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RENEWAL / RESTORATION OF STAINED / FADED HISTORIC

LIMEWASH PAINT
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1. Introduction
The Mirs Bungalow (Badshahi Bungalow), Tando Noor
Muhammad, Unit No. 4, Latifabad, Hyderabad, consisting of a
large three storey terraced main structure and a small single
storey annexe joined by a walkway at ground floor roof level, was
erected in 1863 by Prince Mir Hassan Ali Khan Talpur, the son of
the last ruler of Hyderabad Mir Naseer Khan Talpur. It is one of the
very few elegant old buildings of Sindh. The most recognisable
feature of the Mirs Bungalow apart from the design based on
ratios and symmetry are (i) the opulent interiors enriched with
doors and fanlights glazed with coloured clear glasses,
romantically themed royal chandeliers and ceiling mounted
hanging candle light fixtures of varying designs and colours,
displays of carved teak wood furniture, carpets, decoration pieces
as well as wall mounted trophies and, (ii) impressive exterior with
colonnades, perforated parapet and teak wood trellis and louvers.
1 2. Material construction
Main Building
The structure is constructed in brick in gypsum mortar, covered
on interior and exterior with lime plaster. The outdoor lime plaster
is washed with limewash while the indoor lime plaster is painted
with limewash paint of varying colours. The roofs are flat. They
have a simple structure of teak wood decking on teak wood joists.
The ceilings are originally polished/painted with lime wash paint in
places. The doors and cupboards are all in teak wood. The doors
opening to the front and rear verandahs are topped with fanlights
and have, in addition to panelled doors, folding teak wood
shutters glazed with coloured clear glasses. The doors and cup
boards are polished and /or painted with lime wash paint. The
teak wood screens and louvers filling the openings of ground and
1st floor colonnades are painted with lime wash paint of off-white
and grey colours. The floor is of brick tile 12X12X2 in lime
mortar. The teak wood furniture is beautifully carved and

polished. It is tastefully furnished with craftsman style furniture


and woollen carpets.
Annexe :
The structure is built of brick in gypsum mortar, covered on
interior and exterior with lime plaster. The outdoor lime plaster is
washed with lime wash while the indoor lime plaster is painted
with lime wash paint. The roof is flat with a simple structure of
teak wood decking on teak wood joists. The ceiling is polished.
The free spaces of the outer wooden structure of rear verandah
are filled with beautiful teak wood trellis in various geometrical
patterns. The doors are all in teak wood. The bath room is big
enough to use for dressing, with a shower, a toilet and a bidet and
two open able skylights that let in lots of light and breezes.
1 3. Problem
After decades of neglect, the building became structurally
unstable in the following years due to structural failure and
infiltration of water from the roof and up from the ground and
badly needed repair and renovation to survive.
1 4. Conservation needs
The repair and restoration needs included:
(1) Structural stabilization of the building by stitching of its
structural cracks.
(2) Replacing in kind the deteriorated lime plaster of walls,
columns and parapet wall.
(3) Replacing in kind the deteriorated lime terracing of the roof.
(4) Replacing in kind the deteriorated brick tile floor of the lower
storey.
(5) Restoration of the broken/damaged teak wood trellis and
louver work.
(6) Renewal of the soiled/faded/damaged limewash of exterior
walls, columns and parapet with authenticity and sensitivity to
the original materials used.
(7) Renewal of limewash painting of outdoor woodwork using the
same kind of materials and techniques to match the original.
(8) Renewal of limewash painting of interior walls, ceiling and
doors using the same kind of materials and techniques.

