Woodwork for an Indian House – A handy guide

There are lots of home buyers who, based on their affordability and taste, invest in an apartment or a house that is to be built or being built.  But having the structure does not mean it is in a live-in condition which means there is more to it than the building structure to make a place livable.  One of the foremost of them would be to get some good woodwork done to suit your living style and comfort, or have just some basic woodwork done if you have to rent it.  If you want to learn about how to get woodwork done and want a refresher course, kindly read on.

    Be it an apartment, ranging from a single bedroom to a four bedroom penthouse or more, or an house that may have more than one floor, there are two things that the owner has to think of:  two levels of woodworkbasic which are essential, and extra which are needed for more comfort and good living, and the budget for the same. As I scribe this in early 2016, based on the cities you live in and based on whether you are using a local interior designer, a specialized furniture solution provider (like Godrej Interio, Veneta Cuicine etc.) or a carpenter directly, the rates may vary anywhere from Rs 800/sqft to Rs 3000/sqft and even higher.   Any specialized furniture solution provider would give you a limited warranty for a few years and are definitely operate on high pricing and margins (to cover their overheads and real estate costs of their showrooms). 

     My personal experience is to get hold of a carpenter who has done work for you or has been referred to you by someone who has used his services that you had liked, and work with them directly as any furniture designer would add his overhead and still hire from a set of carpenters that they have access to. Also, furniture designers are more into volume and they usually push their way of working with only a handful of options they would suggest for the entire house and will offer only a few set of combinations and never depart for your individual comforts.  If you are renting for sure, you can definitely look at buying off-the-shelf furniture and wardrobes from the local stores or e-tailers like Pepperfry, Urban Ladder or Fab Furnish and set up the apartment – it is important to have wardrobes in every bedroom and your kitchen needs to be done with some cabinets for you to rent the place.

   Various options that need to be worked out realistically:

  • Choice of material – for cabinets, for hinges, for handles, for shutters, for drawers and baskets, etc.
  • Price – is there an upper limit that you bounds your budget?
  • Renting or owning – based on this decision, compromises can be made and options evaluated
  • Brand – if you are particular on certain brands, based on some references, this would define your entire choice more or less.  Brand can be for the furniture designer itself, or brands of each materials being chosen.
  • Room plans – do you have an idea of what you want in each room?
  • Environment – do you live in a coastal or an interior dry area?  Do you live on the main road or inside in a more silent road? Are there termites around the area?

      The entire house (villa or flat) can be divided to two areas: your woodwork needs to be planned differently, but both needs to be absolutely termite proofed:

  • Kitchen (includes kitchen, pantry, utility and balcony areas) – these areas can get wet, especially under the counter and in the utility and generally be used more by many people.  Here it is better to use WATER RESISTANT or PROOF materials especially under the counter and sink, and can use a different material for over-the-counter shelfs.   For bathrooms, it is safer not to use wood but rather goes with Stainless SS, Aluminum or plastic materials.
  • Anything outside the Kitchen – let us call them Other Rooms or Non-Kitchen (includes living area, bedrooms, study room etc.) – these are the areas that can never get wet unless there is seepage through the walls.  Need not be water resistant or proof, but one needs to take care of the bottom of the woodwork as it can get damp, due to mopping. So, whatever material you use, you can put a 3 in border of Al or fiber on the woodwork in the areas where water gets in contact with.

     After you are done with this initial planning, it is recommended you walk into a few showrooms to understand what is available and the terminologies to educate yourself better, and get an idea of what would suit you better, and understand their offerings and their inherent limitations.

   In a kitchen, the builder can either give you a bare structure and you fit in everything – called totally modular, can give some provision of kitchen slab for the counter at some height and some other nooks etc. – which is usually a semi modular (there are some restrictions here) and fully built-up with provision for gas, slabs for storage, provision for electrical appliances etc. – this is the older style of doing kitchen where all you need is to fit a frame and a shutter anywhere if you want to,  and in this article, I am not going to elaborate on this third type.  Whenever someone says modular or semi-modular,  you need to understand they can fit STANDARD SIZE drawers in the provisions given – every manufacturer have adhered to certain dimension specification so that it is easier to choose what goes into your kitchen and then the woodwork around it.  It is important even before you hire someone for woodwork, you need to have a fair idea of the kitchen and its outlay and how you intend to use and where you think the appliances like microwave, mixer-grinder etc. come.  Also ensure there are enough exhaust area for the kitchen and a provision for chimney if you do not have adequate ventilation.  It is important to have the kitchen well-lit as this is the most frequented place in a household at any given time.  Also it would be nice to have lofts in the kitchen with doors to store those non-so-commonly used utensils there.

      I am going to simplify the meaning of semi-modular by suggesting that there are height and width restriction in this type compared to the totally modular one, which translates to lesser number of drawers and/or smaller drawers being able to fit into the design.  All the big players like Godrej Interio, Sleek etc. would readily jump on any modular kitchen but may not be too excited to get into a semi-modular one.  The kitchen designer still will use some carpenter and some back-end machinery place to tool the boxes to certain sizes and they would just come and fit in the boxes during installation – understand their margins would be sky high and it may be impossible to choose what you want in terms of wood and material while you go with these designers as they have tie-ups with few manufacturers directly.

    Now to re-iterate , one may have three choices, for both kitchen and outside kitchen – either fully outsource the woodwork to an established name-brand furniture designer, work with your local designer where you may have some flexibility in choice of materials although this would still be labour and material contract, or go with a traditional carpenter provided you have a good idea how your kitchen has to be structured – in order of pricing, the carpenter would be the least expensive and you have total freedom to choose your materials and just give him the labour contract.

    For the woodwork that is going outside the kitchen( I would call it non-kitchen or other areas), like the living room TV cabinets, balcony storage cabinet, book shelves in the study room and wardrobes in the bedrooms, the woodwork options remain the same and does not vary between rooms. 

     In both the woodwork process is to first measure the area, manufacture the three sides of the boxes or carcasses (can be laminated on one side or both sides), then manufacture the doors for them, install them with hinges, have the baskets and draws fit in with the slides, and based on the materials used may need polishing as well, and after that the handles on the doors.  This is pretty much how things get done. One can always choose a different material for the boxes and the doors, and different thicknesses as well.  It is important to remember that the hinges used for installing the doors also vary according to the thickness of the doors.

