or a painting or even a piece of cloth and have that particular colour scanned on to a computer using a spectrophotometer. This colour, or at least its near-perfect match can then be created using the computerised paint dispenser. What if a customer wants to see how a wall with a particular shade would look like at noon? No problem. Using a `light booth' a paint shop can demonstrate to a customer how his cottage's wall would look like at sunrise or at noon. It is also now possible to apply paint on to a trial panel and `force dry' it to show the customer what a surface will feel and look like after getting two coats of the paint of his choice.

Things being what they are with paints, it is not surprising that there is a niche Do-It-Yourself market these days in the city. If out of every Rs.100 spent on paint, Rs. 40 is for labour why can't a customer paint his own house?

After all, the paint and other associated material and the best of colour-advice is home-delivered by either the company or the dealer.

Cost factor

Price range for various paints per litre.

Interior Emulsions:

Economy: Rs.100 to Rs.115.

Regular: Rs.170 to Rs.190.

Premium: Rs.280 to Rs.320.

Super Luxury: Rs.320 to Rs.350.

Exterior Emulsions:

Economy: Rs. 110 to Rs.120.

Regular: Rs. 190 to Rs.200.

Luxury: Rs.230 to Rs.260.

Super Luxury (Elastomeric): Rs.300.

Designer paints:

Interior and Exterior: Rs. 10 to Rs. 30 per square feet .

Clear Coatings.

PU, Interior single pack: Rs.120 to Rs.130.

PU Exteri12

or Single pack: Rs.200 to Rs.240.

PU exterior Two pack: Rs.540 to Rs.620.

Melamine Finish Interior: Rs.200.

Distemper paint: Rs.35 to Rs.50.

Enamel Premium paint: Rs.135 to Rs.155.

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