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The use of materials such as glasspaper, wet or dry paper, sinding discs, etc., to smooth down a surface prior to painting, or to matt down existing coatings to provide a 'key' for subsequent coats of paint.

Abrasion Resistance

The ability of a material to withstand mechanical action such as rubbing, scraping, or erosion that tends to progressively remove material from the surface.


Any material used to wear away, smooth or polish a surface; for example, sandpaper that is used to smooth wood.


The degree to which a surface can soak up a liquid. Some surfaces have varying absorbency. For instance, softwood vary in grain pattern. One of the requirements of a primer is to produce a non-absorbent surface.

Accelerated Weathering

size="3">Accelerated Weathering Laboratory or field tests intended to stimulate natural outdoor weathering in an intensified situation.


A solvent used in fast dry, film building coatings. Good solvent, with a low flash point.


Lacking color, black, grey or white.

Acid Cleaners

The acidity dissolves the lime scale and inorganic deposits and denatures many proteins. Works best on lime scale, soap scum, and some proteinaceous soils.


A water borne latex used in emulsion paint. A synthethic polymer used in high performance latex or water based paint as a binder. Acrylic resins enable the coating to last longer and retain its colour.

Acrylic Emulsions

Emulsions prepared from acrylic derivatives. Such emulsions noramlly show very good toughness and adhesion even under wet conditions. They also have very good alkali resistance.


The material added in two pack coatings -(e.g. epoxies and polyurethanes)- to initiate 'curing'.


The degree of attachment of paint to a surface.  Weak adhesion to a surface is a common cause of paint failure.  The quality or degree of attachment between a paint coating and the surface beneath it.  The ability of dry paint to remain on the surface without blistering, flaking or cracking.  Adhesion is probably the single most important property of paint

Adhesion Aeration

A condition where the adhesive is filled with miniature air bubbles. Mixing or whipping the adhesive in too vigorous a manner is usually the cause. These bubbles can cause small blisters to form beneath the wallpaper, especially when installing nonbreathable types.

Adhesive Mastic

A pastel like cement used for applying floor and wall tiles; a waterproof caulking compound used in roofing.

Adhesive Penetration

The process where the adhesive soaks into the wallpaper substrate during the relaxing or booking period.

Adhesive Viscosity

The internal friction of an adhesive that restricts its tendency to flow or spread.  The viscosity controls the amount of adhesive you can spread at a given thickness.  Adhesive viscosity also affects drying time.

Adhesive Volatility

The evaporation time associated with a particular adhesive.  Volatility increases during the hot summer months, especially if when working on new construction and there is no air conditioning.

Adhesive Wrinkles

Wrinkles or ridges that occur immediately following the hanging of wallpaper, caused by further expansion of the paper.  Inadequate soaking time is often a cause.  Adhesive wrinkles normally dry out within 24 to 48 hours.  Wrinkled wallpaper should generally be removed and reinstalled rather than fixed.


Any admixture of less value than the accepted standard, or the partial substitution of one substance for another without acknowledgment.

After Tack

A film defect in which the painted surface, having once reached a tack-free stage, subsequently develops a sticky condition.


Clumps of pigment crystals which have formed loose clusters containing entrapped air. Usually undesirable in paint, as they tend to settle out and have poor optical properties.


Crushed stone, gravel or other material used with cement and water to form concrete


Allowing to stand undisturbed for a period in order to develop certain characteristics. Some materials improve upon aging, others have a tendency to lose their value.

Air Barier

An air-infiltration barrier or house wrap that can be used to protect a storage area in the attic from moisture and dust.

Air Drying

The most common form of curing a coating in which drying takes place by oxidation or solvent evaporation by simple exposure to air without heat or catalyst.


A description used for paints that dry solely or mainly during exposure to air at normal temperatures, as distinct from those that require heat treatment -(e.g. stoving and force dried paints)- or those that set independently of the surrounding atmosphere -(e.g. catalysed or 'accelerated' paints).

Airless Spraying

Process of atomization of paint by forcing it through an orifice at high pressure.


A group of solvents of relatively high evaporation rate but with fairly low solvent strength. Methanol, ethanol, and isopropyl are common alcohols.


A recessed area in a room.


A chemical agent, often included in exterior paints and sealants, to prevent growth of algae on the surface of a painted surface.


A class of organic solvents which are composed of open chains of carbon atoms, derived from paraffin base crude oil. Aliphatics are relatively weak solvents. Among the typical aliphatic hydrocarbons are gasoline, mineral spirits, naphtha and kerosene.


A basic chemical substance such as lime or caustic. Usually present in fresh cement, concrete, plaster and some household cleaning products.

Alkali Resisting Primer

A paint used as a barrier to alkaline substances in the surface which would otherwise attack the paint film.  Alkaline surfaces which are continually damp are not effectively sealed for long periods by this method.


A type of 'synthetic' resin that is built up from relatively simple non-resinous components. In practice, an alkyd varnish is made by adding such components to a drying oil and treating to produce an "oil modified alkyd varnish". This process is distinct from the traditional method in which a separate gum or resin is "cooked" with a drying oil to produce a varnish.


Many wide patterned cracks in the paint film with the appearance of alligator scales.

Alternating Rolls

The technique of working with two separate rolls of wallpaper to minimize waste while installing a drop-match patterned design.


A lightweight, corrosion-resistant metal used for vertical and horizontal siding.

Aluminium Oxide

A long-life grit for abrasive wheels and sandpapers.

Aluminium Paint

A paint that includes aluminum particles and gives a metallic finish when dried.


Objects that are characteristic of American history or culture.


A functional group which can act as an epoxy resin curing agent.


Materials often used as curing agents for epoxy coatings.


Possessing both basic and acidic properties.


An absence of unreacted or free oxygen.

Analagous Colours

Any three colors located next to one another on the color wheel.


Mechanical bonding of a coating to a rough surface, as contrasted with adhesion, which is chemical bonding.


Containing no water.

Aniline Dye

A stain that achieves a rich, yet translucent color.

Anti Corrosive Coating

A paint made with neutral or slightly alkaline pigments and a water resisting vehicle to be used as a primer on steel and other metals to prevent or retard corrosion.

Anti Mildew Agent

A coating additive, usually toxic in nature, which inhibits the growth of mildew, fungus and other organisms.

Anti Settling Agent

A material which slows down the natural settling of pigments and prevents hard settling.

Anti Skinning Agent

A type of antioxidant, usually volatile, which when added to a varnish or an oil, will tend to prevent a skin of partially oxidized material from forming on the surface of the liquid while in the container or before being applied to the work.


A general term for paints used to prevent the corrosion of metal, especially iron and steel.

Anti-Corrosive Paint

A paint designed to minimise rust or corrosion when applied directly to metal.


Compositions used to prevent the growth of barnaclesm marine weed and other organisma on ships and boats.

Anti-Fouling Paint

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


A material which, when added to a varnish or an oil, retards or prevents oxidation and drying.


Art, buildings, furniture, accessories or personal possessions that are over 100 years old.

Antique Satin

A sateen or horizontal satin drapery fabric with slubs that imitates spun shantung silk.


Trim attached below a tabletop or window sill.

Art Glass

Decorative glass--includes stained, beveled, fused, blown, etched, leaded and cut.


A bituminous compound, dark brown or black in color, used in the manufacture of asphalt roofing shingles.


A vertical strip attached to the opening edge of one door in a pair, forming a jamb for the other door to close into

Austrian Shade

Similar to a Roman shade but with soft, billowing folds.

B Grade

Like B-heart redwood, B-grade redwood contains limited knots. However, B-grade may also contain sapwood. Used for highly visible applications where the wood won't be subjected to rot.

B Heart

Redwood grade that contains limited knots but no sapwood and is less expensive than clear all-heart.

Bachelor's Chest

A small, low chest that contains three drawers.

Back Band

Molding used to decorate the outer edges of flat casing.  It can also be used as a base cap.

Back Prime

The process of painting the back or unexposed side of material.

Back Saw

A saw used for small work on the bench top.  An extra-fine narrow backsaw is called a dovetail saw.


Illumination coming from a source behind or at the side of an object.


The vertical part at the rear and sides of a countertop that protects the adjacent wall surface. It is at least 4-inches high.


The process of drying a coating material by the application of artificial heat. A baking enamel is one which requires elevated temperatures of 300°F to 400°F in order to become hard and dry.

Ball Mills

Cylindrical vessels containing steel balls used in grinding coatings.

Balllon Shade

A shade that features a gathered bottom edge when raised.


An upright support, as used on a piece of furniture, stair rail or supporting post of a handrail.


The entire assembly that supports the handrail.  It consists of newels, balusters and the handrail.


A built-in upholstered bench along a wall, often used in breakfast areas.

Barium Metaborate

A pigment commonly used in corrosion-inhibitive coatings.  Pigment particles plug the small pores in the dry film and absorb any moisture that enters the film, preventing it from reaching the metal substrate.  Barium metaborate is also a mildewcide.

Bark Cloth

A soft and textured fabric that resembles the bark of a tree.

Barrier Coat

A coating used to isolate a paint system from the surface to which it is applied in order to prevent chemical or physical interaction between them, e.g. to prevent the paint solvent attacking the underlying paint or to prevent belleding from underlying paint or material.