    Now some of the material types commonly used for the boxes or doors, all are priced per square foot:

  • MDF (Medium Density Fibers) – not suitable for coastal area where there is lots of dampness as these warp over time.   They come in pleasing glossy finishes and in lots of patterns.  It is advisable not to use MDF even in dry areas under the counter top as the water would make it warp over time and you need to replace the MDF every seven years or so. MDF and steel would be the two cheapest options you can get.  If you are doing woodwork for a rental property, it is OK for you to go with MDF or Steel.
  • Plywood – stronger than MDF and comes in different thickness and the common one used is a 16 mm ply.  Thicker the ply, more expensive it is.  If you want it to be thicker, one can use a ¾” or a 19 mm ply as well. They essentially come in many denominations, but two of them are widely used – BWP (boiling water proof) or BWR (boiling water resistant) and a better quality and stronger MR (Marine Grade) and there are different ISO specifications for the two – IS 303 vs IS 701.  A ply is usually finished either with a laminate or a veneer – veneer needs polishing to be done.  The good quality names with ISO certified manufacturing processes are Green Ply and Century Ply, and the other brand that is commonly used is Kit Ply.  All plys come in standard 8 ft. x 4 ft. dimension that you need to cut and use.
  • Real wood like Teak or Sheesham (Indian Rosewood) or Sal – usually the thickness of real wood is larger and is about 20-26 mm, and they definitely need to be polished.  You may get thicker wood but it is not advisable to use thickness above 25 mm. There are various grades of wood that you can choose from, and usually a first quality Burma teak is hard to find and is very expensive. One needs to treat them properly for termites.  This is the most expensive of the choices and usually folks go with it if they do the woodwork for their own house that they would live in and not to rent.  It has to be maintained well and durability is high as long as the polish is done regularly.
  • M S Steel – thinner profiles, termite proof, dent-prone, and rust prone and needs to be painted often.  It can come with any color of your choice as it is easier to paint over.
  • Aluminum and Glass – mostly for DOORs.  This is just glass on aluminum frames. This is mostly a choice that competes with Ply and glass for over the counter woodwork in the kitchen so that you can see what is inside.    Aluminum is expensive.

     The windows and doors of the house are usually painted as they need to be water repellant.  As for the prepared woodwork which does not really gets wet (except may be a little  in the kitchen under the countertop), the three most common choice for the transparent coating are (applicable only if you use real wood or veneer, and not applicable at all if there is a laminate or MDF):

  • French polish – least expensive, does loose shine quickly and is not long lasting.  Recommendation is NOT to use this for your woodwork.
  • Melamine – turns yellowish in over 7 years, but most widely used by all although can be laborious to get the right finish
  • Poly Urethane (PU) – most water resistant and long lasting, and excellent for protection but most expensive of the three.  It is said to darken over time, and also turns light yellow over a longer period.

      Although there are a wide variety of manufacturers for laminates, the company which seems to have the most market share in decorative laminates and support from the carpenters today is Merino.  Laminates go on one side or both sides of the boxes and on both sides of the doors.   In India, most of us call these products as Sun Mica as this was the company which came first and like Xerox is used instead to photocopy, so is Sun mica used to refer to laminates.   It is always better to not look at pictures but rather check out the real samples and see them in both sunlight and artificial light to ensure you are satisfied with the right color.  The catalog or the computer colors are not to be trusted. They usually are 1 mm or less thick, and used as overlay on ply or rarely on wood by using glue, and since they are artificial blend of paper and resins, they come in various colors and stains.

     As for veneers, which are real wood slices and hence natural, again there are lots of manufacturers and you can choose what grains you want and then go with the same.  Most of the folks usually choose a teak grain to make it looks like wood which would always give a warm feeling.   Veneers are more expensive than laminates, and they give a richer look than laminates although latter is more scratch resistant and waterproof. When one uses veneer, you need to polish the surface first and regularly for upkeep.

    Coming to the boxes or carcasses, they are either made of MDF, ply or steel. If made in ply, they need to have laminates on both sides and many a times even the side that goes against the wall.   It is enough if you use a  maximum 16 mm thick one for the ply as we need to ensure the width of the box can still carry the drawers and baskets that come in particular widths  and heights only. 

    In all cases, while measuring, the dimensions measured – are just the width and height as the depth (z) is usually 2 ft.(rarely 1.5 ft.) , be it for the wardrobes or the loft – this is more standard.  So, all the quotation would be given for Height x Width in price/sqft and you can compute the stuff yourself.  Ensure the measurements taken are correct and try to validate it properly across each line item when the quotation is given – it is better to do it twice or more to get the actual measurement up front as the payments are based on the quotation based on initial measurements and not the final woodwork measurements done. The more information and more patience you see from the vendor, the easier it would be to work with them at a later stage. Ask all the questions up front and once you are near finalization, make a document of what your expectations are and get a specific quote for each line item (if the budget prevents you, then you can easily scratch a line item or two).  When it comes to labour market, there is always a good chance of being held at ransom by the vendors who provide the service – ensure all the payments are milestone based and they need to agree to it – hold on to 5% of the payment a month after they are totally done.  They would hear only the ‘money language’ and this is the only hold you have on them.  Do not get caught in their own payment modes which as a customer you can definitely change and document – as a customer, please ensure you get to dictate your terms clearly.   If the vendor does not sign the document with all the accepted rules and conditions, walk away from that vendor as it would be NOT be worth your time to be working with them.  Also sign and get receipt for every money transaction that had taken place.

    Carpentry nowadays goes like this:

