Monday, October 27, 2008
Here's wishing you a Happy Diwali and a Prosperous New Year.
From all of us at Snowcem Paints.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Mumbai: Bhav gira kya (Has the price fallen)?” the prospective buyer asked. “Bhav chada hi nahin girne ke liye (It needs to rise before it can fall),” came the stoic response from across the counter from the Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd, or HDIL, representative.
That exchange more or less sums up the current dynamic between discount-seeking buyers and reduction-resistant sellers in India’s real estate market, a chasm that was apparent at Property 2008, the 13th real estate and housing finance exhibition, a four-day event held last fortnight at the Bandra-Kurla complex in Mumbai.
A dozen signboards outside the site of the expo screamed, “Take the right decision. Buy now”, but buyers seemed indifferent to that message, even though they flocked to the exhibition in droves on Saturday.
Even as analysts caution that the days to come will be critical for developers as their inventory of unsold houses increases, real estate firms put on their bravest faces at the exhibition and said they wouldn’t consider reducing prices.
Everyone has got it wrong, they insist. “Make up your mind, this is the right time. The economic cycle is maturing and, by January next year, apartment prices will go up,” said Vinod Manwani, marketing head at the Nahar group, which is developing more than 100 acres in the heart of Mumbai, near Powai lake. Analysts say real estate firms aren’t helping themselves with this attitude.
“The current slowdown in demand for realty, coupled with declining internal accruals and reduced funding options, exposes them (real estate firms) to the downside of this aggressive strategy; there are large amounts of debt already on their balance sheets and, (with) external funds increasingly hard to come by, we foresee delays on their many ongoing and planned real estate projects, thereby leading to the possibility of sale of projects or even enterprises,” said Akash Deep Jyoti, head of corporate and government ratings at Crisil Ltd, a Standard and Poor’s company.
A report in Monday’s The Economic Times said banks and finance companies have begun pushing developers to sell cheap. To make matters worse, many companies have borrowed from outside the banking system at much higher rates. The best way out is for them to sell assets and offload completed projects, said Jyoti.
Builders also need to get realistic on pricing, as a significant correction is yet to happen, added Jyoti.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Any artist who enjoys using Prussian blue will find it hard to imagine that such a beautiful blue was actually the result of an experiment gone wrong. The discoverer of Prussian blue, the colormaker Diesbach, was in fact not trying to make a blue, but a red. The creation of Prussian blue, the first modern, synthetic color was completely accidental.
Diesbach, working in Berlin, was attempting to create cochineal red lake in his laboratory. ("Lake" was once a label for any dye-based pigment; these days it's used with relation to red only. "Cochineal" was originally obtained by crushing the bodies of cochineal insects.) The ingredients he needed were iron sulphate and potash. In a move that'll bring a smile to any artist's who's ever tried to save money by buying cheap materials, he obtained some contaminated potash from the alchemist in whose laboratory he was working, Johann Konrad Dippel. The potash had been contaminated with animal oil and was due to be thrown out.
When Diesbach mixed the contaminated potash with the iron sulphate, instead of the strong red he was expecting, he got one that was very pale. He then attempted to concentrate it, but instead of a darker red he was expecting, he first got a purple, then a deep blue. He'd accidentally created the first synthetic blue pigment, Prussian blue.
It's hard to imagine now, given the range of stable, lightfast colors we can buy, that in the early eighteenth century artists didn't have an affordable or stable blue to use. Ultramarine, which is extracted from the stone lapis lazuli, was more expensive than vermilion and even gold. (In the Middle Ages, there was only one known source of lapis lazuli, which means simply 'blue stone'. This was Badakshan, in what is now Afghanistan. Other deposits have subsequently been found in Chile and Siberia). Indigo had a tendency to turn black, was not lightfast, and had a greenish tinge. Azurite turned green when mixed with water so couldn't be used for frescoes. Smalt was difficult to work with and had a tendency to fade. And not enough was yet known about the chemical properties of copper to consistently create a blue instead of a green (it's now know that the result depends on the temperature it was made at).
The Chemistry Behind the Creation of Prussian Blue
Neither Diesbach nor Dippel were able to explain what had happened, but these days we know that the alkali (the potash) reacted with the animal oil (prepared from blood), to create potassium ferrocyanide. Mixing this with the iron sulphate, created the chemical compound iron ferrocyanide, or Prussian blue.
