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Home > Encyclopaedia of Paint


Here is an A to Z glossary of paint ingredients and painting terms.

ACRYLIC:
A type of synthetic polymer used as the binder for high-performance water-based paints and sealants. Some acrylic polymers are used in auto finishes, appliance coatings, etc.

ADHESION:
The ability of a dry paint film or sealant to remain attached to the surface. Adhesion is probably the single most important property of a paint or sealant.

AEROSOL:
Container dispensing a fine spray of pressurised liquid paint etc.

ALGAE:
Large group of unicellular non-flowering plants containing chlorophyll but lacking true stems, roots, leaves and vascular tissue. (eg Seaweed)

ALGICIDE:
A chemical agent, often included in exterior paints and sealants, to prevent growth of algae on the surface of an applied coating.

ALKALI:
An alkaline, or "basic," chemical substance such as lime or caustic. Generally present in fresh cement, concrete, plaster or certain household cleaning products.

ALKALI BURN:
A condition that occurs when the alkalinity in fresh masonry causes the breakdown of a paint's binder, resulting in colour loss and overall deterioration of the paint film. Most likely to occur with vinyl acetate copolymer water-based and solvent-based paints applied to masonry surfaces that are less than a year old.

ALKYD:
A synthetic resin used in solvent-based paints. An alkyd resin is made by reacting a drying oil with a hard, synthetic material.

ANTI-CORROSIVE PAINT:
A paint designed to minimise rust or corrosion when applied directly to metal.

ANTI-FOULING PAINT:
Specially formulated paint for surfaces such as boat hulls and piers. It discourages attachment and growth of marine plants and animals.

APPLIED HIDING:
Refers not only to the opacity of the paint film, but also to how it hides, depending on its thickness and how smoothly it flows out. Must take into account how the paint is applied (brush, roller, spray, etc.).

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BACKER ROD:
An extruded foam rod that is typically placed in joints that are deeper than 12 mm to fill in some of the space before the sealant is applied. Foam backer rods come in a variety of diameters, ranging from 3mm to 20mm.

BINDER:
1. A component of paint that "binds" the pigment particles into a uniform, continuous paint film, and makes the paint adhere to the surface. The nature and amount of binder helps determine most of the paint's performance properties - washability, toughness, adhesion, colour retention, and durability. 2. In sealant, a component that "binds" the pigment particles into a homogeneous compound and makes the sealant adhere to the surface. The main performance properties of sealant - durability, adhesion, and flexibility at low temperatures - are determined by the binder.

BIOCIDE:
A biologically active paint and sealant additive designed to keep bacteria from spoiling the paint or sealant during storage; or to keep fungal / algal contamination from growing on the applied paint film.

BLEACHING:
Loss of colour, usually caused by exposure to sunlight.

BLEEDING:
The migration of material from the substrate, causing discoloration of the paint.

BLISTERING:
The formation of dome-shaped, hollow projections of paint.

BLOCK FILLER:
A thick, paint-like material used to smooth out very rough masonry surfaces. It is generally brush-applied, then painted.

BLOCK RESISTANCE:
The capability of a coating to resist sticking to itself when used on two surfaces that come into contact with each other, e.g., door with frame; window sash and sill.

BOXING:
The mixing together of the different cans of like paint to be used on a job, to ensure uniformity, especially of colour.

BREATHE:
To allow the passage of moisture vapour from the substrate through the paint film.

BUILD (OR FILM BUILD):
The thickness that a paint tends to be applied in, when using the normal application technique for that paint.

BURNISHING:
The formation of shiny areas on a painted surface, as a result of rubbing or washing.

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CALCIUM CARBONATE:
A mined material (chalk) that is used as an extender or filler for paint and sealant.

CHALKING:
Deterioration of the surface of an exterior paint upon weathering into a faded, powdery substance. Chalking occurs when the paint's binder is degraded by harsh environmental conditions. Chalk should be removed prior to repainting.

