Painting Terms Glossary

Glossary Of Painting Terms

ACCELERATOR: Additive to paint to speed the cure of a coating.

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

ACTIVATOR: See CATALYSTADDITIVE: Chemicals added to a paint to improve or create specific characteristics; like flex agents, UV or mar resistance, slip and adhesion aids.

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

ADHESION PROMOTER: Material added to a coating or used over an O.E.M. or cured insoluble finish to increase the adhesion of the topcoat.

AIR DRY: The drying or solvent evaporation of a topcoat at room temperature.

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

ALTERNATE COLOR: A color matched to a verifiable O.E.M. color shift.

ALUMINUM PIGMENT: Small aluminum particles used in paint to reflect light. These flakes vary in size and polish to give a look of glamour and luster.

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

ARCING (spray gun): The action of turning the wrist or elbow at the end of each pass of paint while doing blends or panel repair. This causes a lighter application of paint at each end of the pattern.

ATOMIZE: The breaking-up of paint into fine particles or droplets by a paint gun. BAKING: The process of applying heat to a finish to speed the cure or dry time of the finish. Usually results in a harder coating film.

BARE SUBSTRATE: Any material (steel, aluminum, plastic, etc.) which does not have a coating of paint or primer.

BASECOAT:A highly pigmented color which requires a coating of clear for protection durability and gloss.

BASECOAT/CLEARCOAT SYSTEM: A two stage finish consisting of a color coat and a clear coat. The color coat will be dull until topcoated with clear.

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, color retention, and durability. 2) In caulk, a component that “binds” the pigment particles into a homogeneous compound and makes the caulk adhere to the surface. The main performance properties of caulk – durability, adhesion, and flexibility at low temperatures – are determined by the binder.

BLEEDING: Soluble dyes or pigments in old finishes dissolved by solvents in new color and bleed through to the new finish color.

BLENDING: The tapering of finishes or colors so that slight differences cannot be distinguished. Merging one color into another. This is achieved by allowing some of the old finish to show through the new color.

BLISTERING: Effect of pressure from either solvent or moisture under a coating causing a swelling or blister in the finish; i.e. water blister.

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

BLUSHING: A milky appearance of a topcoat caused by high humidity where water condenses on or in the wet coating. This can be eliminated by use of heat or a slower solvent or retarder.

BODY FILLER: An activated polyester type material used on bare substrate to fill dents in damaged auto body parts.

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

BRIDGING: Occurrence where a primer or surfacer does not totally fill a sand scratch or imperfection. Not usually apparent in undercoat. However, does show up in topcoat.

BRITTLE: A paint coating lacking flexibility. Most often caused by a high percentage of pigment and extenders to binder resins.

BUBBLES: Air or solvent trapped in a paint film caused by poor atomization during spraying. Air trapped in body filler caused by excessive agitation.

BUFFING/COMPOUNDING: Using a mild abrasive to bring out gloss and/or remove texture in a topcoat. This can be done by hand, orbital or rotary buffer.

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

BURN/BURN THROUGH: Polishing or buffing of a color or clear too hard or long or at too steep an angle causing the underlying coat(s) to be revealed.

CAST: A variation of a color; example, a red shade blue.

CATALYST: Additive for paint to speed the cure, give better recoat ability, better durability to weather and provide gloss.

CAULK: A generic term for a compound used to fill cracks, gaps, seams and joints.

CELLULOSE: Natural polymer or resin from cottonseed oil to make paint coatings.

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/CROWFOOT: Tiny cracks or splitting in the surface of a paint film usually seen in a lacquer. Caused by improper film formation or excessive film build.

CHEMICAL STAIN/SPOTTING: Circular, oblong or irregular spots or discoloration on areas of finish caused by reactive chemicals coming into contact with air pollution (coal and high sulfur emissions), acid rain and snow.

CHIPPING: Removal of finish usually due to the impact of rocks and stones.

COALESCENT: An organic solvent used in latex paints that acts as a temporary plasticizer, 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.

COAT/SINGLE: Applying of undercoat or topcoat over the surface using a 50% overlap of spray.

