Personal Finance

A fresh coat of paint

Meera Siva | Updated on February 17, 2019 Published on February 17, 2019

Painting your home is not all black-and-white;knowing a few nuances can save money

As the Budget proposed doing away with the income tax on the deemed income from a second house, Manjunatha wanted to use the money saved to paint the house. He brought up the topic with his morning-walk group to get their inputs.

Good investment

“Painting is not an expense, but an investment,” said Lal who owned many rental properties. “A bright-looking house attracts tenants and the house gets rented out faster, saving lost rental income. And you can also get a higher rent for the property, especially if you continue to maintain it well. Not just that, it is sort of an insurance to protect the property’s structure,” said Mani, a civil engineer.

“For example, water-seepage, which can reduce the strength of walls, can be prevented by painting. And when you paint a house, you also tend to find cracks and water damage. Fixing these early increases the life of the building and saves on expensive repairs later. You can also get a higher resale value if the house is structurally strong.”

Mani said many people paint their houses often, which is not required. “When you apply the required layers of the right paint, it will last about five years,” he said. However, instead of a full repaint, some touch-ups and periodic checking may be all you need.

“The first step in painting is checking the walls, doors and window surfaces for dampness. This needs to be fixed, rather than just be quickly covered up with paint. So, what starts as a painting job may become a masonry job if you must fix cracks or repair broken plaster,” Mani said. There may also be plumbing issues to fix. So, it is good to plan for these.

“Your painting budget has two parts — material cost and labour,” said Lal. “The amount depends on whether you are painting the interior only or the exterior also, the area to be covered, and the type of finish. Based on the type of paint, the cost varies from about ₹7 per sqft to ₹15 per sqft to be painted. Costs for textured finish and other special paints are much higher.

“The cost increases if there are more wooden surfaces such as windows and doors. You need about 2-3 coats to be applied typically for a good finish. Asian Paints and Berger Paints have online calculators using which you can estimate costs by keying in inputs such as type of paint, area and other details.”

Lal added that painting supplies such as brushes, scaffolding (for external painting), the cost of the primer paint (applied as the first step to improve paint adhesion and seal pores) and other cleaning supplies must also be accounted for.

“Painting labour costs between ₹800 and ₹1,200 per day, for someone with experience. So, about 1,000 sqft may cost you about ₹20000 for the exterior and ₹12,000 for the interior, including labour and material, for a mid-grade paint.”

Getting it done

Manjunatha wanted to know about contracting out the work. Lal replied: “You can consider material and labour contract for the job to save yourself hassles. But the contractor may dilute the paint to get better profit. You can buy the paint and go for a labour contract. The trouble is wastage of unused paint, but it can assure you of material quality.” There are online listing sites to find painters and contractors, he added.

Sahoo, who was an interior designer said the internet is helpful in other ways also. “You can use online tools from paint manufacturers to virtually try different colours on the walls of your room before selecting.”

“You can also choose between paint and wall papers for the interiors. Wall papers offer more variety of designs, are easier to complete and last longer. But the cost is higher — from ₹50 per sqft to ₹150 per sqft based on the type of paper. It also comes in standard-size rolls of 57 sqft, but it might lead to wastage.”

“Also, it is not suitable for places where the humidity is high,” she said. With paint, you need not restrict yourself to plain colours, Sahoo noted. “You can add texture with paint, but that is more expensive. You can also add designs to the wall with a stencil. Many people worry about lead levels in paint. The new norms require that lead levels be less than 90 parts per million. So, look for this label when you buy,” she advised.

Tips and tricks

Jose had a few ideas to save cost. “Your colour choices can determine how much you end up paying.

“For example, repainting the same or similar colour, rather than drastically changing can reduce the number of coats you need to apply, saving cost.”

She added that some colours need multiple coats and some fade faster, and choosing the colour carefully can help reduce cost.

Sometimes, spending more on better-quality paint may turn out to be more cost-effective, she said. “For instance, distemper paints are much cheaper but only last 2-3 years.”

“Also, low-cost paint may require multiple coats to get the same finish, adding to labour cost.”

Likewise, choosing a paint that is washable and lasts longer can save labour cost which tends to be quite sizeable,” she added.

The writer is an independent financial advisor

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