This glossary of Paint terms is one of the largest available on the Internet.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: A
ABRASIVE: Used for wearing away a surface by rubbing. Examples are powdered pumice, rotten-stone, sandpaper, steel wool.
ABRASION RESISTANCE: Resistance to being worn away by rubbing or by friction; related more to toughness than to hardness. A necessary quality for floor finishes, enamels, and varnishes.
ACRYLIC: Synthetic resin used in a latex coating with good gloss and color retention.
AEROSOL: A product feature that uses compressed gas to spray the product from its container.
ADHESION: The ability of a coating to stick to a surface.
AIRLESS SPRAY: A spray that increases the fluid pressure of paint by means of a pump that causes atomization with air, resulting in higher film build and little or no over-spray.
AIR DRY: The ability of a paint or coating to dry under normal conditions of temperature and humidity.
ALKYD: Synthetic resin modified with oil for good adhesion to a clean surface, and good gloss, color retention, and flexibility. Slow-drying.
ALKALI: A substance such as lye, soda, or lime that can be highly destructive to paint films.
ALUMINUM PAINT: A Paint that includes aluminum particles and gives a metallic finish when dried.
ALLIGATORING: Condition of paint film where surface is cracked and develops an appearance similar to alligator skin.
ANTI-CORROSIVE PAINT: Metal paint designed to inhibit corrosion. Applied directly to metal.
ANTIQUE FINISH: A finish usually applied to furniture or woodwork to give the appearance of age.
ANCHORING: Mechanical bonding of a coating to a rough surface as contrasted with adhesion which is chemical bonding.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: B
BENZINE: Often used as a lacquer dilutent. Highly volatile and a fire hazard in shipping and storing.
BENZENE: Powerful but highly toxic and flammable solvent, usually restricted to spray application.
BINDER: Film-forming ingredient in paint that binds the pigment particles together.
BACK PRIMED: When a coat of paint is applied to the back of woodwork and exterior siding to prevent moisture from entering the wood and causing the grain to swell.
BLEEDING: Undercoat staining through the top coat.
BLEACHING: The process of restoring discolored or stained wood to its normal color or making it lighter.
BLUSHING: A gloss film turning flat or a clear lacquer turning white, usually caused by moisture condensation during the drying process.
BLISTERING: The formation of bubbles or pimples on the painted surface caused by moisture in the wood, by painting before the previous coat has dried thoroughly, or by excessive heat or grease under the paint.
BOXING: Mixing paint by pouring from one container to another several times to ensure thorough mixing.
BODY: The thickness or thinness of a liquid paint.
BRUSHABILITY: The ability or ease with which a paint can be brushed.
BREATHE: The ability of a paint film to permit the passage of moisture vapor without causing blistering, cracking, or peeling.
BRISTLE: The working part of a brush containing natural bristle (usually hog hair) or artificial bristle (nylon or polyester).
BRIDGING: Ability of paint to span small gaps or cracks through its cohesion and elastic qualities.
BUILD: Thickness or depth of paint film.
BUBBLES: Air bubbles in a drying paint film caused by excessive brushing during application or by over vigorous mixing that results in air entrapment.
BRUSH-OUT: A technique sometimes used to influence a large sale, that consists of brushing out a sample of paint onto a slab of wood or other material so the customer can see how the finished job will look.
BURNING IN: Repairing a finish by melting stick shellac into the damaged places, by using a heated knife blade or Iron.
BURNISHING: Shiny or lustrous spots on a paint surface caused by rubbing.
BRUSH MARKS: Marks of brush that remain in the dried Paint film.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: C
CATALYST: An ingredient that speeds up a chemical reaction; sometimes used in two-component paint systems.
CAMEL HAIR: Trade name for tail hair from various types of Russian squirrels. Used for lacquering brushes and lettering quills.
CAULKING COMPOUND: A semidrying or slow-drying plastic material used to seal joints or fill crevices around windows, chimneys, etc.
CALCIMINE: A water-thinned Paint composed essentially of calcium carbonate or clay and glue.
COALESCING: The settling or drying of an emulsion paint as the water evaporates.
CHALKING: The formation of a loose powder on the surface of a paint after exposure to the elements.
CLEAR COATING: A transparent protective and/or decorative film.
CHECKING: A kind of paint failure in which many small cracks appear in the surface of the paint.
COLORFAST: Fade resistant.