  1. The final plan is approved and both the parties are in total agreement of what goes where. Advance amount anywhere from 25% to 40% is given up front for the vendors to get the materials.
  2. The boxes or carcasses get manufactured (mostly elsewhere and rarely in-house) and they would be put in place at the right places inside the house.  Usually 2-3 weeks.  The second payment gets made which would be usually 20-30%, overall 70% of the payment gets made here.
  3. Now all the slides or runners that go inside the boxes are attached to hold the kitchen accessories.  Since the kitchen gets used the most, it is better to put the more expensive soft or silent slides(go for a good quality German make like Blum or Hettich)  and for outside the kitchen an ordinary slide (like Ebco) would be good enough.
  4. It is important to have all the kitchen accessories (baskets, rollers etc.) available and fitted inside the boxes. These can be bought, delivered and installed within a day.  From now on, the security inside the house should be increased.  Take photos after installation and give the key only to one dependable person who monitors and overseas the execution of carpentry.
  5. The door, which can be a different material than the boxes, is cut and made and then installed.  Holes for the handles are put in place.  If you want to attach a dustbin or a detergent holder on the door, it has to be conveyed to the carpenter as this may require some extra provisions. Usually the detergent holder and the dustbin go under the sink and it is better to keep the pot and pans and the spices around and under the cooking area. If the laminates or veneer are needed, now is the time it gets glued and nailed to the doors.  Once the doors are in, the carpenter and his men would be staying in your house for about a week or two.  Ensure again in the document that they need to work 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day if you are contracting it wholly to the carpenter and if you can provide for evening meals and provide them lights, they can stay till 8 p.m. Faster they do the job, better it would be.  Again the main carpenter’s daily wages is about Rs 700 to 800, two more carpenters who work for him would take Rs 600- Rs 700/day each and a helper who gets Rs 200/day.  The price may vary by Rs 50 to Rs 100 based on the city you live in from these norms (based on early 2016 rates).
  6. Now the hinges have to be purchased for the doors and attached.  Materials used can be stainless steel or brass or bronze or steel with nickel plating.  Again, use a soft concealed hydraulic ball bearing hinge for the kitchen and ordinary butt hinge for other rooms.  The number of hinges to be used is based on the height and weight of the door, and the size of the hinges would depend on the thickness and the width of the door. Based on how the door needs to get attached in either a framed or frameless box, there can be three overlay options (Full, Half and Inset) to do it which must be planned and understood much ahead.   Now the third payment gets paid.  Usually 80-85% of the payment gets paid by this time.
  7. After all these things, final finishes on the cabinets and doors gets done.  The dado bars in the kitchen and grip bars in the bathroom gets attached.   Some nails in other rooms can be driven in. Hold on to the carpenter for all these small things that you may need to run around once they are all gone. All polishes get done, if any. The handles to all the doors and drawers are installed now. Now you would be able to see and appreciate the final woodwork properly.  Once he is done, after inspections and any minor repairs that are found get done, 95% of the payment gets made.  The remaining 5% is to be given about a month after you regularly start using it and ensuring all is perfect.

       While doing the doors on wardrobes, it is easier to fix a mirror on one of the doors with a beading around it so that it can be used as a dressing mirror – the mirror must be a good quality one like Saint Gobain or Modi Guard. The lofts would just have a frame, doors and ordinary hinges and NO Boxes inside. While measuring for the wardrobes and cabinets, first one has to ensure you are not obstructing any light points or switch points. While doing any woodwork under a window or an opening, ensure that this does not get affected by rain that may come in.    Do not do any woodwork in the bathrooms due to the high moisture inside and instead go with the plastic cabinets that are available off the shelf.

   While making tables, beds and chairs with real wood, it is always better to look around online for what you are looking as getting this done by your carpenter would be very expensive- also the talent of carpenters who can actually go a decent job here would be limited.  Buy them directly either online or through the traditional furniture store.  If you have the time, get hold of a good woodworking factory in Rajasthan or Uttarakand through a good reference and even mail order them.  Anything with bamboo, one can always look at Assam and the North East for options.  Remember, when it comes to wood, even your experience carpenter cannot attest to the quality of it by just seeing it.

    Hope you enjoy the woodwork to your apartment and find this article useful.


How to buy an Inverter Battery – a layman’s struggle in India

     This is March 2014 and already into summer in Bangalore and despite the fact that elections are coming later this summer, unadvertised power cuts have started regularly.  And my old Amaron inverter batteries having pushed their limits are giving way after a little over three years.  Now it was time for me to replace these batteries and I thought I would go with Tubular ones with their promise of longer life that comes with added cost.  I managed to do some two weeks of extensive research to know the technical jargons and what they mean so that I can confront the dealers more intelligently – as Alexander Pope said “ A Little learning is a Dangerous thing”, I am treading ‘dangerously’ through this article but wish to share some knowledge with my audience.

     For those of you lucky ones who do not need to worry about power cuts and hence UPSes and inverters, bless your soul. And for these souls I just blessed, if you want to carry on with me on this article, kindly do so.  For us unlucky ones who see nightmares of power cuts looming after elections, thanks to the usual excuse of lack of water and power generation and bad distribution, here is some help from a layman perspective – feeling slightly ashamed of not able to use my electronics brain more prudently! . 

    (Power) Inverter put simply is a device that gives us power from the stored battery  – it converts the direct current into alternating current, thus helping us run the electrical devices that are connected in our homes like fans, lights, TVs and even small home appliances.   Although there are huge inverters which can run heavier electrical appliances, for a common man, it is enough if it provides for a few fans, few lights and a TV which you may want to work when the main powers are down and this is where my article concentrates.  In my case, I have an inverter but just the batteries that needed changing and hence this article is how to buy a battery, that too in India.  I am not going to talk about what INVERTER itself to buy as this may be more electrical oriented and may not be my cup of cake.    It is not advisable to connect the heavy load appliances that work on 15A socket to the home inverter and when you do the electrical wiring to your house, have them separately on a different phase.

    Before I go any further, there is an excellent source of info about inverters with questions and answers that can provide you a balanced opinion:   www.upsinverterinfo.com.  I have managed to publish a few points here and there from this site to make some of my points clearer.  Also remember to do adequate research based on your requirements before you buy and  avoid lots of ‘fake’ batteries available in the market – always go with the some sort of brand that have a good dealer network in your area and a decent warranty.

    There are generally two types of batteries:  Lead-Acid batteries and Sealed Maintenance Free (SMF) batteries.  SMF are the “Buy and Forget” types where there are no  emissions, completely sealed, does not need water topping and has a very short charging time.  The downside of lead-acid is it emits fumes while charging as the battery gets heated up that is not environmentally friendly.  Always remember to keep these batteries in a ventilated open cool space away from any heat source.

    Even with Lead Acid inverter  batteries, there  can be two types – the normal flat-plate ones and the Tubular ones.  Tubular batteries are more reliable, charges faster, comes with higher battery life(~1.5x) , has less water loss than the normal flat plate but all these come at a cost for the same aH rating.  So, a prudent customer would like to negotiate price of the tubular to be < 1.5x than a good flat plate battery. 

   And in Tubular they have different form factors based on dimensions called differently by each manufacturers as Jumbo, Short, Flat etc. but think of them of being in two forms – TALL or Normal, and then check the dimensions.  If you do not have more floor area, you need to choose the TALL one but they do not fit into normal trolleys.  HADI that gets advertised usually come in TALL tubulars.

    Before one buys a battery, it is important to understand what lighting fixtures need essential backup and what would be the total wattage consumed by them.  This would set the limit of both the inverter to buy and the associated batteries to be used – one must have ENOUGH backup.  Then one must think of how much backup time one needs for these.   Let us say a few lights, fans and a TV add up to 400W and we want the backup for 3 hours.