The Popularity of Prussian Blue
Diesbach made his accidental discovery some time between 1704 and 1705. In 1710 it was described as being "equal to or excelling ultramarine". Being about a tenth of the price of ultramarine, it's not wonder that by 1750 it was being widely used across Europe. By 1878 Winsor and Newton were selling Prussian blue and other paints based on it such as Antwerp blue (Prussian blue mixed with white). Famous artists who have used it include Gainsborough, Constable, Monet, Van Gogh, and Picasso (in his 'Blue Period').
The Characteristics of Prussian Blue
Prussian blue is a translucent (semi-transparent) color, but has a high tinting strength (a little has a marked effect when mixed with another color). Originally Prussian blue had a tendency to fade or turn grayish green, particularly when mixed with white, but with modern manufacturing techniques this is no longer an issue.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Probably one of the most confusing terms in paint is “solid color stain“. Not only does this confuse customers, but it confuses new paint store employees, too. So if you find yourself wondering what the difference is between solid stain and paint, then you are not alone.
Traditional stain refers to a pigmented oil that penetrates into the wood surface (like a dye). It is different than paint in that paint is a coating that doesn’t absorb into the wood, rather it is a coating that sits on top of the wood. Paint is a film that could peel whereas a penetrating stain could never peel.
But what is a solid color stain? In essence a solid color stain is an exterior coating just like exterior paint. In fact, solid stain basically is an exterior paint; very different than a penetrating stain (typically referred to as a semi-transparent or semi-solid stain). But solid stain does describe a certain type of exterior paint. Typically a solid stain is thinner than paint and as a result, has the advantage of showing more texture, being flatter and less likely to peel. On the other hand, it’s thinness means that is will not last as long and will need to be done more frequently.
The rule of thumb is that the solid stain will need to be done every 7 years, and redoing it will be a bit easier than if it were paint. On the other hand, paint will need to be done every 15 years and redoing it will be a bit more difficult due to its thicker film. The sold color stain will show more the the texture of the wood and be flat. The paint will typically have a low lustre and better fill cracks and be smoother.
Solid color stains come in either a siding stain for vertical surfaces and solid deck stain which are made to be walked on.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The south Indian style of temple architecture is very distinct from that of the rest of
Pallava (AD 600-900)
The greatest accomplishments of Pallava architecture are the rock- cut of temples at Mahabalipuram. The Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram is a fully realized temple complex with a towered sanctuary and mandapa (columned hall preceding the sanctuary).
Chola architecture achieved its peak at Thanjavur, the capital established by the Chola ruler Rajaraja I. The sanctuaries have rising pyramid towers crowned with dome-like roofs. Sculptures and paintings adorn the walls. Bronze sculptures of this era are the finest in southern
By the 16th century almost all of southern
During this time, Kerala on the western coast developed a distinct style of architecture. Because of the heavy rainfall, the temples here were roofed with sloping tiers of metal or Terra cotta tiles. The Vadakkunatha temple at Trichur dates from the 12th century. Later temples are found at Chengannur, Kaviyum and Vaikom.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Fallingwater, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most widely acclaimed works, was designed in 1936 for the family of Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar J. Kaufmann.
The key to the setting of the house is the waterfall over which it is built. The falls had been a focal point of the Kaufmann's activities, and the family had indicated the area around the falls as the location for a home. They were unprepared for Wright's suggestion that the house rise over the waterfall, rather than face it. But the architect's original scheme was adopted almost without change.
Completed with a guest and service wing in 1939, Fallingwater was constructed of sandstone quarried on the property and was built by local craftsmen. The stone serves to separate reinforced concrete "trays", forming living and bedroom levels, dramatically cantilevered over the stream. Fallingwater was the weekend home of the Kaufmann family from 1937 until 1963, when the house, its contents, and grounds were presented to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy by Edgar Kaufmann, jr. Fallingwater is the only remaining great Wright house with its setting, original furnishings, and art work intact.
In 1986, New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger wrote: "This is a house that summed up the 20th century and then thrust it forward still further. Within this remarkable building Frank Lloyd Wright recapitulated themes that had preoccupied him since his career began a half-century earlier, but he did not reproduce them literally. Instead, he cast his net wider, integrating European modernism and his own love of nature and of structural daring, and pulled it all together into a brilliantly resolved totality. Fallingwater is Wright's greatest essay in horizontal space; it is his most powerful piece of structural drama; it is his most sublime integration of man and nature."
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
What, exactly, is a Victorian? Many people use the term to describe an architectural style. However, Victorian is not really a style but a period in history. The Victorian era dates from about 1840 to 1900. During this time, industrialization brought many innovations in architecture. There are a variety of Victorian styles, each with its own distinctive features.