COATING: A paint, varnish, lacquer, or other finish used to create a protective and/or decorative layer.
COLORANT: Concentrated color that can be added to paints to make specific colors.
COHESION: Attraction of molecules within a coating [how it holds together).
CONTACT CEMENT: Completely non staining cement. Ideal for applying wall Paneling, and for covering counters, cabinets and table tops with both porous and non-porous surfacing materials ranging from linoleum to plastic laminates.
COLOR UNIFORMITY: Ability of a consistent color across its entire surface, Particularly during the coating to maintain a uniform weathering process.
COVERAGE: The area over which a given amount of Paint will spread and hide the previous surface. (Usually expressed in square feet per gallon).
COPPER STAINING: Usually caused by corrosion of copper screens, gutters, or downspouts washing down on painted surfaces. Can be prevented by painting or varnishing the copper.
CRAZING: Small, interlacing cracks on surface of finish.
CRAWLING: Varnish defect in which poor adhesion of varnish to surface in some spots causes it to gather up in globs.
CRACKING: The type of paint failure characterized by breaks in irregular lines wide enough to expose the underlying surface.
CREOSOTE: A type of liquid coating made from coal tar that is used as a wood preservative. It should not be used on wood that will be painted later.
CUSTOM COLOR: Special colors made by adding colorant to paint or by intermixing colors, which permits the retailer to match a color selected by the consumer.
CURING: Final conversion or drying of a coating material.
CUTTING IN: Careful painting of an edge, such as wall color at the ceiling line or at the edge of woodwork.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: D
DRIER: A paint ingredient that aids the drying or hardening of the film.
DISTRESSING: Treatment of furniture, used in the process of antiquing, in order to make it appear older than it is. Consists of marring the surface or applying specks of glaze before varnishing,
DRY DUST FREE: That stage of drying when particles of dust that settle upon the surface do not stick to the paint film.
DRY TO HANDLE: That stage of drying when a paint film has hardened sufficiently so the object or surface painted may be used without marring.
DRY TO SAND: That stage of drying when a paint film can be sanded without the sandpaper sticking or clogging.
DRY TO RECOAT: That stage of drying when the next coat can be applied.
DURABILITY: The ability of paint to last or hold up well against destructive agents such as weather, sunlight, detergents, air pollution, abrasion, or marring.
DYE, DYESTUFF: A colored material used just to dye or change color with little or no hiding of the underlying surface.
DRY TACK FREE: That stage of drying when the paint no longer feels sticky, or tacky when lightly touched.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: E
EGGSHELL FINISH: The degree of gloss between a flat and gloss finish.
ENAMEL: Broad classification Paints that dry to a hard finish. They may be flat, gloss, or semi-gloss.
EPOXY: Clear finish having excellent adhesion qualities; extremely abrasion and chemical resistant. Epoxies are alcohol proof and very water resistant.
EFFLORESCENCE: A deposit of salts that remains on the surface of masonry, brick, or plaster when water has evaporated.
EROSION: The wearing away of a paint film caused by exposure to the weather.
EXTENDER: Inexpensive and inert pigment added to paint for bulk and to lower costs.
ETCH: Surface Preparation by chemical means to improve the adhesion of coatings.
EXTERIOR: The outside surfaces of a structure.
EMULSION PAINT: Paint in which particles are suspended in water or oil with the aid of an emulsifier as in latex paint.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: F
FUNGICIDE: An agent that helps prevent mold or mildew growth on paint.
FEATHER SANDING: Tapering the edge of dried paint film with sandpaper.
FILLER: A Product used to fill the pores of wood before applying prime or finish coat.
FERRULE: The metal band which connects the handle and stock of a paint brush.
FILLER STRIPS: Strips made from specially treated wood, metal, fiber, or Plastic in the center of a paint brush, creating a reservoir of paint, thereby greatly increasing the paint carrying capacity.
FADING: The loss of color due to exposure to light, heat, or weathering.
FLASH POINT: The temperature at which a coating or solvent will ignite.
FINISH COAT: Last coat of paint or other finish.
FILM: Layer or coat of paint or other material applied to a surface.
FLAKING: A form of paint failure characterized by the detachment of small pieces of the film from the surface of previous coat of paint. It is usually preceded by cracking or blistering.
FLEXIBILITY: Ability of a coating to expand and contract during temperature changes.