CHECKING:
Patterns of short, narrow breaks in the top layer of paint. Checking occurs when the paint loses its elasticity.

CHEMICAL RESISTANCE:
The ability of a coating to resist damage by chemicals.

CHIME:
The lip around the opening of a paint can into which the lid is placed.

CLAY:
A white, mined mineral used as an extender - mostly in interior paints.

COALESCENT:
An organic solvent used in water-based paints that acts as a temporary plasticiser, to aid in film formation. It helps the binder form a continuous film when applied, particularly at the low end of the application temperature range recommended for the coating.

COATING:
A paint, stain, varnish, lacquer, or other finish that provides a protective and/or decorative layer over a substrate.

COLOUR RETENTION:
The ability of a paint to keep its original colour and resist fading. This term is generally applied to exterior paints.

COLOUR WHEEL:
A circular chart with wedge-shaped segments of different specific colours. Used in colour decorating.

COLOURFAST:
The ability to maintain colour and not fade excessively under normal conditions.

COLOURISER:
A concentrated liquid or dry colour that is added to a paint to obtain a chosen colour.

COMBUSTIBLE:
Refers to any liquid with a flash point at or above 37°C.

COMPLEMENTARY COLOURS:
Two colours directly opposite one another on the colour wheel.

CONSISTENCY:
The thickness or brushability of a paint.

CONTRASTING COLOURS:
Colours separated by at least three others on the colour wheel.

CORROSION INHIBITOR:
Any material used to prevent the oxidation (rusting) of metals. May be a paint undercoat, an additive, a pigment, or a coating applied to the surface.

CORROSION-RESISTANT:
Ability of a substance to resist deterioration due to a chemical reaction with its environment. Coatings that do this usually contain a corrosion inhibitor.

COVERAGE:
The spread rate of a paint or coating, usually expressed in m²/l. With pigmented coatings, it can refer to applied hiding power.

CRACKING:
The splitting of a dry paint or varnish film, usually a result of aging or movement of the substrate. Different forms are hair-line cracking, checking, grain cracking, or crocodiling.

CROCODILING:
A scaly pattern that appears on paint due to the inability of the paint to bond to a glossy coating beneath it. It can also be due to the application of a hard coating over a soft primer, or (with solvent-based paint) because the wood was recoated before the undercoat was dry.

CRYSTALLINE SILICA:
See Silica.

CUSTOM COLOUR:
Special colours that are made by adding colouriser to paint or by intermixing paints of different colours. Permits the preparation of a selected colour paint at the point of sale.

CUTTING IN:
The painting of a surface adjacent to another surface that must not be painted. For example, painting the frame of a window but not the glass.

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DEAD MATT:
Having no sheen or gloss.

DEGLOSSER:
A liquid preparation used to remove the gloss of a painted surface, to slightly roughen or give "tooth" to the substrate. This lends improved adhesion to the coating being applied.

DEGREASER:
Solvent or compounded material used for removing oils, fats, or grease from a substrate.

DEW POINT:
The temperature at which water vapour in the air begins to condense.

DILUENT:
A liquid that is included in a coating, or can be added primarily to reduce its viscosity. A diluent is not necessarily a solvent for the binder.

DRY DUST-FREE:
Drying stage of a coating at which airborne dust particles will not adhere to it.

DRY TACK-FREE:
Drying stage of a coating at which it is not sticky or tacky to the touch.

DRY TO RECOAT:
Drying stage of a coating at which another coat of paint can be applied without damaging the previous coat.

DRY TO SAND:
Drying stage of a sandable coating at which it can be sanded without the excess sticking to or clogging the sandpaper.

DRY TO TOUCH:
Drying stage of a coating at which it has hardened enough that it may be touched lightly without any of it adhering to the finger.

DRYING TIME:
The interval between the application of a coating and when it is ready for service.

DURABILITY:
The degree to which a coating or sealant can withstand the destructive effects of the environment to which it is exposed. The term also refers to interior applications, including the ability to withstand scrubbing, abrasion, etc.

