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Painting Trade Definitions

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Within this area you will find many trade related terms, please feel free to contact us with anything you feel pertinent to our trade.  Click on a letter above to go the letter associated with it.


     There is an enormous amount of information available today with the internet at our fingertips.  Le Tourneau Painting has tried to make things easy for you.  Our web site is always growing so check back often to see our great improvements.  If you have suggestions or questions regarding Painting, wallpapering, faux finishes or anything trade related please call or send us an email.  We are constantly trying to update our information and knowledge of our business to better serve you!





Abrasive – A material used for wearing away a surface by rubbing.


Absorption – Process of soaking up, or assimilation of one substance by another.


Accelerator – Catalyst; a material which accelerates the hardening of certain coatings.


Accent Colors – Colors in contrast with surrounding colors, used to emphasize an object or surface.


Acetic Acid – A sour, colorless compound.


Acetone – A fast evaporating, highly flammable solvent.


Acoustic Paint – Paint which absorbs or deadens sound.


Acrylic Resin – Synthetic resins used in both emulsion and solvent-based paints.


Activator – A catalyst such as for epoxy resin.


Adhesion – Bonding strength, the attraction of a coating to the surface to which it is applied.


Adsorption – A process of absorption, on a particle’s surface only.


Advancing Colors – Colors that seem to move toward a viewer, or to make objects or surfaces seem closer.


Agitator – A stirring of mixing device.


Aerosol - A container (usually a hand-held size) of coating material that is pressurized for spray (atomized) applications. Enamels and varnishes are often sold in aerosol cans.


Air Drying – Drying by evaporation through simple exposure to air.


Airless Spraying – Spraying using hydraulic pressure to atomize the paint.


Air Volume – Quantity of air in cubic feet (usually per minute) at atmospheric pressure.


Alcohol – A flammable solvent; alcohols commonly used in painting are ethyl alcohol (ethanol) and methyl alcohol (methanol, wood alcohol).


Alipathic Hydrocarbons – Flammable solvents of low solvent power, usually derived from petroleum.


Alkali – Caustic, such as sodium hydroxide, lye, etc., which can be harmful to paint films.


Alkali Burn - A condition that occurs when the alkalinity in fresh masonry causes the breakdown of a paint’s binder, resulting in color loss and overall deterioration of the paint film. Most likely to occur with vinyl-acrylic latex and oil-based paints applied to masonry surfaces that are less than a year old.


Alkyd Resins – Resins prepared from poly hydric alcohol and poly basic acids, as oil based material.


Alligatoring – Surface imperfections off paint having the appearance of alligator hide.


Aluminum Paint - A paint, usually solvent-based, that contains aluminum particles and provides a metallic appearance.


Amides – Curing agent combined with epoxy resins.


Analine Colors – Coal tar dyes or derivatives.


Analogous Colors – Adjacent colors on the color wheel containing the same primary color.


Anhydrous – Dry, free of water in any form.


Anti-corrosive Paint - A paint designed to minimize rust or corrosion when applied directly to metal.


Anti-fouling Paint - Specially formulated paint for surfaces such as boat hulls and piers. It discourages attachment and growth of marine plants and animals.


Applied Hiding - Refers not only to the opacity of the paint film, but also to how it hides, depending on its thickness and how smoothly it flows out. Must take into account how the paint is applied (brush, roller, spray, etc.).


Appliqué – Design or ornament applied to another surface. In wall covering, cutouts applied to a background.


Aromatic Hydrocarbons – Strong solvents such as benzene, toluene, xylene.


Asphalt – Residue from petroleum refining.


Atomize – Break stream into small particles.




Back Rolling - An application technique where a painted surface is re-rolled before the paint dries. The coat of paint is commonly applied by airless spray, followed immediately by re-rolling the entire surface.


Backer Rod – An extruded foam rod that is typically placed in joints that are deeper than 1/2” (12.5 mm) to fill in some of the space before the sealant is applied. Foam backer rods come in a variety of diameters, ranging from 1/8” (3 mm) to 3/4” (20 mm).


Binder – The nonvolatile portion of a paint which binds the pigments together in the finished film. See Vehicle.


Biocide - A biologically active paint and caulk additive designed to keep bacteria from spoiling the paint or caulk during storage; or to keep mildew from growing on the applied paint.


Bleaching – Restoring discolored or stained wood to its normal color or making it lighter.


