Your Beginner’s Guide to Wall Paint Colours (Costs & Concept Made Simple!)


Interior Design by Urban Company Professional Opium Art

In India, we absolutely love our colours, don’t we? Our homes are a testimony to that and for good reason, too! Because what colour can do to a space, nothing else can. Brand new wall paint colours, a fresh coat, or even home colour designs, have the power to not only infuse life into our space but to also affect our mood. Therefore, whether you’re moving into a new apartment or renovating your current abode, painting becomes a priority. However, it is more important that you make yourself aware of the know-hows of the painting world too to get the most out of your hired painter.

But we know what you’re thinking. “How do I pick the best paint combination for walls in my living room?” “Also, what kind of a finish should I opt for?” If these and more questions are troubling you, we’ve got your back. We’ve broken down the painting world to help you with all the home paints information you would ever need and to turn you into nothing less than a pro. The following easy-to-navigate mini guides will cover the following:
1. Picking the right wall paint colours.
2. Choosing the relevant type of paint.
3. Selecting the right paint finish.
4. Knowing the costs of wall painting.
5. Preparing your room and getting it painted.


That’s the first thing you and I would think of, right? Heck, one probably isn’t even thinking about the types of paints and finishes at this point. So, we’ll come to that later. Because narrowing down to your choice of colour is not an easy decision. Even if you do have, for instance, bedroom paint ideas in mind, you will always have those doubts clouding your mind. But fret not, we’ve got just the tips to help you out:

1. Decorate first.
… In case your house is new. And if remodelling, then just look at your existing decor for inspiration. You will either find a piece — an Ikat cushion cover, a hand-painted vase or a Madhubani painting — that catches your attention and guides you. Or you may want a wall paint colour that blends well with your block-printed curtains or your brand new sofa set. Finding a colour to match your decor is far easier (and cheaper!) than finding fabrics, furniture and furnishings to match your wall colours.

2. Look for more inspiration.
Get that mind working! Browse through pictures of beautiful homes online or in magazines, and you’re bound to get more painting ideas for house colours. In fact, did you know that almost all paint companies — whether AsianPaints, Dulux or Berger — have their own colour visualisation tools and apps? These help you experiment with colours online before you buy the paint. You can thank us later!

3. Understand the colour wheel.
You’re probably thinking why on earth would you need to know that! Well, it isn’t crucial but understanding the basic principles of the colour wheel will only be of additional help, especially in deciding secondary colours. Here’s a quick 1-minute tutorial:

    • Similar/Analogous: Ideally, the colours adjacent to each other on the wheel blend in well and look the most harmonious. For example, red-orange, orange-yellow, yellow-green etc.

    • Complementary: The colours opposite each other on the colour wheel are most complementary to create a vibrant look. For example, orange and blue, yellow and purple etc. Just be careful to use one as a dominant colour and the other subtle, so that you don’t end up with a jarring result.

  • Monochromatic: This scheme uses hues of one basic colour for a calming effect. For instance, you may opt for a pale red wall and darker red window trims. All paint companies have their own colour strips that display an entire range of values of any particular colour.

Monochromatic colours on the colour wheel

4. Decide the mood.
How do you want the room in question to make you feel? Energetic? Motivated? Restful? Knowing the answer to this question is a key factor in deciding the room paint colours you choose. Why? Because colours have the ability to affect our moods and personalities. Have you ever wondered why most Indian homes have elements of blue in their bathrooms? That’s because blue is a calm and serene colour. This makes it a great pick as your bedroom paint colour too, if those are the vibes you’re aiming for. Additionally, if you’re looking for an energetic and lively wall painting idea for your living room, you could opt for red as it evokes strong emotions and raises a room’s energy levels. Or do you want your dining room or kitchen to give off happy vibes? Then consider the warm and cheerful yellow! To understand this psychology further, check out this article on the specific meanings of colours.

Note: Light and cool colours make a room look bigger, while dark, deep and warm colours make it look smaller.

5. Test the colours.
Finally, hold your horses once you have a colour in mind. Go to your paint store, ask for samples in your chosen and related colours, and paint a few, small sections on the wall in your home. See how the shades seem to you during different times of the day, and under different sources of light. Also, see if the undertones blend with the decor of the room. Even if this takes you a couple of days, so be it — you’ll be happier you took the time!
PS, are you wondering what to do with those paint swatches on your test wall once you’ve picked your colour? Well, just paint over them after you’ve prepped up your wall (more on that at the end of this guide). So, don’t worry!


