Paint Dictionary

Paint DictionaryABRASION RESISTANCE: A specially formulated coating property that protect structures against corrosion, damage and wear brought about by heat and moisture.

ABRASIVE: Used for wearing away a surface by rubbing, scraping and sanding in preparation for coating; examples include sandpaper and steel wool.

ACRYLIC: A synthetic resin used in high-performance, water-based coatings.

ADHESION: The ability of a coating to stick to a surface.

AIR DRY: One method by which liquid coatings dry; after solvent evaporation, the binders react with oxygen, or oxidize, creating a hard film.

AIRLESS SPRAY: Applicator that pumps coating at a very high pressure through a hose with a tip designed to spray paint evenly in a fan-shaped pattern, covering more area quickly.

ALKALI: A substance such as lye, soda or lime that can be highly caustic or corrosive to paint films.

ALKYD: Any of a group of synthetic resins that are used in varnishes, paints and adhesives; a paint in which the vehicle is an alkyd resin.

ALLIGATORING: A paint failure that appears like small cracks resembling alligator skin due to too many coats, a topcoat applied before the basecoat fully dried or temperature changes that cause substrates to expand and contract.

ANTI-CORROSIVE PAINT: Designed to inhibit abrasion and rust and applied directly to that’s used on iron, steel and other metallic substrates, often used as a primer for finish coats.

BACK PRIMED: The application of paint to the backs of surfaces, such as exterior shingles, siding or trim to help prevent moisture from permeating.

BARRIER COAT: A layer of a primer or coating that obstructs or prevents passage of water or other contaminants through a surface. See Intermediate Coat.

BINDER: The component of paint that joins pigment particles together to form the film and can determine many of the coating’s performance properties — washability, durability, adhesion, color retention, etc.

BLEACHING: The process of lightening or restoring discolored or stained wood to its normal color.

BLEEDING: Describes an undercoat staining through the topcoat. Soluble dyes or pigments in undercoat are dissolved by solvents in topcoat and stain through to the new finish.

BLISTERING: The formation of bubbles or pimples on a painted surface caused by moisture in a topcoat before the previous coating one thoroughly dried or excessive heat. Also called bubbling.

BLUSHING: A coating that becomes cloudy or dull through moisture or excessive solvent evaporation.

BODY: The consistency of a coating. See Viscosity.

BOXING: Mixing paint by pouring from one container to another several times to ensure a consistent, well-blended color.

BREATHE: The ability of a paint film to permit moisture permeation without causing failure.

BRIDGING: The ability of a paint to cover or stretch over cracks, voids or other small gaps.

BRISTLES: The working part of a brush that contains natural (usually hog) or artificial (nylon or polyester) stiff hairs.

BRUSHABILITY: The ability or ease with which paint can be brushed onto a surface.

BRUSH-OUT: A technique that consists of applying a sample of paint to a piece of wood or other material, illustrating the finished surface.

BUILD: Thickness or depth of a paint film.

BURNISHING: To make smooth or glossy by rubbing.

CALCIMINE: A thin, water-based white or tinted wash containing zinc oxide, glue and coloring that’s applied to interior plaster surfaces, such as walls and ceilings. Also called kalsomine.

CATALYST: An additive for paint that accelerates drying time and durability.

CAULKING COMPOUND: A slow-drying, flexible sealing material used to fill or close gaps in structures, seal joints and fill crevices around windows, chimneys and most surfaces. Also called sealant.

CEMENTITIOUS COMPOSITION BOARD: A versatile, durable and affordable exterior building material that’s more stable than wood or plywood; mimics all-natural wood siding, but unlike wood, doesn’t rot or become infested with parasites such as termites. Also called fiber cement board.

CHALKING: The formation of a loose powder on the surface of paint after exposure to the elements.

CHECKING: A kind of paint failure characterized by narrow cracks or splitting in the paint film’s surface caused by improper film formation or excessive film build.

CHROMA: The purity or intensity of color; a color at its full intensity has maximum chroma.

CLEAR COATING: A transparent protective and/or decorative film.

COALESCENCE: The process whereby water evaporates from a coating, forcing pigments and binders to fuse together into a dry, durable, continuous film.

COATING: A layer of paint, varnish, lacquer or other finish used to create a protective and/or decorative layer.

COHESION: The inner strength of a coating determined by molecules sticking to each other because of mutual attraction and required for a long-lasting, protective coating.

COLORANT: A dye, pigment or other substance that’s added to something else, such as paint, causing a change in color.

COLORFAST or COLOR-RESISTANT or COLOR-RETENTIVE: A fade-resistant property in paint specially formulated for exposure to the elements or repeated washings.