Bleeding – Penetration of color from the underlying surface.


Blending – Most often used as another word for mixing.


Blistering – Bubbles in dry or partially dry paint film.


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.


Block Resistance - The capability of a coating to resist sticking to itself when used on two surfaces that come into contact with each other, e.g., door and jamb; window sash and sill.


Blocking - Two painted surfaces sticking together when pressed against each other, such as a door sticking to the jamb or window sticking to the sill.


Blushing – Milking and loss of gloss in lacquer.


Body – Thickness of a liquid; now becoming obsolete and replaced by the term viscosity.


Bolt – Roll of fabric or paper of a given length.


Bond Breakers - Materials used to preven bonding of concrete to a surface, such as to forms. Also known as form release agents.


Bonding – Adhesion.


Borax – Agent added to rinse water and to adhesive when metallic substance is present.


Border – Narrow strip around an edge. Border wall covering material.


Boxing – Mixing paint by pouring back and forth between buckets.


Breathe - To allow the passage of moisture vapor from the substrate through the paint film.


Bright Colors – Any of the primary or secondary colors that have not been tinted, shaded or toned and are seen in their pure forms.


Brittleness – Degree of resistance to cracking, breaking or bending.


Brush ability – Ability to be brushed.


Brush Marks – Marks of brush bristles remaining in dried paint film.


Build (or film build) - The thickness that a paint tends to be applied in, when using the normal application technique for that paint.


Bulking – Indicates number of gallons per pound of pigment.


Bundle – Unit of sale usually consisting of 50 rolls of wall covering material.


Burn-out - See Alkali Burn


Burnishing - The formation of shiny areas on a painted surface, as a result of rubbing or washing.


Butt Joint – Joint made by placing wall covering strips edge to edge without overlapping.






Calcimine – A water-thinned paint composed mainly of calcium carbonate or clay, and glue.


Calcium Carbonate - A mined material (chalk) that is used as an extender or filler for paint and caulk.


Calendered Stock – Coated paper, like that used in slick magazines, make in a variety of ground colors.


Canopy Ceiling – Ceiling decoration composed of a ceiling paper or a sidewall paper, such as a stripe. Strips of paper are cut into triangles and hung so that the apex will terminate in the center of the ceiling, producing a circular or dome effect.


Capital – Upper part of a column or pillar. Often found as a motif in wall coverings.


Casein – Milk protein used in some water-based paints.


Cast – A color effect of a slight feeling of the presence of another color.


Catalyst – A chemical that promotes a reaction without becoming a part of the reaction.


Caulking Compound – A semi-drying or slow drying plastic material used to seal joints or fill crevices around windows. etc.


Ceiling Papers – Papers containing plain, geometrical, or small diaper or foliage patterns. Designed to look well on ceiling from any direction.


Cellulose – Insoluble starchy or woody substance taken from plant. Used to form the base of many synthetic materials, such as wallpaper paste.


Cement Based Paint – A paint made of Portland Cement, lime, pigment, and modifiers; sold as a dry powder to mix with water.


Chair Rail – Topmost molding of a dado. Placed on wall a height of chair back as protection.

Chalking – Powdering of a painted surface.


Checking – Performing of slight breaks in the film that do not penetrate to the underlying surface.


Chemical Resistance - The ability of a coating to resist damage by chemicals.


Chime - The lip around the opening of a paint can into which the lid is placed.


Chipping – (1) Cleaning steel using special hammers; (2) type of paint failure.


Chlorinated Rubber – A particular film former used as a binder, made by chlorinating natural rubber.


Chroma – intensity, purity, or strength of color.


Clashing Colors – Colors that are not in harmony.


Clay - A white, mined mineral used as an extender - mostly in interior paints.


Cleaner – (1) Detergent, alkali, acid or other cleaning material; usually water or steam borne/ (2) solvent for cleaning paint equipment.


Coal Tar Pitch – Black residue remaining after coal tar is distilled.


Coal Tar Epoxy Paint – Paint is which binder or vehicle is a combination of coal tar with epoxy resin.


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.


Coating – Surface covering of paint, varnish, lacquer or other finish for purpose of protection or decoration.


Collage – Pasting technique in which pictorial images or patterns and pieces of colored textured material are superimposed on one another.


Color – Used variously to designate hues, to denote the various pigments used in different paint colors. and to describe the act of applying color to an object.