Now that you’ve narrowed down your choices to a selection of wall paint colours, it’s time to understand paints a tad bit — this will give you an idea of what works in Indian homes and, more importantly, in your apartment. First up, all paints are divided into two groups: Water-based paints and oil-based paints. Here’s how they differ from each other:



1. Water-based paints
Majority of the wall paints available today are water-based. Have you heard the term ‘latex’ being thrown around in the market? Well, that’s only a generic term used for water-based paints which, unlike what the name suggests, does not contain any latex — it is made up of vinyl and acrylic instead. The better the quality of the paint, the more acrylic it contains. Know more:

  • Don’t have much of a shine — so they’re better at hiding all those marks and stains on your walls.
  • Dry up quickly, in about 4 to 6 hours.
  • Can be cleaned up with just soap and water.
  • Contain comparatively lower levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
  • Are resistant to cracking and yellowing. Hurrah!
  • Are not the most durable choice as you almost always need to apply more than one coat.

2. Oil-based paints
Oil-based paints are preferred less for walls and more for demanding areas like floors, woodwork, doors and furniture. Know more:

  • Have a shiny appearance and, hence, can’t hide imperfections well.
  • Take a much longer time to dry up. You might have to wait till the next day for a second coat. (Not much of a problem if you have the time!)
  • Require harsh chemicals and spirits like paint thinners to clean them up.
  • Contain more VOCs and, hence, emit a chemical-like odour.
  • Can yellow over time.
  • Render a more durable finish though, and are, hence, more expensive.


Now, knowing about the different types of paint is not enough. Try to understand paint finishes and its types too, so that you can give your apartment the look you’re gunning for.
Psst, we’re also telling you which area or room each one is most ideal for!


1. Matte/Flat
These water-based paints have the least reflective sheen with a matte-like, velvety texture. For this reason, they hide imperfections on the wall well. However, such paints can be difficult to clean as they may just come off on the cloth or sponge being used. This doesn’t make them the most durable choice and are, hence, ideal for areas with least traffic — try your ceilings and walls that are unlikely to be touched.
Tip: Apply as many coats of flat paint as necessary for an even coverage. And choose a reputable brand like AsianPaints and Dulux to avoid a strong odour.

2. Eggshell
While water-based again, these have a hint of gloss or shine, and are a bit more reflective than matte — therefore, marks may still show through. Though slightly more durable, these are a good choice for common areas like the living room and the dining room, where not too many people (especially little kids!) are likely to touch the walls.
Tip: Two coats will usually give an even colour; use a primer and first coat as required.

3. Satin
These are available in both water-based as well as oil-based solvents. Slightly glossier than eggshell, and with a satin-like texture, of course, these are one of the best picks as they have just the right amount of shine and yet can hold up to cleaning and light scrubbing. Hence, these can be used for high traffic areas like your kitchen, bathrooms, halls, bedrooms, as well as for window and doors trims. Seems like a no-fuss winner to us!
Tip: One coat is enough, but if the paint is thin, then a second coat is required.

4. Gloss and Semi-gloss
Like satin, both of these are also water- as well as oil-based. The most reflective of all finishes, the shiny texture of gloss and semi-gloss mimics that of enamel or plastic. While a great pick if you’re looking to make a statement, they don’t hide imperfections well. Hence, though they can be used in busy areas like kitchens and bathrooms, it’s best that you save these for baseboards, mouldings, trims, doors and cabinets, where one needn’t worry about revealing any flaws.
Tip: Gloss is generally applied as a single coat over one or two coats of primer.

Taking the colour black as an example, here are what the four variants of wall paints would look like:

To summarise all of the above learnings into crisp pointers, here’s an infographic you can refer to anytime.


