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Demystifying paints for your home!

Although the history of the modern paint industry goes back over hundred years, murals were being painted in the country as early as the 2nd century BC. It is safe to say that the Indian culture is rich in painting murals, miniatures and cloth paintings, which have now been brought down by generations together into the modern-day world.

The commercialisation of paints began with the incorporation of the Shalimar Paints in 1902 in the city of Kolkata, West Bengal, and we can now see several major players running the industry. Some of them are Asian Paints, Nerolac Paints and Berger.

 The process of identifying which type of paint is right for your home, whether it is for interiors, exteriors or otherwise, can seem daunting to many. However, the decision making largely depends on understanding a few basic steps required in painting, as well as the paint types and finishes!

The choice of the type of paint to be used should be dependent on the exposure of the surface to elements (not limited to but also including human traffic) , the surface to be painted -whether it is rough or smooth or is uneven.

The entire process of painting usually requires three steps: surface preparation, priming, painting and applying a finish. All of these are critical in maintaining your painted surface for years to come. Also, these do not require much understanding once you figure out the pros and cons of each:

Components of Paint


A primer is used to prepare the surface for paint before the paint is applied. This step is crucial in the painting process, as it makes the paint more durable and protected and allows for effective adhesiveness between paint and the wall. Make sure that the priming is done to get longer-lasting benefits from painting. A primer could be oil based or water based. Depending on the surface, the right kind of primer should be used.


The undercoat is used to fill any imperfections and create a smooth surface.

Paint types

There are primarily two kinds of paints - oil based paints and water based paints.

Oil based paints

Wall paints

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Also called “solvent-based paints”, oil paints can be used on almost any surface and are reasonably priced. These paints are lauded for their durability as well as the finish they provide after all the coats are applied. As these paints are oil-based, they are also water-resistant. This makes them a good option for surfaces susceptible to stains or rust. However, the paint’s numerous benefits come with a few disadvantages - Oil-based paints take a long time to dry, and require repeated stirring so that the paint does not separate.

Water based paints

While painting the interiors of the house, it is advisable to go for water-based paints, as they carry lesser odour and dry more quickly. Additionally, these paints require lesser time in the clean up process. Majority of wall paints these days are water-based and the popularity of these paints is increasingly growing in India over oil paints because of increased awareness of environmental hazards caused by oil based paints.


Below, we have listed the different paint options currently available in India, although the most sought after paints today is Emulsion paints. 

Latex paints

Usually used for exterior applications, latex-based paints are primarily water-based. These paints are easier to work with as compared to oil paints and are resistant to the direct effects of sunlight. Acrylic latex is considered the highest quality in latex-based paints and can be used for building materials (such as metal and masonry)


It is used for home interiors. It gets dirty easily and is not water proof. It was used in olden times and is considered a cheap option. It has a chalky texture.


Limewash is made from limestone and combined with water to make lime putty. Putty is aged and then, mixed with the natural pigments to get different colour. It works well for concrete, stone and brick.

Latex Paints

Vinyl acrylic is best used for interiors and is relatively cheap. Usually used for exterior applications, latex-based paints are primarily water-based. These paints are easier to work with as compared to oil paints and are resistant to the direct effects of sunlight. Acrylic latex is considered the highest quality in latex-based paints and can be used for building materials (such as metal and masonry). Some of the major latex paint providers are Nippon and Berger in India

Paint Finishes


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Matte: It is more durable and great for high traffic areas. It is better than flat prints and works well for ceilings

Eggshell: It is durable paint and is effective protection against the elements. It can be cleaned easily and has a slight shine.

Satin: It has a velvety feel and can be cleaned but not scrubbed. An interesting fact about this type of finish, is that it can look flat or glossy depending upon the lighting in the room

Semigloss:  Semi-gloss is not as reflective as high gloss and is preferable in rooms which are prone to moisture, grease stains and drips. It is good for kitchens and bathrooms where scrubbing is required. This type of sheen is also highly durable. However, the smooth texture of the sheen makes small cracks and scratches very evident on the surface

Other than these finishes, there is also the chalkboard paint, which is available in multiple colours and a great option for children's rooms. Apart from this, there is also cement finish, where powdered form of cement is mixed with water to achieve a concrete finish. This is sturdy and waterproof and works well for internal and external wall. Another form of light, luminous paints radiates light after being exposed to light sources after certain periods of time.

The table given below gives quick tips on where and when to use these finishes:

Type of finish



Matte and Flat

·       Not reflective

·       Covers up imperfection/damages

·       Low traffic area:

  • Living room
  • Dining area
  • Office room


·       Velvet appearance

·       Relatively easy to clean

·       Moderately busy area:

  • Bedroom
  • Dining room
  • Living room
  • Hallway and entryway


·       Slight reflective appearance

·       Convenient to clean

·       Moderate to high traffic prone area:

  • Living room
  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Interior doors
  • Mouldings

High gloss and semi-gloss

·       “Shiny” appearance

·       Relatively easy to clean

·       Dirty and stain resistant

·       High traffic prone area:

  • Walls
  • Ceiling
  • Kitchen
  • Mouldings
  • Doors


We can understand that this article might have been a little heavy on the jargon, but once you go through it and refer back to the quick pointers, you should have a fair amount of knowledge around what type of paint you want to go for. When it comes to colours, it will really depend on the colour palette you have set for your home and you should read our blog on colour palettes for your home.