(9) Renewal of polishing of ceiling, doors and cupboards using the


same kind of materials and techniques.
(10) Polishing of teak wood furniture using the same kind of
materials and techniques.
(11) Repair and dry cleaning of carpets.
1 5. Conservation work
The efforts to restore it to its original grandeur the restoration
project started in October, 2010 and since then emergency
repairs planned for structural stabilization of the building have
been completed, roofs addressed and decayed lime plaster
repaired/restored on interior and exterior using traditional
materials and techniques. The work on renewal/restoration of
paint finishes (the most celebrated feature of the
building) and restoration of brick floor of lower storey is
currently in hand.
6. Renewal / restoration of stained / faded historic
limewash paint finishes of Mirs bungalow
The Mirs Bungalow has a protective and decorative coat of
limewash paint of varying colours put on lime plastered walls and
wooden ceilings, doors and lattices.
The limewash paint Talpur rulers used works best on traditional
lime mortar or permeable surfaces and is undeniably part of a
technological record. But beyond that, the colours they selected
for their interior living and working spaces - bright and exuberant,
purposefully sober, or a combination of hues - reflect our nation's
cultural influences and our individual and collective spirit.
Paint colour is a simple, direct expression of the time, and of
taste, values, and mood. To consider paint only as a protective
coating is to misunderstand its meaning as an important aspect of
Sindhs heritage.
However, as the painted surfaces have become stained due to
recent repairs to the structural cracks and water damaged / rising
damp affected underlying lime plaster and also have partly faded
over the time they need to be renewed/restored to depict the
building as it appeared at the time of its construction.

The conservation of the unique lime wash and paint finishes of


Mirs Bungalow
Is to be done with original materials and techniques , if we want
to restore its historic integrity.
Paints are usually considered purely decorative and of little
consequence to a building. However, the application of a wrong
coating can cause decay in a historic building, sometimes
damaging it irreversibly. Even the beneficial effects of applying
lime based mortars, renders and plasters can be completely
negated by an unsuitable 'top coat'.
There is a tendency to think that modern is best. This isn't always
the case, especially where historic buildings are concerned. By
understanding how our historic building functions we can repair
and decorate it using materials which will help it to perform as it
was originally intended and prolong its life and beauty for
centuries to come.
Mirs Bungalow is built of brick in gypsum mortar covered by lime
plaster. It needs to breathe for its proper functioning and
therefore all materials used in its repairs also need high degrees
of breathability. Applying a non-breathing coating causes the
building to sweat, resulting in condensation and damp problems.
The vast majority of modern paints are based on plastic binders
derived from the petroleum industry, which effectively produce a
plastic coat over the applied surface. They often have trouble
adhering to the surfaces of an old building and can be seen to
peel away or bubble. This is usually a combination of
impermeability causing trapped moisture underneath, plus nonadherence. In a nutshell, most modern paints don't breathe
enough to allow the old buildings to function correctly, and
therefore are not suitable for their conservation.
Modern paints such as emulsions do not adhere well to lime
plaster and can peel soon after application. They have very low
vapour permeability (if at all) and will trap moisture within a
masonry wall or building, leading to greater problems of internal
dampness and timber rot. They have huge expansion coefficients, which means they expand and crack, allowing
rainwater to percolate behind. This is then trapped, and results in
peeling. They are affected adversely by UV light, unlike
limewashes.

Importantly for conservation of old buildings, limewash has the


advantage of being considerably more "breathable" than most
modern paints. It can also
consolidate surfaces and, unlike with uniform synthetic coatings,
provides attractive colour variations, especially after weathering.
The alkalinity deters wood-boring beetles and helps sterilise walls.
Furthermore, limewash is inexpensive and solvent-free. The
disadvantages are that much care is needed for the best results,
matching coloured limewash batches is difficult, and limewashing
is less successful in very fast-drying conditions.
The contractor engaged by Mir Haider Ali Talpur for
renewal/restoration of stained/faded interior of the building
prepared samples/mockups of the work at the place with modern
emulsion paint instead of traditional limewash paints, which was
totally in conflict with the principles of conservation. However, he
could not produce like colours, and appearance of historic paints
in the samples/mockups of the work. Frankly, the modern paint, if
allowed to use in the renewal of interior of the building, will make
the Mirs Bungalow look modern and ordinary which nobody would
like to see it happen after investment of huge funds on its
restoration.
There is therefore a great need to look into the matter and come
up with the type of the paint and techniques of application that
would enable us to carry out renewal/restoration of stained/faded
interior of the Mirs Bungalow as per original.
1 7. Traditional methods of preparation and application
of limewash
Traditionally Lime wash was prepared from slaked lime and water.
However, with the addition of some ingredients such as linseed
oil, tallow (animal fat) and skimmed milk (casein) it was turned
into washable and durable indoor lime wash paint. Further to
colour the lime wash paint, natural earth dyes, such as red and
gray clay, or natural plant dyes, such as the juice from mulberries
and beets were used. The indoor lime wash paints were
sometimes added with spices such as tumeric and saffron to give
a lovely spicy fragrance as well as golden hues.