Aah, you’ve brushed up your knowledge and are ready to hire a painter! But not before you get down to some calculations. Knowing how much the process of painting would cost will help seal your final decision. Here’s a look at what the cost of interior or exterior wall painting involves:

1. Costs of the paints. Four major paint brands rule the roost in Indian markets today — AsianPaints, Nerolac, Berger Paints and Dulux. Each has a range of distemper (whitewash), economy, premium and luxury paints, the price of which differs considerably for each (refer to table below). Usually, all paints come in 1 litre, 4 litre, 10 litre and 20 litre buckets. The costs of mixing paints to get a desired shade is extra.
Note: Buying 1 litre of paint is more expensive than buying a 20 litre bucket. For instance, 1 litre of premium paint = ₹280, while 20 litres = ₹4,550.

2. Surface area to be covered. This area is measured in square feet, which you can compute by multiplying the width and height of a wall. However, remember to subtract the area of the walls, doors and windows you don’t want to paint — again arrived at by multiplying the length and breadth of the door or window.

3. Labour charges. Your neighbourhood painter bhaiya will tell you that any regular fresh painting process in India involves sanding and cleaning of the wall(s), a coat of primer, 1-2 coats of putty work, another coat of primer, and finally 2-3 coats of paint. Thus, labour for fresh painting involves all of these, and the costs are inclusive of the same. Repainting, on the other hand, does not involve any putty work. Hence, the labour costs are cheaper.

4. City or location. Did you know that costs vary considerably from city to city in India? Keep this mind before comparing costs and before expecting the labour to charge as much in Mumbai as they would in Delhi.

We’ve collated all the costing information into a handy infographic below, which you can save or see for a quick reference.


Well, in India, we don’t paint our homes ourselves. We just hire a painter and leave all the decision-making to him. But to tell you the truth, knowing about the process of painting will only help you know better all that is expected from your painter and, thus, avoid complications (and getting fooled) later. Plus, if you’re actually a DIY enthusiast who’s planning her first small-scale painting experiment — say for your baby’s nursery or a wall in your balcony — this information will be gold.

1. Protect surrounding areas. Remove all the big furniture from the area you want

to paint in, as well as all light switches and electrical outlet covers. Spread a large cloth to cover the floor (no, don’t use your stack of old newspapers — the paint droppings will just seep through and stain the floor below), and use painter’s tape to fix the cloth to the edges of the walls. Apply painter’s tape, in short overlapping strips, over other areas you want to protect like door frames and handles, window frames, trims, mouldings, floor corners, etc. pressing down firmly on the edges.

2. Firm and clean the surface. Rub a suitable abrasive paper or sandpaper across the targeted areas to remove any loose particles and to smoothen the surface. Wipe dust off the area with a clean piece of cloth.

3. Prime the walls. You can skip this first stage of priming and head straight to putty work, but most house painters recommend an initial priming. Primers make your paint job easier, better and more long-lasting by turning your focus areas into uniform surfaces that can receive paint well and by acting as sealants to prevent stains from bleeding through. These can either be water- or oil-based — use the latter in case of heavy stains. So, if you’re opting for priming initially too, use a roller and spread primer evenly across the walls, and then let dry.

4. Inspect the walls. Either you or your hired painter bhaiya should check whether your walls have any surface imperfections. Use a putty knife to fill any of these cracks or holes with putty, removing any excess compound while doing so, and then let dry. Once the putty has dried up, use a very fine sandpaper to smoothen the area again and then wipe the walls clean with a sponge or cloth.

5. Outline with primer again. You know the areas where the walls meet the ceilings, baseboards, other walls, doors and window frames? Well, paint primer along those edges to create a few inches of bands. Then slowly, cover up the rest of the wall. Once the primer has dried out, lightly sand away bumps or any uneven surface to smoothen the layer.

6. Paint the walls and remove the painter’s tapes. Once you’ve primed the required surface, it’s time to paint it with the first coat of your chosen colour. But make sure that if you’ve chosen a pale finish coat, you opt for a pale first coat as well. And if you’ve chosen a dark finish coat, you must opt for a dark first coat as well. Once the base coat is evenly applied or the previous paint surface has been washed out, apply your choice of a decorative finish, which is the outermost layer. Finally, remove the painter’s tape. Voila!


Remember that picking the right wall paint colours, finishes and designs should reflect your personality and personal choices — hence, focus on what matters to you.

So, tell us — does this guide make you feel like the pro we promised you would be? If we’re missing something, let us know in the comments below and we’ll surely feed it in.