FLAT: A painted surface that scatters or absorbs the light failing on it, so as to be substantially free from gloss or sheen.
FLAT APPLICATOR: A rectangular-shaped flat pad with an attached handle that is used to paint shingles, shakes, and other special surfaces and areas.
FLOW: The ability of a coating to level out and spread into a smooth film. Paints that have good flow usually level out uniformly and exhibit few brush or roller marks.
FLOATING: Separation of pigment colors on the surface of applied paint.
FRIEZE: A horizontal band of decoration around a room, building, mantel, etc.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: G
GALVANIZED: A thin coating of zinc that covers iron or steel to prevent rust.
GLAZE: A term used to describe several types of finishing materials.
A glazing putty is of creamy consistency and is applied to fill imperfections in the surface.
A glazing stain is a pigmented stain applied over a stained, filled, or painted surface to soften or blend the original color without obscuring it.
A glaze coat is a clear finish applied over previously coated surfaces to create a gloss finish.
GRAIN RAISING: Swelling and standing up of the wood grain caused by absorbed water or solvents.
GLOSS: The luster or shininess of paints and coatings are generally classified as flat, semi-gloss, or gloss; the latter has the highest reflecting ability.
GLAZING COMPOUND: A putty used to set glass in window frames and to fill nail holes and cracks.
GLOSS METER: A standard scale for measuring the shininess light reflectance of paint. Different brands with the same description such as semi-gloss or flat may have quite different ratings on the gloss meter.
GROUND COAT: The base coat in an antiquing system that is applied before the graining colors, glazing, or other finish coat.
GRAINING: Simulating the grain of wood by means of specially prepared colors or stains and the use of graining tools or special brushing techniques.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: H
HARDNESS: The ability of a paint film to resist denting, scratching, or marring.
HARDBOARD: Reconstituted natural wood, fabricated by reducing natural wood to fibers and then pressing the fibers together into panels of various thickness.
HOLD-OUT: The ability of a paint film to dry to its normal finish on a somewhat absorptive surface.
HIDING POWER: The ability of a paint to hide the previous surface or color.
HOT SPOTS: Lime spots which are not completely cured and bleed through the coating on a plastered wall.
HOLIDAYS: Voids in the dried paint film.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: I
INTERCOAT ADHESION: The adhesion between two coats of paint.
INHIBITOR: Material such as primer used to retard rusting or corrosion.
INTERMEDIATE COAT: The coating between the primer and finish, often called a barrier coat.
INTERIOR: The inside surfaces of a structure.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: J
JOINT TAPE: Special paper or paper-faced cotton tape used over joints between wallboard to conceal the joint and provide a smooth surface for painting.
JOINT CEMENT: Cement used for dry wall construction; also used as a bedding compound for joint tape and as a filler for nail holes.
No Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: K
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: L
LAP: To lay or place one coat so its edge extends over and covers the edge of a previous coat, causing an increased film thickness.
LACQUER: A fast-drying clear or pigmented coating that dries by solvent evaporation.
LEVELING: Ability of a film to flow out free from ripples, pock- marks, and brush marks after application.
LATEX: A water-thinned paint, such as polyvinyl acetate, styrene butadiene, or acrylic.
LIFTING: The softening and penetration of a previous film by solvents in the Paint being applied over it, resulting in raising and wrinkling.
LINSEED OIL: A drying oil used in paint, varnish, and lacquer.
LIGHTFASTNESS: No loss of color due to exposure to light, heat, or weathering.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: M
MASKING: Temporary covering of areas not to be painted.
MARINE VARNISH: Varnish specially designed for immersion in water and exposure to marine atmosphere.
MASTIC: A heavy-bodied paste like coating of high build often applied with a trowel.
MASKING TAPE: A strip of paper or cloth similar to adhesive tape, which can be easily removed, used to temporarily cover areas that are not to be painted.
MINERAL SPIRITS: Paint thinners or solvents derived from petroleum.
MILDEW RESISTANCE: The ability of a coating to resist the growth of molds and mildew. Mildew is particularly prevalent in moist, humid, and warm climates.
METALLICS: A class of paints that include metal flakes in their composition.
MILDEWCIDE: An agent that helps prevent mold or mildew growth on paint.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: N
NAP: The length of fibers in a paint roller cover.
NAILHEAD RUSTING: Rust from iron nails that penetrates or bleeds through the coating and stains the surrounding area.