COAT/DOUBLE: Two single coats with longer flash time.

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

COLORANT: Made with ground pigments, solvent and resin. Used in the intermix system to produce colors.

COLOR BLIND: A handicap in a person’s color vision; incapable of distinguishing or perceiving certain colors or any color.

COLOR COAT: The application of color to a prepared finish.

COLOR DEFICIENCY: A handicap in color vision, incapable of distinguishing or perceiving some colors or levels of any color.
COLOR FAST: The ability to maintain color and not fade excessively under normal conditions.
COLOR MATCH: Two colors exhibiting no perceptible difference when viewed under the same conditions.

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

COLOR STANDARD: A small sprayed-out sample of OEM color. This is the established requirement for a given color code. This is the color the car is supposed to be from the factory.

COLOR VERSION: A color matched in a different quality finish, to match the same OEM standard; i.e., a color matched to an acrylic enamel in lacquer.

COLOR WHEEL: A circular chart with wedge-shaped segments of different specific colors. Used in color decorating.

COLORANT: A concentrated liquid or dry color that is added to a paint to obtain a chosen color.

COLORFAST: The ability to maintain color and not fade excessively under normal conditions.
COMBUSTIBLE: Refers to any liquid with a flash point at or above 100°F (37.50C).

COMPLEMENTARY COLORS: Two colors directly opposite one another on the color wheel.


CONCENTRATION: The ratio of pigment in paint to resins in paint.

CONSISTENCY: The thickness or brushability of paint.

CONTRASTING COLORS: Colors separated by at least three others on the color 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 sq. ft./gal. or m2/l. With pigmented coatings, it can refer to applied hiding power.

CRATERING: The forming of holes in a film due to contamination.

CRAZING: Fine line cracks in the surface of the paint finish; see CROWSFOOT.

CROSSCOAT: Applying paint in a cries-cross pattern. Single coat applied in one direction with a second single coat applied at 90¿to the first.

CURE: The chemical reaction of a coating during the drying process, leaving it insoluble.

CURDLING: The gelling or partial cure of paint due to incompatible materials.

CURTAINS: Large sagging or runs of paint due to improper application.

“CUT-IN”:Painting of the edges of parts before installation.

DEFINED ORIENTATION: The dispersion of metallic or mica flake with a definite pattern.

DELAMINATION: The peeling of a finish having improper adhesion.

DEPTH: Lighter or darker in comparing two colors. The first adjustment in color matching.

DIEBACK: The gradual loss of gloss due to continued evaporation of solvent after polishing. Like the dulling of the ‘wet look’ rain createswhen the water evaporates.

DIRECT (FACE): The color viewed from head-on (90°).

DISPERSION LACQUER: Particles of lacquer paint suspended or dispersed in a solvent which is not strong enough for total solution.

D.O.I. (DISTINCTNESS OF IMAGE): How clear a finish reflects an image. Also called “Definition of Image”.

DOUBLE COAT: One single coat of paint followed immediately by another.

DRIER: A material used in a paint that enables it to cure. Common metal driers used in alkyd paints are cobalt, zinc &magnesium.

DRY: The evaporation of solvent from a paint film.

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

DRY FILM THICKNESS (D.F.T.): The thickness of paint after it has dried and/or cured. Measured in mils.

DRY SPRAY: The process of applying paint in a lighter or not as wet application.

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 caulk 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.

EASE OF APPLICATION – Characteristics of a paint or caulk 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 paint that has a low lustre, satin-like appearance. Its gloss level is between flat and semi-gloss.

ELASTICITY: The ability of paint or caulk 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.

ELECTROSTATIC PAINT APPLICATION: Process of applying paint by having the surface electrically charged positive or negative and the application equipment on opposite electric charge.

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

ENAMEL: Technically, an enamel is a colored varnish, or high gloss paint. Generally, 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.

E.P.A. (ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY): Established to administer federal environmental legislation.

EPOXY: A tough, water-resistant and chemical-resistant polymer or coating, adhesive or patching material made with this type polymer; usually made with two components blended at time of application.

ETCH: The process of chemically treating a material for corrosion resistance and adhesion of a primer, or to remove rust.