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EASE OF APPLICATION:
Characteristics of a paint or sealant that facilitate its application, e.g., spatter resistance, lapping properties, and open time.

EFFLORESCENCE:
Whitish powder (salt deposits) that sometimes appears on masonry surfaces; it is carried to the surface by moisture.

EGGSHELL:
An interior mid-sheen paint that has silk-like appearance. Its gloss level is between matt and satin.

ELASTICITY:
The ability of paint or sealant to expand and contract with the substrate without suffering damage or changes in its appearance. Expansion and contraction are usually caused by temperature and humidity fluctuations.

EMULSION:
A mixture (usually milky-white) in which one liquid is dispersed (but not dissolved) in another. A water-based paint or sealant binder is often referred to as an emulsion, even though it is a dispersion of solid polymer particles in a liquid (water).

ENAMEL:
Technically, an enamel is a coloured varnish, or high gloss paint. The term is used for high quality, dirt-resistant paints (generally for interior use) that may have a sheen level from satin to glossy. These coatings are used for more demanding applications as in kitchens, bathrooms, etc.

EXTENDER:
A low-hiding, inexpensive pigment that fills out and extends the high-hiding and coloured pigments' capabilities, provides bulk to the paint, and can positively or negatively have an impact on many properties. Some common extenders are clay, calcium carbonate, and silica.

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FADING:
Lightening of the paint's colour, usually caused by exposure to light, heat or the weather.

FEATHERING:
A process used to blend a small area into its surroundings after spot-priming, applying a filler, or scraping off an area of old paint.

FERROUS:
A metal that contains iron; most ferrous metals are subject to rusting.

FILLER:
A powder mixed with water or a ready-mix compound that is primarily used to fill large cracks in walls. It dries hard and can be sanded and painted, but does not tolerate much movement in the substrate.

FILM FORMATION:
The formation of a continuous dry film by a binder, either pigmented or not. In an emulsion paint this process is the result of the water evaporating and the subsequent fusion of the binder particles.

FLAKING:
The detachment of pieces of paint from the substrate, caused by a loss of adhesion and/or elasticity.

FLAMMABILITY:
The ability of a substance to ignite, having a flash point under 37°C.

FLASH:
Uneven gloss or colour resulting from an unsealed substrate or excessively high or low temperatures during drying.

FLASH POINT:
The lowest temperature at which the vapours of a liquid can catch fire.

FLEXIBILITY:
Degree to which a coating or sealant, after drying, is able to conform to the movement of its substrate without damage.

FLOW:
The ability of a coating to even out upon application, so that brush and roller marks are not visible.

FUNGAL RESISTANCE:
The ability of a paint or sealant to resist fungal growth on its surface.

FUNGICIDE:
A chemical agent used in coatings and sealants that discourages fungal growth on the surface of an applied coating.

FUNGUS:
A black, grey or brown fungus that can grow on the surface of a paint or sealant. It forms most often on areas that tend to be damp and receive little or no sunlight.

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GALVANISED:
A ferrous metal that is covered with zinc to protect it from rusting.

GLAZING:
Thin topcoat of transparent paint used to modify the tone of an underlying colour.

GLAZING COMPOUND:
A sealant, or putty that is used to seal a glass pane into its frame.

GLOSS:
The shininess or reflectiveness of a coating. Matt paints have low gloss; high gloss paints have very noticeable gloss.

GLOSS RETENTION:
The ability of a coating to maintain its gloss - pertains especially to satin and gloss exterior coatings.

GRAIN:
The direction, size, arrangement or appearance of the fibres in wood or veneer.

GRAIN CRACKING:
Cracking of a coating, parallel to the grain of the wood substance.

GRAIN RAISING:
The swelling and standing up of short, broken fibres of wood caused by absorption of a liquid. Water is particularly inclined to cause this.

GYPSUM:
Natural crystalline calcium sulphate used as an extender pigment in paint, and in the manufacture of gypsum wallboard and plaster of Paris.