Base Coat

In decorative painting this is the solid color of either gloss or semi-gloss paint that shows underneath the glaze coat pattern.

Base Plan

Transferring rough measurements of an existing room to a scale drawing; a convenient scale for planning a bathroom is to make 1/2 inch equal 1 foot.

Base Shoe

Molding used to conceal any variation between the floor and base bottom. It is also used to cover edges of sheet vinyl flooring (when in-stalled without first removing base trim).


Decorative molding or trim found at the bottom of the wall, along the floor.


Form of hand-printing fabric that orginated in Indonesia; technique involves using wax as a resist to create a negative image.


Thin layers of natural or synthetic cloth used to line cushions, pillows, quilts or crafts.

Bay Window

A window, typically three sided, that projects from a wall, creating a recessed area in the structure's interior.   Also called an oriel.


Heavy accumulation of a coating which occurs at the lower edge of a panel or other vertical surface as the result of excessive flowing.


Horizontal structural member that sits on posts or walls and supports the structure above it.  When bearing walls are removed, they must be replaced by a beam.

Beam Hanger

A metal pocket, or shelf-like hanger, that supports a beam where it butts into another member.


The binder cements the pigment particles into a uniform paint film and makes the paint adhere to the surface. The nature and amount of binder determine most of the paint's performance properties such as washability, toughness, adhesion and colour retention.

Binder (Paint)

A viscous, pliant material that holds pigments in suspension and makes them adhere to surfaces; the bulk of what makes up paint.


An additive to coatings that kills plants (e.g., algae, fungus, mildew, mold) growing in or on the surface of the coating.

Bishop's Sleeve

A drapery treatment with side panels of lightweight fabric tied back slightly above the midpoint to form a billowing drape above and a flowing effect below.


A description applied to paint coatings that exhibit bits of skin or other extraneous matter.

Bituminous Paint

Paints or coatings based on natural bitumens dissolved in organic solvents.

Black Silicone Carbide Sandpaper

A sandpaper which is made with water-resistant glue to attach the abrasives to the paper.  This sandpaper is often referred to as wet-or-dry sandpaper because it can be used with a water or oil lubricant, or no lubricant at all.


A method of pressure cleaning used to remove rust, millscale or paint coatings in poor condition using grit or water under pressure.


The use of oxalic acid or other agents to lighten or restore discolored or stained wood to its original color. The fading of a color toward white generally caused by exposure to chemicals or ultraviolet radiation.

Bleaching Agent

ny material which, when properly used, makes the colour of an object permanently lighter.


Soluble matter leeching out from a substrate or previous coating, causing discolouration of fresh paint, e.g. bitumen bleed or nicotine staining.


An irregularity, obviously not caused by weathering, marring the appearance of the surface of a specimen.

Blender Brushes

Specialty brushes used to blend and soften all types of wet painted surfaces.


A 'swelling' of the paint film into the form of blisters often caused by resinous exudation from timber or moisture from the substrate.

Block Filler

A thick, paint-like material used to smooth out very rough masonry surfaces. Normally applied with a brush and subsequently painted over.

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 with frame, window sash and sill, etc.

Blockfront Chest

A chest of drawers with a concave centre section.


A term used to describe tip blockage during airless spray or the sticking together of surfaces, e.g. articles which are stacked or when painted windows are tightly closed.


A bluish cast which forms on the surface of some films. Blooming is caused by the deposition of a thin film of foreign materials such as smoke, dust or oil, or by the exudation of a component of the paint film.


A greyish milky-coloured haze appearing on the surface of the paint film usually caused by moisture attack during drying.


A staining problem where the stain is unevenly absorbed causing dark and light areas. This is caused by a swirly grain or uneven density of a piece of wood.

Blown Vinyl

Wallcovering with a raised, three-dimensional surface created when an expansion agent is added to the vinyl and heated.  Good for covering imperfect wall, it is usually sold as white “paintables” that can be painted with latex paint.

Blue Stain

Blue Stain is a fungus which results from moisture penetrating at the joints of woodwork.  Once staining has gained a hold it is not possible to eradicate the colour stain.


A term describing opaque lacquer that loses its gloss and becomes flat, or clear lacquer that turns white or milky.  Usually caused by moisture settling on an uncured surface.


Glass ring placed at the base of a candle to gather wax or dangle crystals.


The apparent viscosity of a paint, especially in relation to its appearance and behaviour in the container and during application. A high viscosity paint be termed 'full bodied'. It can also be used to describe the 'build' or coat thickness of an applied paint


A cylindrical stuffed pillow.


A unit of fabric or wallpaper, typically consisting of multiple single rolls. 48"-54" commercial wallpaper are normally packaged in 30 yard bolts, typically 2 single rolls = a bolt of 20 1/2" wide wallpaper.


Chest with a bulbous, curving form.


Folding the ends of a sheet of wallpaper, pasted side to pasted side, toward the middle of the sheet.  This activates the paste, lets the material relax, and makes the material easier to handle.  Relaxing period varies with different types of wallpaper.


A horizontal band of decoration (usually wallpaper) hung around a room on a wall as an architectural detail.  Used to accent around doors, windows, along ceiling lines or as a chair rail.

Bow Window

A rounded bay or bowed window projecting out from a building in an arced shape.

Box Pleat

A pleat made by forming two folded edges facing into each other.


The mixing together of the different cans of like paint to be used on a job. This is done to ensure uniformity , especially of colour.


A large cabinet or bookcase whose center section projects beyond the two end sections.

Breccia Marble

Marble that is composed of sharp fragments cemented together.


Where a paint film appears to be in continuous contact with a surface but is in reality not in contact at some points, i.e. by spanning or bridging over open cracks with a thick coat of paint.

Bridging Forward

Term used to describe the preparation and spot priming or other painting which is required on repaired or bare surfaces to match the adjacent paintwork so that subsequent painting results in even appearance.


An optics and appearance attribute of visual sensation by which an observer is aware of the differences in luminance or lightness and saturation.


The working part of a brush containing natural bristle (usually hog's hair) or artificial bristle (nylon or polyester).

Bristle Brush

Refers to paintbrush fibres that are natural in their origin. e.g. hog hair.  Suited to oil-based paints but not recommended for latex paints.


The tendency of a dried film to crack or flake when bent, flexed, or scratched.


Dense cotton fabric with a smooth, semi-gloss finish.


A heavy fabric interwoven with a rich, raised design.

Broken Colour

A multi-coloured effect obtained usually by the merging of wet paints of different colours during application.

Bronze Paint

Description of metallic paints composed of copper, bronze or tinted aluminium powder in a clear medium. So-called gold paints are of this type and the term 'bronze' or 'gold-bronze' is used to describe the whole range irrespective of colour.


A metallic lustre or irridescent 'bloom' that may develop on full-coloured paints based on certain pigments, e.g. Prussian and phthalocyanine blues.


The ease of applying a coating by brush.  Measured as ICI Viscosity.


See 'Ropiness'.


Air bubbles in a drying paint film caused by excessive brushing during application or by over vigorous mixing that results in air entrapment.


The actual or apparent thickness of a dried film of paint.

Builder's Flat

A mixture consisting of joint compound diluted with water, which is spread on a wall like paint (usually on new construction).  It provides a decorative surface, but it is one of the worst enemies of a good wallpapering job.  To install wallpaper over builder's flat, first wash it thoroughly with a mixture of ammonia and water, and then seal it with an acrylic primer-sealer or a thinned-down oil-based primer-sealer.

Bullion Fringe

Long corded fringe used with upholstery or on window treatments.

Bun Foot

A round ball-shaped foot normally used on a chest, chair or armoire.

Burled Wood

A hard wood cut from a large rounded growth on a tree characterized by a large swirl and often used as a veneer or inlay.

Burn In Stick

Stick of filler material used in the repair of surface damage to furniture.  The filler must be melted onto the damaged surface and then trimmed smooth.  Also called lacquer or shellac stick.

Burning Off

The removal of paint by means of heat applied to the surface with a blow-lamp.


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

Burnt Sienna

One of the native colours, this is a deep, rich rust-red made from calcined raw sienna.

Butt Joint

A joint where the two edges touch but do not overlap one another.  This is the most popular type of seam in wallpapering in which two strips are merged without any overlap.  Check seam when set up and lightly secure with seam roller.

Cabriole Leg

Table leg that gently curves outward then back toward the base of the leg.

Café Curtain

A window treatment that covers the bottom half of a window.


The setting of pigment particles of a paint into compact mass which is not easily re-dispersed by stirring.

Calcium Carbonate

A mined material (chalk) that is used as an extender or filler in the manufacture of paints and sealants.


Cotton or cotton-blend fabric printed with small, colorful patterns.

Candle Follower

A device that fits onto the top of a candle. As the wax melts the follower keeps the wax from dripping down the side of the candle.


An ornamental shield or decoration often placed above door openings or fireplace mantels.

Case Goods

A non-upholstery furniture group, such as tables, hutches, dressers and chests, with functional or storage capabilities.


An enclosing frame around a door or window opening.

Cellulose Paint

Paint in which the binder consists essentially of nitrocellulose or cellulose acetate dissolved in suitable solvent.

Cellulose Paste

The adhesive often applied to pre-pasted wallpapers.  It is non-staining, odourless, vermin-proof and mildew retardant, mixes easily and will not ferment.  Used in hanging natural materials such as grass cloths, linens, silk strings, etc.

