Monday, October 8, 2012

Home Interiors - New Photographs

Some new photographs of latest projects

TV Unit

Modular Kitchen - Left Side

Modular Kitchen - Right Side

Angry Birds theme wall. I painted this :)

Kitchen - Opposite Slab

Wardrobe 1

Wardrobe 2 
Wardrobe & Dresser

TV Unit - Awaiting the bigger TV

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Types of Wood & Wood Specifications for Home Interiors

Over the course of the last few years the maximum number of queries I've received from my readers has been around the type of wood to be used and the what wood specification one should look for for different interior applications.

While part of the above query is answered in my earlier article on "What Material to use for Woodwork" I guess looking at the number of questions that have come in on the topic there is need for the article to be much more descriptive especially around the type of wood and their specifications. This post will try to do just that, also please read this in conjunction with the earlier post ("What Material to use for Woodwork")

Note: None of the Images below are my own - these have been downloaded either from Wikipedia or other open sources




Most people recognize this. These  are sheets of wood pasted together. However plywood comes in many specifications based on the chemical treatment of the wood and the glue used to bind the sheets together which determines its type of use - see the specifications section below.
Also - Plywood is available in multiple thickness from 2 mm to 38mm



This is cubical stocks of wood sandwitched between two thin sheets of Ply. As is obvious from its construction block board has higher  resistance against warping or bending. It is available in the standard thickness of 16, 19 & 25 mm
Again Blockboard comes in different specifications that determine its use in interior applications...more on that later



MDF in engineered wood basically made from wood pulp. As is obvious from its construction MDF has low resistance to warping/ bending & moisture. Also nails do not hold well to join MDF sheets together, they need to be either screwed or joined using a minifix (google for it...). Because of this a lot of carpenters are not comfortable working with MDF. The good thing about MDF however is that you get "pre laminated" MDF in different colours, shades & textures and if used intelligently it can help bring down the cost of construction & also enhance the look of woodwork.


This is chips of wood glued together and pressed into sheets. Particle board is the cheapest of the above 3 options, it however has least resistance to moisture. Because of its low density & weight Particle board offers good resistance to bending especially in applications requiring long panels (such as a 9 foot high wardrobe doors). Particle board also is available in "pre laminated" form and its correct use can help bring down construction cost.


Indian standards are not very well documented and there isn't much user understandable documentation available. What I have mentioned below is built on current market terminology & the products available in the market for a layman to make sense of the same. The paragraphs below are not meant to stand up to an ISI inspection but should definitely help "YOU" make informed decisions.

A) "Plywood" Standards and Specs: 

1. IS 303 Specification: This is the ISI or BIS Specification for Plywood. This is further divided into (1) MR Grade and (2) BWR Grade

  • MR Grade: Stands for Moisture Resistance - MR Grade Ply is basically regular plywood. This is also sometimes called Commercial Ply. In laymans terms this can be used everywhere except in the Bathroom & Kitchen.

  • BWR Grade Plywood: This is Boiling Water Resistant Plywood. Some companies call it BWP (Boiling Water Proof) Grade however the Bureau of Indian Standards has officially done away with the BWP terminology. In layman's terms this wood is also mentioned as Marine Ply & is for use in the Kitchen & Bathroom.
Note: Recommendation for Kitchens is therefore "IS303, BWR Grade Plywood" - The shopkeeper in the wood store will have little to fool around if you use the above phrase. Simple isn't it :)

2. IS 710: This is the "Formal" Standard for "Marine Grade" Plywood - used for making boats & ships...hence this is topic for a blog on shipbuilding & not here :)

B] Block Board Standards and Specs

The Bureau of Indian Standards has the IS 1659 Standard for Blockboards. Again this is subdivided into MR Grade (Commercial Board) & BWR/ BWP Grade (Boiling Water Proof)

Explanation on where to use blockboard and where to use Ply is on my other post at What Material to use for Woodwork

C] Standards for Particle Board and MDF: 

In India Particle board & MDF are at a stage of nascence where they are bought based on the Brand Name rather than on the ISI Standard. Some manufacturers do cite exterior Grade & Interior Grade MDF/ Particle Board, however personally I prefer to go with a good brand and the range of colours offered than the "Grade".

That does it for now I guess and as always would welcome any Bouquets & Brickbats

Signing off,


PS: If you have a question to ask then please noteThe Q&A/ Comments interface on this blog below is unable to scale to the number of questions that we have been getting. Hence even if you post a question I will be unable to reply to it due to technology limitations. To do away with this issue we have launched the Q&A module on The Studio website

Hence if you have a question or if you posted a question earlier and did not get a response then please post it again at so that I am able to see and answer it


Sunday, May 20, 2012

The "What Material to use for the Kitchen Counter Top" Conundrum. How to decide between Granite, Marble, Corian, Quartz, Acrylic etc.

A number of folks have been inquiring on what material works best for the kitchen slab. This decision has lately become more complicated due to the different variety available in the market and whether the newer materials available suit our desi style of cooking & handling.

