Glossary of House Painting Terms

Talk to Your House Painters with Confidence

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Glossary of House Painting Terms

Talk to Your House Painters with Confidence


Adhesion – How well dry paint stays attached to the surface.

Aeration – Bubbles that form in paints during preparation and can affect the application.

Atomize – When a paint gun turns paint into particles or mist.

Bare Substrate – A surface without a coat of paint.

Base – The initial layer in a multiple part paint application.

Blast Cleaning – Surface preparation of steel by use of compression propelled abrasive materials.

Bleeding – Discoloration in a new coat of paint when the old application shows through.

Blending – Merging two colors together so the difference is indiscernible. Also called feathering.

Blistering – Bubbles under the surface of a paint coat.

Blushing – Milky look caused by moisture mixing into drying paint. Also called grinning through.

Breathe – Allowing moisture from the surface through the paint.

Bridging – When the base does not fill in a flaw or scratch.

Brittle – Dry paint coat lacking in flexibility.

Checking – Small cracks marring the paint surface. Also called crows feet or crazing.

Chipping – Removing paint and particles with a sharpened implement.

Cissing – Retraction of paint into indents which causes the surface to show through.

Color Match – Two colors with no visible difference.

Crocodiling – When wide, crossing cracks form in paint layers.

Curdling – Partial drying of paint.

Delamination – Peeling of paint. Also called flake-off.

Grinding – Removal of flaws by mechanical sanding.

Hardness – A paints resistance to damage.

Hiding Power – Paints ability to cover the surface or layer of paint underneath. Also called opacity.

Hold-Out – A paints ability to resist the next coat soaking into it.

Jelling – When paint dries before application.

Lap – Section where an application extends over another coat.

Lifting – When moisture reaches and swells an undercoat, wrinkling the topcoat.

Livering – Thickening of paint that indicates it is jelling.

Mudcracking – Cracks formed by paint shrinking when it dries.

Masking – Using tape and other coverings to prevent paint from applying to certain areas.

Nap – Paint roller fibers.

Overspray – Sprayed paint that does not hit the surface.

Peeling – Curling and detaching of paint from loss of adhesion.

Re-Coat Time – Time necessary before a second application.

Runs – Thin, downward ribbons of paint. Also called sags.

Spot Priming – Applying primer to small areas where the surface has become exposed.

Substrate – Surface which will be painted.

Touch-Dry – When paint no longer feels tacky to the touch.

Water Spotting – Spots created by a reaction of paint to water when drying.


Additive – Chemical introduced to paint to change or add properties.

Acrylic – Paint created from a group of plastics, known for its color and gloss.

Air Dry – Allowing paint to dry at room temperature. Air drying paints are designed for this.

Alkyd – A synthetic material added to oil-based paints that can modify other properties.

Anti-Condensation Paint – Paint that will minimize the effects of moisture.

Anti-Corrosive Paint – Paint designed to prevent corrosion on steel.

Basecoat – High color paint that requires a clear finish.

Binder – Component in the paint that holds it together and allows adhesion.

Brushability – Ease of applying a coat with a paint brush. Also called consistency.

Cast – A shade of a color.

Catalyst – Additive that speeds drying time and improves other elements. Also called activator, accelerator, or curing agent.

Coat – A single application of paint.

Colorant – Pigment used to create the color in paint.

Color Fast – Color able to retain its cast over time. Also called color retention.

Contrast Ratio – Ability of paint to hide the previous coat.

Coverage – How well a paint spreads over the surface.

Concentration – Ratio of elements that cause the sheen of the paint.

Cure – Process of paint drying.

Die-Back – Loss of gloss over time.

Durability – How well paint holds up to the elements.

Fading – Loss of color and/or gloss over time.

Filler – Substance used to fill in dents and damage, and smooth masonry.

Flex Agent – Additive that decreases brittleness.

Gloss – Amount that paint reflects light.

Gloss Retention – Ability of a paint to maintain its shine.

Hard Setting – When solid paint collects at the bottom of a container.

Hue – The primary color of a paint.

Intumescent Paint – Paint that swells when exposed to flame, allowing extra time for evacuation.

Lacquer – A clear coat of paint that dries quickly.

Metamerism – When two colors match under one but not all conditions.

Mildew Resistance – A paint’s ability to prevent mildew growth.

Moisture Resistance – A paints ability to withstand moisture and prevent the damage it can cause.

Pigment – Part of the paint that provides the color.

Primer – Paint designed to prepare a surface for other coats. It often protects the surface as well.

Resin – Binding agents in paint.

Sealer – Paint that prevents interactions between coats before and after it.

Sheen – Gloss level of paint.

Skinning – When a thick layer forms on the top of paint in a can.

VOC – Volatile Organic Compounds are components in paint regulated by the EPA.

Baseboards – Protective and decorative trim at the bottom edge of a wall.

Color Wheel – List of colors that helps in choosing paint.

Corrosion – Corruption of metal by other elements and materials.

Crown Molding – Molding that gracefully flares at the top edge of a wall.

Depth – Comparative lightness or darkness between shades of color.

Epoxy – A stain-resistant coat that fills some flaws.

E.P.A. – Government agency in charge of environmental regulations.

Humidity – Amount of moisture in the air.

Masonry – Structures made from minerals.

Mildew – Fungus that can grow on paint and epoxy, especially in damp, low light conditions.

M.S.D.S. – Sheets with safety information on all chemicals, including paints.

Putty – Substance for filling imperfections.

Siding – Material used to create the exterior of a home, usually wood, aluminum, or vinyl.

Trim – Finishing or decorative molding.