    No inverter converts power at 100% efficiency – meaning the actual power derived from the circuit is much higher than the real power delivered – we can call it efficiency although a better word is power factor(PF).  Usually a PF ranges between 0.7 and 0.8 and you must add the additional losses due to the wiring itself which cannot be that easily factored in.  So the inverter has to be a rated at 400 W / 0.8 PF = 500 VA. So, it is safe to buy an inverter that can deliver a little higher and  go for a 600 VA inverter to run the 400W load. 

     The batteries available now in the Indian market are 12V and hence  one needs to go for a 600 VA/ 12V x 3 hrs. = 150 aH battery.   One needs to connect two or more batteries in series to get higher voltages  (as some inverters would require a 24V or 36V DC power source) at the same current, and while doing so, one needs to ensure to use the same battery type of the Equal capacity(same voltage and same aH rating) and never mix makes and sizes.  The weaker capacity causes the imbalance by quickly discharging and always the weakest link.  This applies to batteries getting old – even if one battery is worse than the other, one needs to unfortunately replace both the batteries at the same time.  Extrapolating from my previous example, for the same 150 aH and for the same 3 hours of back up time, if we use a 24V DC source, we will need a 1.2 KVA inverter.   Once you have the inverter, look at its specifications to see if it needs 12V, 24V or 36V which would make you buy, 1, 2 or 3 batteries respectively.

    The inverter batteries come in the range of 80aH to 150aH for flat plat ones, and from 100 aH to 200aH for Tubular ones in the Indian market.  In the flat plate inverter batteries, we have TATA Green, Amaron Current and Exide Inverter Plus among the brand names. In the tubular types, we have Okaya, Exide (Inva Tubular, Ceil, Inva Red and many other groups), Amaron, Luminous Inverlast, Su-Kam, Prestolite and Amco.  I did not see much of an action in the local Bangalore market for either Prestolite (Tudor India) or Amco.  We even have local Peenya makers like SunTrac who seem to be providing batteries which are much bulkier.   Exide seems to enjoy a premium in the market, thanks to the perception of higher quality, number of dealers and also in pricing.  There is NO reason for one to match the inverter brand to the battery of the same brand, if they are producing both but it would help you in terms of service when a problem arises as they cannot blame each other for it. Among Inverters, the leading names today are Su-Kam, Luminous and Microtek, although it looks like Exide also makes them now.

    When one looks for Batteries, we have either the C10 and C20 type which denotes the capacity rating of the battery, although I am still trying to understand what it really means – the former seems to be more tailored towards solar inverters(used on daily basis))  and the later towards the home power inverter(for infrequent power cuts) now. C10 is better than C20 as a lower aH rating of C10 corresponds to a higher aH rating in the C20 [Capacity at C10 = 0.8 x Capacity at C20, meaning 100 aH at C10 rating will have 125 aH at C20 rating] – C20 just inflates the capacity!   Both of them offer the same aH rating under different load conditions and manufacturers publish them accordingly in their website. For the same aH rating, higher C rating translates to higher battery costs. C20 takes a longer time to discharge than C10 for the same aH rating which makes it more suitable for home applications.   Please check this for more info:  http://revanbattery.com/technical-information.htm

    Now you have an idea of the battery rating and the capacity you want to buy, how many Tubular batteries and what dimensions based on the space available to store your batteries.  Now let us get introduced to something more technical which most of the dealers and distributors themselves may not know:

  •  The quality of the tubular batteries is on its spine tubes. These spine tubes have to be die casted in high pressure (100 bar +) – there is a machine from Germany called HADI that is used to do this invariably and most of the top brands use it, although I would insist on you getting this in writing in a specification sheet  for the battery you want to buy. Only top brands can afford these machines and if you are buying from the local brands, it is usually a low pressure or a gravity type one which result in lots of voids and non-uniformity. HADI tubular have low self-discharge, corrosion resistant and have longer life.
  • # of Cycles of deep discharge at 80% Depth of Discharge (DoD) – higher the better.  80% DoD means these deep-cycle batteries can be discharged down to 80% repeatedly and the more charge-discharge cycles the battery is able to do it, the better it is.
  • Manufacturing date is very important – the older the battery has been in combination between the transit+Go-down+dealer, the more charge it may have lost just without being connected – this is called “ Self discharge” which decreases the shelf life of batteries. When the battery reaches your home, it has less than full charge which must be compensated at the dealer end by a “Freshening up” or “Top up”.  It looks like the battery would reach you within 2 months from manufacturing best case and faster from the factory during the summer season when the new stocks arrive and when the needs goes up.   Again, here HADI tubular works out better due to its low self-discharge

   Now you are ‘knowledgeable’ and ready to buy but do not know which brand to get and here are some tips and my observations against each:

  • Exide – highest cost amongst batteries and lots of dealers and they take pride being marketed as a premium brand. I believe they are the largest battery manufacturer in India – the name itself stands for “Excellent oXIDE”.     Their website is one of the better ones although they do not necessarily have all their product lines listed.  You can buy online as well but only the flat plate batteries- their prices are higher online than with the dealer which is the case almost with any battery manufacturer- cannot understand the logic behind it.  They also do have the “don’t care” attitude because once you start bugging them for information; they do not necessarily provide it and actually get offended by our “recently gained smartness”. Exide has the widest range to choose from.  Their best line is Inva Tubular – the IT series, but they have the same batteries in another brand called CEIL that they do not advertise and which is much cheaper and with lesser warranty.   They try to ‘sell up’ first – meaning offer the highest price IT series and then as you tell them about your budget, slowly come down to other series which are much cheaper.  I have some great interaction with their Kolkota head office but cannot say the same about their local support.  They do not even have any social presence in Facebook.
  • Luminous – has its Inverlast series and may have the lowest warranty in its class compared to others.  Their website is not complete as they have a write up only on the LT500 but not on the other batteries in terms of cycle times, if it is HADI or not etc.  Have a good Facebook presence and they seem to be active there as they respond to queries within a day. They have their dealer network advertised in their website which is useful.
  • Su-Kam – has their Bazooka and the BIG series, but looks like they are more selling into the people who buy their own inverters.
  • Okaya – very confusing website and their  information contradicts each other in their website.  Do have an online store which is more expensive than others.  Have only one dealer in SP road here that can provide the quotes.  But their support network is pathetic to say the least – they do not reply to queries.  Generally cheaper batteries but they have some HADI lines as well. Sounds like a Japanese company but I believe they are from Hyderabad.   Generally, if you Google for batteries, Okaya has lots of mentions of complaints – not sure how truthful they are though.
  • AMCO – nothing to write home about on their Cheetah series, not very email centric – more Chennai based and do not care much about other cities and not sure if they use latest technologies or not in their manufacturing.  Nothing is written about them in their website.
  • PRestolite – again, little help from the website- has their product lines and you need to search under Tudor India. Their TALL lines are cheaper than most. Again, no detailed information about their batteries on their website
  • Amaron – has their CURRENT Series but starts only at 150 aH and above.  Absolutely nothing on their website in terms of specification or product  data.
  • SunTrac – talked with their manufacturing head and learned a lot about the process, their website does not read well and they are local manufacturer from Peenya – all their specifications are in C10 rating, much bulkier and it looks like they manufacturer for other OEMs.