The most popular Victorian styles spread quickly through widely published pattern books. Builders often borrowed characteristics from several different styles, creating unique, and sometimes quirky, mixes. Buildings constructed during the Victorian times usually have characteristics of one or more these styles:
Gothic Revival Architecture1
Victorian Gothic buildings feature arches, pointed windows, and other details borrowed from the middle ages. Masonry Gothic Revival buildings2 were often close replicas of Medieval cathedrals. Wood-frame Gothic Revival buildings3 often had lacy "gingerbread" trim and other playful details.
Victorian Italianate Architecture4
Rebelling against formal, classical architecture, Italianate became the one of the most popular styles in the United States. With low roofs, wide eaves, and ornamental brackets, Italianate is sometimes called the bracketed style .
Second Empire or Mansard Style5
Characterized by their boxy mansard roofs, these buildings were inspired by the architecture in Paris during the reign of Napoleon III.
Victorian Stick Architecture6
Trusses and stickwork suggest medieval building techniques on these relatively plain Victorian buildings.
Just plain folk could afford these no-fuss homes, using trimwork made possible by mass production.
Shingle Style Architecture8
Often built in costal areas, these shingle-sided homes are rambling and austere. But, the simplicity of the style is deceptive. The Shingle Style was adopted by the wealthy for grand estates.
Richardsonian Romanesque Architecture9
Architect Henry Hobson Richardson is often credited with popularizing these romantic buildings. Constructed of stone, they resemble small castles. Romanesque was used more often for large public buildings, but some private homes were also built in the imposing Romanesque style.
Victorian Queen Anne Architecture10
Queen Anne is the most elaborate of the Victorian styles. Buildings are ornamented with towers, turrets, wrap around porches, and other fanciful details.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
As the days grow shorter and the nights grow cooler, you may suddenly realize that you only have a few weeks left to finish your exterior painting projects. However, beware of painting outdoors when the weather turns nippy. Painting when the weather is too cold is a mistake that will leave you with unsightly consequences.
Most manufacturers instruct homeowners to apply solvent-based paint when ambient and surface temperatures are above 45 degrees F and latex paints when ambient and surface temperatures are at least 50 degrees.
Solvent-based paints thicken in lower temperatures, causing stiffer brushing, heavier application and slower drying. This can mean paint runs, sags and wrinkling on vertical surfaces, plus an overall reduced rate of coverage per gallon.
Below 50 degrees, latex paints dry more slowly, especially when high humidity is present. This hinders coalescence, which can lead to poor film-forming, lack of surface adhesion and premature paint failure.
Some manufacturers offer latex paints that can be applied at temperatures as low as 36 degrees F. These specially formulated products contain coalescing agents that aid in film-forming during lower temperatures. Check with your local independent paint retailer for information about these products.
Another thing to consider about seasonal painting is the amount of daylight. When the days are short, there is less daylight available to aid in drying. If you're using a solvent-based paint, which dries by oxidation, daylight is especially critical. So, be sure to paint early in the day so that light is present to add in the drying process.
Also consider the effect of heavy dew. Humidity affects the drying time of all paints, but especially latexes. Most manufacturers recommend that at least two hours be allowed for paint to dry before sunset if cool temperatures and heavy dew are expected that evening.
Finally, keep in mind that cooler temperatures may extend the time before the paint reaches serviceability or hardness. An enameled door requires more time before it can be closed without sticking to the jamb. A clear coating applied to a deck will need more time before you can walk on it. Primers require more time before top-coating. Knowing all of this may aid you as you go about your painting chores in the spring or in the fall.
When in doubt, remember to call your local paint and decorating retailer for advice and assistance. Or contact Snowcem Paints.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
It would not comment on the exact height or cost of the Islamic design-inspired
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, a cautious Nakheel chief executive officer, Christopher O'Donnell, said: "From our perspective, we are building a tower that's going to be over a kilometre in height. This is a complete iconic development. It may be the tallest."
The tower and harbour project will take more than 10 years to complete. Apart from the landmark structure, there will be another 40 towers, ranging in height from 20 floors to 90 floors. The entire development will be home to more than 55,000 people and a workplace for more than 45,000.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
Taking a serious note of the health hazards posed by lethal paints laden with lead, particularly to children, the global community has resolved to eliminate the noxious element from paints worldwide.
A resolution in this regard was adopted by the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS), a body formed by United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
The IFCS, which held its VI session at
"The resolution could prove to be an important milestone in the annals of chemical safety and management.
"It could result in setting up international standard for lead and eventual elimination of the element from paints which is deadly for children’s health, particularly the nervous system," said Ravi Agarwal, director of Toxic Link, an NGO which had moved the proposal.