To answer this question lets look at each of the materials available and the pros & Cons of each

1. Good Old Granite:

By far the most popular choice, and not without reason. Granite is more or less scratch & stain proof. The only draw back with Granite is the limitation on the colours & shades available. If you are ok with the Henry Ford philosophy of "You can choose any colour as long as its black" then this is the best material for you. One would argue that granite does come in other colours, however my personal view is that the other colours in granite do not give as good a finish & look compared to black granite or the other materials (below). Approx price range 100 - 700 per square foot (some imported one do cost the sky)

2. Corian:

The most hotly debated material. By the way - did you know that while Corian is generally used as a family name for all types of acrylic solid surfaces for countertops it is actually  brand name owned by Du Pont (Much like how we assume the name "Surf " to mean any kind of washing powder). Acrylic countertops in Bangalore are available from Dupont (Corian), Merino (Hanex) & LG (Himacs). The great thing about Acrylic solid surface is that it can be shaped as per one's requirement, hence giving a lot of flexibility to the designer. Also the finishes & edges are clean & slick. The only thing that goes against Acrylic surfaces is that they are prone to scratches & stains....these can however be removed by "rebuffing" the surface. Contrary to usual belief, Acrylic Surfaces are extremely resistant to heat (do not melt). To prove this to myself I actually brought a small piece of the material home and experimented with all kinds of things. The poor piece of Acrylic (this one is Hanex) you see in the picture below has hosted

Acrylic Counter top Material/ Corian - Under Test
1. A hot pressure cooker right out of the flame
2. A kadhai fuming with hot oil and
3. Knife cuts from daily vegetable chopping

Well, except for the scratches, it did hold up to tell its story.

The other good thing about Acrylic is that it comes in a range of colours including Shocking white (my favourite). On the price front Acrylic will set you off by over Rupees 800 per square foot, so u need to have a strong heart and a loving husband to go with it.

3. Marble:

Italian Marble Counter top
Apart from the Rajasthani White (Makarana) Marble you have Italian marble widely available in Bangalore. It comes in a variety of very rich colours. The challenge in using Marble is that (1) You need to buy the whole sheet - so if you don't do your maths right then you may end up wasting quite a bit  (2) Marble is brittle - you need a very good workman to cut & lay the sheet and (3) Not all types of Marble are stain & scratch resistance, hence you need to choose carefully. However if  "Managed" well Marble can give a very distinct look. For the record...I myself have used Marble in my kitchen (see the pic) and contrary to the popular belief that Marble is not suited for Kitchen Counter tops I kind of am satisfied with it. What you need to know however is that it does require a bit of maintenance and kindly use - not as much as a " Fill it, shut it, forget it" (remember the old Hero Honda ad) type like granite. Price Point - Rupees 350 psft and above.

4. Quartz - Artificial Stone:

Quartz Kitchen Counter Top
This is a fairly new addition to the family of materials for counter tops. I was frankly a little skeptical before using this when one of my customers insisted but its been around one year (see the pic) and so far the customer is not complaining. I really would not mind using this again. Quartz stands good in all aspects such as scratch & stain resistance, easy workmanship, slick finishes & availability in a range of colours. Price Point - Rs 500 psft and above

There are other options available like Laminate on wood etc however I do not feel that these stand up the exacting standards for Indian cooking and these are definitely NOT Indian MAID Proof  :)

That's it for now I guess, that one was quite a marathon ...have not typed sooo much in a long time and to those of you who have had the patience of reading till this very line...a big thank you & hope this helps you in your own Marathon of home making. As always would welcome any bouquets & brickbats

Signing off

Nandita Manwani

PS: If you have a question to ask then please note: On Nov 15th we have launched the Q&A module on The Studio website. The Q&A interface on this blog was unable to scale to the number of questions that we have been getting - you would have noticed being unable to  scroll down to a question once the number of questions below a certain post increases beyond a certain limit. 
Hence if you have a question then please post it at 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Feedback from IndiaWood 2012 Exhibition Bangalore

Folks ....some quick notes from the IndiaWood Exhibition ( that concluded in Bangalore last month. Some interesting findings that you may find useful in your home decoration journey

1. Steel Panels

Saw some polished steel (etched & mirror finishes) introduced & showcased for interior design needs. Interestingly the vendor (, who supplies stuff from Haryana is willing to cater to the Home Decor Market (versus the commercial market done by such vendors usually). These sheets have the potential to give pretty exquisite finishes

2. Prices of UV coated MDF boards down

These are boards that have a hi gloss/ anti scratch finish ( Some vendors have been passing these off as Acrylyc boards and charging extreme prices. While these were available earlier through grey market imports, now there are reputed Indian companies offering these at a fraction of the cost

3. Ebco - As a strong contender in hardware: 

Ebco ( showcased a pretty impressive range in hardware and seems to be heading to become a strong contender to Hettich in the hi end hardware space...time will tell. I am yet to check out their prices but hopefully these will be competitive.

4. Pre Veneered MDF Boards from Green Ply

Green Ply has introduced pre veneered MDF boards. From a cost perspective these offer a fair amount of savings than using Ply + Veneer combination. Since these boards only come in MDF (Pre Veneered ply is not available) there is some amount of attention that will be required while designing the furniture, however there is no doubt that these boards will bring down the total cost of construction + save on the overall time to deliver.

5. Hardwood kitchen Shutters prices have come down

Hardwood shutters have always ranged above some INR 500 psft. Some local Bangalore vendors have now brought these prices down. Creating traditional designs & Kitchens in Hardwood should not be as expensive as it used to be.

6. MDF 3 D boards and panels available commonly: 

Designer MDF boards and 3D boards (usually used for pannelling etc.) that were earlier available only at specific designer outlets are now freely distributed and are therefore being made available through the local plywood store

7. Flush Doors - Prices down: 

The prices of Flush doors have also come down substantially and the range starts from approx INR 100 psft. Hence if you are planning to redo your doors by laminating/ veeneering them it might be cheaper to replace them & use them for your other woodwork

Thats it from me....I hope you found the above always will welcome your comments, bouquets & brickbats

Signing off