  Let us talk about the final stage of the buying – dealers seem to be much better off in pricing than any online stores.   None of the dealers of any manufacturer would push you to make a sale – if you want to, buy it or get lost sort of an attitude. They give a price and that is it- none of the dealers I interacted with were able to answer or understand any of my question on technology and specification above to give a fitting answer confidentially. They drop the ball and disappear out of sight. They would even go to the extent and ask you if you are a dealer or a customer! Dealers feel intimidated by the questions being asked- they are usually happy with people who have not done their homework, who just walk in, buy something and get out. I was not willing to do it as this is not a small purchase – it costs anywhere between Rs 15K to 25K for a pair of batteries that I needed to buy and based on our usage, I estimated a life time of about 5 years for a good RoI.  Also realize that none of the manufacturer or the dealer are very email centric nor want to commit to a written quote, nor have information about their batteries in detail on their website.

   The way to start is to send an email to all the manufacturers about what you want and what you are looking out for. Some of them do reply and provide you with a rate and the name of a dealer you can work with.  Demand that you need a dealer close to your house which is very critical because if you want him to top up the water every 4-6 months and if there are any issues, it is always better to have someone close by.  Also ensure your dealer has been around for some time and not the run-of-the-mill type who is bound to close soon ( I have seen lots of battery shops disappear about a few months in my neighborhood itself)- you can easily get a feeling of wanting to do business (or not)  from their body language and their store once you visit them.  It would not be long before you realize that each dealer would sell one brand more because the commissions he gets out of them is higher and he would bad-mouth the other brands to convince you – so be aware of these and take them with a grain of salt.

   At the same time, you can also send an email to all the dealers closer to you and ask them for the best price.  Then visit them one evening to make sure you have your presence felt and they understand you are not just asking but can be serious for a buy.   They would say : “ if you buy  now, I would get you the best deal “ – do not fall into this trap as there is never a ‘best deal’ unless you do your homework. By talking to 2-3 dealers of each manufacturer, you may have an understanding of a ‘ bottom  price’ close to which they would not do a deal within which you need to squeeze them.  And do this for 2-3 manufacturers you have decided. Ensure you get a pricing that is all inclusive – taxes, delivery, and connecting.

   Talk around for the best exchange your old batteries can get – again here, the dealers would make it look they are doing charity work whereas every battery is recycled properly and you can get a decent price for the same. In your final quote, ensure you pay the amount after the exchange. Once you buy the batteries, ensure you have the warranties for those batteries and they have topped-up the charge before delivery to compensate for any storage related self-discharge.   Higher the warranty provided, the better deal you can get. The warranty is split between total replacement and pro-rata adjustment (discounts on getting new batteries) – try to maximize the total replacement warranty which increases your confidence on the product you are buying.

House Re-Painting Conundrum in India

       So, your house is showing up some minor cracks on the surface and hopefully things are not literally falling apart!  Some of these cracks are air cracks (sometimes called settling cracks) that developed within the first few months of construction and has always been an eye sore but the others have started to go deeper a little.  You are seeing more cracks developing from a door frame corner onto the wall or place where two different items are laid together like around the grills on the balcony. If you have a terrace where you can walk on or having pots on for terrace gardening, there are going to be cracks observed and hopefully they are not at the stage where it starts leaking through  your roof. Assuming there are no major re-construction issues and the house needs re-painting as it has been anywhere between 5 to 10 years since construction, then continue reading this document.

    As with the cracks, they are usually the air line cracks that are mostly superficial and not deep.  If they are deep, then this may be due to improper plastering and inadequate curing of the cement during the construction stages or just pure aging.  You would notice more cracks on the places which were done last as the contractor would have been in a hurry to finish up the house towards the end.   From your perspective, the cracks gets worse as you move up the floors inside the house or in an apartment (the highest floor would naturally have been more hurriedly done than the bottom floors due to time pressure).  Or there could have been an internal water pipe that would have broken and had caused water seepages in odd places. This is more worrisome as you need to trace it properly, remove the plaster till the water pipe is seen and do the necessary repair, replaster it, do the putty and then be ready for painting. The same applies for any cracks that appear on the terrace – has to be filled properly before any water proofing is done on it.

   Now you have decided you are in for re-painting (I am not writing this for new painting but the process is somewhat similar, may be easier but the putty part is more rigorous).   I am assuming all your construction problems are fixed through a proper civil work before re-painting starts.

    If you live in the Western countries, you have a one-stop shop like Home Depot or Lowes  where you can pick up your paints and accessories and then  do it yourself (DYI) during the weekends and in phases.  But unfortunately due to lack of these stores in India and because we Indians are not used to doing our own painting, we are at the mercy of the painting contractors.  Remember, they all talk well but when the rubber hits the road, they seem to be up to their tricks, as always. It is time you played hard with them to get things done your way.  Never assume they know what they are doing – they have learnt most of the stuff by doing it over and over again and any variation that you may have is not in their comfort zone.   Also towards the end of the painting work, they would like to rush and walk out without proper cleaning and final touch-ups, hence be aware and be smarter to hold on to part payment till couple of weeks after the entire painting job is done.   Ensure they send only experienced painters and not the guys they bring from their native place who have not seen any sort of brush before.  And their supervision on a daily basis is essential and part of the contract. Please read this document carefully so that you can talk the same language with them that would immediately become a good bargaining tool for you.

     And if you are doing both exterior and interior, it is better to have the exterior done first before they come inside the house.  Ensure you start painting during a sunny season (or rather a non rainy month), especially for the exteriors.  Peak summer may not be conducive for the workers as heat exhaustion would result in improper efficiencies and bad quality.  It  would take anywhere from a month to  45 days for a reasonable size house of two floors to be repainted both exterior and interior, and it may take only 10 days for a 3 bedroom apartment to be painted for interiors alone.   Keep the wood related painting and polishes towards the end after all the interior walls are painted or even to the next season as a separate job.