COLOR UNIFORMITY: Ability of a coating to maintain an even, consistent color across its entire surface.

CONVERSION COATING: A coating that provides a protective surface layer on a metallic surfaces that contains a component that chemically reacts with the substrate making it more suitable for adhesive bonding.

COPPER STAINING: An aesthetic problem caused by corrosion of copper screens, gutters or downspouts dripping onto painted surfaces.

CORROSION INHIBITIVE: A property in a specialty coating formulated to prevent rust by blocking moisture from reaching metal surfaces. See Abrasion Resistance.

COVERAGE: Surface area concealed by coating, expressed usually in square feet per gallon or square meters per liter.

CRACKING: A type of paint failure characterized by the splitting or breaking of a dry coating that worsens over time, which is caused by poor preparation, cheap paint or repainting before the previous coat is thoroughly dry.

CRAWLING: A defect in freshly applied paint or varnish characterized by bare patches and ridging.

CRAZING: Small, interlacing cracks appear when two materials bonded together (e.g., substrate and primer, primer and basecoat) expand or contract at different rates, severing surface adhesion.

CURING: When paint film has reached maximum hardness and is 100 percent moisture-free.

CUSTOM COLOR: One of a kind colors created by mixing colorants.

CUTTING IN: The technique of precisely painting an edge, such as the ceiling line or the edge between a wall and molding.

DELIVERABLES: A project management term for the quantifiable goods or services that will be provided by contractors and vendors upon the completion of a project.

DILUENT: A liquid, such as turpentine, mixed with paint or varnish to reduce its viscosity and make it easier to apply. Also called reducer, thinner, reducing agent or reducing solvent.

DRAWDOWN CARDS: Black and white plastic cards supplied by paint stores to provide accurate and consistent color and sheen level of the coatings being used for a job; a small amount of paint is spread onto cards by a metal drawdown bar eliminating brushstrokes and roller marks.

DRY COLORS: A pigment in powder form that’s mixed with water, alcohol or mineral spirits and resin to form a paint or stain.

DRY DUST FREE: The stage of drying when particles of dust that settle upon the surface don’t stick to the paint film.

DRY TACK FREE: The stage of drying when the paint no longer feels sticky or tacky to the touch.

DRY TO HANDLE: The stage of drying when a paint film has hardened sufficiently so the surface may be used without marring.

DRY TO RECOAT: The stage of drying when the next coat can be applied.

DRY TO SAND: The stage of drying when a paint film can be sanded without the sandpaper sticking or clogging.

DURABILITY: The ability of paint to hold up well against destructive agents such as weather, detergents, air pollution or abrasion.

DYE or DYESTUFF: A soluble, colored agent that soaks into the fibers of the surface used just to even wood color before staining or change color with little or no hiding.

EGGSHELL FINISH: A degree of gloss that’s similar to the slight velvety sheen on an egg’s surface.

ELASTOMERIC: A type of flexible, or stretchy, coating designed for exterior masonry surfaces, such as concrete, stucco and roofs and to handle substrate movement, bridging cracks and keeping water out.

ELECTROSTATIC COATING: A coating designed for application by equipment that’s charged with the opposite electrical polarity than the metal surfaces to be painted, and when sprayed is electrically attracted to those substrates.

EMULSION PAINT: A mixture of pigment and synthetic resin dispersed in water with low solvent emission, fire- and chemical-resistant properties, good durability and a matte finish.

ENAMEL: A broad classification of paints considered to be high-quality, hard-surfaced and high-sheen.

EPOXY: A thick coating consisting of a base and curing agent that’s mixed together to produce a chemical reaction that results in a thick, plastic-like, chemical- and corrosion-resistant finish; used to protect demanding surfaces because of its durable, low porosity and strong bond strength.

EROSION: The wearing away of a paint film caused by exposure to the elements.

ETCH: The process of using abrasion or corrosion (acid) to wear away the surface of glass or metal, often in a decorative pattern.

EXTENDER: A volume-increasing, cost-reducing additive in synthetic resin adhesives.

FEATHER SANDING: Tapering the edge of dried paint film with sandpaper.

FERROUS METAL: Metals that contain iron and are generally vulnerable to rust when exposed to the elements due to the high amounts of carbon used when creating them.

FERRULE: The metal band that connects the handle and stock of a paintbrush.

FILLER: A heavily bodied substance used to fill cracks, holes, pores and depressions in a substrate before painting or varnishing; particular fillers are used for different substrates and include wood filler, drywall filler and block filler.

FILLER STRIP: A piece of fluted or beaded wood or plastic that’s used to cover an opening or gap in wood, such as between kitchen cabinets or near a wall at the end of the cabinets.