The basic ingredients in limewash, as stated above, were lime and


water, although other ingredients were sometimes included to
provide additional chemical or physical properties. The use of
additives required careful consideration due to the possible
adverse affects. For example historic recipes often called for
adding tallow during slaking in order to increase water-shedding
capabilities. The tallow did increase water shedding, but it also
decreased breathability and the ease of applying successive
layers.
Pigments were often added to limewash to vary the colour of the
finish. Earth-based pigments were used historically to maintain
consistent colour and limit changes from the alkalinity of the
limewash. It was necessary to add pigments in moderation to limit
the weakening effect of excessive amounts of additives.
Traditionally limewash was prepared on-site by skilled craftsmen
and applied in the spring or fall to take advantage of optimal
temperatures.
Limewash was applied in thin layers, constantly maintaining a wet
edge to create a more conformal coat. Multiple layers were
applied, leaving sufficient time for drying between applications.
Drying times were 24 hours or longer, depending on exterior
conditions such as humidity and temperature. When first applied,
the limewash appeared transparent, but as it carbonated and
layers built up, it was transformed into a solid, matte finish. Three
or more applications were recommended for the initial
limewashing. Annual reapplication was necessary to counter
weathering from exposure. Successive limewashings required
fewer layers.
In order to maintain consistency sufficient limewash to complete
the project was mixed and agitated throughout application. After
the limewash was prepared, the surface to be treated was
brushed down to remove loose dirt and then dampened to
prevent the wash from drying too quickly. If the limewash dried
too quickly, carbonation would be disrupted, resulting in a weak,
cohesionless finish that tended to crack and powder.
1 8. Characteristics of historic lime wash and paint
finishes

Limewash is an effective surface covering for a wide range of


water-absorptive surfaces. Limewash is vapour-permeable and
allows a building to "breathe" from the inside to the outside.
Limewash is robust and, in the proper number of coats,
consolidate and improve the condition of the underlying
substrate. Limewash is stable and long lasting. Limewash is
beautiful in either its brilliant white, non-pigmented native state,
or when pigmented with compatible oxides to complement
architectural colour schemes. Limewash has always been, and
remains, a most effective way to protect, maintain and beautify
the surface of historically-significant structures. Limewash is
materially inexpensive and easy to apply. Surface preparation for
sound, previously limewashed surfaces is straightforward,
generally only requiring a washdown with water to remove
accumulated dirt and growth, or with a mixture of diluted vinegar
to remove scale.

Unlike modern paints, which lay on the surface of the substrate,


lime wash instead acts like a stain by penetrating into the deep
pores of the substrate. The process creates a peel free surface
that allows the substrate to breathe and the lime wash remains
vapour permeable after it cures. Further, it is non toxic,
environmentally friendly, and contains all natural ingredients. It
has also hygienic properties and acts as a mild fungicide due to
its high PH. The reflective and refractive nature of lime wash paint
makes it reflect heat away but not light. In fact it intensifies light.
To be brief, it is a beautiful traditional material that mellows
gradually while it wears away, and over time it develops the
weathered patina that characterizes the old building.
Duplicating the composition and appearance of historic paints,
including the unevenness of colour, the irregularity of surface
texture, the depth provided by a topcoat, and the techniques of
application, is extremely challenging to todays painter who is
using modern materials.
Colour matching is also complicated by the fact that the
traditional paints were made by hand. Each batch of paint, made
by painters using their own experience and instincts, might well
have slight variations in colour--a little darker or lighter, a little
bluer and so on. The earliest books of paint gives instructions for
the relative quantities of tinting pigments to be added to a base,
but even with proportions held constant, the amount of mixing, or
dispersion, varied from workman to workman and resulted in
colour variations.