Chair Rail

A rail that is fixed below the mid section of a wall where a chair back would touch, placed 32"-36" off the floor.

Chaise Lounge

A long reclining chair.


The disintegration of paint film into a faded powdery substance. Chalking occurs when the binder cannot withstand harsh environmental conditions. Re-painting over a chalky surface is difficult unless a paint has the high adhesion provided by acrylic binders.


A form of 'cracking'


The character of a paint film which, although dry, is still soft and mechanically weak.

Chemical Resistance

The ability of a coating to resist damage from chemicals.


A fuzzy yarn that is like velvet when tightly woven.


A combination of a wardrobe and chest-of-drawers.


The lip around the opening of a paint can into which the lid is fitted.


A style in art reflecting Chinese qualities, i.e. fanciful motifs of scenery, human figures, pagodas, intricate lattices and exotic birds and flowers.


A printed and glazed thin cotton fabric in bright colors.


The failure of a paint film whereby the film chips away from the under surface, e.g. paint applied over varnish will chip if knocked leaving the varnish on the surface.

Chlorinated Rubber

Superseded in many cases by acrylated rubber due to the trichloromethane. Natural rubber reacted with chlorine to produce a hard resin-like substance which forms the basis of binder for a range of specialist paints.


The failure of paint to form a continuous film by forming into 'droplets'.  Usually caused by grease or other contamination on the surface being painted.


A white mined mineral used as an extender in the manufacture of paint, usually internal emulsions.

Co-Ordinated Wallpaper

Two or more papers designed and coloured to be used together in the same or adjoining areas.  Papers that blend with each other used to tie together two different rooms or walls, also used over and below chair rails.


The product obtained when two or more compounds are chemically reacted with each other to produce a resinous type material.  Co-Polymers form the basis of many types of paints.


The process by which emulsion paints form a film.  A joining together of the despersed resin particles as the film forms.


An organic solvent used in water based paints that acts as a temporary plasticiser, to aid in film formation.  It helps the binder form a continuous film when applied, particularly at the low end of the temperature range recommended for the coating.


Term used generally to describe a single application of any type of paint or varnish.

Coated Paper

Paper that is coated with vinyl so that it retains its wet strength, enables printing on its surface and maintains its shape when it dries.


Any paint, stain, varnish, lacquer or other finish that provides a protective and/or decorative layer over a substrate.


The production of fine filaments of the normal 'atomised' particles when some solutions of certain classes of high polymers are sprayed.  It may be reduced to a minimum, and often virtually eliminated, by careful selection of solvents and proper adjustment of spraying conditions.  Although cobwebbing is generally considered a defect in ordinary lacquers, use is made of this property to provide a protective coating for equipment such as aeroplane engines.  A cocoon is formed around the article by the pronounced cobwebbing action of lacquers specially prepared from certain high polymers.  A durable, true film-forming lacquer is then sprayed over the cocoon which acts as a support.

Colour Retention

The ability of paint to keep it original colour and resist fading.

Colour Run

A set of numbers and/or letters given to a particular batch of wallpaper rolls printed at the same time. Each time a new ink or different batch is printed, the dye-lot number will change. Make sure all rolls have the same run/batch number.  This insures uniformity of colour.

Colour Wheel

A circular chart with wedge shaped segments of different colours.  Often used as an aid by colour consultants in designing colour schemes.


The ability of a coating to maintain colour and not fade excessively under normal conditions.


A concentrated liquid or dry colour that is added to a paint to obtain a chosen colour.


One of the colours in which a given design is offered.  Each design is usually printed in multiple colourways within a collection.  Most wallpaper patterns are printed in two or more different colourways.


A decorative paint technique in which a comb is pulled across wet paint to create a pattern (i.e. basket weave, denim, linen).


In painting, refers to any coating with a flash point at or above 37*C.

Commercial Match

Although paints are matched to a standard, there is always some 'tolerance' between batches. It is possible therefore that there may be a variation in shade between different batches although each batch is a good 'commercial match' to standard.


Paints which can be mixed together without adversely affecting any of their properties, or the application of one type of paint over a different type without either being adversely affected.

Complementary Colours

Contrasting or opposite colours which accentuate one another when placed side by side.


(a) A term used to describe the thickness of a paint in the can.  While paints of thick consistency are usually expected to be difficult to spread, this will not be the case with 'Gel' and 'Thixotropic' paints.  Paints can be brought to a lighter consistency by thinning.(b) The resistence of a paint to flow.  A paint with a high consistency flows slowly; with low consistency it flows readily.

Contrasting Colours

Colours separated by at least three others on the colour wheel.

Cool Colours

Any of the hues in which blue predominates.  Opposite to 'warm colours'.


A decorative box attached directly to the wall or molding above a window opening to conceal curtain fixtures.

Corrision Inhibitor

Any material used to prevent or reduce the oxidation of metals.  May be a paint undercoat, an additive, a pigment, or a coating applied to the surface.


A destructive attack of metal caused by oxidation, e.g. rust on ferrous metals or white deposit forming on aluminium.  Corrosion destroys the surface of metal and this process is accelerated in chemical or salt laden atmosphere.

Covering Power

This term should not be used as it can be confused between the two qualities of (a) hiding power or opacity and (b) the spreading power or area covered by a given amount of paint.  'Opacity' and ' Spreading Capacity' are more appropriate terms.


A bedspread.


All forms of this defect are indicative of stresses within the coating system which it is not flexible enough to withstand. This may be the result of ageing and consequent embrittlement of the system of movement, (e.g. expansion or contraction), in the substrate or of the application of hard-drying coats over softer ones. A typical example of the latter occurs when soft bituminous coatings are overcoated with conventional paints.  Slight surface cracking, checking or crazing can sometimes be remedied by rubbing down, filling if necessary and recoating.  In severe cases, and especially if the cracks extend through the whole thickness of the film, the surface must be completely stripped.


That defect in a coating application which results in craters or fish eyes. Often caused by the presence of grease, oil, silicon polishes or other similar contaminants on the surface.


See 'Cracking'.


A linear wood chest used for storage or as a sideboard or buffet.


Spontaneous spreading of a liquid on a surface. In the case of applied paint, or other coating, it refers to the spread of the wet film beyond the area to which it was applied.


A wood preservative that is not available for use around the home because of its toxic nature.


See 'Cracking'.


A type of film defect where small wrinkles occur in a pattern resembling that of a crow's foot.


Solid matter that forms in an adhesive when the temperature falls below 50°F.  Crystallization can also result from hanging wallpaper on a porous wall.


A distortion in wood across the grain caused by warpage.


The period of time that concrete, tile adhesive or grout must be left in order for it to reach full strength.


The chemical process by which paints dry.  Most commonly used when referring to the chemical reaction by which two-pack products dry e.g. two-pack epoxies, two-pack polyurethanes, etc.

Curing Agent

A hardener or activator added to a synthetic resin to develop the proper film forming properties.


A tall cabinet used for displaying collectibles.


The usual causes are uneven application to broad, flat surfaces or over-application to mouldings and to rough or contoured surfaces. Failure to join up 'wet edges' before they have set may result in excessive film thickness and curtaining or sagging.  To remedy the defect, the coating must be allowed to harden thoroughly before flatting down and recoating.

Custom Colour

Special colour that has been made by adding colouriser to base pint.  Facilitates the preparation of a large selection of colours at point of sale.

Cutting In

Applying paint to a surface adjacent to another which is not to be painted -(at least not with the same colour).  An example would be painting a window frame without encroaching on to the glass.


The art of decorating surfaces by applying paper cutouts and then coating with several layers of finish (decoupage medium, lacquer or varnish).


A decorative treatment on the lower part of an interior wall between the chair rail and baseboard.


A heavy fabric of linen, cotton, silk, or rayon created with flat patterns in a satin weave on a plain-woven background, resembling a tone-on-tone effect.


A liquid preparation used to remove the gloss of a painted surface or to slightly roughen a substrate in order to give improved adhesion to the coating being applied


Solvent or compounded material used for removing oils, fats or grease from a substrate.


To remove by use of fine sandpaper, small particles of ofreign matter which stand proud on the surface of a paint film.


The destruction of wood by bacteria, fungi and the like.


A condition where wallpaper backing separates from the top or intermediate layer of vinyl. One frequent cause is excessive soaking.  Some wallpaper, such as grasscloth and stringcloth, should be left to soak for only 3 to 5 minutes before hanging.

Dentil Moulding

Moulding with rectangular tooth-like blocks spaced at equal intervals.


The removal of mill scale or rust from steel by mechanical means, sometimes assisted by flame cleaning.

Dew Point

The temperature at which water vapour in the air begins to condense.

Dhurrie Rug

A flat woven wool or cotton rug from India.


The properties of some materials in which the resistance to flow increases with agitation.


A material blended with an active solvent in an organic coating to increase its volume and/or reduce its viscosity.


Term used to denote that a painted surface has lost its original colour. There are many possible causes of the discolouration of paint films. It is often the effect of atmospheric pollutants on ingredients in the paint.  Exclusion from natural daylight may cause yellowing of paints containing drying oils whilst exposure to bright sunlight may result in fading of some pigments.  Some types of moulds or fungi can also cause discolouration of paints. When discolouration has occurred, there is usually no alternative to repainting but, if a recurrance of the defect is to be avoided, it is necessary to establish its cause and, if possible, to use materials resistant to the condition(s) causing the problem.


