A Short Guide to Painting Terms

When you first start learning about painting and how to paint, you will come across many painting terms that will not be familiar to you. Here we will take a look at a few of the painting terms which are most used, so you can get a head-start on the terminology as you get ready to start painting.

Abrasive – Means that a surface is rough. One of the ways this can be accomplished is by using sandpaper on a wall before painting. It makes an abrasive surface to which the paint can stick. Pumice is another material that can be used to make a surface abrasive.

Bleeding – Means that you have painted over a surface, but under the coat of paint is either a stain, dark color, liquid, or similar type material which will still show or bleed through the fresh paint.

Blistering – This is one of the painting terms which describes a painting problem. It refers to a condition where the paint is showing a bunch of bubbles right on the surface. These look very much like blisters, and can be removed by sanding the spot and repainting it.

Camel Hair – Not from camels as you might expect. This is a name used for the tail hair from some kinds of Russian squirrels. It is used in paint brushes and tools used for writing on signs and other such objects.

Enamel – Refers to any type of paint that has a glossiness when it has dried. In the past, only paints that were oil-based were referred to as enamel but now there are other kinds of enamels as well.

Flat – This is one of the painting terms that means exactly what you might expect. Flat is just the opposite of enamel with its glossy finish. Flat looks flat – no sheen or gloss is visible.

Latex Base Paints – These are paints made from various resins, such as poly-vinyl or acrylic, and they can be thinned using water and not a chemical paint thinner. They can also be washed off skin and clothing with water.

Opacity – This is the capability of the paint you are putting on to completely cover the surface, no matter what it is, so that nothing at all from the previous paint will show through onto the new.

Oil Base Paint – This is the opposite of the latex-base paints. This paint contains resins which have to be thinned with a chemical paint thinner. You also need a paint remover to get the paint off of your skin. It is almost impossible to get it off clothing.

Primer – A primer is the first coat that you put on a wall or other object that you are painting. Primer is used to cover spots and stains, fill in holes, and generally prepare the wall for the paint.

Shellac – A clear resin which makes a transparent coating to protect the wood. Often used on wood floors to seal knots.

Spackling Compound – A material that is used to fill holes and indentations before painting.