"Noteworthy is the fact that the developed world had long ago replaced lead from paints with easily available lead-free alternatives such as titanium dioxide. Only a global effort can phase out the toxic element from paints in developing countries like
The move would also pave way for the country to frame specific regulations, which at present are not adequate, Agarwal added.
Last year, Toxics Link had conducted a study on levels of lead found in various brands of paints available in
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
When people come into my house, I say "Just shut up and look around."
The glass house designed by Philip Johnson has been called one of the world's most beautiful and yet least functional homes. Johnson did not envision it as a place to live so much as a stage... and a statement. The house is often cited as a model example of the International Style.
The basic concept for Johnson's glass house was borrowed from Mies van der Rohe, who was designing the glass-and-steel Farnsworth House during the same period. Unlike the Farnsworth House, however, Philip Johnson's home is symmetrical and sits solidly on the ground. The quarter-inch thick glass walls are supported by black steel pillars. The interior space is divided by low walnut cabinets and a brick cylinder that contains the bathroom. The cylinder and the brick floors are a polished purple hue.
Philip Johnson used his house as a "viewing platform" to look out at the landscape. He often used the term "Glass House" to describe the entire 47-acre site. In addition to the Glass House, the site has ten buildings designed by Johnson at different periods of his career. Three other older structures were renovated by Philip Johnson and David Whitney, a renowned art collector, museum curator, and Johnson's long-time partner.
Philip Johnson used the Glass House as his private residence, and many of his Bauhaus furnishings remain there. In 1986, Johnson donated the Glass House to the National Trust, but continued to live there until his death in 2005. The Glass House is now open to the public, with tours booked many months in advance. For information and tour reservations, visit philipjohnsonglasshouse.org
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
When it comes to selecting a paint, facility executives are faced with a variety of options. Both a blessing and a curse, the large number of choices enables facility executives to closely match the characteristics of the paint to the requirements of the application. But unless one understands paint characteristics, it is easy to select the wrong type of paint for the application.
Compounding the problem is the wide range of paint prices. The lowest cost paint may not be a bargain, particularly if its service life is half that of a higher quality, more expensive paint. But always selecting the highest cost paint also may not be the best option. Facility executives may be paying for paint characteristics that are not needed for a given application.
When evaluating paint options, it is important to remember that paint cost increases with increasing paint quality. This is primarily the result of two factors. Quality paints tend to use higher cost components than paints of lesser quality. Higher cost components translate to higher product costs. Quality paints also have a higher concentration of solids. As a result, higher quality paints have a long list of advantages: They are are easier to apply, flow better during application, require fewer coats for the same coverage, splatter less during application, have better hiding characteristics, hold color better, resist pealing and flaking, resist mildew, and provide a longer service life.
While these characteristics are common to all high quality paints, the problem is determining just what a quality paint is. It isn’t good enough to simply rely on the name of the manufacturer; most manufacturers offer a range of paint qualities. Instead, facility executives must look at the components that go into a paint, particularly their quality and concentrations. This is the only way to determine the difference between a top quality paint and one of lesser quality.
Paint has four basic components: pigments, binders, liquids, and additives.
Pigments provide the color (or whiteness) to the finished product. They can be organic or inorganic. Their concentration has a direct impact on the durability of the paint’s film.
What to Look For
One measure used in evaluating the quality of a paint is the pigment volume concentrate, the ratio of the pigment volume to the total volume of solids in the paint. Expressed as a percentage value, the pigment volume concentrate indicates how much binder is contained in the paint to surround and protect the pigment. A pigment volume concentrate value of 45 percent is considered to be the optimum level for most applications. Paints with lower pigment volume concentrate values produce a high gloss finish, poorer color uniformity, lower tensile strength and lower permeability to water. Higher pigment volume concentrate values tend to increase water permeability and the risk of blistering and rusting.
A paint’s pigment volume concentrate also helps determine the sheen level. As more pigment is added to the paint, the pigment volume concentrate value falls and the finish gloss of the paint decreases. Manufacturers can also reduce the finish gloss by introducing larger pigment particles. In general, low pigment volume concentrate paints adhere better and last longer. The glossier the finish, the more durable it is and the easier it is to clean.
Paint binders are used to help bind the paint pigment to the surface and to bind the pigment into a continuous film. The type, quality and quantity of binder used in a particular paint will affect a wide range of performance characteristics, including durability, stain resistance, adhesion and crack resistance. In most cases, the higher the quality of the paint, the higher the paint’s ratio of binder to pigment.