ETCHING PRIMER: A primer that contains an acid which etches the substrate as well as applying a primer. To protect against corrosion.

FACTORY PACKAGE COLOR (F.P.C.): Car colors that are matched, produced and packaged by paint companies for specific car color codes used in auto refinishing.

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

FEATHEREDGE: A sanding process of tapering a broken paint edge to a smooth finish.

FEATHERING: Slang term for blending or slowly moving the edge of one color into a second color.

FILM BUILD: The wet or dry thickness of applied coating measured in mils; also, see DRY FILM THICKNESS.

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

FISH-EYE: Round ring-like craters caused by contamination.

FLAKE-OFF: Large pieces of paint film or undercoat falling off of a substrate, usually because of poor adhesion. Also called delamination.

FLAMMABILITY: The ability of a substance to ignite, having a flash point under 1000°F (37.50C).

FLASH/TIME: The time needed to allow solvents to evaporate from a freshly painted surface before applying another coat or heat.

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

FLATTING AGENT: Material used in paint to dull or eliminate gloss.

FLEX AGENT: Material added to paint for additional flexibility, usually used for coating rubber or plastic parts.

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

FLOATING: Characteristics of some pigments to separate from solution and migrate to the surface of paint film while still wet. Common titanium dioxide problem.

FLOP (SIDE TONE): The color change of a finish when viewed from aside angle, other than direct. Pearlsescents are known for their unique “flop”.

FLORESCENT LIGHT: Light emitted from a standard fluorescent fixture.

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

FOGCOAT: A final atomized coat of paint, usually applied at higher air pressure and at greater distance than normal.

FORCE DRY: Speed of dry due to application of heat. See BAKING.

FUNGICIDE: An ingredient used in some coatings and sealants to help keep mildew and other fungi from growing on the surface.

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

GELLED: Thickening of paint to an unusable form due to drying occurring, before being used. The time this takes is commonly referred to as “pot life”.

GLAZE: A very fine polishing material used to gain gloss and shine.

GLOSS: The shininess or reflectiveness of a coating. Flat paints have no gloss; high gloss paints have very noticeable gloss.

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

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

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

GRAYNESS: The amount of black or white in a specific color.

GRINDING: Using a coarse abrasive, usually a spinning disc to remove paint, undercoat, rust, etc. before applying body filler.

GROUND COAT: Highly pigmented coat of paint applied before a transparent color to speed hiding.

GUIDE COAT: A mist coat of a different color, usually primer, to aid in getting a panel sanded straight. A dry contrasting color applied to prime prior to sanding. This coat remains in the low areas and imperfections during the sanding process. When removed, imperfections are eliminated.

HANDSLICK: The time it takes for a wet paint film to become ready for another coat of paint. Painters often refer to each coat of paint as a “hand”.

HARDENER: Material used to speed cure of an enamel. See also CATALYST.

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

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.

HIGH BAKE: The baking of paint above 180° F

HIGH SOLID: Paints and undercoats that have more pigment and resin (film formers) than their regular equivalent.

HIGH STRENGTH/HIGH CONCENTRATED: The amount of pigment dispersed in the volume solid portion of a paint is in a higher amount, more pigment vs. resin.

HIGH VOLUME LOW PRESSURE (HVLP): Spray equipment which delivers paint at a low pressure of no more than 10 PSI (at the air cap), however, with greater volume of air. Produces higher transfer efficiency, less bounce back and overspray.

HIT: Small increment. A gradual increase in quantity. Term commonly used in color adjustment.
HOLD-OUT (COLOR): The ability of an undercoat to stop or greatly reduce the topcoat from soaking into it.

HUE: The basis of a color, 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.

HUMIDITY: The amount or degree of water vapor in the air measured in percent.

INCANDESCENT LIGHT: Light emitted from a burning filament in a glass bulb.

INCREMENT: A gradual increase in quantity.

INFRARED LIGHT: Portion of electromagnetic spectrum just below the visible light range. Can be used to cure paint due to heat being

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

INTERCOAT ADHESION: The ability of one coat of paint to stick to another coat.