The way the pigment particles are distributed finely and evenly throughout the paint medium.


A term used for the broad classification of water thinned coatings which were generally used for walls and ceilings before the advent of modern emulsions.


A window set vertically in a structure projecting through a sloping roof.

Double Cutting

The process of overlapping two pieces of wallpaper and cutting through both layers to make a butt seam.  After cutting, the top piece is peeled back and the bottom piece is removed.  This technique is used when creating border chair rails, at the end of a job and when making repairs.  A new sharp blade should be used on every cut.


Woodworking technique consisting of two interlocking joints; indicative of quality craftsmanship.


Describes a material that is difficult to apply by brushing.

Drop Match

A half-drop match is a wallpaper in which the design runs diagonally and the ceiling line is the same with every other strip.  A multiple drop match is a wallpaper that uses four or five strips before the vertical design repeats.

Dry Dust Free

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

Dry Tack Free

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

Dry to Recoat

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 hand.


The solidification of an applied paint film.  Emulsions dry by evaporation of water while oil based paints dry by evaporation of solvent followed by oxidation of the oil content.

Drying Time

The time required for an applied paint film to reach its full degree of hardness.


Also known as wallboard or gypsum board, a paper covered panel of compressed gypsum used as the primary wall covering in almost all homes.


A lustrous silk woven from two different colors of threads so that it shimmers or changes color in the light.


The degree to which paint withstands the destructive effects of the environment to which it is exposed - especially harsh weather conditions.  Durability has two aspects - (a) its protective properties safeguard the substrate from degradation and (b) its decorative properties allow the paint to retain its attractive appearance.


A thick bed covering made of two layers of cloth that holds a bedspread/comforter.

Dye Lot

A set of numbers and/or letters given to a particular batch of wallpaper rolls printed at the same time.  Each time a new ink or different batch is printed, the dye-lot number will change.

Earth Pigments

A class of pigments usually mined direct from the earth.  Also known as natural or mineral pigments, e.g. red and yellow iron oxides, yellow ochre, raw sienna and raw umber.


An effect in the film caused by rapid solvent release. This boiling of solvent causes a pinholed or cratered appearance reducing gloss.


Term used to describe fluffy or crystallised growth on plaster surfaces. New plaster, rendering, brickwork and similar materials may contain soluble salts which, as the substrate dries out, are brought to the surface where they crystallise as a thin, hard film or a profuse, fluffy growth.


Term to describe a paint finish which is midway between a gloss and a matt finish.


The ability of paint to expand and contract with the substrate without suffering damage or changes in its appearance.  Expansion and contraction are usually caused by some temperature fluctations.  Some substrates, such as yellow pine, expand at different rates depending on the type of grain.  Elasticity is a key to durability.


A raised effect on an object.

Embossed Wallpaper

A raised effect created when heat or cold pressure is used to impress a design into wallpaper. Best used when installing over imperfect wall conditions.  Never use a seam roller on this paper because this will flatten or burnish the raised effect.

Emulsion Paints

Water thinned paints based on a variety of synthetic resins including acrylics, vinyl acetate and vinyl versatate.  These generally have fair to good resistance to alkali and are permeable to water vapour which enables them to be used for early decoration by direct application to new plaster cement rendering and similar surfaces.


Topcoat which is characterised by its ability to form a smooth surface; originally associated with a high gloss, but may also include lower degrees of gloss, i.e. flat enamels.


Clear finish having excellent adhesion qualities; extremely abrasion and chemical resistant.  Epoxies are alcohol proof and very water resistant.


An applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.


The wearing away of the top coating of a painted surface, e.g. by 'chalking' (q.v.) or by the abrasive action of windborne particles of grit and which may result in exposure of the underlying surface.


The protective or ornamental plate surrounding a keyhole or behind a pull drawer.


A piece of furniture with a set of open shelves used for displaying accessories.

Etch Primer

A thin lightly pigmented primer designed to increase the adhesion of  paint.  It is normally used in cases when paint is being applied to non-ferrous metal on which paint will not normally adhere well.

Expanded Vinyl

Wallpaper with a raised, three-dimensional surface created when an expansion agent is added to the vinyl and heated. Good for covering imperfect walls, it is usually sold as white "paintables" that can be painted with latex paint.


A less expensive ingredient in the manufacture of paint than pigment (titanium dioxide).  It fills out and extends the pigment's capabilities.  Extender cannot be used without pigment.  Some common extenders are clays, calcium carbonates and silicas.


A small hole in a piece of fabric designed for a cord to be thread through or used for decoration (as in embroidery).


The change or loss of colour through exposure to ultra violets rays from sunlight.


Breakdown of a paint film such as 'Cracking', 'Flaking', 'Blistering', etc.

False Body

Also known as 'Thixotropy', usually refers to gel type paints which, in the tin, appear to be very thick or even solid.  When applied by brush or roller, the structure breaks down and the paint becomes liquid.

Fat Edge

A heavy accumulation of paint at the edge of a painted surface.


An increase in the viscosity of a paint  after a period of storage.  Also  referred to as  'Feeding'.


  1. Tapering off the edges of a coat of paint through touching in by laying off with a comparatively dry brush.
  2. Where some paint has flaked off, 'feathering' is the tapering of the edges of the remaining paint by rubbing down to provide a smooth surface for overpainting.

Feng Shui

Literally translated as wind and water, it's an ancient Chinese scientific practice based on selecting or configuring a site, structure or interior so as to harmonize with the spiritual forces that inhabit it.


A metal that contains iron; most ferrous metals are subject to rusting.


The metal band which connects the handle and stock of a paintbrush.


A board made of compressed wood fibers and glue.


A composition for levelling off the finer defects of a surface - often used after the coarser defects such as cracks have been made good with a hard stopper.  A filler is applied using a specially designed filling knife or any knife with a broad and flexible blade.

Film Formation

The paint's ability to form a continuous dry film.  In a latex paint this process is the result of the water evaporating and the coming together of the binder particles.  A continuous dry film repels water.


A decorative object attached to the ends of a drapery rod or on top of a column or pediment.

Finish Coat

The last coat applied in a multiple coat paint system, e.g. a gloss coat over earlier coats of primer and undercoating.


Synthetic filaments have the ends mechanically split to create a featured appearance which provide superior paint performance.


In the context of painting, term used to describe poor adhesion of paint film. As with blistering, moisture beneath the paint or varnish film is a frequent cause of flaking as is the application of paint to a powdery or friable surfaces and previous coatings. Dirt, oil, grease and polish residues on the surface impair adhesion and may result in flaking. Excessive movement of the substrate, (e.g. at joints in woodwork), may impose stresses on the paint film causing cracking and untimely flaking. Small areas of flaking paint can often be dealt with by removing the loose material back to a firm edge, touching-in and bringing forward as necessary, then recoating. If the flaking is extensive, or the overall adhesion of the system is doubtful, the surface should be stripped completely before repainting.

Flame Cleaning

The application of an intensely hot flame (usually oxy-acetylene) to a steel surface in order to remove heavy rust or scale.

Flame Stitch

A wavy, angular pattern that looks like the shape of a flickering flame, normally found on brocade fabrics.

Flash Point

The maximum temperature to which a product in a closed cup must be heated before the vapours emitted will ignite momemtarily in the presence of a flame.


The occurrence of areas of apparent roughness or uneven sheen in a matt or mid-sheen paint finish, especially when the surface is viewed at a low or glancing angle.

Flashing Off

Term used to describe the action during a period when the major proportion of the volatile solvent evaporates from the paint film.


Another term for 'matt' and refers to paints which dry to a non-sheen finish.

Flat Back Vinyl

A durable vinyl wallcovering with a synthetic, non-woven backing used most often in commercial installations.


Ability of a coating to expand and contract during temperature changes.


A defect apparent in a dried paint coat in which streaks or patches of a different shade or colour can be seen especially along edges of mouldings.

Flock Wallpaper

Wallpapers made with shredded fibres to replicate the fuzzy texture of velvet.


An extreme case of 'floating' in which pigment particles float in such a manner as to produce a colour which, though uniform over the whole surface, is markedly different from that of the newly applied wet film.


During drying one or more of the pigments in a paint separates or floats apart from the others and concentrates in streaks or patches producing a variegated effect.

Flourescent Coating

Paints which 'glow' or show greatly intensified brightness and colour when subjected to certain types of lighting... usually ultra violet light.  The phenomenon ceases immediately the light source is cut off.


The extent to which a paint is able to level out after application.  Gloss paints usually have good flow resulting in a smooth finish free from brushmarks.


A series of carved out semicircular grooves usually found on columns, molding or wooden legs.

Foam Core

A cardboard-like material with a foam center available in varying thicknesses; commonly used to mount photographs and display materials.

Foil Wallpaper

Very delicate, non-breathable wallpaper made by applying a thin sheet of printable metal to a paper or fabric back.

Free Match

Patterns with seams trimmed in open areas between design elements rather than through design elements.  Free-match patterns may have straight-across matches or drop matches, but the design elements still need to be aligned.

French Pleats

Small, gathered pleats used on the top construction of formal drapes.


An ornamental open or pierced woodcarving on furniture pieces.


