Glossary of painting and decorating terms
Acrylic – A term describing waster based decorating materials.
Acrylic Filler – A water based gap and surface fillers that remain highly flexible when cured to allow movement. Particularly useful for ceiling cracks and junctions between plaster and wood.
Ageing – Giving something an aged appearance – various techniques can be used, such as staining and denting. Also referred to as Antiquing or Distressing.
Alkyd – An oil based paint made from synthetic resin instead of natural oils.
Anaglypta – Originally a trade name but now used generically to describe wallpaper with an embossed surface pattern.
Antiquing – see Ageing
Bleed through – A painting fault resulting from a wood knot, solvent or other contaminate under paint showing stains in the paint.
Blocking – A technique of applying a design to a wall, floor, or other area. Uses a cut-out, shaped object, the surface of which is dipped in paint and then applied to that area.
Brushing out – Spreading paint or other liquid finishes to give even coverage.
Colour washing – A traditional paint technique where paint is diluted and used to create a semitransparent rather than an opaque finish.
Combing – A paint effect using a decorators comb is dragged across a glaze to produce a series of lines.
Cut in – To paint the edges of a wall or ceiling to complete the coverage of the surface. Especially applies where a paint roller or pad is used which cannot reach into the corners.
Distemper – A traditional unstable wall ‘paint’ comprising water, pigment and glue. Now largely replaced by emulsion paints, old distemper normally needs to be removed or sealed before redecoration.
Distressing – see Ageing
Dragging – A paint effect using a flogger (a long-haired paintbrush) is dragged across a glaze to create a series of random fine lines.
Dulux Weathershield – These are a range of products specifically formulated to provide a high resistance to all types of extreme weather conditions. The range comprises of masonry and woodcare products, with each product offering a varying amount of yearly guarantees.
Eggshell – An oil or water based paint with a semi-gloss finish.
Emulsion – A water based paint normally used to paint large areas such as walls and ceilings.
Farrow & Ball – A company founded in the 1940’s, specialising in eco-friendly paints, containig up to 30% more pigment than other leading manufacturers and environmentally friendly, hard wearing, washable wallpapers.
Fire proofing paint – Designed to expand and create a fire protective barrier, insulating the surface from heat and oxygen. Also known as an intumescent paint
Flexible filler – A filler that is able to accommodate minor movements in wood or plaster surfaces without cracking and is suitable for repairs which will be covered by paint.
Flogger – A long haired paintbrush used to create a Dragged paint effect.
Frieze – A narrow band of decoration along a wall. Frieze papers are available or it can be stencilled etc.
Gloss (paint) – A hardwearing, high sheen paint, mainly used as a top coat on woodwork.
Graining – A paint effect giving a realistic hardwood appearance to softwood.
Grinning – A painting fault where paint has been applied too thinly over darker surfaces, the surface below may show or grin through.
Grout – A paste filler used to fill the gaps between tiles and mosaics. Can be waterproof.
Inset tile – A tile of a different design or colour from the surrounding tiles.
Knotting – A shellac based solution used to seal knots in wood before priming.
Laying off – The final, light brush strokes, normally all in the same direction, in painting to produce a smooth surface.
Liming – A technique for staining softwood a whitish colour using a liming wax.
Lining Paper – A wallpaper used to cover poor surfaces prior to applying paint or wallpaper – when being covered with wallpaper, the lining paper is normally put on at rightangles to the final paper.
Low-tac – A term used to describe types of masking tape that have a low level of adhesion so that they can be removed without damaging the surface.
Make good – To prepare a surface for decorating by filling in holes, smoothing etc. It is often said “90% of the time to make good, 10% for the actual decorating”.
Marbling – A paint effect used to create the impression of a marble surface.
Muraspec – A leading designer and supplier of commercial wallpapers in narrow, medium and wide widths.
Nibbler – A hand tool used to cut away small portions of ceramic tiles in order to cut them to shape or size – they resemble a pair of pliers with a ‘nibbling’ tooth.