INTERMIX: The mixing of specific colors by adding different components or colorants to produce a usable mixture at the paint store or shop level.

ISOCYANATE/POLYISOCYANATE (HDI, TDI, IPDI, ETC.): Material containing a functional group of nitrogen, carbon and oxygen,(referred to as NCO functionality) used in urethane catalyst and hardener to cross link a material ( called a poyol) into a solid urethane or epoxy film. The isocyanate is almost always more expensive than the polyol. Therefore, the higher the ratio of polyol (resin) to catalyst (isocyanate) the cheaper will be the cost to produce; but, usually with lower performance.

LACQUER: A paint which dries by solvent evaporation which can be redissolved in its own solvent.

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 acrylic, or styrene acrylic latex.

LET DOWN: The process of reducing the intensity of a colorant or mass tone through the addition of white or silver, allowing you to see cast and strength.

LEVELING (or FLOW and LEVELING): The ability of a coating to form a smooth film without brush marks.

LIFTING: The soaking of a solvent into a soluble undercoat causing swelling, then causing the topcoat to wrinkle from underneath.

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 oil-based house paint and oil wood finishes.

LOW-BAKE: Baking of a paint film at temperatures under 180 F.

LOW PRESSURE COAT: The process of applying the final coat of paint at a lower air pressure. Used to uniform a finish or blending.

MASKING: Process of applying pressure sensitive tape and paper to a vehicle to prevent paint from being applied where it is not wanted.

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

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

MASSTONE: The color of an undiluted colorant.

M.E.K. (METHYL ETHYL KETONE): A fast evaporating solvent used in many paints.

METALLIC COLOR: Colors containing various sizes of aluminum flakes. These flakes have reflective properties which can be used in different combinations and/or amounts to modify the optical characteristics of the color.

METAMERISM: A phenomenon exhibited by two colors that match under one or more light sources, but do not match under all light sources or viewing conditions.

MICA COLOR: Colors containing various sizes and/or colors of mica. Mica flakes have several optical characteristics which allow light to be reflected, pass through or be absorbed. When added to color alone or with metallic flake, they cause the color to look different depending on the angle of view.

MIL: A measure of paint film thickness equal to one/one-thousandth of an inch.

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

MILDEW RESISTANCE: The ability of a paint or caulk to resist mildew growth on its surface.

MILDEWCIDE: A chemical agent, often included in exterior paints and caulks, that discourages mildew growth on the paint surface.

MILL SCALE: A term that refers to the combination of dirt, rust, and general grime that forms on a ferrous metal surface.

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

“MINI BELL”: Equipment used to apply paint electrostatically consisting of a spinning disk to which paint is applied. The spinning disc is charged electrically and paint is atomized through centrifugal force.

MIST COAT: A thin-sprayed coat to uniform metallic finishes. Also used to blend colors. Sometimes used with light amounts of solvents to create a more uniform finish and/or to increase gloss.

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

MOTTLING: Blotches of metallic or mica particles in a paint film.

M.S.D.S. (MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEETS): Used in locating information on all paint materials. Operators are required to have copies on file at their business.

NAP: The fibers on a paint roller cover.

NEUTRAL COLORS: White, off-white, light beige and gray – colors that generally go well with all other colors.

NITROCELLULOSE LACQUER: Lacquer paint whose resin is formed with cellulose, a natural resin made from cotton.

NON-PHOTOCHEMICALLY REACTIVE: Solvents that do not react with sunlight to cause ozone or smog.

O.E.M.: Original equipment manufacturer.

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

OPAQUE: A finish that is not transparent. Light cannot be seen through it and does not allow what is underneath to show through.

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

ORANGE PEEL: Texture in a paint film that resembles the peel of an orange. Caused by improper reduction or insufficient atomizing air pressure/volume.

OSHA (OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION): A federal agency with safety and health regulations for most of the U.S. industries and businesses.

OVERLAP: Placing one coat of paint alongside another, one partly extending over the other.

OVER SPRAY: Paint which during application will stick to adjacent panels not being painted.