Manufacturers use many types of binders, depending on where and how the paint is to be applied. Different binders can be used to improve the paint’s resistance to moisture permeability, sunlight exposure, damage from abrasion, adhesion to the surface and flexibility.
Special applications, however, will require working with the manufacturer to determine which paint binder is best suited to the application.
Another basic component of paint is the liquids. Liquids carry the pigment and the binders. In most paints, the pigment and binder solids account for between 25 and 50 percent of the total volume of the paint. The majority of the remainder of the paint’s volume is the liquid carrier.
Two types of liquids are used in paint, solvents and diluents. The purpose of the solvent is to dissolve the binder and hold it in suspension along with the paint’s pigment. In oil-based and alkyd paint, the liquid is an organic material such as paint thinner. In latex paint, it is water.
In contrast to solvents, diluents do not dissolve the binder. While they help to keep the pigments and binders in suspension, their primary function is to reduce the cost of the paint. Higher quality paints have lower levels of diluents.
The fourth paint ingredient includes materials added to help produce certain properties of the finished product. Thickeners and modifiers make the paint easier to apply. Defoamers reduce the formation of bubbles during manufacturing. Co-solvents can be added to increase the hardness of the film formed by the binder. Other additives increase the splatter resistance of the paint during application. Biocides are often used in exterior paints and paints applied in high moisture interior applications to prevent the growth of mildew on the paint’s surface.
The first source for information in evaluating paint quality is the manufacturer. Manufacturers should provide information on paint ingredients, including the types of pigments and binders used, as well as the percentage of solids contained in the paint. Another good source for information is the material safety data sheet (MSDS). The MSDS will list several characteristics that reflect the quality of the paint, including the weight per gallon, the specific gravity, the flash point and the quantity of solids in the paint by both percent volume and percent weight.
Finding the Right Paint
Given the differences among paint formulas, ingredients, and performance characteristics, how does a facility executive select a quality product? While there have been attempts to set standards for paint manufacture and performance, there are simply too many variations between products to be certain that a fair comparison is being made. Add in the fact that different applications require different paint characteristics, and it is easy to see why there is so much confusion when it comes to selecting a quality paint.
One indicator of quality is past performance. Learning from the successes and failures of others is a painless experience that requires only a small investment in time. Talk to others who have similar applications. What paint has performed well in those applications? What paint hasn’t? As long as the two applications are similar with comparable requirements for paint protection and performance, the experiences of others can teach valuable lessons.
One caution: As they say in the investment business, past results are not a guarantee of future performance. Seemingly subtle differences in applications can result in major differences in paint performance. And manufacturers are constantly modifying their formulas, both to improve performance and to control costs. Either of these factors may be sufficient to make a particular paint unsuitable for an application.
Taking it All In
Beyond experience, there are several rules of thumb to help ensure the selection of a quality paint.
1. Price and Quality. In general, as paint quality increases, so does the price of the paint. Assuming that the different paint products being compared are intended for the same type of application, the more expensive paint most likely will have higher quality ingredients, a higher volume of solids, or both. While higher priced paint is not a guarantee of higher quality, it is a very strong indicator.
2. Solids. The percentage of solids contained in a gallon of paint is a general indicator of quality. It indicates how much of the volume in the paint will form the protective paint film, and how much will disappear as the paint cures. The higher the percentage of solids in the paint, the less liquid there is. Because the primary purpose of the liquid is to suspend the solids for application, a higher percentage of solids translates into more dry paint on the application. More paint means better and longer performance. Paint with a higher percentage of solids will also cost more as a result of higher material costs.
3. Finish Selection. Paints are available in finishes that range from flat to gloss. There is a tradeoff in performance based on the finish selected. Flat and eggshell finishes tend to hide minor defects in the surface well, but are not very durable. Semi-gloss and gloss finishes resist marking and are easy to clean, but tend to highlight surface defects.
4. Pigments. For better coverage over old paint colors select a paint with prime pigments such as titanium dioxide.
5. Binder Type. In latex paint, look for a higher percentage of acrylic binders. These binders bond better to surfaces and offer higher resistance to cracking.
6. Mildewcide. Any paint that is applied in an area exposed to moisture should contain a mildewcide to resist the formation of mildew on the surface of the paint. These include exterior and below grade applications as well as surfaces exposed to high levels of humidity on a regular basis.
7. Aesthetics. While aesthetics is an important consideration when selecting paint, there are so many options today in colors and finishes that it is not necessary to sacrifice performance for aesthetics, or aesthetics for performance. When it comes to paint, it is possible to have both.