A-Z Guide

Acrylic - Acrylic is a term used when describing water-based materials. Acrylic paintsare water-soluble, but become water-resistant when dry.

Adhesion - The power to adhere to a surface. Mechanical adhesion, surface profile (texture/roughness) provides a 'key'. Physical adhesion relies on the 'stickiness' of the film former to achieve adhesion to the surface.

Ageing - Ageing may also be called Antiquing or Distressing and it means to give something an aged appearance, usually so that it looks older than it actually is. Commonly used in furniture decorating. To accomplish this look, techniques such as denting, staining, sanding and waxing may be used. 

Air Drying: Describing paints and other decorating materials that only require natural exposure to air to complete drying. 

Alkyd - Alkyd is commonly used to refer to an oil-based paint. Alkyd paints will usually have thinners that are made from either mineral spirits or alcohol.

Alligatoring - Alligatoring is a defect which happens when a painted surface cracks in a pattern that looks like alligator's scales. You can find out more about how to troubleshoot alligatoring paint here.

Anti-Corrosive - This is a general term used to describe paints and other materials that prevent the deterioration, or corrosion, of metal surfaces. 

Bleaching - This is when colours fade, usually due to being exposed to sunlight. 

Blocked Paint - Blocking is when two painted surfaces stick to one another when they’re pressed together (I.e. a window sticking to a sill). Find out how to troubleshoot blocking here. 

Blooming - This is a paint defect that usually results in the formation of a dull patch on the painting surface. You can find out how to troubleshoot blooming here

Bubbling - Bubbling happens when the paint film lifts from the underlying surface and bubbles form. 

Burnishing - Shiny areas on a painted surface caused from an object rubbing against it. Find out how to fix burnishing here.

Cohesion - The perfect amalgamation of all the constituent parts of paint, achieving film stability. 

Chalking - Chalking is when paint disintegrates into a powdery, or chalky, substance. Find out how to troubleshoot chalking paint here

Cladding - Cladding is the outer covering of a building, such as sheet or board. 

Cracking - Fine lines or cracks to the paint surface. Also known as crazing. Find out how to troubleshoot cracking and crazing here

Crackle Finish - A top coat that purposely shrinks to create cracks in the top surface that expose the base colour underneath. 

Curing - The chemical process of paint drying. 

Discolouration - Any change from the original colour that can be caused by atmospheric conditions. 

Dragging - Dragging is a paint effect that is created when a long-haired brush is dragged across glaze to create a pattern of fine lines and add texture to the surface. 

Drying - The process by which the liquid material converts into a dry film / coating.  

Drying Time - The length of time that elapses following the application of a coat of paint and the point at which it achieves a sufficient degree of hardness that the film cannot be disturbed

Durability - The period of time that a coating system or decorative product will perform satisfactorily before it needs to be maintained/recoated. 

Efflorescence - A crystalline or powdery substance of salts that can appear  on the surface of concrete, brick, stucco, or natural stone.

Elasticity - The power to expand and contract under various conditions, failure in this respect causes the film to crack or lose adhesion. 

Fading -  The time lapses between a paint film being in a fluid, workable state and the time when the paint film reaches a non-fluid stat, this affects its degree of flow, causing firm build or 'lap' at the join between two painted areas of a surface.

Flashing - Flashing is a halo effect that is caused by light reflecting on the surface, highlighting an area that has been textured differently. Find out how to fix flashing here

Flow Level - The extent to which a coating material can flow out after application, to product a smooth surface, free from brush marks and other application irregularities  

Gloss Level - The degree to which a painted surface reflects light. 

Hardening -   The power to continue hardening after the initial drying process by continuing to absorb oxygen or by catalyst curing.

Opacity - The obliterating power or hiding power of paint. It's ability to completely obscure the colour of the underlying surface.

Pigment: Pigment is the solid material added to paint that gives the paint colour. 

Primer: The first step in any proper paint job. A priming coat  will protect the surface it's applied to and provide a good bond for further coats. Shop primer here.

Re-Coat Time: The amount of time it takes for a coat of paint to harden sufficiently so that it can be painted over, or recoated. A fast drying paint will have a lower re-coat time.

Runs: Streaks that can form in a completed paint job that are usually caused by applying the paint too thickly. Also known as sagging.

Scrub Resistance -  The ease, degree or ability with which a painted surface can be scrubbed or washed without damage to the paint film.

Solvent: A substance that is used to dissolve paint and clean up paint after a job. Water is a solvent for acrylic paint and mineral turpentine is a solvent for oil-based paints.

Spatter: Small droplets of paint that are released, or thrown, from a paint roller as the paint is applied.

Spreading Rate - The area covered by a given quantity of paint, varnish or decorative coating, when applied as recommended over a suitable surface.

Stripping: To remove old paint layers in order to prepare the surface for a new paint job.

Tacky: When a surface, usually a painted surface, is not quite dry and takes on a sticky effect. 

Turpentine: Turpentine is a semifluid substance that is used as a solvent for oil-based paints. 

Viscosity - The thickness or thinness of the liquid, essentially the products consistency

Wet Edge Time - This set time is important in all classes of paint as it affects speed and method of application.

White Spirit: A petroleum-derived clear liquid usually used as a solvent for oil-based paints. Less toxic than turpentine. 

Whitewash: A paint that is made from lime or chalk that gives the surface an ashy finish.  


Questions about paint terminology? Talk to one of our paint experts