OXIDATION: Chemical reaction between oxygen and another substance, causing paint film curing, paint film failure or metal rusting.

OZONE: A component of smog at ground level. At extremely high altitudes it is thought to provide the earth with protection from harmful ultraviolet light.

PAINT SETTLING: The dropping or settling of the solids in a reduced or unreduced paint to the bottom of a paint gun cup or pot, or container.

PAINTER VARIABLES: Painter can control range of reduction, air pressure, fan air, fluid flow, speed of travel, flash time, etc.

PANEL REPAIR: Refinishing of a complete panel.

PEELING: Loss of adhesion between a coating and the substrate it is applied to. Or, from one coat of paint to succeeding coats. Defined as poor intercoat adhesion.

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 vapor) to pass through without harm.

PHOTOCHEMICALLY REACTIVE: Organic solvents that react with ultraviolet light to form oxidants such as ozone and smog.

PIGMENT: An insoluble finely ground powder, either natural, synthetic, inorganic or organic. Provides color, hardness, durability, hiding and corrosion resistance.

PINHOLE: Paint imperfection resembling a hole about the size of the head of a straight pin. Caused by solvent entrapment or air bubbles.

POTLIFE: The amount of time a mixed material is usable.

PRESSURE POT: A sealed paint cup with a paint gun which puts a measured amount of air pressure into it. This then forces the paint to the gun for atomization.

PRIMARY COLORS: Colors that cannot be produced by mixing any two other colors. 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 minimizes or prevents the penetration of the topcoat into the substrate.

PRIMER-SURFACER: Undercoat used to fill imperfections, with primer qualities and maximum filling properties. Must be sanded.

PUCKERED: Small wrinkles or buckles caused by non-compatibility of additives.

PUTTY (SPOT): Materials used to fill imperfections in a substrate. Composed of a lacquer or polyester resin. Applied with a squeegee and sanded smooth.

RANDOM ORIENTATION: The random pattern dispersion of metallic or mica flake.

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

REDUCER: A solvent used to lower the viscosity of an enamel or urethane.

REFINISH: The act of replacing or repairing a painted surface.

REFLOW: Adding heat to such a degree as to cause the paint to melt and become a liquid.

RESIN: A clear or semi-clear part of a paint film which gives solids or film build. Resin gives the finish shine, gloss, durability, adhesion, handling and drying characteristics.

RETARDER: Slowest evaporating solvent.

RULE 66: An air pollution regulation passed by the Los Angeles air pollution control district in 1966. This regulation was aimed at controlling hydrocarbons and defined certain types of compounds as non-reacting and exempt from control.

RUN: Excessive amount of coating failing to adhere uniformly over the surface, thus flowing unevenly in a small area.

SAG: Same as run.

SAND FINISH: Rough finish plaster wall, or a paint that has been texturized 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.

SECONDARY COLORS: Mixture of two primary colors to produce a second color. Example: red and yellow make orange.

SEEDY: Rough or gritty appearance of paint due to very small insoluble particles.

SEMIGLOSS FINISH: A paint with a gloss level between high gloss and eggshell/satin.

SEMI-TRANSPARENT STAIN: Stain that alters the natural color 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 wiping stains used for trim, furniture and floors.

SETTLING: See PAINT SETTLING.SHADE: A variation of color. Example 1: a green shade blue. Example 2: light blue versus dark blue.

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

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

SHELLAC: Alcohol-soluble, clear to orange-colored resin derived from lac. (Lac is a substance secreted by insects on tree branches, mainly in India.) Used as a sealer and clear finish for floors, for sealing knots, and in “alcohol-based” primers. Thinner is denatured alcohol.

SHRINKAGE: Tightening or shrinking of paint film as solvent evaporates.

SIDETONE “FLOP”: The color of a finish when viewed from a side angle.

SINGLE STAGE: A one step paint procedure of applying color, protection and durability in one application. No clear is used.

SIPHON FEED GUN: Any paint gun which uses air flowing over an opening to create a vacuum to draw paint up a tube to be atomized.

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 caulk. It is caused by exposure to air.