A decorative horizontal band, as along the upper part of a wall, doorway or window.

Fugitive Colour

Description of a paint or pigment which fades on exposure to light or weather.

Full Coat

As heavy or thick a coat of paint as can be applied in a single application consistent with satisfactory appearance, drying, etc.


Unsightly growths which are generallly destructive to paint coatings. Moisture is an essential requirement for the development and growth of moulds or fungi. They are especially likely to occur in conditions of high humidity or on surfaces with a high moisture content. Remedial treatment should include reduction in humidity and moisture content, if possible, and the application of fungicidal washes to kill the growth.


Substances which are capable of destroying mould growths and fungi.  Solutions of fungicide are used in the painting trade for sterilising mould infected surfaces prior to the application of paint.  Also incorporated in various types of paint to give protection against further attack.


A Japanese-style mattress set upon a folding frame, which can be used for both seating and a bed.


A ferrous metal that is covered with zinc to protect it from rusting.


A condition in which a paint changes during storage and cannot be restored to usable state.


A paste used to prepare a surface for painting or gilding; mixture of whiting and size (traditionally animal-skin glue).


Involves appying a thin overlay of gold leaf.


An ornamental flat braid or round cord used as a trimming.


A transparent or lightly pigmented coating which, when applied over a coating, gives extra protection against dirt or grime.


When used in a painting context, denotes the application of a thin translucent coloured coating to produce an effect of depth of colour not obtainable by the use of a fully pigmented paint.


The extent to which a painted surface reflects light.  The degree of gloss may be described as (a) 'Matt' or 'Flat' having no visible gloss, (b) 'Eggshell' which has a semi-gloss finish or (c) 'Full Gloss'  which is the highest available sheen.

Goblet Pleat

A pinch-pleated drapery heading filled out with batting or stiff paper.

Gold Leaf

Pure gold beaten out to produce an extremely thin leaf (approx. 1/2,000,000 of an inch) and applied to surfaces to be gilded.

Gold Size

A general description for an adhesive used for affixing gold leaf.  It can be either a gelatine or glue-size or an oil-varnish.  The latter product is now more commonly used and can also be used a drier in oil paints or as hardener/drier for stopping and filling compounds.  It should, more correctly, be termed 'Japan Gold Size'.


A method of painting with opaque colours that have been ground in water and mixed with a preparation of gum.  Also used to describe any picture painted by this method.


The direction, size, arrangement or appearance of the fibres in wood or veneer.


A method of imitating the grain of wood by the application of a semi-transparent over a painted groundwork.  It should not be confused with 'staining' which is the application ofa coloured stain or coating directly to bare timber.

Grass Cloth

A handmade product made by applying woven grasses to a paper backing. Grass cloth contains natural shading effects that have to be expected because it is a handmade product. Usually imported from Asia.


A printing process which provides good quality at high speed and relatively low cost.  The design image is etched into a series of cylinders that transfer ink to paper.


When a paint does not completely obliterate the surface to which it is applied the latter is said to be "grinning through".


An eyelet in a piece of fabric reinforced with two pieces of metal affixed with a specialized tool.


A strong, close-woven corded fabric usually of silk or rayon.


A general term for a surface suitable for painting; also used for an undercoat, especially an undercoat used for graining or glazing.


Thin fluid mortar or cement mixture for filling joints or interstices or for bonding loose rubble.


Natural crystalline calcium sulphate used as an extender pigment in paint, and in the manufacture of gypsum wallboard and plaster of Paris.

Hair Cracks

This usually refers to the very fine cracks which occur in plaster or cement rendered walls and which are often not seen until the surface is being painted.  These cracks are too fine to fill and one solution is to apply lining paper and finish with wallpaper.  On external walls the use of an aggregate type coating will often give satisfactory results,

Half-Drop Match

Patterns appear to run diagonally across the wall in such a way that every other strip is identical at the ceiling line.  It takes two strips of wallpaper to complete the pattern horizontally.

Handprinted Wallpaper

Wallpapers that are printed by hand by forcing inks through a screen.

Hard Dry

This term is normally used to denote that the paint has dried without "tack" or "softness".  In the case of primer or undercoat, a hard dry surface is one which can be rubbed down without undue clogging of the abrasive paper and which can be safely overcoated.

Hard Gloss

General term for an oil/varnish bound paint... originally used to distinguish such paints from those based soley on a drying oil.


The degree of pressure a material will withstand without becoming deformed or scratched.


Trees that have broad leaves (in contrast to conifer or softwoods).  The term has no reference to the actual hardness of the wood.  Examples are: - Oak, Maple, Ash, Beech and Walnut.


The top edge of a curtain that forms a ruffle when the curtain is on the rod.

Hiding Power

The ability of paint to hide or obscure a surface colour over which it has been uniformly applied.  Hiding power is provided by the paint's pigment(s).

Holding Primer

A primer formulated for use a temporary protective coating for blast-cleaned steel.


In the paint trade, 'Holidays' is a term used to define a small area missed during the application of a paint coating, e.g. where, during the application of a gloss paint, a small area has not been undercoated.

Hot Surface

In the painting sense this denotes a highly absorbent surface which tends to take up the paint very rapidly.


The attribute of a colour that determines whether it is red, yellow, green, blue, purple, etc.


Almost a synonym for  "hot" and indicates a porous surface that quickly absorbs paint.  It is sometimes used to describe the appearance of a paint film that has been affected by excessive porosity of the surface beneath.  Alternatively, the term "straved" may be used.


An impervious paint system is one which will prevent the passage of moisture or moisture vapour.

In-Register Wallpaper

Wallpapers with a heat-embossed texture that perfectly matches the pattern.  Often shiny or light-reflective in appearance.

Inhibitive Pigment

A pigment which retards or prevents the corrosion of metals by chemical and/or electrochemical means as opposed to a purely barrier action.  Red lead and zinc chromates are examples of inhibitive pigments as opposed to red iron oxide which has little or no inhibitive properties.


Decorative patterns created with pieces of different types of wood or other materials that have been set into the surface of wood furniture or floors.


A layer of paint that is 'sandwiched' between two others.  Also refers to something occurring between coats, as in 'intercoat adhesion'.


To swell, enlarge or expand when exposed to heat.  Many fire retardant paints have this property.


A pleated or tapered piece of fabric that drapes down on either side of a swag or valance for a decorative effect.


Intricate fabrics such as tapestries, brocades and damasks whose patterns are woven with yarns of different colors.


An abbreviation of 'Japanning' which is the process of finishing with a stoving black called 'Japanners Black' or 'Black Japan'.  Hence also 'Japanners Gold Size' or 'japan Gold Size'.


The gap or space created when two building materials come together, such as where two pieces of moulding come bathtub and bathroom wall meet.

Keep Alive/Keep Open

Refers to the condition of a paint which has been applied for a short while but is still in a sufficiently liquid condition to be successfully joined up and to dry without showing the lap.


As a paint term, this refers to the slight roughness of a surface which enables a coat of paint to achieve good mechanical adhesion to the surface.


A solution of shellac in methylated spirit used for treating knots and resinous timber to prevent stains from the timber discolouring the paint.  It cannot, however, be expected to hold back resinous exudation.

Knotting Compound

Used as a sealer and clear finish for floors, sealing knots, also seen in solvent based primers.


A hard, protective high-sheen varnish often applied as a topcoat to furniture.


A milky type deposit from newly applied concrete.


Any thin material such as wood or plastic glued to the exterior of a cabinet, countertop or other surface.


In painting, the expression 'to lap' refers to the joining up of a section of painting to a previously painted but still wet section.  Normally it is important for the previously painted edges to be 'kept alive' so that the paint can be well worked into those edges and subsequently dry without showing the lap.


A milky white, fine dispersion of a solid resin in an acqueous medium.  Also used to describe water thinned paints, the principal vehicle of which is latex.

Latex Paint

Water based paint made with synthetic binders such as 100% acrylic vinyl, acrylic terpolymer of styrene acrylic.  Latex paint dries fast, flows smoothly and cleans up easily with water.


Wood, wrought iron or other material formed into a cross-hatch design.

Laying Off

The final brush strokes on any surface during a painting operation.  These strokes are made after the paint has been spread evenly over the surface.

Lead Paint

Usually refers to a paint based on white lead or red lead but, more widely, can mean any paint containing lead pigment.


Certain metallic pigments such as aluminium in the form of thin, flat flakes (as distinct from the granular form) which float to the surface of a paint coating and slightly overlatp each other.  The dried film forms a 'barrier' which helps to prevent staining from previous coatings or substrate.

Let Down

To dilute a material usually to improve application properties.


The ability of a coating to form a smooth film without showing brush marks.


A softening or disturbance of a coating another is coat is applied, especially by brush. With conventional decorative paints, lifting usually due to application before the previous coat is thoroughly dry. Solution type coatings, such as those based on chlorinated rubber or nitrocellulose, tend to soften when recoated with similar materials and, for this reason, are best applied by spray if large areas are involved.  Coatings of this type may also soften oil based paints, even when these are thoroughly aged and a small scale test to check the resistance of the existing coating is advisable.

Light Fastness

The degree of resistance to colour fading of pigments in paint on exposure to light.


A white or pale coloured coating for brickwork, stucco, cob, walls, etc., which is made from freshly slaked quicklime and to which a binding agent, such as tallow, is stirred in while still hot.  Pale colours can be achieved by tinting with lime-fast dry pigment.  Also referred to as 'Whitewash'.