NONVOLATILE: The portion of a paint left after the solvent evaporates; sometimes called the solids content.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: O
OPACITY: Ability of a paint to hide the previous surface or color.
OIL STAINS: There are two types of oil stains, Penetrating and non-penetrating. Penetrating oil stains contain dyes and resins that penetrate to the surface; non-penetrating oil stains contain larger amounts of pigments and are usually opaque or translucent.
ORANGE PEEL: Film having the roughness of an orange due to poor roller or spray application.
OPAQUE COATING: A coating that hides the previous surface coating.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: P
PATCHING PLASTER: A special plaster made for repairing Plaster walls.
PAINT GAUGE: Instrument for measuring the thickness of paint film.
PEELING: Detachment of a dried paint film in relatively large pieces, usually caused by moisture or grease under the painted surface.
PAINT REMOVER: A compound that softens old Paint or varnish and permits scraping off the loosened material.
PINHOLE: Very small holes in paint film, usually not deep enough to show undercoat.
PIGMENTS: Paint ingredients mainly used to impart color and hiding power.
POLYURETHANE: Wide range of coatings, ranging from hard glossy enamels to soft flexible coatings. Good to very good adhesion, hardness, flexibility, and resistance. Surface preparation critical.
PLASTER OF PARIS: A quick setting, pure white powder, used to set bathroom wall fixtures such as towel racks or used by craft groups for pouring molds and making plaster objects.
POT LIFE: Amount of time after mixing a two-part Paint system during which it can be applied.
POLYVINYL ACETATE: A synthetic resin largely used as a vehicle for many latex paints. Often referred to as PVA.
PROPELLANT: The gas used to expel materials from aerosol containers.
PRIME COAT OR PRIMER: The first coat or undercoat that helps bind the top coat to the substrate.
PUTTY: Dough like mixture of pigment and oil used to set glass in window frames and to fill nail holes and cracks.
No Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: Q
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: R
RESIN: A natural or synthetic material that is the main ingredient of paint and that binds ingredients together. It also aids adhesion to the surface. REMOVERS: Substances used to soften old varnish or paint so they may be removed easily.
ROPINESS: Paint dries with a stringy look because it did not flow evenly onto the surface.
ROLLER: A paint application tool having a revolving cylinder covered with lambswool, fabric, foamed plastic, or other material.
RUST PREVENTIVE PAINT OR PRIMER: The first coat of paint applied directly to iron or steel structures to slow down or prevent rust.
RUNS: Blemished film caused by excessive flow of coating.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: S
SAND FINISH: Rough finish plaster wall.
SAGS: Excessive flow, causing runs or sagging in paint film during application. Usually caused by applying too heavy a coat of paint or thinning too much.
SANDING SU RFACES: A heavily pigmented finishing material used for building the surface to a smooth condition. It is sanded after drying.
SAL SODA: Crystallized sodium carbonate. It is used for making cleaning solutions to remove grease and grime from old painted surfaces.
SUBSTRATE: Surface to be painted.
SATIN FINISH: See Semi-gloss.
SCRUBBABILITY: The ability of a paint film to withstand scrubbing and cleaning with water, soap, and other household cleaning agents.
STYRENE-BUTADIENE: See Resin.
SEALER: A thin liquid applied to seal a surface, to prevent previous paint from bleeding through from the surface, or to prevent undue absorption of the topcoat into the substrate.
SURFACE TENSION: The property of a coating which makes it tend to shrink when applied
SEEDS: Small, undesirable particles or granules other than dust found in a paint, varnish, or lacquer.
STRIP: Removal of old finishes with paint removers.
SELF CLEANING: Controlled chalking of a paint film so dirt does not adhere to the surface.
SEMI-GLOSS: Having a luster between full gloss and flat.
SEMI-TRANSPARENT: A degree of hiding greater than transparent but less than opaque.
SETTLING: Paint separation in which pigments and other solids accumulate at the bottom of the container.
SPATTER: Small particles or drips of liquid paint thrown or expelled when applying paint.
SPREADING RATE: The area to which a Paint can be spread; usually expressed as square feet per gallon.
SHAKE PAINTER: A rectangular-shaped flat Pad with an attached handle that is used to paint shingles, shakes, and other special surfaces and areas.
SET UP: A film that has dried so that it is firm is said to have “set up”.
SHEEN: The degree of luster of a dried Paint film.