SOLID COLOR: Colors that contain no metallic flakes in the pigment portion of paint. These colors have opaque pigmentation or properties in the paint film.

SOLIDS: The part of the paint, pigments and resin which do not evaporate.

SOLUTION: A homogeneous mixture of two or more dissimilar substances.

SOLVENT CLEANER: Solvent-based cleaning material used to remove contamination from surfaces prior to refinishing.

SOLVENT POP: Blisters in the surface of a film caused by entrapment of solvent.

SPAR VARNISH: Exterior varnish with good water resistance and the capability to resist weathering. Named for its original use on the spars of ships.
SPATTER: Droplets of paint that spin or mist off the roller as paint is being applied.

SPLITTING: The breaking open of an undercoat or topcoat into long cracks resembling the look of a “dry river bottom”.

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, airless with air-assist, and high volume low pressure (HVLP).

SPOT REPAIR: The process of repairing only a portion of a panel or vehicle.

SPRAY PATTERN: Spray from the paint gun adjusted from a very small, almost round pattern to a wide, flat, somewhat oval shape.

SPREAD RATE: The volume of a coating that can cover a given area. The recommended spread rate is usually indicated on the paint can, e.g., 450 sq. ft./gallon (11 m2/l). Spread rate depends on application method and technique, porosity of the substrate, etc., as well as on the nature of the particular coating.

STABILIZER: Special resin-containing solvent used in basecoat color to lower viscosity helping in metallic control and recoat times.

STAIN: A partly transparent coating that can color 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.

STRENGTH OF COLOR: The hiding ability of a pigmented toner or colorant.

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

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


TACK COAT: Usually the first light coat of paint is allowed to set and become sticky before additional coats are applied.

TACK FREE: Time in the drying of a paint film where it is not sticky but not completely cured.

TACK RAGS: A sticky cheese cloth used to remove dust before painting.

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

TEXTURE: The amount of orange peel or roughness in a dried paint film.

THERMOPLASTIC PAINT: Material which with the addition of heat becomes soft and pliable, returning to a solid when cooled, i.e., lacquer.

THERMOSETTING PAINT: Type of paint that cures (becomes hard) when heated.

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 latex paint, while turpentine, mineral spirits and denatured alcohol are thinners associated with different solvent-based coatings; the liquid used to thin the coating.

THREE-STAGE SYSTEM: A three-step paint procedure. First a highly pigmented color coat is applied to achieve hiding, referred to as the ground coat. This ground coat is then followed by the intermediate coat. The intermediate coat is applied using a transparent mica in a number of single coats until the desired effect is obtained. This finish requires a clearcoat for gloss protection and durability, which is applied last.

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

TINTING: The act of changing one color by adding another.

TITANIUM DIOXIDE: A commonly used white pigment with high hiding power.

TONERS: Made with ground pigments, solvent and resin. Used in the intermix system to produce colors.

TOP-COAT: The coating intended to be the last coat applied in a coating system. Usually applied over a primer, undercoater, or surfacer. Finish coat.

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.

TOUGHNESS: The ability of a finish to withstand abrasion, scratches, etc.

TRANSFER-EFFICIENCY: The ratio in a percentage of the amount of paint actually applied to a surface compared to the amount of material used.

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

TWO-COMPONENT: A paint material that needs a catalyst or hardener to react.

ULTRA VIOLET LIGHT: The part of the electromagnetic spectrum which can cause fading of paint. Located just beyond the visible part of spectrum.

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

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

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 color added. It usually has less penetrating power than a true stain.

VISCOSITY: Determined by allowing a measured amount to flow through an orifice and measuring the time it takes for this amount to flow.

VOC:Volatile Organic Compound : Any carbon compound that evaporates under standard test conditions. Essentially, all paint and caulk solvents except water are classified as VOCs. Some government agencies are limiting the amount of volatile organic compounds permitted in paint because of concerns about environmental and health effects.

WATERBORNE COATING: A coating containing more than five percent water in its volatile fraction.

WEATHER RESISTANCE: The ability of a coating or caulk 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 caulk to adhere to the surface in spite of wet conditions. This is of particular importance for exterior paints and caulks.

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.

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