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HARDBOARD:
A generic term for a smooth or textured grainless panel manufactured primarily from compressed wood fibres.

HARDNESS:
The degree of pressure a material will withstand without becoming deformed or scratched.

HARDWOOD:
Trees that have broad leaves (in contrast to conifer or softwoods). The term has no reference to the actual hardness of the wood. Examples are: oak, maple, ash, beech and walnut.

HIDING POWER:
The ability of paint or stain to obscure the surface over which it has been applied. Hiding power is provided by the paint's pigment, and is affected by how thickly the paint tends to apply, and how well brush marks flow out.

HOLLOW SPHERE POLYMERIC PIGMENT:
A white pigment used in water-based paints to provide opacity. A polymeric shell containing either water or air which provides light scattering.

HUE:
The basis of a colour, e.g., whether it is a red or green. Lighter or darker variations are still the same hue. Thus, a light red and a deep red are of the same hue.

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INERT:
Chemically inactive; resistant to corrosion.

INORGANIC:
Matter other than that of animal or vegetable origin. For example, minerals and simple salts are inorganic materials.

INSOLUBLE:
The inability to be dissolved.

INTERCOAT:
A layer of paint that is "sandwiched" between two others. Also refers to something occurring between coats, as in "intercoat adhesion."

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JOINT:
The gap or space created when two building materials come together, such as where two pieces of moulding join or where the bathtub and bathroom wall meet.

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KNOTTING COMPOUND:
Used as a sealer and clear finish for floors, for sealing knots, also seen in solvent-based primers.

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LACQUER:
Coating based on synthetic thermoplastic film-forming material that is dissolved in organic solvent. Dries by solvent evaporation.

LAP:
Area where a coat of paint or other coating extends over an adjacent fresh coat. The painter's objective is to make this juncture without visible lap marks.

LATEX:
A milky-white, fine dispersion of a solid resin in an aqueous medium. Also used to describe water-thinned paints, the principal vehicle of which is latex.

LATEX PAINT:
Water-based paint made with a synthetic binder (latex), such as acrylic, vinyl acetate copolymer, or styrene acrylic latex.

LEAD:
A soft, malleable heavy metal. In the past, compounds of lead were used as a white pigment, and were used in primers to prevent tannin bleed-through.

LEVELLING (OR FLOW AND LEVELLING):
The ability of a coating to form a smooth film without brush marks.

LIGHT REFLECTANCE VALUE (LRV):
The amount of light reflected from a painted surface.

LINSEED OIL:
Drying oil obtained from flaxseed. It is darker and slower drying than most other drying oils. Once widely used in coatings, it now has limited use in solvent-based house paint and oil wood finishes.

LIQUID SANDER, LIQUID SANDPAPER:
Liquid chemical used to degloss a painted surface in order to improve adhesion of an applied coating.

LITRE:
A metric unit of volume. 4.546 litres = 1 imperial gallon.

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MARBLING:
A decorative painting technique that imitates the colour and figure of marble.

MARINE FINISHES:
Paints and varnishes specifically formulated to withstand saltwater immersion and exposure to marine atmosphere.

MASONRY:
Mineral-based building material such as cement, mortar, stone, brick, and stucco.

MATT PAINT:
A paint with little or no sheen. Used mostly on interior walls and ceilings, and exterior wall areas.

MEDIUM DENSITY FIBREBOARD:
Sheets of compressed wood fibres. Often used for structural items (eg cupboards)

MINERAL SPIRITS:
A hydrocarbon solvent distilled from petroleum; paint thinner may be mostly or all mineral spirits.

MOISTURE RESISTANCE:
The ability of a coating to resist swelling, blistering or other damage caused by moisture.

MSDS:
Material Safety Data Sheet. An informational document provided by the manufacturer regarding the safety and handling procedures and precautions for materials used in the workplace.

MUD-CRACKING:
A paint failure that looks like cracked mud. It occurs when a coating is applied too thickly, such as with heavy application in corners.