     There are lots of paint companies operating in India and have been around for a while. Some good names are Asian Paints, Nerolac, Berger paints, Dulux paints, Shalimar Paints and Nippon.  There are many more but these are top few paint companies that are more known here.  If you already know what Paint Company you used and what type of paint you used and what exact paint color and code you use while you originally constructed, it may be helpful information to have – this applies for both interior and exterior paints.  If in an apartment, you would be more worried about the interior paint and if you are in a house, you need to take care of the exterior paint as well. Most of the interiors of the apartment are the basic distemper paints only.   Exterior painting in an apartment is done after approval from their association that is maintaining their complex and various other factors may creep in. Many of these paint companies are getting more aggressive in the residential sectors as they seem to be losing out on the commercial complexes where the exterior is mostly of glass and Aluminum sheets now, and the interior is open with just bare walls. Hence, be aware that they would try to sell up to any residential customer to make more money out of you rather than choosing what is good enough for the price and quality you need.

    If you do diligent planning up front in the re-painting process, most of the execution issues would be solved later while the actual painting is happening.  First, get the catalogs from 2-4 companies for both interior and exterior paints, and browse their website for information.  NEVER use the computer to choose the color of your paint as they get reflected badly on any computer screen – what you see on the computer display would be totally off from what the actual paint would look like.  It would be difficult for the paint companies to give catalogs but convince them that you need to have their LATEST catalogs to plan something down the near future for your house painting.   You can walk into your neighborhood paint stores and start probing for information – I would say you can gleam a lot of information by talking to 3-4 paint store guys.

    First a few painting jargons to remember to ‘talk the lingo’ with the painting professionals and with your neighborhood paint store:

Crack Filler – if you find any surface cracks and if you see any water leakages, it is better to fix this first before you start re-painting.  The cracks can be on roofs (sloping and flat), terraces, exterior and interior walls – they may not look like air cracks but more where the water seeps through.  Take care of this first by grooving them properly, fill it up with water proof fillers and then let it set and then check for any water seepages by spraying water around them after couple of days for some time.  Dr Fixit is the most commonly used filler by most painters.

Putty – Putty is something you put for filling holes and minor cracks in a small area before you paint.  After plastering of the walls, they do not look smooth or regular and this is where we start using Putty around smaller areas.  The surface must be moist to apply a putty coat using a putty knife, and this is a MUST for new painting jobs where they do two coats of putty.   The surface must be sanded completely around the putty area after the application is dry and before further priming and painting happens.  Some folks put a primer coat before putty work takes place in which case the primer has to dry before putty work starts – many painters do not believe to put a primer coat before putty and even some paint companies do not suggest to use primer both before and after putty – please read the instruction given in your putty box before you take a call.  At least one coat of this is needed for covering major undulations in a repainting job.  

      All loose particles should be removed using the putty knife then and there. There could be a need for a second coat of Putty for finer finishing (usually associated only with new painting and not with re-painting) but do not confuse putty with a levelling material.  Putty even if done very well may not result in a completely smooth surface.  Putty needs to be applied on a clean, non-dusty and non-oily surface.  If the putty is done well, there may not be any need for a primer although it is highly recommended for good adhesion of paint.  Sand the surface for making it smooth for the primer coat. Since the putty usually contains filler materials which decrease the curing time, it is always better to do proper curing after the putty coat.  Putty for exterior wall is different from interior wall – the one for the exterior wall is more water resistant and may be cement based.  Some people even use Plaster of Paris instead of normal putty for the interior walls.   Insist on using putty to cover those small cracks although your painting contractor would like to avoid using putty for repainting jobs.   The most commonly available putty is the Birla Putty but each paint company have their brand of putty as well.

Primer – Primers are used to make the surface less absorbent so that it increases the spreading capacity of the paint.  They must essentially also be done when you paint light color over an older dark color wall, or the other way around.  If a primer is done after the putty work, the wall has to be sanded and dry before primer coat is given.  If the wall is more porous and has signs of water damage, primer is essential and hence for exterior walls, kitchens and bathroom walls, one needs to add primer before you paint.   One coat of primer is what one can expect in a repainting job and not two.  There are different primers for exterior walls, interior walls, wood and metals.

Base Coat – start the painting process only when the walls are completely dry by applying the first coat called Base coat from the shade and color of your choice.

Top Coat – apply the second coat, called the top Coat, over the base coat after it is completely dry for 6-8 hours. If needed, because of bad coverage, a third coat may have to be applied.

     The entire re-painting process , whether it is exterior or internal walls or wood or metal, thus would be High speed Power wash (only for exterior walls to remove mildew and algae) – Surface Preparation – Crack Fill and Waterproof Filler –Sanding – Putty – Sanding – Primer – Base Coat – Top Coat – 3rd coat if needed. 

     For a new painting process, there would one more primer and putty round.  At the very end after all the painting is done, it is imperative that there are touchups to be done, following the same process in an isolated spot, where there has been noticeably change in paint condition after the second coat. Touch-up and cleaning are the two last steps before the painting is considered done.

    The first thing, in both interior and exterior painting, one needs to do is to scrap the old paints and remove any loose dust particles by sanding and prepare the surface for painting.  For exterior first does a complete high pressure wash before you start preparing the surface.  Check for any black patches which may be due to some fungal or algae growth.  Fix this right away with some anti-fungal, anti-algae treatment.  If there some dampness seen, which may have been caused by some internal water pipe leakages or seepage through the walls or terraces, fix them first with a good civil contractor.  Use a good waterproofing compound to treat those areas that are affected.

     There may be boils on the surface or even detachment of the paint films from the surface due to use of poor-grade primer previously on the walls.  Check for any cracks (usually you near a hollow noise while tapping on the wall) – these are just surface deformities caused by just aging and settling of the construction compounds. If they are believed to be structural cracks (usually they are wider), again a good civil contractor has to break it and apply proper cement-sand paste to cover it and smoothen it out.   If they seem to be non-structural in nature and smaller cracks, then any good crack filling compound can be used to fill the plaster cracks after a decent grooving.

    After the surface is prepared and the cracks have been filled and all the fungal treatment done, it is time to do apply the putty. Putty is a paste that is used to smoothen the surface and to get rid of holes, dents and waves. Putty levels the surface to achieve the expected smoothness for painting.  If the putty work is not done, walls would not have a smooth finish and if they are painted with glossy finish, then all the waves and undulations would be seen by the naked eye clearly.  If you feel that there are undulations even after putty, then it is better to go with a Matte or Satin finish.

     Now the wall is ready to be painted but we need to ensure the paint sticks on the surface properly. This is when we apply primers to help paints stick better to the surface. Primers available in the market are usually mixed with water in the same proportion before applying in both exterior and interior walls.