FILM: The result of the water or solvents evaporating from paint, and the joining of the binder particles that forms a solid protective layer.

FINISH: The last coat of paint or other final coating.

FIRE-RESISTANT: The ability or property of a coating to withstand fire

FIRE-RETARDANT: A coating which will reduce flame spread, resist ignition when exposed to high temperature and insulate or delay damage to the substrate.

FLAKING: A form of paint failure characterized by the detachment of small pieces of the film’s surface.

FLASH: Uneven gloss or color in a dried paint surface usually resulting from uneven absorption, insufficiently sealed substrates or poor drying conditions.

FLASH POINT: The temperature at which a coating or solvent will ignite.

FLAT: A non-reflective, no-gloss porous finish. See Matte.

FLAT APPLICATOR: A rectangular-shaped flat pad with an attached handle that’s used to paint shingles, shakes and other special surfaces.

FLEXIBILITY: The ability of a coating to expand and contract during temperature changes.

FLOATING: A coating failure that’s caused when pigment colors separate on wet paint’s surface.

FLOW: The ability of a coating to spread out into a level, smooth film without exhibiting brush or roller marks.

FOG COAT: Pigmented, bonding cement used to coat exterior stucco.

FORCED DRY: Any method that uses heat or air to quicken the drying of a coating.

GALVANIZED: A thin coating of zinc that covers iron or steel to prevent rust.

GLAZE: A thin topcoat from clear to opaque that can change the chroma, value, hue and texture of a surface and subdue strongly colored base coats.

GLAZING COMPOUND: A putty or pliable sealant used to set glass in window frames, and fill nail holes and cracks.

GLOSS: The degree of reflectivity of light from a surface or shininess of a coating. See Sheen.

GLOSS METER: An instrument that uses a standard scale for measuring the shininess or light reflectance of a paint’s surface at one or more angles.

GRAINING: Simulating the grain of wood by means of specially prepared colors or stains and the use of graining tools or special brushing techniques.

GROUND COAT: The base or primary coat of paint.

HARDNESS: The ability of a paint film to resist denting, scratching or marring.

HIDING POWER: The ability of a paint to hide the previous surface or color. Highly pigmented coat of paint applied before a transparent color to speed hiding.

HOLDOUT: The ability of a paint film to dry to its normal finish on a somewhat absorptive surface.

HOLIDAYS: Application defect whereby small areas are left uncoated or voids appear in the dried paint film.

HOT SPOTS: Incompletely cured lime spots that cause chemical burning on a plastered surface and bleed through coatings.

INHIBITOR: A chemical substance in a coating that changes the properties to reduce or resist corrosion, mildew or other undesirable environmental effects.

IN-PLACE MANAGEMENT: The use of maintenance or controls to prevent lead-based substances from becoming exposure hazards.

INTERMEDIATE COAT: The coating between the primer and finish. See Barrier Coat.

INTUMESCENCE: A fire-retardant paint that puffs up when exposed to high temperatures or chemicals, forming an insulating, protective layer over substrates.

JOINT TAPE: Special paper or paper-faced cotton tape used to conceal joints between wallboards and provide a smooth surface for painting.

KALSOMINE: See Calcimine.

LACQUER: A fast-drying, highly flammable, clear or pigmented varnish or paint that dries by solvent evaporation to form a hard protective film on various surfaces.

LAP: To lay or place one coat so its edge extends over and covers the edge of a previous coat, causing an increased thickness where the two coats meet.

LATEX PAINT: A water-based paint with acrylic binders.

LEVELING: The ability of newly applied paint or varnish film to form a smooth surface free from ripples, pockmarks and brush marks after application.

LIFTING: The rising of dry film on application of a second coat or on submersion in a liquid.

LIGHTFASTNESS: A property of a pigment or paint that describes how resistant to fading it is when exposed to light.

LINSEED OIL: A drying oil extracted from flax seed, used in paint, varnish and lacquer.

MARINE VARNISH: Varnish specially designed for immersion in water and protecting against weather, sea spray and mildew.

MASKING: Temporary covering of areas not to be painted.

MASTIC: Any of various pasty materials used as protective coatings or cements.

MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEET (MSDS): Information sheet that lists any hazardous substances that comprise one percent or more of a product’s total volume and includes emergency protocol in the event of fire, explosion, leak or contact; coating manufacturers must provide an MSDS for each product to retailers, who make them available to customers.

MATTE: A type of finish that absorbs light so as to be substantially free from gloss or sheen when viewed at any angle. See Flat.

METALLICS: A type of paint in which the pigment is a metal.