Non-drip (paint) – A Thixotropic paint which has gel like consistency and so tends not to run or drip.
Notched spreader – A tool with a notched edge used to spread tile adhesive over a wall prior to positioning tiles. Different shape and sizes of notches are used for different type of tiles and/or location.
Oil (paint) – Paint based on an oil solvent, such as linseed and tung. The final surface is hard wearing but the paint gives off strong fumes and brushes etc can only be cleaned using white spirit.
Primary colour – One of three ‘pure’ colours – red, blue, and yellow – all other colours are just a mixture of these three.
Primer (Paint) – A paint used to seal and stabilise a surface before further coats are applied – often with very little colour content to hide the underlying surface. Different types are necessary for different surfaces (I.e. wood, steel, non-ferrous metals etc) to provide good adhesion. Combined ‘Primer and Undercoat’ for wood is available.
PVA – Polyvinyl acetate – the basis of various types of adhesives, paints etc. Often used diluted as a stabilising solution on powdery surfaces.
Rag rolling – A paint effect that is similar to ragging except that the rag is made into a sausage-like shape and then rolled down a glaze or emulsion to produce a directional pattern.
Ragging – A paint effect achieved with a crumpled rag that is used to create a pattern on emulsion or a glaze – alternatively, the rag may be dipped in the paint and then applied to a surface.
Size – Thinned adhesive applied to walls to seal the surface before hanging wallpaper.
Soaking time – The time which wallpaper is left after pasting before hanging, this allows the paste to soak in and prevent the formation of bubbles – it varies between papers and is normally specified on the label.
Solvent – A chemical used as the base of certain decorating materials. The solvent evaporates (releasing fumes) for the material to ‘go off’ – good ventilation is normally required.
Sponging – A paint effect achieved by using a natural sponge to produce an impression in a glaze or emulsion – alternatively, the sponge may be dipped in the paint and then applied to the surface.
Stabiliser – A liquid which is applied to flaking or dusty surfaces to bind the surface in preparation for subsequent decoration.
Stencilling – A decorative effect achieved by applying paint on to the cut-out areas of a paper, cardboard or acetate template to produce the design on a surface.
Stippling – Applying paint or other finishes by using just the extreme tips of bristles of a brush.
Stripper (paint) – A solution (liquid or paste) used to chemically remove old layers of paint from a surface.
Stripper (wallpaper) – A piece of equipment which produces steam through a flat plate held against the wallpaper thus releasing the adhesive so that the wallpaper can be easily scrapped off.
Thixotropic – A term used to describe materials that have a gel-like consistency until stirred so tend not to run or drip.
Tile gauge – A piece of wood marked with the tile-width measurements along it and used to mark off the positions that tiles will occupy on a wall.
Top Coat (Paint) – The final coat of paint which is laid off, or subjected to a paint effect technique, to give the final finish.
Undercoat (Paint) – The paint applied after the primer to mask the underlying material and to provide a key for the top coat – often now replaced by a combined ‘Primer and Undercoat’ for wooden surfaces.
Varnish – A resinous or water-based solution that seals and protects surfaces.
Verdigris – The greenish coloured coating on copper, bronze, or brass that forms naturally with age as a result of atmospheric corrosion.
Vinyl (Wallpaper) – A wallpaper with a front surface of vinyl – usually water resistant.
Vinyl Paint – An emulsion paint with good wearing and cleaning properties – available in a number of finishes such as Silk (semi-gloss) and Matt.
Wet-and-dry paper – A waterproof abrasive paper made with silicon-carbide particles glued to backing, used wet to give a very smooth finish.
William Morris – This Wallpaper and Paint company, founded in 1861, guarantee authentic versions of Victorian designs alongside new interpretations to create up to date wallpaper and fabric designs.
Woodstain – A wood finish which is absorbed into the outer surface to provide colour and protection.