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NAIL HEAD RUSTING:
The rusting of the exposed heads of iron nails. It can show through and discolour the coating covering it. Can occur if bright nails, rather than galvanised, are used outdoors.

NAP:
The fibres on a paint roller cover.

NAPHTHA:
A petroleum distillate solvent used mainly by professional painters to thin solvent-based coatings and to clean up.

NEUTRAL COLOURS:
White, cream, light beige and grey - colours that generally go well with all other colours.

NON-VOLATILE:
The solid portion of a coating consisting of pigment and binder; it is the portion of the coating left on the surface after it is dry.

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OIL-BASED PAINT:
Paints made with a drying oil, such as linseed, soya or tung oil, as the vehicle and binder, and mineral spirits or paint thinner as the thinning agent. They are not common today; but generally dry very hard, but take longer to dry than emulsion paints and require more time to recoat.

OPACITY:
The ability to keep light from passing through. A paint with a high opacity will hide the substrate well.

OPAQUE STAIN:
Exterior stain that obscures the natural colour and grain of wood, but still allows the texture to show through. Generally, one coat is applied to bare wood.

ORGANIC:
Refers to a substance derived from living matter; the molecular structure contains carbon.

OXIDATION:
A chemical reaction with oxygen. For example, the drying of oils in oil-based paint, or the rusting of iron or steel.

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PAINT:
An opaque coating generally made with a binder, liquids, additives, and pigments. Applied in liquid form, it dries to form a continuous film that protects and improves the appearance of the substrate.

PEELING:
The detachment of paint from the surface in ribbons or sheets. Like flaking, it is the result of loss of adhesion and film integrity. Peeling can be intercoat, or down to the substrate.

PENETRATING FINISH:
A coating that is absorbed into the substrate, rather than forming a film on its surface.

PERMEABLE:
Capable of allowing something (such as water vapour) to pass through without harm.

PETROLEUM DISTILLATE:
Liquid hydrocarbon solvents (such as mineral spirits) that are isolated or made from petroleum.

PIGMENT:
A powdery substance that is one of the basic components of a paint or sealant. It provides whiteness or colour, hiding power, and bulk.

POLYMER:
A plastic-like material produced from chemical "monomers" which in turn have been produced from alcohols and petrochemicals. Certain polymers are used as water-based paint and sealant binders. The binder's polymer particles are small and carried in water. The binder polymer particles and water mixture is known as an emulsion or as "latex."

POLYURETHANE VARNISH:
A clear coating that is based on a modified alkyd resin.

POLYVINYL ACETATE COPOLYMER:
A binder most widely used in interior emulsion paints.

PRESERVATIVE:
A substance used to prevent the growth of microorganisms in or on an organic base. An example is an ingredient in water-based paint used to prevent spoilage.

PRIMARY COLOURS:
Colours that cannot be produced by mixing any two other colours. They are: red, yellow, and blue.

PRIMER:
The first complete coat of paint applied in a painting system. Many primers are designed to provide adequate adhesion between the surface and subsequent topcoats. Most primers contain some pigment, some lend uniformity to the topcoat, some inhibit corrosion of the substrate, and some stop the discoloration of the topcoat.

PRIMER-SEALER:
A priming system that minimises or prevents the penetration of the topcoat into the substrate.

PRINT RESISTANCE:
The capability of a coating to not retain pressed-in markings from an object placed on it.

PVC:
Pigment Volume Concentration. The ratio of the volume of pigment to the volume of total non-volatile material (i.e. pigment and binder) present in a paint. The figure is usually expressed as a percentage. Higher percentage figures (e.g., 40% - 75%) are associated with matt paints; and lower figures (e.g., 10% - 25%) with gloss and satin paints. (PVC has a second meaning: polyvinyl chloride, the major component of vinyl plastic.)

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RE-COAT TIME:
Interval required between the application of successive coats of paint. This time period is usually listed on the label.

REFLECTANCE:
The ratio of the light that radiates onto a surface to the amount that is reflected back.