MILDEWCIDE: An agent that helps prevent mold or mildew growth on paint’s surface.

MINERAL SPIRITS: Volatile, colorless liquid distilled from petroleum, used as a paint thinner and solvent.

NAP: The paint roller cover material, which is available in varying fibers lengths to accommodate the textures of different surfaces.

NONVOLATILE: The portion of dried paint left after the solvent evaporates.

OPACITY: The degree to which a color cannot be seen through, or the ability to hide, mask or obscure a surface or previous coating color.

OPAQUE COATING: A coating that blocks light from penetrating and hides the surface or coating underneath.

ORANGE PEEL: A rough paint surface that resembles the skin of an orange and is caused by poor preparation or application.

OXIDIZING: The process of oxygen combining with the binders in paint during evaporation. See Air Dry.

PAINT GAUGE: Instrument for measuring the thickness of paint film.

PATCHING PLASTER: A paste-like substance that can be applied to cracks and holes, and generally dries quickly.

PEELING: Strips or sections of paint separating from the surface, usually due to moisture and/or inadequate surface preparation.

PIGMENTS: Paint ingredients that give paint its color and hiding power.

PINHOLES: Small holes that appear when solvents or air bubbles trapped in the paint film expand while they dry and break through the surface.

PLURAL COMPONENT COATINGS: Fast-setting, solvent-free, high-performance coatings that require a mixing of two or more materials before application.

PNEUMATIC SPRAYER: A method of application in which the coating material is broken up into a fine mist and directed onto a surface, decreasing time and labor and resulting in smooth, uniform coats. Also called automatic sprayer.

POLYURETHANE: Plastic resins in liquid form that dry to a clear, glossy film, and provide solvent- and impact-resistant protection and superior adhesion to any previous finish. Also called urethane.

POLYVINYL ACETATE (PVA): A colorless, odorless, nontoxic, transparent, water-insoluble resin in paints and adhesives, and used for sealing porous surfaces.

POT LIFE: The amount of time during which paint remains useful after its original package has been opened or a catalyst or other additive has been incorporated. Also called spreadable life and usable life.

PRIME COAT or PRIMER: A preparatory, or first, coating that’s applied to surfaces before topcoats, ensuring better adhesion and durability.

PROPELLANT: The gas used to expel materials from aerosol containers.

PUTTY: A material with high plasticity, similar in texture to clay or dough, typically used as a sealant or filler for nail holes, dents and cracks in wood surfaces.

RESIN: The waterborne or solvent-based film-forming elements that bond paint ingredients together and provide adhesion to substrates.

ROLLER: A paint application tool with a revolving cylinder covered with lambs-wool, fabric, foamed plastic or other material.

ROPINESS: Describes a coating that doesn’t flow evenly or level out onto the surface,
leaving heavy brush marks and a stringy look to the paint film.

RUST-PREVENTATIVE PAINT or PRIMER: Provides extra corrosion protection for various bare and painted surfaces.

SAGGING: A drooping of the paint film immediately after application, resulting in an uneven coating; usually caused by an overly thick application or over-thinned paint.

SAND FINISH: Rough finish plaster or an applied paint that has been texturized with sand.

SATIN FINISH: Most universal paint sheen, reflecting more light than matte with a pearl-like finish.

SCRUBBABILITY: The ability of a paint film to withstand frequent scrubbing and cleaning with water, soap and other household cleaning agents.

SEALER: A liquid composition that prevents undue absorption of topcoats into porous surfaces, stains from bleeding through finish coats, uneven sheen and color variation.

SEEDS: Small, undesirable particles or granules in paint, varnish or lacquer.

SELF-CLEANING: Refers to dirt- and water-repellent properties in coatings and adhesives.

SEMI-GLOSS: A radiant coating sheen that reflects light directly.

SEMI-TRANSPARENT: A degree of hiding that falls between translucent and opaque, or with an obscured visibility.

SET UP: When a coating dries the point that it’s no longer workable.

SHAKE PAINTER: A rectangular-shaped flat pad with an attached handle that’s used to paint
shingles, shakes and other special surfaces.

SHEEN: Refers to paint’s degree of reflectivity. See Gloss.

SHELLAC: An alcohol-based, hard, high-gloss finish used as a primer, sanding sealant, and stain, blocking both oils and water while promoting adhesion between coats.

SILICONE: A flexible, sticky and waterproof substance normally used as a sealant and characterized by its resistance to chemicals, dirt, heat and water and exterior durability; high-performance resins used in paint and caulking compounds.

SKIN: Tough covering that forms on a paint’s surface if the can isn’t tightly sealed or has been stored in hot temperatures.