Color Retention – Ability to retain original color.


Color Run – Amount of rollage produced of a single color combination oat any one time. When the same combination is run again, it receives a different run number.


Colorant – A concentrated pigment paste or liquid used in changing the color of a base paint.


Colorfast - The ability to maintain color and not fade excessively under normal conditions.


Colorway – Combination of colors in which a design is printed. A given design is usually printed in several colorways. In a line of papers, each colorway is referred to as a sheet.


Color Code – Specific colors prescribed by OSHA to designate specific areas, plants for purposes of safety and identification.


Color Complement – One of several relationships between colors on the color wheel which establish harmonious color combinations.


Color Harmony – The use of colors compatible with each other according to certain rules, such as complementary colors. Monochromatic harmony uses shades and tints of a single hue.


Color-in-Japan – A colorant paste of pigment in Japan (a type of varnish).


Color in Oil – A colorant past of pigment in linseed oil or other vegetable oil.


Color Scheme – A selection of colors in harmony according to various patterns, used to decorate a room, area, or building.


Color spectrum – The colors composing white light when it is diffused through a glass prism.


Color Styling – Use of color to emphasize assets of design and accessories, and to minimize defects.


Color Universal – See Universal Color

Color Wheel – An arrangement of 12 colors, namely primary, secondary and intermediate, in a circle in specific order.


Combustible - Refers to any liquid with a flash point at or above 100 degrees F (37.5 degrees C).


Commercial – Refers to products factory made in quantity to serve the low-priced market.


Companion Papers – Set of two papers usually designed and colored for use in the decoration of the same room or adjoining rooms. One may consist of a large bold pattern, the other of a stripe or other semi plain effect. Both contain same scheme of coloring. Sometimes referred to as ensembles.


Complementary Colors – Two contrasting or opposite colors on the color wheel which show completeness of color by combining the three primary colors.


Compatibility – Ability to mix with or adhere properly to other components or substances.


Complementary Color Scheme – A color scheme using the complementary colors developed from one of the color wheel complements such as:

True Complement

Split Complement

Double Complement


Mutual Complement

Split Complement


Composition – Analysis; make up.


Conditioner – Preparatory coating applied to surface.


Consistency - The thickness or brushability of a paint.


Continuity – Degree of being intact or pore free.


Contrasting Colors – Colors forming a true complement on the color wheel are true contrasting colors. There are also contrasts of value or lightness and chroma or intensity within one color and between two or more different colors.


Converter – Catalyst; curing agent; promoter.


Cool Colors – Colors that are related to cool things in nature, and give a cool feeling when used in decorating.


Cornice – Horizontal molding of combination of moldings used to finish the top of a wall. May also refer to wall coverings simulation moldings.


Correlated – Refers to different types of merchandise systematically related in color and design, as paper with fabric, or series of papers designed to be used together.


Corrosion – Oxidation of metal surfaces; i.e., rust.


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.


Counter Sink - A process whereby nails are pounded or screws are tightened so that they sink just below the surface.


Cove Ceiling – Ceiling rounded at the ceiling angle.


Coverage – Indicates the amount of area a given quantity of paint will cover with complete hiding.


Cracking – Splitting, disintegration of paint by breaks through film to substrate.


Cratering – Formation of holes or deep depressions in paint film.


Crystalline Silica - See Silica.


Cure – The change of a paint coating from a liquid to a solid protective film.


Curing Agent – Hardener; prometer


Curtains - Long horizontal runs in a coating film that occur on vertical surface when a coating is applied too heavily.


Custom Color - Special colors that are made by adding colorant to paint or by intermixing paints of different colors. Permits the preparation of a selected color paint at the point of sale.


Cutting In – An operation requiring skill to keep a clean edge, such as painting of a window sash.




Dado Paper – Wall covering usually architectural, that covers the lower part of the wall and generally ends at the height of the chair rail.


Dead Flat – A film with no gloss.


Decorative Painting – Painting for appearance.


De-glosser - A liquid preparation used to remove the gloss of a painted surface, to slightly roughen or give “tooth” to the substrate. This lends improved adhesion to the coating being applied.


Degreaser – Chemical solution (compound) for grease removal.


Detergent – Cleaning agent.


Dew Point - The temperature at which water vapor in the air begins to condense.


DFT - Dried Film Thickness generally expressed in mils.


