From white-wash to high definition emulsions, from shade card to online colour apps, the market for paints and coating is inundated with innovative and versatile options, writes Nisha Shukla
The four walls that give identity to a space have come a long way and are much beyond their conventional definition. With a plethora of paints techniques, wall coatings and wallpapers, walls can be turned into a piece of art. Be it interior or exterior, the right kind of wall covering or coating uplifts the overall look and defines the ambience of a space.
“In the last decade the coatings industry, especially decorative paints, has undergone many important changes. In terms of consumer perception, paints have evolved from being a need-based product to being a status symbol. This is one of the key reasons why the paint industry in India is fast evolving from being a consumer detached category to consumer involved segment”, says Anuj Jain, Director Decorative, Kansai Nerolac Paints Limited.
“The Indian paints industry has seen a gradual shift in the preferences of people from the traditional whitewash to higher quality emulsions. Painting homes in India is no longer a matter to be resolved on special and festive occasions, but it has rather become an ongoing pursuit for many homes today, says Rajiv Rajgopal, Director Decorative Paints, AkzoNobel India (Dulux Paints).
Adding to Rajgopal’s point, Ranjit Singh, President of British Paints said, “Since ages oil and water based paints are used as coverings for internal and external surfaces. Although in recent years, the paint companies have diversified to offer customers with more choices and better products like low VOC paints, texture and designer finishes, stain free and high wash ability paints which guarantees high performance in terms of longevity.”
Today, the Indian consumer is far better informed and is inspired by international trends. Apart from this, factors such as availability of affordable loans, increased investments, improvement in purchasing power of the consumer, increasing industrialisation has led to increase in demand of quality products. “Paints and coatings industry is ever evolving. Special textured paint and waterproof renders (coating), especially for exterior walls, are now replacing the traditional white, cream, and plain textured interiors and bland exterior walls,” says Ar. Shilpa Balvally, Principal Architect, Studio Osmosis.
She explains that nowadays design and aesthetic appeal along with longevity sells. Currently natural colours and designs such as marble, alabaster, ivory, gold, copper, and charcoal are in trend. Industrial colours are making their way into the home as well with metallic greys and browns, bronze being the favourite pick. “While the industrial trend includes some lighter neutrals, it is here where darker shades of brown, grey, blue and maroon steal the show. Green and low VOC paints are totally the way to go now with odour free paints. Walls are no longer the quiet background, they now tell stories and add character”, she adds.
Apart from opting for low VOC or lead-free paints, the well-informed buyers are also looking for paints that bring down the temperature of the space or which are scratch and stain resistant and easily washable.
Highlighting the recent trends in Industrial and exterior segment, BK Lodha, Executive Director of Snowcem Paints says, “On the industrial front people are now going for solvent free coatings and the biggest innovation that has taken place is the powder coatings. Besides, for exterior coatings, cement paints was the major contributor which now has been replaced by emulsions based textures and now more emphasis is laid on hydro-phobic coatings which does not allow moisture to seep in.”
Power of Technology
Choosing the right colour combination for a particular room is a task for both consumers and architects. With online colour customisation revolution, one can have a preview of how various colour combination and finishes works in their home before they actually paint it. Thus, with a view to make the process more user-friendly, today all major paint companies have come up with their online colour customisation app which not only helps the users to choose right colour combination for their rooms but also calculates the tentative cost and amount of paint needed for a particular area. This is changing the dynamics of paint industry.
Commenting on online colour customisation revolution, Kiran Gala, Director, Kiran Gala & Associates says, “It has helped a lot of customers and clients to understand the entire colour palette which is to be used in a space by a designer. However, the colours seen on the screen are very different from the real colour and the effort might go in vain if the colours don’t match.”
Expressing her views on the same, Ankit Patel, Director, ANA Designs says, “It is very helpful and big advantage for us. As with help of this technology we can experiment with new shades and sometimes are able to discover new colour patterns which are never used before.”
Though innovation and technology has changed the face of paint industry, but there are certain factors which are affecting the growth of this industry. “Currently, the paints are made from chemicals that may bring down the manufacturing cost, but are hazardous to environment. Some of the chemicals are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which vaporises as soon as they are exposed to the atmosphere. The paints also contain heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and chromium. The VOCs such as ethyl acetate, glycol ethers, and acetone are organic chemicals that are mainly used as solvents for conventional paints. The by-products and waste of the synthetic chemical industry is detrimental to the environment and it leaves immense carbon footprint. Apart from this, the paint companies should improvise more on the water proofing products in order to make it more durable and avoid water seepage through the cracks which comes on the plaster surface of the building because of expansion and contraction,” says Gala.
In terms of surfacing walls, paints are considered to be the most affordable option for users today. But the biggest challenge for the paint manufacturers is keep the cost of the end product in control, which is largely affected by the fluctuating cost of raw materials. “There are around 300 odd raw materials required for the manufacturing of paints. The major raw-materials are Titanium dioxide, Phthalic Anhydride and Peutarithrithol. These constitute around 50 percent of the total cost, whereas Titanium dioxide alone contributes to 30 percent of the cost. The other raw materials like linseed, castor, soyabean oils, etc. add up to the whole raw material cost of 70 percent of total cost. So, the prices of paints are very much dependent on raw materials and any fluctuations in the price of raw materials may eat into the profit margin of the company. Nearly 30 percent of the 300 raw materials are petroleum based derivatives. So, any change in crude oil prices will also leads to change in the prices of raw materials,” says Singh.
Apart from cost and quality of raw materials, another factor which is challenging the industry is competition from other surfacing options like wallpapers and cladding. “Today the surfacing market is flooded with numerous options like wallpapers, wall claddings, tiles, marbles and glass facades which are substituting paints. Especially the glazing and glass facades which are produced locally and some are imported from China and other countries are posing serious threats. Though these facades and glazing are not ecologically safe but are very affordable and requires less maintenance,” elaborates Lodha.
Plan of Action
Commenting on future plan of paints, Singh says, “Though wallpaper has emerged as a competitor to paints a decade ago, it has created its own niche segment due variety of designs, textures and patterns it offers, but it lacks on the application front, as it can be applied to limited areas as compared to paints.”
According to Lodha, paints and coatings have a bright future, but in order to combat competition with wallpapers and cladding, the industry should come up with texture and shades which matches the design and aesthetic of a wallpaper and durability and longevity of a façade.
Expressing her view on application of wallpaper in Indian homes Ankura Patel, Director, ANA Designs, says, “Paint is still the most preferred option for Indians as compared to wallpapers. There is a huge demand for durable, stain resistance and washable paints in the market and I see no scope of wallpaper replacing paints for Indian homes at least for next 10 years.”
The good news for the industry is that despite various challenges, the paint industry remains the most preferred choice of Indian consumer, thanks to features like myriad textures, metallic finishes, stain resistance and high definition colours.