RELATED COLOURS:
Two colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel.

RENDER:
A highly extended paste used to make a continuous seam between pieces of prefinished plasterboard; also used to repair cracks, holes and other defects. It is sanded smooth before painting.

RESIN:
A natural or synthetic material utilised as the binder for a paint or sealant. Term used generally for solvent-based or water-based binders, as "alkyd resin" or "acrylic resin."

RUST:
The reddish, brittle oxide formed on iron or its alloys. It is a result of exposure to air and humidity or chemicals.

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SAG:
Narrow (or wide curtain-like) downward movement of a paint or varnish film; may be caused by the application of too much coating, the collection of excess quantities of paint at irregularities in the surface (cracks, holes, etc.), or excessive material continuing to flow after the surrounding surface has set.

SAND FINISH:
Rough finish plaster wall, or a paint that has been texturised with sand.

SANDING SEALER:
Especially hard first coat that can seal and fill, but will not obscure, the grain of the wood. The surface is then sanded before subsequent coats are applied.

SAPONIFICATION:
A chemical decomposition of a paint's binder by alkali and moisture from a substrate (e.g., new concrete or fresh plaster). Saponified paint may deteriorate, lose its adhesion, and become discoloured.

SATIN FINISH:
A paint with a gloss level between high gloss and eggshell/silk.

SCRUBBABILITY:
The ability of a coating to resist wearing away or changing its original appearance when rubbed with a brush, sponge, or cloth and an abrasive soap.

SEALER/SEALANT:
A liquid coat that seals wood, plaster, etc., and prevents the surface from absorbing paint or varnish. Sealers may be transparent, and can act as primers. Some sealers are designed to be left uncoated.

SECONDARY COLOURS:
Colours formed by mixing together two primary colours. They are: orange, green, and purple.

SELF-CLEANING:
Certain exterior paints that are designed to chalk relatively quickly to maintain a white, clean appearance.

SEMI-TRANSPARENT STAIN:
Stain that alters the natural colour of the wood, yet allows the grain and texture to show through. The term is generally applied to exterior products, but technically applies also to interior stains used for trim, furniture and floors.

SETTLING:
The sinking of pigments or other solid matter in a paint on standing in a container, with the subsequent accumulation on the bottom of the container.

SHADE:
A shade is created when black is added to a colour. It is a darker variant of a colour.

SHEEN:
A moderately low degree of gloss; gloss with poor distinctness-of-image reflectance. Characteristic where a coating appears to be matt when viewed near to the perpendicular, but appears to be glossy when viewed from a low or grazing angle.

SILANE:
A silicone-like substance that is added to sealants to improve their adhesion to glass and metal surfaces under wet conditions.

SILICA:
A pigment made from quartz sand that has been crushed or ground. A reinforcing filler for paints; it imparts burnish resistance, sheen uniformity and good matting.

SILICONE:
Compound used in the manufacture of binders that is characterised by outstanding heat resistance, high water repellency, and chemical resistance. A key ingredient in some sealants, and in the formulation of many effective defoamers for water-based paints.

SILICONISED ACRYLIC SEALANT:
Similar to an acrylic sealant, except it has a small amount of silane added to it, which enhances adhesion to glass and some metals under wet conditions.

SINGLE-COLOUR SCHEME:
Utilisation of different values of a single colour in a decorating scheme. Also called monochromatic.

SIZE:
A liquid composition that prevents excessive absorption of paint or wallpaper adhesive into plaster, wallboard, or a similar porous interior surface.

SKIN:
The film that forms on the surface of a stored paint or sealant. It is caused by exposure to air.

SOFTWOOD:
The group of trees (fir, pine, spruce) characterised by its needles and being evergreen. The term does not refer to the hardness of the wood.

SOLIDS:
Non-volatile matter in the composition of a coating or a sealant, i.e. the ingredients in a coating that, after drying, constitute the dry film. Solids are composed mostly of pigment and binder.

SOLUBLE:
The ability of a material to be dissolved in a liquid. For example, sugar is soluble in water.