An all-natural flooring material made of linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone and pigments; regarded as environmentally-friendly flooring.

Linseed Oil

An oil obtained by crushing falx seed.  Its drying properties make it suitable for a paint medium but it is now used mainly for modifying synthetic resins.

Live Edge

During the process of painting large areas, some of the edges of the wet paint will have to be left for a period of time while the remainder of the area is being painted,  If these edges are still capable of being joined without a lap showing they are said to be 'live'.  The skill of the painter is to coat the whole surface keeping any such edges 'live' so that the finished work shows no joints or laps.

Long Oil

Term used to denote the properties of oil and resin in a varnish.  A long oil varnish should contain not less than 70% drying oil.  Terms of other proportions: Short Oil for 45-50% drying off; Medium Oil for 50-70% drying off.

Loss of Gloss

A gradual loss of gloss is to be expected as finish ages. Early loss of gloss may be caused by applying paint or varnish in unsuitable conditions, e.g. low temperature or high humidity, or to surfaces on which there is grease, oil, wax polish or other contaminant.<br/>Failure to satisfy the porosity of the surface or the use of poor quality undercoats may result in sinkage of the finish and loss of gloss.Over-thinning and the use of unsuitable thinners are other causes.  Some of the causes of loss of gloss may also cause slow drying. If the coating dries satisfactorily and is otherwise not affected, application of a further coat will usually restore the gloss.

Luminous Paint

A paint containing a phosphorescent pigment which glows in the dark aafter exposure to light.


A term used to describe a particular degree of gloss finish, e.g. eggshell or low gloss.

Making Good

Carrying out the requisite repairs  in order to provide a sound surface for painting.


Decorative patterns made of inlays, usually applied to veneered surfaces.


Covering that part of a surface which is not to be painted.  'Masks' can be sheets sof brown paper held in position by adhesive tape though the usual method is by using proprietary Masking Tape.  Plastic or metal shields are also sometimes for the same task.

Masking Tape

A strip of paper of cloth similar to adhesive tape, which can be easily removed, used to temporarily cover areas that are not to be painted.


Mineral based building material such as cement, mortar, stone, brick and stucco.

Mat Board

A thick paperboard used to add dimension to framed artwork; available in a wide variety of colors.


A heavy, upholstery-weight fabric made in a double-cloth construction to create a quilted surface.

Matt Finish

A flat finish with little or no sheen.

Matt Paint

A paint with little or no sheen.  Used mostly on interior walls and ceilings and exterior wall areas.


Short name for Medium Density Fiberboard.  A type of board made of wood particles glued together with synthetic resin.


A liquid component of paint in which pigments are dispersed and which forms part of the dry paint film.

Metal Spraying

Describes the process of spraying molten zinc or aluminium on to grit-blasted steel to provide protection against corrosion.


An apparent change in colour under different lighting conditions.


Mineral silicates used in the manufacture of textured paints.


A term used to describe paints which are permeable to water vapour and allow moisture to dry out through the paint coating without damage to the paint film.


Chemical agent in good quality paints that destroys mildew - a common problem in humid climates.


Iron oxides, usually black in colour, which can be present in a complete layer on new steelwork.  Millscale should be completely removed before painting.

Mist Coat

A thin and thinly applied coat of paint (usually emulsion) which is applied to bare plaster and acts as an economy "sealer"


A silk fabric with a distinctive water-marked swirled pattern.

Moisture Resistance

The ability of a coating to resist swelling, blistering or other damage caused by moisture.


Solution or preparation applied to a surface to assist paint to adhere thereon, e.g. on galvanised iron.

Mould Growths

Unsightly growths which are generallly destructive to paint coatings. Moisture is an essential requirement for the development and growth of moulds or fungi. They are especially likely to occur in conditions of high humidity or on surfaces with a high moisture content. Remedial treatment should include reduction in humidity and moisture content, if possible, and the application of fungicidal washes to kill the growth.


Ornamental wood strips that are applied to and project from a surface.


Wood trim that sets off smaller panes of glass in a window.

Nail Head Rusting

The rusting of the exposed heads of iron nails.  It can show through and discolour the coating covering it.  Can occur if bright nails, rather than galvanised, are used outdoors.


A fabric with a texture or design that runs on one direction such as corduroy and velvet.


Small pieces of foreign material, pieces of paint skin, coagulated medium, etc., which project above the surface of coat of paint.


A display shelf, seating area, etc. built into the wall.

Non Volatile

The solid portion of a coating consisting of pigment and binder; it is the portion of the coating left on the surface after it is dry.

Non-Volatile Matter

The ingredients of a coating which, after drying, are left behind on the material to which it has been applied and which constitute the dry film.


The quality or degree that a coat of paint hides the underlying surface.

Oil Based Paints

Paints made with a drying oil, such as linseed, soya or tung oil as the vehicle and binder and the mineral spirits or paint thinner as the thinning agent.  They are not common today but generally dry very hard.  They take longer to dry than emulsion paints and require more time to recoat.

Oil Length

See 'Long Oil'.

Oil Stains

There are two types of oil stains, i.e. penetrating and non-penetrating.  Penetrating oil stains contain dyes and resins that penetrate the surface; non-penetrating oil stains contain larger amounts of pigments and are usually opaque or translucent.


Generally refers to varnishes composed of vegetable drying oils in conjunction with resins which may be either natural or synthetic.


The ability of a coat of paint to obliterate the colour of the surface to which it is applied.


Applies to any material that is does not allow light to pass through (i.e. non-transparent).

Orange Peel

The "dimple" effect on a paint coating.  With spray application, it is often caused by insufficient thinning.  In the case of roller application, it is often caused by an incorrect choice of roller sleeve.


An upholstered footstool or seat without arms or back used for extra seating.


Sprayed paint which misses the surface to be coated.  Although often unavoidable, much can be done to reduce the risk through skillful use of the spray gun trigger.


The process whereby substances combine with oxygen.  Oil paints dry by oxidation of the oil content.


Abbreviation for Polyvinyl Acetate which is used as a medium in emulsion paints.


A coating including resin, a solvent, additives, pigments and (in some products) a diluent.  Paints are generally opaque and commonly represent the portion of the industry known as 'architectural coatings'.

Paint Deodorants

Aromatic materials which are added to paint to mask paint odours.

Paint Remover

A liquid composition that is applied to a dry paint film and which softens it sufficiently to permit removal of the paint by scraping.

Palladian Window

A large window divided into three parts—an arched center section and two smaller side sections.


Material made from paper pulp and then moulded into various objects, which are suitable to be painted and varnished when dry.


Wood flooring laid in blocks with boards at angles to each other to form decorative patterns.


Fancy trimmings such as tassels, tiebacks and ribbon.

Patch Prime

The priming of localised bare surfaces when 'bringing forward', prior to 'stopping up' and/or painting.


A lustre or sheen that develops with use over time; evident in metals, fine antiques, vintage furniture and leather.

Pattern Repeat

The frequency at which the pattern is duplicated at intervals down the fabric or wall covering; one repeat is one full pattern.

Pattern Staining

Regular patterns showing on a painted surface, particularly ceilings, where the position of joists and other constructional features are clearly shown by the variation in surface dirt retention.


An ornamental crest running across the top of tall piece such as a curio, grandfather clock, etc.


The detachment of paint from the surface in ribbons or sheets.  Like 'Flaking' it is the result of loss of adhesion properties.

Pencil Pleat

A tightly gathered drapery heading.


A medium-weight cotton fabric used for bedding.


A term used to indicate the degree to which a paint system will meet the requirements of a specific job, e.g. an interior quality paint would hive poor performance if used on exterior surfaces.


A paint system is said to be permeable when it allows water vapour to pass through the paint film, i.e. the paint allows the substrate to breathe.


The treatment of steel or other metal surfaces of articles with solutions containing phossphates and phosphoric acid to produce a coating which inhibits corrosion and assists paint adhesion.

Picking Out

The individual colour treatment of ornamental units and/or mouldings in cornices and similar architectural features.

Picking Up

1. The process of joining up to 'wet' or 'live' edges on lapping. 2. The lifting or softening of a previous coat of paint when applying a subsequent coating.


The treatment of steel by immersion in a special acid solution in order to remove 'millscale'.  Alternatively, a method of removing varnish or varnished wallpaper with a strong alkaline solution.  Hence any alkaline cleaning may be referred to as 'pickling'. The term is sometimes used to describe a whitewashed paint finish.


This powder-like substance is one of paint's basic components (the other being binder).  The pigment gives the paint its colour and hiding power.  Titanium dioxide is the most important pigment used to provide hiding power in paint.


A flattened column-like detail applied to furniture such as bookcases, grandfather clocks, etc. for decorative purposes.


Refers to the length or height of the material on a paint roller sleeve.  High pile rollers have longer fibres which hold more paint and create some texture in the print finish.

Pinch Pleats

Small, gathered pleats used on the top construction of formal drapes.


The formation of minute holes in a paint film during application and drying.


A cord wrapped in fabric, which is used to trim upholstery seams and places where the fabric meets with exposed wood.

Plastic Paint

A plaster composition which can be manipulated after application to produce a patterned or modelled effect.  The description should not be used for paints based on synthetic resins.