    Now the walls are ready to get its first coat, called Base coat, of a great looking shade you have chosen. If you have bright sunlight inside the house, one can risk going with a medium or even rich shade for the inside, but if you live in an apartment where you have to constantly switch on your lights even during the day and if you have dark furniture, it is better to always go for a lighter shade.   This base coat has to be applied with the proper dilution as listed in the directions of the box and must have a consistent finish.

    After applying the basecoat, it is better to give it 6- 8 hours for it to dry before you apply the next coat, called Top Coat.  There would be pressure from your contractor to apply this top  coat within couple of hours of the base coat – please ensure that this is not the case and you state it clearly to him up front to wait a day between coats. While preparation of the surface of the wall during a re-painting process, the painters would generally not sand the entire surface of the wall but just the places where they observe cracks or deformities – ideally they should do it the same way they do it for a new painting job – that to sand the entire wall.  Due to this irregular sanding, even after the top coat is applied, you may still see aberrations of any old paint remaining or the color does not match the expected color for you wherein you may have to do one more coat of Top Coat (the third coat).  Ensure your painting contractor is aware of this – let him know it may take 2-3 coats of paint while fixing the contract and he must agree to it on paper.  If the Top coat shade color is different from the Base coat shade color, which is a possibility, then you may have a dual tinge to your wall which may look excellent in one case and awful in another.

    How to choose the shade color?  Are you going to paint the entire exterior with the same color with borders differently, or use two colors for the exterior with a third border color.  Using more than two colors for the outside would not look great.  As a resident you are more concerned with the interiors, but people always make impressions and talk-their-tongue with the color choices you have made for your exterior.  Remember again, do not get fooled by any computer modelling of the different colors – they will give you an idea but they are NOT exact by any means.  The only hope is to get shade cards of the colors you want and make a decision – again here, they are closer to reality but not the exact one.  Once you have made your choice of colors, it is always good to negotiate samples to be put on one wall for real so that you know what the exact color would be.  The samples come in small 100-150ml ml plastic boxes and there would be a 5% variation to the real ones that come in 1L or 4L or 10L boxes.  

       If it is an exterior paint, ask the contractor to apply to an exterior wall looking outside and then decide.  If it is an interior paint, ensure this get applied to the exact room wall you want painted with that color. You can always do two colors per room inside, or just have one of the four walls in a different color – this contrast would look great.  You can even apply the same color throughout the interior walls and have one wall in each room in a different color.  You can always experiment with the sense of colors and ask for choices from various members of the family.  Ask the kids what color they prefer in their room, and ask your old parents what colors they prefer in their room and give it to them.   In all cases, kindly see to it that the walls can be washed properly with a damp cloth to remove stains.   For ceilings, they generally use WHITE color with some Indigo drops on them so that it shows a little violet when they apply it. Once you are done with two coats of ceiling, you can get innovative and add the luminescent paints for the kid’s room that shows the planets and stars using stencils (do not stick anything as they fall off after 2 to 3 years and leave an ugly mark).

     But ensure you have a contract that for every room, you would request 2-3 colors for sampling and they would be different in each room.  Since you are going to paint your house only once in 7 to 10 years, it is better to pay a small price for the samples and get it right, before being stuck to the paint you may not like. Your likes and dislikes would certainly change every coming year and next time while re-painting, you can always do something more different.  If you are big Vaastu believer, then you have certain colors for each room that you can apply and you can choose shades from that color.  Whatever you choose, ensure your kitchen has a Teflon coating or enamel based color on the walls so that you can wipe the dirt and oil stains properly.

   Now you know the jargons being used, have an idea about what is to be done and you have chosen your choices of colors from the catalog.  Now you must ask for quotations from the paints companies directly and couple of painting contractors.  I would recommend you get a quote of like grades of paints from two different paint companies (say Asian and Nerolac) and couple of KNOWN painting contractors (either someone you know personal or someone who had done your friend’s house recently).             Remember, even if you get a quotation from the painting companies, they go only with contractors whom they say are certified by them (but when you ask for any certification proof, no one would provide you with one) and they enjoy a minimum of 20% margin for nothing (may be to employ a sales guy for  a region).  Some paint companies do not even seem to care and do not respond to any calls or emails at all and some try to ask for money to visit your site and give quotation – my take is, if they really want your business, they better come running and give you a quote free of cost.  There is no way I am going to pay someone to give me a quote – I cannot assure them any business unless all the ducks are lined up and so should you. 

      Some paint companies try charge you for sending a contractor to give a quotation. Say NO.  Especially with their slow loss of commercial business, thanks to the outside being non-paintable for most commercial establishments, they better be hungry for any and all residential business.  The other thing they would do is to SELL-UP – you would start with their Extra Luxury brand and then with their Luxury brand and then with their Premium brand and they would not even suggest an Economy brand (which essentially is a Tractor Distemper).  Usually their Extra Luxury and Luxury brands give you a glossy finish which would show the undulations if your wall is not properly puttied.  So, I suggest go with a Matte (or they call it Satin) finish for your interior walls – go for something that you can clean stains with a wet cloth. 

     It is absolutely essential to have a contract written on paper as to what the process and the actual paints are , get it signed and put your own terms of payment, even it is with paint companies – if they agree, great.  They would try to push for payments that is more convenient for them, but as I said, hold on to 10% even after the paint job is over for 2 weeks so that you know where the issues are that are remaining. You have every right to make your own contract and get it signed by them, and initialed in every page.  You do not need to sign any of their contracts if it is disagreeable and not in line with your expectation. This would be to document that you would refer to for any mediations and pretty close to a legal contract. Do not go only with the ‘word assurances’ as invariably you would be holding the bag as they may go back on every word they said.

    Now you have a quotation and have gone through the contract with the contractors to ensure all things are on the table and discussed properly – ensure this happens.   It is time to choose your contractor now and from here on, it has to be execution and quality focus only.  It is imperative that you and the contractor arrive at a schedule for each room and floor and you compare it with the actual progress that happens. It is also good to have your contractor tell you what he intends to do that day and the next day so that you plan accordingly.  Emphasize on experienced painters and regular supervision.   Give them one room at a time, let them do the putty, primer and the two coats including the doors, windows and any grills before they get another room.  Or give them a pair of rooms – usually they would need 2 painters and 1 helper for every room.

     Ask them to switch off their cell phones during work and keep them outside and let them use that only during their lunch period. Otherwise, it becomes a nuisance as not only it is loud when they get a call, and disturbs you when you are around, it wastes quality time in painting and they do not concentrate on the work.  Also ensure that no one chews tobacco or smokes during the work day – they have the tendency to spit irrespective of where they are. A painter’s day should be a minimum of 8 hours not including their 1 hour lunch and two 15 minute breaks for tea.  Let them complete a task or work before they leave for the day and not have a room half done. Ensure they follow the process very clearly in terms of how to paint and what is the curing time and whether they are diluting the water solvent paints to the right proportions.   Keep on insisting on the same every day to ensure you get a consistent finish on your paints.