SHEEN UNIFORMITY: The even distribution of fuser over the entire surface of an applied finish.
SHELLAC: Derived from a resinous substance called Lac. Used as a sealer and finish for floors, for sealing knots, and other purposes- A natural resin, usually in the form of thin flakes.
STIPPLING: A finish made by using a stippling brush or roller stippler on a newly painted surface before the paint is dry.
SKIN: Tough covering that forms on paints if container is not tightly sealed.
SILICONE: See Resin.
SOLVENT: The volatile part of paint composition that evaporates during drying.
SOLIDS: See Nonvolatile.
SPACKLING COMPOUND: A material used as a crack filler for preparing surfaces before painting.
STREAKING: The irregular occurrence of lines or streaks of various lengths and colors in an applied film; usually caused by some form of contamination.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: T
TACKY: Sticky condition of coating during drying, between wet and dry-to-touch stage.
TACK RAG: A piece of loosely woven cloth that has been dipped into a varnish oil and wrung out. When it becomes tacky of sticky, it is used to wipe a surface to remove small particles of dust.
TEXTURE: The roughness or irregularity of a surface.
THINNERS: Solvents used to thin coatings.
THIXOTROPY: The property of a material that causes it to change from a thick, pasty consistency to a fluid consistency upon agitation, brushing, or rolling.
TEXTURE PAINT: Paint that can be manipulated by brush, roller, trowel, or other tool to produce various effects.
TINT BASE: The basic paint in a custom color system to which colorants are added.
TONER: Pigmented lacquer sealer that is applied by spray. Toners provide color and make the surface appear more even.
TURPENTINE: A colorless liquid, which is used as a thinner for oil paints and varnishes, distilled from the products of the pine tree.
TOUCH UP: The ability of a coating film to be spot repaired (usually within a few months of initial painting) without showing color or gloss differences.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: U
Undercoat: For unpainted surfaces, the coat between the primer and the topcoat. For previously coated surfaces, the undercoat is applied directly to the old paint.
Turpentine: A paint thinner (now replaced by mineral spirits) obtained by distilling pine tree secretions.
Urethane: A product resulting in a tough, chemical-resistant finish. Urethane requires mineral spirits for thinning and cleaning up.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: V
VELVET: A gloss range between flat and eggshell.
VEHICLE: The liquid portion of a paint composed mainly of solvents, resins, or oils.
VARNISH: Transparent liquid that dries on exposure to air to give a decorative and protective coating when applied as a thin film.
VISCOSITY: The thickness of a coating as related to its ability to flow as a liquid.
VARNISH STAIN: Varnishes colored with a dye and without the same power of penetrations as the true stains, leaving a colored coating on the surface.
VINYL: A resin with poor adhesion but good hardness, flexibility, and resistance. Used for swimming pools, tank linings, and marine equipment.
VOLATILE MATTER: The portion of a coating that evaporates after application.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: W
WATER EMULSIONS: Mixture of Pigment and synthetic resin in water with low solvent emission, low fire hazard and toxicity. and good durability and chemical resistance.
WASHABILITY: The ability of a paint to be easily cleaned without wearing away during cleaning.
WATER SPOTTING: A Paint appearance defect caused by water droplets.
WET EDGE: Length of time a wall paint can stand and be brushed back into the next stretch without showing a lap.
WEATHERING: The effect of exposure to weather on paint films.
WOOD FILLER: There are two kinds of fillers-paste and liquid. Paste fillers are something like a very thick Paint and are comprised of some solid powdered substance, usually silica or powdered quartz, mixed with linseed oil or varnish thinned with turpentine or benzene.
WITHERING: Withering or loss of gloss is sometimes caused by varnishing open-pore woods without filling pores use of improper undercoating or applying top coat before undercoat has dried.
WRINKLING: Development of ridges and furrows in a paint film when the paint dries.
No Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: X
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: Y
YELLOWING: Development of a yellow color or cast in white, pastels, colored, or clear finishes.
Paint Terms Beginning with the Letter: Z
ZINC OXIDE: Substance used as a white pigment for high hiding power hardness, and gloss. Reduces yellowing, increases drying; provides resistance to sulfur fumes and mildew. Used with linseed oil for self-cleaning exterior paints.
ZINC CHROMATE: Rust-inhibiting Pigment, greenish-yellow in color, that are used with a high-hiding pigment.