Paint and Painting Glossary
Acrylic - A synthetic polymer used as the binder for water-based paints and caulks.
Adhesion - The ability of a dry paint or caulk to adhere to a surface.
Binder - The component of paint that binds the pigment particles into a continuous surface of paint and makes the paint adhere. Binder can help determine the paint's washability, adhesion, color retention, and durability.
Bleaching - Loss of color, usually as a result of sunlight exposure.
Bleeding - Discoloration of the paint caused by material from the substrate leeching through.
Blistering - The formation of dome-shaped, hollow bubbles of paint.
Breathe - Allowing moisture vapor to pass from the substrate through the paint film.
Caulk - Any compound used to fill gaps, cracks, seams, and joints.
Color Retention - The ability of a paint to retain its color without fading or bleaching. The term is usually applied to exterior paints.
Consistency - How thick or brushable a paint is.
Coverage - How much area can be covered by a certain amount of paint. Usually expressed in number of square feet per gallon. Sometimes referred to as "Spread Rate."
Dry - Usually "dry" is used with some other word or phrase to indicate what needs to be done.A paint can be "dry to touch," meaning it doesn't stick to fingers. It can be "dry to sand," meaning it's completely dry and can be sanded.
Durability - How well a paint can withstand the elements to which it is exposed. These include sun, rain, changing temperature, scrubbing, etc.
Eggshell - A low luster interior pain with a satin-like appearance. It fits between gloss and semi-gloss.
Elasticity - The ability of a paint to expand and contract without cracking or other damage.
Enamel - A dirt-resistant paint, usually for interior use, with a fairly high sheen. Often used in kitchens and bathrooms since the paint is durable and easy to clean.
Feathering - A process used to blend a small patch of new paint into its surroundings.
Gloss - The shininess or reflectiveness of a paint or other coating.
Intercoat Adhesion - The ability of one coat of paint to adhere to another.
Latex paint - Water-based paint made with a synthetic binder such as acrylic or vinyl.
Neutral Colors - Colors that generally go well with all other colors. White, off-white, light beige, and gray are standard neutral colors.
Non-volatile - The portion of a coating that does not evaporate away but is left on the surface once the coating has dried.
Oil-based Paint - Paints made with a drying oil, such as tung oil, linseed, or soya, and mineral spirits or paint thinner as a thinning agent. They take longer to dry than latex paints but typically dry hard.
Pigment - The powdery substance in paint or caulk that provides color or whiteness as well as bulk.
Primer - The first coat of paint applied when there are to be more coats added. Specialized primers are designed to promote adhesion between the outer coat and the surface being painted.
Sealant - (Not to be confused with "Sealer".) A caulk-like compound that can accommodate movement in the space it fills.
Sealer - A liquid coating that seals wood, plaster, and other surfaces to prevent the surface from absorbing paint or varnish. Sealers are often transparent. They can be used as primers or as a final layer.
Semigloss - A finish that is between high gloss and eggshell/satin.
Sheen - A low degree of gloss that still provides some reflection. Typically, it will appear flat from head on, but glossy when viewed at an angle.
Spackle - A compound used for filling cracks and holes in walls so the surface can be painted. Spackle can be sanded but does not tolerate much movement.
Spread Rate - See "Coverage."
Stenciling - The application of a design by brushing or sponging paint through a cutout overlay.
Stripping - Removing old paint or varnish with the use of a paint remover, sandpaper or other tools.
Substrate - Any surface to which paint, coating, or sealant is applied.
Tack Cloth - A tacky fabric that is used to remove dust after sanding and prior to painting. Storing it in an airtight container will help preserve its tackiness.
Water-based Paint - Paint made with acrylic, vinyl, or other latex resin and thinned with water. It dries faster than oil-based paint and is easier to clean up.