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Painting Terms Glossary - A-F
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A B C D E F G H I J  L M N O P R S T U V W


abrasion resistance Resistance to being worn away by rubbing or friction. Abrasion resistance is a matter of toughness, rather than hardness. It is a necessary quality for floor finishes, enamels and varnishes.

acrylic A synthetic resin widely used as a latex to produce paints with good color and color retention. Acrylic latex paints may be thinned and cleaned up with water. Breeze interior and exterior latex paints in flat, eggshell and semi-gloss are all based on pure acrylic emulsions.

adhesion The degree of attachment between a coating film and the underlying paint or other material.

aerosol Use of compressed gas to spray the product from its container.

alkali A substance such as lye, soda or lime that can be highly destructive to paint films.

alkyd A synthetic resin widely used in the manufacture of paints and varnishes. Alkyd paint must be thinned and cleaned up with solvent or paint thinner. The terms alkyd paint and oil-based paint are generally used interchangeably.

alligatoring Paint film cracking that makes the surface look like alligator skin.

aluminum paint A paint that includes aluminum particles and gives a metallic finish when dried.


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back priming Applying a coat of paint to the back of woodwork or exterior siding to prevent moisture from entering the wood and causing the grain to swell.

base Tint base.

binder Film-forming ingredient that binds the particles together in a paint.

blistering The forming of bubbles or pimples on the painted surface. Blistering is caused by moisture in the wood, by paint having been applied before the previous coat was dry, and by excessive heat during or after application.

blushing A gloss film turning flat or a clear lacquer turning white. Blushing is usually caused by moisture condensation during the drying process.

body The thickness or thinness of a liquid paint.

boxing Mixing paint by pouring from one container to another several times to ensure thorough mixing.

breathe Permit the passage of moisture vapor through a paint film without causing blistering, cracking or peeling.

bristle brush A paint brush with filaments made up of animal hair strands usually hog hair. Bristle brushes are used for alkyd paint. build Thickness or depth of paint film when dried.


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catalyst An ingredient that speeds up a chemical reaction. Catalysts are sometimes used in two-component epoxy systems.

caulk A flexible (semi-drying or slow-drying) mastic compound used to seal joints or fill crevices around windows, chimneys, etc., prior to or after painting.

caulking gun A tool for expelling caulk from a tube. It enables a "bead" of material to be applied to cracks and seams.

chalking Loose powder forming on the surface of a paint after exposure to the elements.

checking A kind of paint failure in which many small cracks appear in the surface of the paint.

coalescing The flowing or melding together of emulsion particles when a latex paint dries.

coating A general term referring to any type of paint, stain, etc.

coating system Paint products used together to cover the same surface. The film may be the result of primer, undercoat and topcoat (also called finish coat).

cohesion The ability of a coating to hold together (the attraction of molecules within the coating).

color chip A color sample usually consisting of a paint applied to a small piece of card (a chip).

colorant Colored pigment added in small proportions to prepared paints to tint them.

combustible Able to burn.

consistency Viscosity.

coverage The area over which a given amount of paint will spread and completely hide the surface. Coverage, also known as spreading rate, is normally expressed in square feet per gallon or in square metres per litre.

cracking Breaks in the paint film wide enough to expose the underlying surface.

crazing Small interlacing cracks in the paint film.

cut-in trim guide A tool to protect adjacent surfaces when painting up against them.

cutting-in The brushing technique that is used when a clean, sharp edge is needed. Cutting-in is needed, for example, for a window sash (using a sash brush), the top of a wall where it meets the ceiling, and in areas that are hard to reach (especially when using a roller).


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dispersion Suspension of minute particles in a suitable medium.

drier A paint ingredient that aids the drying or hardening of the film.

drop-sheet A sheet of cloth or plastic used to protect surfaces during painting of nearby areas.

dry dust free The stage of drying when particles of dust that settle on the surface do not stick to the paint film.

dry tack free The stage of drying when the paint no longer feels sticky or tacky when touched.

dry to handle The stage of drying when a paint film has hardened enough that the painted surface may be used without becoming marred.

dry to recoat The stage of drying when the next coat can be applied.

drying time The period from the time a coating is applied until the time when it attains a specified state of tackiness or hardness.

drywall Any substitute for plaster such as wallboard, plasterboard, gyproc or sheetrock. Drywall typically consists of several thicknesses of fibre board or paper that have been bonded to a hardened core of gypsum.


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efflorescence A deposit of salts that remains on the surface of masonry, brick or plaster when water has evaporated.

eggshell A gloss range between flat and semi-gloss. The sheen closely resembles the lustre of an eggshell. Note that eggshell is a degree of gloss, not a color.

enamel A paint that forms an especially smooth, hard film. Enamels may be obtained in a full range of glosses and can be either latex or alkyd (oil). Consumers, however, often associate the term with alkyd (oil-based) products.

epoxy Products made from synthetic resin derived from petroleum. Epoxies, which are generally cured by catalysts, are perhaps the most durable of all coatings.

erosion The wearing away of a paint film as a result of exposure to the weather.

etch Prepare the surface by chemical means to improve the adhesion of coatings.

fabric roller An application tool made from a high nap fabric and designed to apply paint by saturating with paint and rolling across the surface.

feather sanding Sanding to taper the edge of dried paint film.

ferrule The metal band that connects the handle and stock of a paint brush.

filaments The part of a synthetic paint brush that holds and applies the paint. In a natural bristle brush, the filaments are often referred to as bristles.

filler A composition used for filling fine cracks and pores to make the surface smooth before paint is applied.

film A layer or coat of paint or other material applied to the surface. The layer remaining after the paint has dried is often called the dried film.

finish coat Topcoat.

flaking Small pieces of paint surface coming off. Cracking or blistering usually occurs before flaking.

flammable Easily set on fire.

flash point The temperature at which a coating or solvent produces vapors that are capable of being ignited when exposed to a spark or flame.

flat Practically no gloss even when the surface is viewed from an angle. A flat finish has even less gloss than an eggshell finish. Flat paint is less durable than higher gloss paint.

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

flow The ability of a coating to level out and spread into a smooth film. Paints that have good flow usually level out uniformly with few brush or roller marks.

foam roller A tool that is similar to a fabric roller but made from synthetic foam rubber. It is designed for clear, fine finishes.

frieze A horizontal band of decoration around a room, building, mantle, etc.

fungicide An agent that helps prevent mold or mildew growth on paint.


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