Diluent - A liquid that is included in a coating, or can be added primarily to reduce its viscosity. A diluent is not necessarily a solvent for the binder.


Dirt Pick up - Accumulation of dirt, dust and/or other debris on the paint film. Dirt pick-up may resemble mildew.


Discoloration – Color change.


Discontinuity – See Continuity


Discounting System – Pricing system in which the wholesale price is represented as a discount on the list or retail price.


Dispersion – Suspension of one substance in another.


Drag - Resistance on bristle encountered when paints are being applied. Excessive drag of a coating can be a serious fault.


Draw down – To spread a wet color sample from a thick to a thin film on a white background. This is done to observe the potential value or lightness range of a color.


Drier – Chemical which promotes oxidation or drying of oil base paints.


Drop Ceiling – Form of decoration in which the ceiling paper is brought down to a suitable depth on the walls of a room and is divided from the sidewall by a border or molding used to give a lowering effect to an otherwise high ceiling.


Drop Cloth – Large piece of fabric or plastic used to protect objects or floors from paint spills or drips.


Dry Dust Free - Drying stage of a coating at which airborne dust particles will not adhere to it.


Dry Spray - Over-spray or bounce-back producing a sandy finish due to the sprayed particles having partially dried before reaching the surface.


Dry Tack Free - Drying stage of a coating at which it is not sticky or tacky to the touch.


Dry to Re-coat - 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.


Dry-fall Coating - An extremely fast-drying paint commonly used to paint ventilation ducts, trusses, pipes and ceilings in commercial buildings, such as warehouses, retail stores and restaurants. Dry fall coatings are applied by airless spray. Dry fall means the paint completely dries before it reaches the floor.


Drying Oil – An oil which will harden upon exposure to are.


Drying Time - The interval between the application of a coating and when it is ready for service.


Drywall – Gypsum wallboard, formerly called plasterboard. Used in 90 percent or new wall construction. Surface is cream-colored manila paper.


Drywall compound - A highly extended paste used to make a continuous seam between pieces of drywall (Sheetrock); also used to repair cracks, holes and other defects. It is sanded smooth before painting.


Dull Finish – Almost a dead flat.


Dulling – Loss of gloss or sheen.


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.


Dye – A material used for dyeing or staining, usually dissolved in oil. water or alcohol.


Dynel – Material used in roller covers.




Ease of Application - Characteristics of a paint or caulk that facilitate its application, e.g., spatter resistance, lapping properties, and open time.


Earth Pigments – Pigments mined or otherwise derived from the earth, such as ochre, umber, and sienna.


Efflorescence – Deposit of soluble white salts on surface of brick and other masonry.


Eggshell – A degree of gloss between semi-gloss and flat.


Elasticity – Ability to recover from stretching.


Elastomeric Coating - A thick, flexible paint that bridges hairline cracks. It can be stretched repeatedly, and it immediately returns to approximately its original length. It is commonly used on masonry surfaces.


Emulsion – A suspension or dispersion of small particles of oil in water or water in oil, requiring an emulsifying agent to maintain its condition.


Emulsion Paint – Water-thinned paint with an emulsified oil and/or resin or latex vehicle.


Enamel – A paint which is characterized by an ability to form an especially smooth film.


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - An agency of the federal government that has the responsibility of protecting the environment.


Epoxy Resins – Film formers usually made from bisphenol A and epichlorohydrin.


Epoxy – Ester – Epoxy modified oil; single package epoxy.


Erosion – Wearing away of paint films to expose the substrate or undercoat.


Estimate – Compute; calculate cost of a job.


Etch – Surface preparation of metal by chemical means.


Ethics – A system of standards of a given trade or profession.


Ethyl Alcohol – Alcohol produced by the distillation of fermented grain or from petroleum.


Evaporation Rate – Rate at which a solvent evaporates.


Extender – Pigment which can contribute specific properties to paint, generally low in cost. Inert pigment.


Extender Pigment - A low-hiding, inexpensive pigment that fills out and extends the high-hiding and colored pigments’ capabilities, provides bulk to the paint, and can positively or negatively have an impact on many properties. Some common extenders are clay, calcium carbonate, and silica.


Extractives - A large number of different organic compounds which can be extracted from wood with polar or non-polar solvents.


External Mix – Spray equipment in which fluid and air join outside of air cap.


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