A synthetic type of resin used in the manufacture of some types of masonry paints.  Pliolite is the trade mark of Goodyear Tyre & Rubber Co.


This binder is produced from petrochemical feedstocks.  The binder's polymer particles are small in size and carried in water.  The binder, polymer and water mix make up what is now known as emulsion.


Wide range of coatings, ranging from hard glossy enamels to soft flexible coatings.  Enjoys good to very good adhesion, hardness, flexibility and resistance.  Surface preparation is critical for best results.

Poor Opacity

The failure of a paint system to hide or obliterate the colour of the original surface or the previous paint. It may be caused by applying too few coats, using an undercoat of unsuitable colour, excessive spreading or uneven application of the paint.  It may also be caused through the use of poor quality paint.  Over thinning of paint and failure to incorporate settled pigments by thorough stirring are other possible causes. To remedy the defect, it is necessary to apply further coats, avoiding any earlier faults in thinning, stirring or application.


The degree to which a material will absorb liquids.

Pot Life

This refers to the period during which a two-pack material remains usable after mixing.

Primary Colours

Colours that cannot be produced by mixing two other colours.  They are: - Red, Yellow and Blue.


The first coat of paint applied to a surface which is then the foundation for subsequent coats.


A composition usually made from linseed oil and whiting and used mainly for bedding glass into primed wooden window frames.


A waved braid used for trim.

Rain Spotting

Depressions or surface blemishes in a paint film caused by rain falling on the surface before the paint has fully dried.

Raking Out

The process if cutting out cracks in plaster or rendered surfaces to remove loose particles and to provide a key fir the repair material.


Sculptural ornamentation raised above its surface or background.


Term used to describe any gum or resin used cor varnish and paint manufacture.  In the case of synthetic resin the term embraces liqquid syrups as well as the solid material.


A waved braid used for trim.


This term is used to describe wrinkling of the outer surface of a paint coating. It occurs most frequently with gloss finishes on exterior work in conditions conducive to the rapid formation of a surface 'skin', e.g. in dry , bright, windy weather. Given these conditions, shrivelling is likely to be more severe if the paint has been heavily applied.  The formation of a surface 'skin' reduces the supply of oxygen to the underlying paint.  If the coating is excessively thick, it may take several days or even weeks, to dry and harden properly. If the time can be for the coating to dry and harden, it may be rubbed down with fine abrasive paper and recoated. If early reinstatement is necessary, it may be possible to scrape off most of the defective material and remove the residue with a clean cloth and white spirit.  Another coat can then be applied.

Rod Pocket

A stitched pocket at the top of a curtain panel.


A paint application tool having a revolving cylinder covered with lambswool, fabric, foamed plastic of other material.

Roman Shade

A window treatment that contains horizontal folds when raised and is traditionally flat against the window when lowered.


Describes the appearance of coarse or heavy brushmarks in a paint finish. Although mainly visible in high gloss finishes, brushmarks are usually in the undercoat or primer and may not be seen until the gloss finish is applied and when it is too late for an easy remedy. Ropiness may be caused by using paint which is excessively thick as a result of age or evaporation of solvent. Other causes include unskilled or careless application (especially of undercoats) or the use of brushes of unsuitable size or poor quality.  With water thinned paints, brushmarking can be caused by overbrushing or inadequate thinning, particularly on very absorbent surfaces. To reinstate a 'ropy' surface, the paint must be allowed to fully harden before rubbing down, preferably with a waterproof abrasive paper and water, and recoating.


Scandinavian/Norwegian folk art rose painting.


Describes a heavy-bodied paint or having good build and opacity.

Round Coat

Usually refers to the liberal application of a full coat of paint.

Rubbing Down

Preparation of a surface by use of abrasive materials, (e.g. glasspaper/sandpaper) to obtain a smooth surface for painting over or to provide a 'key' for subsequent coats.


The usual causes are uneven application to broad, flat surfaces or over-application to mouldings and to rough or contoured surfaces. Failure to join up 'wet edges' before they have set may result in excessive film thickness and curtaining or sagging.  To remedy the defect, the coating must be allowed to harden thoroughly before flatting down and recoating.


Narrow dribbles or tears of paint caused by the excess flowing from crevices, edges or corners.  Usually the defect arises from insufficient spreading or care during application.


The reddish, brittle oxide formed on iron or its alloys.  It is a result of exposure to air and humidity or chemicals.

Rust Damage

The defects in a paint film, which can be traced to rust forming under the paint, are due mainly to insufficient preparation of the metal, including incomplete removal of millscale. Breakdowns are usually initially seen as blistering or cratering. Complete breakdown leading to wholesale lifting and flaking inevitably follows. Thorough removal of the paint corrosion and millscale is essential before repainting. The surface must also be dry. The priming paint should be applied immediately after preparation, ensuring that a suitable primer and adequate paint systems are used.


Usually occurs on vertical surfaces where paint has been too thickly and unevenly applied resulting in "horizontal runs" with a thick lower edge.

Sand Blasting

Grit and sand blasting are processes used in the preparation and cleaning of steel to remove millscale and corrosion products,  Both processes are highly specialised.


The use of an abrasive to level a surface prior to painting.  The more common term used by painters is "rubbing down".


The effect of alkali on oil based paints in the presence of moisture.  Mild attack causes the paint to soften and probably discolour.  In severe cases the paint may be completely destroyed. Alkali in damp cement, concrete, lime plaster, asbestos or similar materials and contact with alkaline solutions will cause saponification of oil based paints. When saponification has occurred, the surface must be stripped, washed and allowed to dry out completely before repainting.  If the paint is likely to be in contact with alkaline solutions, as in some industrial environments, non-saponifiable specialist coatings may be required.

Satin Finish

A finish with a low to medium degree of sheen or gloss finish.


The ability of a paint fim to withstand scrubbing and cleaning with water, soap or other household cleaning agents without apparent degradation.


A technique in painting whereby the final coat is patterned or partly removed to expose the undercoat or ground coat in order to obtain colour variety.


A clear or pigmented coating, applied to an absorbent surface to reduce absorption or suction, or to a powdery or friable surface, after thorough preparation to reduce the risk of flaking of subsequent coats. The term also refers to coatings whose function is to prevent discolouration or staining of subsequent coats by soluble matter,  Some sealers may also function as 'primers' (q.v.)


The appearance of very small particles in a dried paint film.


Finished sides of the lengthwise grain that prevents raveling.


An intermediate level of gloss between a "full gloss" and an "eggshell" finish.


The condition of a paint coating when it has ceased to flow.


On long storage, the solid constituents of paints, notably the pigment, tend to settle out. Unless the settled material is properly is reincorporated, the opacity and other properties of the paint may be impaired. thorough mising witha broad blade stirrer, using a lifting and beating action, is effective for small quantities of paint. For large quantities, a mechanical shaker may be more practical.  When paints, known to be prone to settlement, are stored inverting the containers at regular intervals is helpful.


The deposition of the solid particles of a paint to the bottom of the container.


The occurrence of areas of apparent roughness or uneven sheen in a matt or mid-sheen paint finish, especially when the surface is viewed at a low or glancing angle. When the sheariness is evident, it is often along the 'laps' of joins between adjacent sections of the work and a common cause is the failure to join up before the 'wet edge' has set. Variations in the porosity of the surface may also be responsible for sheariness. Light flatting and a further coat, avoiding the previous fault in application, (if this was the cause), will usually remedy the defect.  On large areas, roller application is often less likely to result in sheariness than using a brush.


The degree of gloss in a low gloss or matt type finish.


A spot that is glossier than the surrounding surface.

Shoji Screen

A free standing Oriental-style sliding door with paper inserts, often used as a room divider.

Shop Priming

Factory application of primers to wood, metal, etc.

Short Oil

The term used to describe a varnish or paint medium which contains a low proportion of oil in relation to its resin content.

Shot Blasting

Grit and sand blasting are processes used in the preparation and cleaning of steel to remove millscale and corrosion products,  Both processes are highly specialised.


This term is used to describe wrinkling of the outer surface of a paint coating. It occurs most frequently with gloss finishes on exterior work in conditions conducive to the rapid formation of a surface 'skin', e.g. in dry , bright, windy weather. Given these conditions, shrivelling is likely to be more severe if the paint has been heavily applied.  The formation of a surface 'skin' reduces the supply of oxygen to the underlying paint.  If the coating is excessively thick, it may take several days or even weeks, to dry and harden properly. If the time can be for the coating to dry and harden, it may be rubbed down with fine abrasive paper and recoated. If early reinstatement is necessary, it may be possible to scrape off most of the defective material and remove the residue with a clean cloth and white spirit.  Another coat can then be applied.

Silk Finish

A finish with a low to medium degree of sheen or gloss finish.


Term used to describe the loss of sheen in a gloss finish. Early loss of gloss may be caused by applying paint or varnish in unsuitable conditions, e.g. low temperature or high humidity, or to surfaces on which there is grease, oil, wax polish or other contaminant. Failure to satisfy the porosity of the surface or the use of poor quality undercoats may result in sinkage of the finish and loss of gloss. Over-thinning and the use of unsuitable thinners are other causes.  Some of the causes of loss of gloss may also cause slow drying. If the coating dries satisfactorily and is otherwise not affected, application of a further coat will usually restore the gloss.