SOLVENT:
A usually volatile liquid in which a paint's film-forming particles are dissolved or dispersed.

SPATTER:
Droplets of paint that spin or mist off the roller as paint is being applied.

SPONGE PAINTING (SPONGING):
Interior painting technique in which natural sea sponges are used to apply or partially remove a "glaze coat" of paint.

SPOT-PRIME:
To apply a primer to those areas where paint has been removed or stripped to the original surface.

SPRAY:
Method of application in which the paint is broken up into a fine mist and directed to the surface under pressure. Specific types of spray equipment are: aerosol, airless, and air assisted.

SPREAD RATE:
The volume of a coating that can cover a given area. The recommended spread rate is usually indicated on the paint can. Spread rate depends on application method and technique, porosity of the substrate, etc., as well as on the nature of the particular coating.

STAIN:
A partly transparent coating that can colour wood without obscuring the grain and/or the texture. Also refers to materials that soil the surface of a coating.

STAIN BLEED-THROUGH:
When tannin found in certain types of wood (such as cedar or redwood) migrates through the coating, causing discoloration. Also, discoloration from a contaminant on the substrate.

STAIN RESISTANCE:
The ability of a coating to resist soiling.

STENCILING:
A method of applying a design by brushing or sponging paint through a cutout overlay placed on the surface.

STRIPPING:
Removing old paint, varnish, etc., by using paint remover, sandpaper, heat gun, or scraping tools. Also, the removal of wallpaper.

STYRENE-BUTADIENE:
A synthetic latex similar to synthetic rubber. Used in certain types of water-based paint.

SUBSTRATE:
Any surface to which a coating or sealant is applied.

SURFACTANT LEACHING:
Also called water-spotting and weeping. It is often a tan-coloured, glossy residue that can form on the surface when exterior water-based paint is applied under conditions that are cool and damp, that result in slow dry of the paint. May not readily wash off, but generally will weather off within a month's time.

SYNTHETIC:
Man-made, rather than occurring naturally.

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TACK CLOTH:
A fabric impregnated with a tacky substance that is used to remove dust from a surface after sanding or rubbing down, and prior to further painting. It should be stored in an airtight container to preserve its tackiness.

TACKY:
The stage in the paint's drying process at which the film is sticky when lightly touched.

TALC:
Magnesium silicate; a white extender pigment used in paint. The base for talcum powder.

THINNER:
A liquid that, along with the binder, forms the paint's vehicle. The thinner evaporates after the paint is applied. Water is the thinner used in water-based paint, while turpentine, mineral spirits and denatured alcohol are thinners associated with different solvent-based coatings; the liquid used to thin the coating.

TINT:
A tint is created when white is added to a colour. Also, to add colouriser to a liquid paint.

TITANIUM DIOXIDE (TIO2):
An expensive, high opacity, bright white pigment that is used as a prime pigment in paints, both water- and solvent-based.

TOLUENE, TOLUOL:
An aromatic solvent used in the manufacture of some paints and lacquers.

TONE:
A tone is created when grey is added to a colour.

TOOTH:
In a dry paint film, a fine texture imparted either by a proportion of relatively coarse or abrasive pigment, or by the abrasives used in sanding; this texture improves the burnish properties and also provides a good base for the adhesion of a subsequent coat of paint.

TOPCOAT:
The coating intended to be the last coat applied in a coating system. Usually applied over a primer, undercoat.

TOUCH UP:
Application of paint on small areas of painted surfaces to repair misses, mars, scratches and places where the coating has deteriorated, in order to restore the finish.

TOXIC:
Harmful or poisonous.

TRANSPARENT:
Having the property of allowing light to permeate without diffusion or scattering; clear.

TRIADIC COLOUR SCHEME:
A colour scheme using three colours that are equidistant on the colour wheel.

TRISODIUM PHOSPHATE (TSP):
A cleaning compound based on an alkaline material. Because it contains phosphate, its use may be controlled in certain geographical areas.

