A good paint finish enhances the given environment in a house—the flooring, architectural style and the furniture. The wall finish comes last. For, till recently, people were fairly inhibited about their walls. The average homeowner was generally unsure about pure colours, and, on the whole, much preferred to use regular acrylic emulsion, paint colours, super high gloss, regular matt finish and depending on the budget, oil-bound distemper in plain colours.
However, in traditional India, the use of rich colour in the havelis and village houses, ornamentation and pigmentation—such as in Warli paintings as well as Madhubani or painted friezes in the havelis—was widespread.
Colour and the use of decorative motifs was a part of our Indian heritage. But somewhere down the line, this tradition was lost. And with the changing times, tastes and lifestyles, came a complete diversion from highly ornamented living to plain, antiseptic white walls which did not disturb the senses too much.
Today, the colour is coming back but slowly, in the form of ornamentation and faux finishes. Borders and graphic effects on walls decorate the more innovative homes. And oil-based paints—artist's oils, enamel and the like—are used to simulate different effects such as marble or textiles. The repertoire includes faux finishes, oil-painted borders, stencilling of motifs, stripes which are tone on tone, the crackle glaze to achieve the effect of an old wall, marbling, simulating other semi-precious stones like malachite and lapis to get that desired depth of colour, or clouded paint finishes without any dominant shade.
Dramatic changes which stimulate the senses are cutting through inhibitions. It's now not so much the material but the technique and art of creating exciting wall finishes that is gathering momentum.
Colours and tones are being made to order to suit customer specifications through computer mixing in a revolutionary paint technology, brought to India by Jensen & Nicholsen in collaboration with Tikkurila OY, Europe's leading colorant manufacturer. Instacolor, the computer-created paint, has a shade card of over 2,000 shades. It even allows the hue-hunter to select the exact shade of his or her choice. And, courtesy modern technology, the precise shade of paint is created in just seven minutes.
A whole new genre in wall attire has been created as a result of the increasing popularity of textured wall finishes. Available in a myriad colours and used on interiors as well as exteriors, the use of inorganic pigments guarantees the product a long life. Unlike its predecessors, inorganic pigments defy ultra-violet radiation and, moreover, are anti-fungus, anti-corrosive, anti-graffiti and are fire retardant. Besides, inorganic pigments breathe out trapped moisture and prevent the formation of hairline cracks—a defect that often plagues many homes in our tropical, monsoon-swept terrain.
Companies such as Spectrum Paints Pvt Ltd offer a wide range of textures in marble chip and grit finish in a range of earthy colours. Also available are velvety surfaces, elegant, extra-fine stipple finish with a mild sheen or plain matt finish. Their adhesive power makes them suitable for direct application on almost all surfaces—cement, plaster, sandstone, plywood, strawboard as well as gypsum board, and require virtually no surface preparation. Roller or brush finishes can also be applied directly on bricks. They are waterproof in 6-8 hours and completely dry within 24 hours of application.
The wheel seems to have come full circle as colour returns to Indian homes. With the wide range of options available and a number of players entering the field, wall finishes in India seem poised on the brink of a multi-hued revolution.