A natural, durable fibre frequently used for floor coverings.


A problem which arises largely with emulsion paints when applied by roller. It usually occurs when the roller sleeve is too heavily loaded - the roller sleeve fails to turn, finding it easier to 'skid' across the surface. The solution to this problem is avoidance of it happening, i.e. never overload the roller with paint.


Condition of a recently dried glossy paint film which has lost its initial gloss slightly.

Slow Drying

If paint remains soft, tacky or even wet for a long time, possible causes are application in unsuitable conditions, e.g. poor ventilation, low temperature, excessive humidity, chemical pollution or application to surfaces on which there is grease, oil, wax polish or other such contaminants.Drying may also be retarded if a preceding coat has not been allowed to harden sufficiently. The use of unsuitable thinners may also retard drying.An improvement in atmospheric conditions, when they are the cause of slow drying, may allow the coating to dry eventually though it is likely that its appearance may be impaired and a further coat may be required.When surface contamination is responsible, it will usually be necessary to remove the affected material, clean the surface thoroughly and repaint.


A liquid compent used in paint to bring it to a suitable consistency for use and which evaporates from the paint after evaporation.  Also a liquid which dissolve dried paint, e.g. cellulose thinners on cellulose paints,


Droplets of paint that spin or mist off the roller as paint is being applied.


Interior painting technique in which natural sea sponges are used to apply or partially remove a 'glaze coat' of paint.

Spot Priming

The priming of localised bare timber surfaces when 'bringing forward' prior to 'stopping up' and/or painting


Application of paint by a spray gun.  Two types of spray guns are available. The conventional gun is operated by compressed air while the airless type works by hydraulically compressing the paint.


The action of applying paint or stain by brush in a uniform coat over any surface.

Spreading Rate

The area which a given quantity of paint will cover, e.g. the spreading rate of a particular paint may be said to be "15 sq. mtr. per litre".


Any coloured pigment or paint mixture used to make small adjustments in colour to an already prepared paint.


Almost a synonym for  "hot" and indicates a porous surface that quickly absorbs paint.  It is sometimes used to describe the appearance of a paint film that has been affected by excessive porosity of the surface beneath.  Alternatively, the term "Hungry" may be used.


The treatment of surfaces to kill off organic growth such as mould or algae prior to painting.


A method of evening out a coat of paint by dabbing or lightly beating out the surface immediately after application with a special brush know as a 'stippler'. The result gives a textured appearance to the finish.


The action of filling up joints, cracks, deep imperfections or holes before painting.


The process of drying and hardening a paint coating by heating in an oven or other apparatus.


The removal of old paint of wallpaper, paint or varnish.


The surface or composition of the structure which is to be painted.

Surfactant Leaching

Also called 'water spotting' and 'weeping'. It is often a tan coloured, glossy residue that forms on the surface when exterior water based paint is applied under conditions that are cool and damp and which result in slow drying of the paint.  May not easily wash off, but generally will weather off within a month.


One or more pieces of fabric draped over a rod, typically used at the top of a window treatment with jabots.


Man made rather than occurring naturally.

Tack Cloth

A fabric impregnated with a special oil or resin which remains tacky.  Used to remove dust, etc., from a surface immediately before painting.


A highly decorative fabric with a woven design, commonly used for upholstery.


Narrow dribbles or runs of paint caused by the excess flowing from crevices, edges or corners.  Usually the defect arises from insufficient spreading or care during application.


This form of liquid drier for paint was originally a combination of solvent, linseed oil and metallic salts.  Now the term tends to be used by the painter for any liquid drying agent.

Textured Paint

Paint that can be manipulated by brush, roller, trowel or other tool to produce various effects.


Having the property of being softened by heating and hardened by cooling - this process is repeatable.


The thinner and binder together form the paint's vehicle.  Water thinner used in latex paints evaporates as the paint dries, allowing a smooth finish.  Turpentine or White Spirit are the thinners used in oil based paints.


Also known as 'False Body', usually refers to gel type paints which, in the can, appear to be very thick of even solid.  When applied by brush or roller the gel structure breaks down and the paint becomes liquid thus allowing ease of application.


Any coloured pigment or paint mixture used to make small adjustments in colour to an already prepared paint.


The process of shaving the tips of synthetic filament to prepare the tips for flagging (splitting) for superior paint performance.

Titanium Oxide

A highly opaque inert white pigment.  It is the white pigment almost exclusively used in the manufacture of all white paint or in colours which require the addition of white.


A cotton fabric with designs of country settings, animals, people or other objects usually printed in one color on a solid background color.


A characterisitc of a dry paint film which contains a proportion of relatively course or abrasive pigment.  Tooth improves the rubbling properties and the 'adhesion' (q.v.) of a paint or varnish.


A floor lamp that directs light upward from a reflective bowl or inverted cone shade.

Touch Up

A spot repair of the painting surface (usually within a few minutes of initial painting) without showing colour or gloss differences.


A colourless liquid, which is used a thinner for oil paints and varnishes, distilled from the products of the pine tree.


Describes a coating supplied as two separate components which are mixed together in certain proportions before use.  The subsequent mixture has a limited 'pot life' (q.v.).


A paint coating applied after the primer and before the finishing coat.  In relation to timber, an undercoat helps to fill the grain and to give a good base for a gloss finish.  In all cases the use of the right undercoat is essential to achieve the correct colour of the top coat.

Universal Colourants

A colourant which can be used for tinting both water based and oil based paints.

Useful Life

The period of time during which the paint film is still satisfactorly protecting and/or maintaining its decorative appearance.


Any type of decorative fabric piece that covers the window treatment hardware at the top of the window.


Transparent liquid that dries on exposure to air to give a decorative and protective coating when applied as a thin film.

Varnish Stain

Varnishes coloured with a dye and without the same power of penetration as the true stains, leaving a coloured coating on the surface.


The vehicle and the pigment are the two basic components of paint.  The vehicle is made up of the binder and thinner.


Thin sheets of wood applied to a furniture surface.


A greenish deposit on aged copper, bronze or brass.

Vinyl Emulsion

Emulsion based on P.V.A. or other vinyl compounds.


A measurement of the consistency and/or other properties of paint, i.e. thickness or thinness.


Abbreviation for volatile organic content.  Any carbon compound that evaporates under standard test conditions.  Essentially all paint solvents except water are VOC's.  The amount of volatile organics found in paint is now being limited because about possible destructive environmental and health effects.


A sheer lightweight fabric used to make sheets, pillows, shams, duvet covers and draperies for canopy beds.

Volume Solids

The volume of pigment plus binder divided by the total volume expressed as a percentage.  High volume solids mean a thicker dry film.


Representing a Japanese worldview, it's a style of perceiving art and the beauty that pervades all things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.


An application of wood paneling up to the middle or lower half of a wall.

Wallpaper Collection

A line of wallpaper patterns sold together in the same sample book.


Ease with which washing will remove dirt from the paint's surface without damaging it.


The behaviour of paint films when exposed to sun, rain, frost and atmospheric pollution.  Natural outdoor weathering tests are normally carried out at selected exposure sites on painted panels which are exposed vertically or a 45° and facing south in the northern hemisphere.


A cord wrapped in fabric, which is used to trim upholstery seams and places where the fabric meets with exposed wood.

Wet Adhesion

The ability of dry paint to adhere to the surface despite wet conditions.  This is particularly important in exterior paints.

Wet Edge

Refers to the condition of a paint which has been applied for a short while but has remained in a sufficiently liquid condition to be successfully joined up and not to show any lapping when dry.

Wood Filler

Heavily pigmented product used to fill the grain of wood before undercoats or finishes are applied.  Used on open grain hardwoods such as oak, ash, walnut and chestnut.  Used for furniture and trim.

Working Up

The action of an existing and apparently dry coat of paint being removed by applying another coat over it.


The development of wrinkles during drying.  Often caused by too thick an application.


Sometimes called xylol. A solvent, like toluene, that softens glue enough so it can be scrubbed off with a coarse cloth or soft-bristle brush.


All oil based paints are prone to yellowing in situations where direct daylight is limited or excluded altogether.  Yellowing may also occur in atmospheres containing even samll amounts of ammonia or sulphur compounds. Conditions conducive to yellowing may therefore exist in many interior environments, especially in kitchens and adjacent rooms where amonia and sulphur compounds may be present as combustion products. When yellowing of this type has occurred, repainting is the only solution. Improving ventilation and increasing direct daylight, if practicable, will help to prevent a repetition of the problem.  As the defect is more obvious with white paint, it may be better to use a pastel colour when repainting. Deposition of tarry matter in tobacco tar, sometimes described as 'nicotine staining', may cause apparent yellowing of painted surfaces.  The deposit is difficult to remove completely and residues my discolour the new paint. To help prevent this, a coat of Alkali Resisting Primer or another specialist primer should be applied afterwashing the surface with sugar soap.

Zahn Cup

An efflux viscometer consisting of a small cup with a hole in the bottom and a handle so that is can be dipped into the liquid to be measured. The viscosity is recorded as the time required for the cup to empty through the hole.

Zinc Dust

Ground zinc metal, gray in color, used in metal primers.

Zinc Oxide

A commonly used pigment which is capable of killing mildew.

Zinc White

A common white pigment, zinc white is a brilliant white synthetically derived from the metal zinc.