SOLIDS: The part of the coating that remains on a surface after the vehicle has evaporated; the dried paint film. See Nonvolatile.

SOLVENT: The volatile, or liquid, component of paint and coatings that evaporates during drying; any liquid which can dissolve a resin. See Volatile Organic Compounds

SPACKLING COMPOUND: A thick, paste material used to fill surface defects, such as small cracks, hammer marks, holes and depressions in various interior and exterior substrates during preparation for painting.

SPAR VARNISH: A glossy, weather-resistant, UV-absorbing varnish designed for use on exterior wood surfaces.

SPECULAR GLOSS: A mirror-like finish.

SPOT PRIMING: Applying primer only to areas that require additional protection, such as stains and rust, instead of the entire surface.

SPREAD RATE: The volume of a coating that can cover a given area usually expressed as square feet per gallon and varies with the operator, method of application and surface being coated.

STAIN: A transparent or semi-opaque coating that can color wood without obscuring the grain and/or the texture of the surface or leaving a continuous film; also refers to materials that soil the surfaces of coatings.

STIPPLING: A painting effect or technique made by dots or small touches using a specifically designed stiff-bristled brush or sprayed onto walls and ceilings creating a decorative spattered look; a method used to soften brush marks, disguise imperfections on rough walls.

STRIP: The complete removal of old finishes or wall covering with paint removers, sand paper heat gun or scraping tools.

SUBSTRATE: A surface to be painted.

SURFACE TENSION: A coating property arising from unbalanced molecular cohesive forces at or near the surface causing it to contract.

TACKY: Sticky condition of coating between wet and dry-to-touch stage.

TEXTURE PAINT: An alternative to wallpaper, its heavy consistency and coarse grain are used to disguise uneven or imperfect walls or create a rough-patterned effect on surfaces.

THIXOTROPY: The property of a material that causes it to change from a thick, jelly-like consistency to a fluid upon brushing, rolling, stirring, shaking or heating.

TINT BASE: A paint designed to have a certain amount of prime color, or pigment, added before use, such as the basic paint in a custom coloring system; can maximize efficiency of the added colorant or purity of the resulting color.

TITANIUM DIOXIDE: The most widely used, costly, high opacity, white prime pigment in both latex- and solvent-based paints.

TONE: A shade, hue, tint, degree or slight modification of a color.

TONER: A secondary color made from ground pigments, solvent and resin, and added during manufacturing to produce or change hue and provide a more uniform appearance.

TURPENTINE: Distilled, colorless pine oil that’s used as a cleaner, solvent or thinner for oil paints and varnishes, which have been virtually replaced by mineral and white spirits. See Solvent.

UNDERCOAT: The coating that provides improved adhesion, hiding power and surface uniformity when a topcoat is applied, especially on bare wood.

URETHANE: See Polyurethane.

VALUE: A measure of the lightness or darkness of a color.

VARNISH: A liquid composition that’s converted to a usually colorless, glossy, transparent or translucent solid film after being applied on wood in a thin layer.

VARNISH STAIN: Varnishes colored with a dye or pigment with less penetrating power than a true stain, instead leaving a transparent color a surface.

VEHICLE: The liquid portion of a paint composed mainly of the solvent and binder in which paint pigments are mixed for application.

VINYL: A resin in various specialized solvent- and water-based coatings that has poor adhesion but good hardness, flexibility and resistance.

VISCOSITY: The thickness of a coating as related to its ability to flow as a liquid.

VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUND (VOC): Carbon-based chemicals in coatings, such as additives and solvents, that evaporate into the air and may cause health concerns.

VOLATILITY: Refers to the defining quality of a liquid in coatings and sealants that evaporates quickly when exposed to air.

WATER SPOTTING: A paint failure that appears as spotty changes in the color or gloss of a paint film and results from contact of water droplets or condensation on the surface during the cure.

WET EDGE: The boundary of a wet paint area that remains workable and to which further paint can be added without visible lapping.

WITHERING: A paint failure, or loss of gloss, often caused by varnishing open-pore woods without filling pores, use of improper undercoating or applying topcoat to an insufficiently dried undercoat.

WOOD FILLER: Heavily pigmented product available in paste and applied by knife or trowel, and liquid, which can be applied by brush or spray, and used to fill cracks, holes and pores in open grain wood before finishes are applied.

WRINKLING: Development of ridges and furrows in a paint film due to improperly prepared surfaces, harsh weather or heavy application.

ZINC CHROMATE: An anti-corrosive pigment in primers and coatings for steel and aluminum. Also called zinc yellow.

ZINC OXIDE: A fine particle, white pigment used in paint for mildew resistance and film-reinforcing properties, imparting some opacity to paint films.