   A good estimate for one room with 2 painters would be about 3 to 4 days.  On the first day they would take out the furniture and other stuff from the room, sand and clean the walls and crack fill, and also sand and dust the grills and windows and doors. They would do the putty on the wall and the polyester putty on the wood as well and then do primer on everything.   After the primer is done, they would be able to see more cracks that they did not find the first time and they would fix it with putty and sanding.  Ensure they do the lofts and attics as well as they are doing it.  The second day they do the first coat on the ceiling, the base coat for the walls and the first coat on the windows and grills and doors.  On the third day they would do the second coat on ceiling, the top coat for the walls and the second coat on the windows, doors and grills and clean up the place.  On the fourth day they would put the furniture and things back to the room that has been painted.  Then they go the next room.    Bigger rooms may take more time.  After all the rooms are done, it is essential they come back to inspect each and every room and do the touch up and clean the entire place once  with a good chemical wash.

   If you are polishing the doors and not painting them, all polish work would be done at the end after the wall painting is done.  It is always better to paint any wood surface if they get exposed to rain or water constantly, rather than polish.  If you have an exquisite teak main door that is still exposed to rain, it is better to do polish them with Poly Urethane (PU) rather than with Melamine.  Melamine polishes are usually done on teak doors for wardrobes and kitchens where either full teak shutter or plywood with veneer has been used. Remember, Melamine has the tendency to turn yellow in years to come.   Of course, the base polish that all painters would use is the Sheenlac polish.

   As for the metal grills, painting them with light colors would allow you to get more light in and paint them with dark colors would not reveal the dust that settles on them – it is essential that you dust the grills once in a month to get rid of dusts and keep it clean.  For metals as well, wherever there is rust, they would fill it up with a metal paste and prime that area before they start their two coats of painting.  If the rust is too much and has eaten up the metal, the only option is to weld that area with a metal bracket again carefully before primer is applied.

   If you are intending to waterproof your terrace or roof slope, again, one can do it after all the painting is done (or when the polish work is going on). Dr Fixit NewCoat  is the big name in waterproofing(and you have Perma Guard, Fosroc Brushbond Roof Guard and Roof Hyguard) and if the weather allows it, I guess, one can do it on their own by getting the materials from the local shop or have the painters do it as well. The process still remains the same – groove out the minor cracks, and fill it up with water proof paste, level it properly, apply primer on one day through the entire surface including some height of the terrace wall, and then start apply one coat of waterproof in one direction in one color and the other coat in another color the next day.  Some waterproofing requires three coats in three or two different colors. The main reason that colors is different between the coats applied is to see after some years how much of water proofing is remaining and what layer has eroded off by constant rain water hitting on them.  If you grow plants on small pots in the terrace, it is imperative you do an adequate water proofing (I have seen places where the roots have gone through the pots into the terrace roof) – I would suggest putting an Aluminum sheet under the pots and above the terrace roof. Ensure the waste water outlet is clear and sloped so that the excess water is taken out properly by proper drainage pipes.  One can also look at putting some artificial grass carpets that are available on the market so that it reduces the heat coming through the roof and can be used with some lawn chairs for some small parties and can be easily cleaned.

    If you have any stone cladding both internal and external, it is better to first pressure wash it at high speed with water, use some ordinary shampoo to brush the walls, treat them algae and fungus on them with chemicals so that it does not discolor the walls, clean with soap solution, and once it is dry, give it is a little shine with applying lacquer by brush or spray on it.    If you have Mangalore tiles outside the home, first fix any broken tiles, wash them thoroughly with high speed water, treat them for algae and fungus, crack fill with waterproof materials and sand, and then all the companies have a Tile protector paint in various colors that one can apply two coats with.

To summarize for a re-painting job, the ideal agreed-upon process should be:

  • For Interior walls and ceiling re-painting :  Chipping & Crack filling(with Dr Fixit) -> Waterproofing (if necessary) -> Sanding -> Touch up Putty -> Sanding ->  Interior Primer -> Base Coat -> Top Coat.
  • For Exterior walls and compound walls (and any Mangalore tiles)  re-painting:  Surface Wash -> Brush cleaning -> Crack filling and weatherproofing -> Sanding ->  Any fungal and algae treatment -> Exterior Primer -> Base Coat -> Top Coat
  • For wood(Doors and Windows) and metals (Grills):  Dusting -> Surface preparation and Sanding ->  Metal paste / Polyester Putty(Wood) -> Sanding -> Metal or Wood primer (most usually skip this step) -> 2 coats of enamel paint
    • If one is doing Polish for their woodwork – Surface preparation -> Wood Putty -> Emery Sanding -> Thinner based polish (like Sheenlac) -> Emery Sanding -> more coats -> Final Hand or spray polish of Melamine or PU.
  • For any stone cladding: High speed water wash ->Fill cracks -> Algae and fungal treatment (check for any discoloration through sampling) -> Spray the lacquer to get a shine.

     All the directions for applications are clearly specified on the paint, putty and primer boxes and cans – follow up them religiously for the best results.  Ensure the contractor also follows the same and he is aware that this is an essential condition to be met without any compromises.  In a hurry, they would decrease the time required between any coats drastically but do not allow this to happen.   If you have given them labor and material contract, they would dilute the paint more than necessary.

      As I write this in summer of 2015, for Exterior walls, one can compare Berger Paint Weather Coat All Guard with Nerolac Paint Excel All in One and Asian Paints Apex Ultima Weatherproof in the Luxury segment, Berger’s Weathercoat Smooth with Nerolac’s Anti-Peel and Asian’s Apex Weatherproof Exterior Emulsion in the Premium segment, and Berger’s Walmasta with Asian’s ACE Exterior Emulsion in the Economy segment.

     For interior walls, one can compare Asian’s Royale Aspira with Berger’s Silk and Nerolac’s Impressions 24 Carat in the Premium Luxury segment all of which would give a high sheen finish, Asian’s Royale Luxury emulsion with Berger’s Breathe Easy and Nerolac’s Beauty Gold in the Luxury segment which are all with low sheen finish, Asian’s Apcolite Premium Emulsion with Nerolac’s Beauty Smooth and Berger’s Bison Acrylic Emulsion in the Economy segment which all have Matte finish.

   For the metals and woods, one can find only two enamel products in each paint companies catalog – one with high gloss and the other one with Satin or matte finish.

    Happy re-painting !

This article for compiled and published first in 2015