Painting Terms

  • Acrylic - A family of synthetic resins made from acrylic acids.
  • Adhesion - The ability of one material to stick to another.
  • Alkyd - A family of synthetic resins made from organic acids, combined with oils and alcohols.
  • Alligatoring - A reference to a certain failure in paint that looks similar to an alligator hide. Also known as checking.
  • Binder - An ingredient or blend of ingredients in stain that holds the pigment particles together.
  • Bleeding - A reaction in the stain or dye that causes the pigment to rise to the surface of the wood.
  • Blushing - Trapped solvent or moisture in the finish that gives a white/grey cloud look to the coating. It can appear in spots or across the entire piece.
  • Bridge - The ability of the coating to dry over a crack or void in the wood.
  • Bubbles - The formation of air bubbles in the top of the finish
  • Catalyst - An agent that is added to finish that causes a reaction in the coating. This reaction causes the finish to be more durable than without the catalyst.
  • Checking - Small cracks or lines in the finish. Also known as alligatoring.
  • Cold Checks - The cracking of a finish due to exposure to cold temperatures.Usually exposure happens before the finish has completely cured.
  • Craters - The appearance of small holes or depressions in the finish. Also known as fisheyes.
  • Crazing - Very fine lines or crystalline patterns in the finish usually caused by too much catalyst.
  • Cross linking - The molecular reaction in a finish from adding catalyst that causes the finish to harden more than without added catalyst.
  • Distressing - Intentionally marking, gouging or scratching a finish to give the piece an antique look.
  • Dye - A type of color that soaks into the fibers of the wood instead of being left on top like pigment. Commonly used to evenly color wood before staining.
  • Filler - A very heavy bodied, slow drying pigment used to fill in grain and create a flat, smooth surface to topcoat.
  • Fish Eye - A small crater or depression in the finish. Often caused by silicone or oil contamination.
  • Flatting Paste - An additive used to reduce the sheen or gloss of a finish.
  • Flash Point - The temperature at which a finish will ignite when exposed to a flame.
  • Flow-out - The ability of a liquid to level itself as it dries.
  • Ford Cup - A brand of viscosity cup.
  • Glazes - Slow setting heavy bodied pigment stains commonly used to accent grain or for other color accents like antiquing.
  • Gloss - The sheen or reflectivity of a coating.
  • HAPS - (Hazardous Air Pollutants Incompatibility) - The inability of one finish product to work with another product.
  • Lacquer - A generic term for finishes using nitrocellulose as a main ingredient.
  • Lifting - The separation of one coat from another often seen as "alligatoring" or checking".
  • Mar - A scratch or rub mark on the finish.
  • Mar Resistance - The ability of a finish to resist scratch or rub marks.
  • Mil - One thousandth of an inch. 0.001.
  • N.G.R. - (Non-Grain-Raising) - Usually refers to certain stains that do not raise the fiber of the wood when applied.
  • Nitrocellulose - Lacquer's main ingredient. A very flammable material that has a tendency to yellow with exposure to sunlight.
  • Opaque - The opposite of transparent. The hiding quality of a pigmented coating.
  • Orange Peel - A rough finish surface reminiscent of an orange peel's texture.
  • Pigment - The raw ground colorant used to give a stain its tone.
  • Pinholes - Small holes in a finish.
  • Primer - A specialized coating made for application to raw wood as a first step in a finishing process.
  • Precats - A finish that arrives already catalyzed from the manufacturer.
  • Reducer - Thinner.
  • Sags - A ripple in the coating caused by excessive millage when sprayed. Usually seen on vertical surfaces.
  • Sealer - An undercoat of finish who's function is to stop further absorption of successive coats into the wood, thus helping the successive coats to level.
  • Stearate - An additive to the coating or to sandpaper that makes it sand easier.
  • Substrate - The material or product to be coated.
  • Toner - A pigmented sealer or topcoat reduction that is used to color certain areas of the wood over the existing stain, giving a uniform look to the stain.
  • Topcoat - The final finish coat, usually a specific finish product designed to give better flow out and durability than the sealer coat.
  • VHAPS - Volatile Hazardous Air Pollutants.
  • Viscosity - The thickness of a coating in its liquid state.
  • Viscosity Cup - A small cup used to measure the thickness of a coating.
  • V.O.C. - (Volatile Organic Compound) - The solvent ingredients in a finish.
  • Washcoat - A reduced finish that is applied over raw wood to reduce stain penetration, or over stains and fillers to promote adhesion of the next coat.
  • Waterbase - A coating that uses water as the main vehicle for carrying the resins of a finish.
  • Water White - A high grade of lacquer that shows very little amber tone when applied.
  • Zahn Cup - A brand of viscosity cup.