PAINT DICTIONARY | An Architect Explains

Many people find the technical terms associated with Paint and other protective coatings difficult to understand. I have explained these terms here in easy-to-understand language.

painting walls

ANTI-CLIMB PAINT – is a non-drying paint that appears normal while still being extremely slippery. It is usually used on drain pipes and ledges to deter burglars and vandals from climbing them, and is found in many public laces. When a person attempts to climb objects coated with the paint, it rubs off onto the climber,as well as making it hard for them to climb.

Anti climb paint is used on drains and ledges to deter burglars

ANTI-GRAFITTI PAINTS – are used to defeat the marking of surfaces by graffiti artists. There are two categories: Sacrificial coatings– are clear coatings used on natural-looking masonry surfaces, such as statuary and marble walls, and on rougher surfaces, that allow the removal of graffiti, usually by pressure washing the surface with high-pressure water, removing the graffiti, and the coating (hence, sacrificed.) Non-bonding coatings– are clear, high-performance coatings, that allow very little graffiti to bond to. The graffiti can be removed with the use of a solvent wash, without damaging the underlying substrate or protective coating. These work best when used on smoother surfaces,and especially over other painted surfaces, including murals.

BITUMINOUS PAINT -A low-cost paint containing asphalt or coal tar, a thinner, and drying oils; used to waterproof concrete and to protect piping where bleeding of the asphalt is not a problem.

PAINT BRUSHES – Paintbrushes are used for applying ink or paint. These brushes are usually made by clamping the bristles to a handle with a ferrule. Short handled brushes are for watercolor or ink painting while the long handled brushes are for oil or acrylic paint. The styles of brush tip seen most commonly are:

Round: Long closely arranged bristles for detail
Flat: For spreading paint quickly and evenly over a surface. They will have longer hairs than their Bright counterpart.
Bright: Flat brushes with short stiff bristles, good for driving paint into the weave of a canvas in thinner paint applications, as well as thicker painting styles like impasto work.
Filbert: Flat brushes with domed ends. They allow good coverage and the ability to perform some detail work.
Fan: For blending broad areas of paint.
Angle: Like the Filbert, these are versatile and can be applied in both general painting application as well as some detail work.

Mop: A larger format brush with a rounded edge for broad soft paint application as well as for getting thinner glazes over existing drying layers of paint without damaging lower layers.
Rigger: Round brushes with longish hairs, traditionally used for painting the rigging in pictures of ships. They are useful for fine lines and are versatile for both oils and watercolors.
Sumi: Similar in style to certain watercolor brushes,also with a generally thick wooden or bamboo handle and a broad soft hair brush that when wetted should form a fine tip.
Hake: An Asian style of brush with a large broad wooden handle and an extremely fine soft hair used in counterpoint to traditional Sumi brushes for covering large areas. Often made of goat hair.
Spotter: Round brushes with just a few short bristles. These brushes are commonly used in spotting photographic prints.

EMERY PAPER – Emery paper is a type of paper that can be used for sanding down hard and rough surfaces. It can also be used for resistant technology purposes to give a smooth, shiny finish to manufactured products and is often used in the finishing of high-end watch movements. Similar to sandpaper, it is made by gluing small particles of the mineral emery (also called iron spinel or hercynite) to paper.

EMULSION PAINT – is a water soluble paint used for painting interior surfaces.Any paint consisting of an emulsion of oil, etc. in water A paint composed of small beads of resin binder which are dispersed, along with pigments, in water. On evaporation of the water, the resin particles coalesce to form a film which adheres to the surface and binds the pigment particles.

emulsion paint

ENAMEL PAINT – is a paint that dries to an especially hard, usually glossy, finish. Enamel paints contain either glass powder or tiny metal flake fragments instead of the color pigments found in standard oil-based paints. Enamel paint is also mixed with varnish to increase shine as well as assist its hardening process.

FILLERS – are a special type of pigment that serve to thicken the film, support its structure and simply increase the volume of the paint. Fillers are usually cheap and inert materials, such as talc, lime, baryte, clay, etc. Floor paints that will be subjected to abrasion may even contain fine quartz sand as a filler. Not all paints include fillers. On the other hand some paints contain very large proportions of pigment/filler and binder.

FINGERPAINT – is a kind of paint intended to be applied with the fingers; it typically comes in pots and is used by small children, though it has very occasionally been used by adults either to teach art to children, or for their own independent use.

GLAZE – is an additive used with paint to slow drying time and increase translucency and to create various textures and patterns. This process is referred to as faux finish and is quite popular with discerning homeowners, architects and interior designers.



INKS – are similar to paints, except they are typically made using finely ground pigments or dyes, and are designed so as not to leave a thick film of binder.

LAQUER – is usually a fast-drying solvent-based paint or varnish that produces an especially hard, durable finish.

NO-VOC PAINTS which are solvent-free paints that do not contain volatile organic compounds, have been available since the late 1980s. Low VOC paints, which typically contain anywhere between 0.3%-5.0% VOCs as coalescent, or coalescing solvent have been available since the 1960s. 0 VOC paints have recently been introduced to the market place, circa 2006.

PIGMENTS – are granular solids incorporated into the paint to contribute color, toughness or simply to reduce the cost of the paint. Alternatively, some paints contain dyes instead of or in combination with pigments. Pigments can be classified as either natural or synthetic types. Natural pigments include various clays, calcium carbonate, mica, silicas, and talcs. Synthetics include engineered molecules, calcined clays, blanc fix, precipitated calcium carbonate, and synthetic silicas.Some pigments are toxic, such as the lead pigments that are used in lead paint. Paint manufacturers began replacing white lead pigments with the less toxic substitute, titanium white (titanium dioxide)

PRIMER – is a preparatory coating put on materials before painting. Priming ensures better adhesion of paint to the surface, increases paint durability, and provides additional protection for the material being painted.

priming the wall

ROOF COATING – is a fluid applied membrane which has elastic properties that allows it to stretch and return to their original shape without damage. It provides UV protection to polyurethane foam and is widely used as part of a roof restoration system.

SANDPAPER – Sandpaper is a form of paper where an abrasive material has been fixed to its surface. It is used to remove small amounts of material from surfaces, either to make them smoother (painting and wood finishing), to remove a layer of material (e.g. old paint), or sometimes to make the surface rougher (e.g. as a preparation to gluing).

TITANIUM DIOXIDE – is extensively used for both house paint and artist’s paint, because it is permanent and has good covering power. Titanium oxide pigment accounts for the largest use of the element. Titanium paint is an excellent reflector of infrared, and is extensively used in solar observatories where heat causes poor seeing conditions.

VARNISH & SHELLAC – provide a protective coating without changing the color. They are paints without pigment.

shellac varnish

WATER-BASED PAINTS – tend to be the safest, and easiest to clean up after using—the brushes and rollers can be cleaned with soap and water.

After explaining the terms associated with Paint, Architect explains Paint – what it is composed of, types and how it should be disposed of, here:

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