TUNG OIL:
A fast-drying oil obtained from the nut of the tung tree; also known as chinawood oil. Generally used in fine wood finishing.

TURPENTINE:
A colourless, volatile oil distilled from pine. Used as a thinner and cleaning solvent in the past, it has since been replaced by mineral spirits or white spirits.

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ULTRAVIOLET ABSORBER:
A substance used in some exterior coating that absorbs UV radiation, and reduces or delays damaging UV effects from sunshine to the coating or substrate.

ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION (UV):
The portion of the radiant energy of the sun's spectrum that causes damage to coatings and sealants and to the surface of unprotected wood.

ULTRAVIOLET RESISTANCE:
The ability of a coating or sealant to remain undamaged when subjected to UV radiation, as from direct sunlight.

UNDERCOAT:
A coating, generally pigmented, that provides improved adhesion and/or maximised gloss and uniformity of a top coat when used on bare wood.

UNDERTONE:
A subtle or subdued colour of limited intensity that lends character to the dominant colour of a coating.

URETHANE:
A type of binder used in coatings. Characterised by excellent flexibility and chemical resistance.

URETHANE-MODIFIED ALKYD:
An alkyd that has been chemically modified for improved flexibility and chemical resistance. A binder used in "polyurethane" varnishes.

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VALUE:
The lightness or darkness of a colour, i.e. light blue, medium blue and dark blue have different values.

VARNISH:
A liquid composition that is converted to a transparent solid film after being applied in a thin layer.

VARNISH STAIN:
A varnish that has a transparent colour added. It usually has less penetrating power than a true stain.

VEGETABLE OIL:
Oil obtained from the seeds or nuts of vegetable growth.

VEHICLE:
The liquid portion of paint, in which the pigment is dispersed. The vehicle is composed of thinner and binder.

VISCOSITY:
The fluid thickness of a coating.

VOC:
Volatile Organic Compound. Any carbon compound that evaporates under standard test conditions. Some authorities limit the amount of volatile organic compounds permitted in paint because of concerns about environmental and health effects.

VOLATILE:
Easily evaporated. The easily evaporated components of any coating or sealant.

VOLUME SOLIDS:
The volume of the solid components (pigment plus binder) of a paint or sealant, divided by its total volume, expressed as a percentage. High volume solids provide a thicker dry film, resulting in improved hiding and high durability.

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WASHABILITY:
Ease with which washing will remove dirt from the surface of the paint without causing damage.

WATER BLASTER:
Cleaning equipment that uses water under high pressure.

WATER REPELLENTS:
Exterior clear finishes that are specially formulated to cause water to bead up on the surface and minimise penetration of water into the substrate.

WATER-BASED PAINT:
Paint made with acrylic, vinyl acetate copolymer or other latex resin types, and thinned with water. It dries more quickly than solvent-based paint, has relatively low odour, some water vapour permeability, and cleans up easily. The liquid component is predominantly water.

WATER-REDUCIBLE:
Ability to be diluted with water or a water/cosolvent mixture.

WEATHER ETCH:
A method of improving the adhesion to a metal substrate by allowing it to weather naturally before painting.

WEATHER RESISTANCE:
The ability of a coating or sealant to withstand the effects of wind, rain, sun and temperature fluctuation, and retain its appearance and integrity.

WET ADHESION:
The ability of dry paint or sealant to adhere to the surface in spite of wet conditions. This is of particular importance for exterior paints and sealants.

WET EDGE RETENTION:
The length of time a newly applied coating can stand, then be brushed or rolled again, without showing lap marks.

WET FILM THICKNESS:
Thickness of a liquid film immediately after application, before it begins to dry.

WIRE-BRUSHING:
Cleaning a surface with a wire brush, or wire power brush.

WOOD FILLER:
Heavily pigmented product used to fill the grain of wood before undercoats or finishes are applied. Used on open-grain hardwoods such as oak, ash, walnut and chestnut. Used for furniture and trim.

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