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DECORATING TERMS                                   


Acrylic Fast drying, water based paint. A synthetic polymer used in high-performance latex or water-based paints. As the paint's binder, acrylic resins enable the coating to last longer and retain its color.
Acrylic Latex Paint: Water-thinned paint which employs acrylic resin as the majority of the binder. Other binders which may be added to reduce cost or add specific properties include styrene, epoxy, and poly-vinyl acetate.
Acrylic Resin: Resins which have established a pre-eminent position among coating formulators, having shown superiority in such respects as color and gloss retention, alkali and oxidation (chalk) resistance, hardness, adhesive and cohesive strength, and overall film durability. Generically, resins resulting from the polymerization of derivatives of acrylicacids, including esters of acrylic acid, methacrylic acid, acrylonitrile, and their copolymers. Also known as acrylate resins.
Adams. A neo-classical style devised by Robert Adams.
Adhesion: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. Wet adhesion, the ability of dry paint to adhere to the surface in spite of wet conditions, is particularly important for exterior house paints.
Aggregate. Silicon particles added to paint to produce a coarse finish, usually on exterior work.
Airless Spraying: Process of atomization of paint by forcing it through an orifice at high pressure. The effect is often aided by the vaporization of the solvents, especially if the paint has been previously heated.
Alkyd resins. Used as binders in modern solvent-based paints in place of linseed oil, which gave oil paints their name.
Amber. A warm orange colour.
Anaglypta. A type of wallpaper made from the pulp of cotton fibre. It is a trade name but is now used to refer to any type of paper with embossed patterns that can be painted. The patterns are created by hollow mouldings. It is more flexible and lighter than its similar counterpart Lincrusta and was cheaper when it was first produced during the nineteenth century. It is very hard wearing and is most commonly used below the dado rail in halls and stairways.
Anti-burglar paint. A non-drying paint normally used on down pipes and possible climbable verticals.
Anti-vandal paint. Usually a spray paint application to prevent the adhesion of graffitti.
Antiquating.Artificially ageing a painted surface.
Antique pine. A popular colour for stains and colored varnishes.
Architrave. Door frame surround, normally ornamental.  Also known as trim(USA).
Arris. The external edge of two surfaces,especially  wood and panel-doors.
Art Deco.A glamorous style which began in the 1920's and faded in the 1930's with the outbreak of World War 2. It was a mix of ancient styles and modernism.A design movement in the roaring twenties and thirties characterised by sweeping curved lines, geometrics, the stepped profile, lots of black gloss and mirrors, and stylised images of cars, skyscrapers and aeroplanes. It was chiefly influenced by the glamour of early Art Nouveau, Hollywood, Modernism, and Cubism.
Argent. Heraldic term for silver.
Artex. A textured finish commonly applied to ceilings. Known as Ceiling Texture in the USA. It can be patterned in different ways by combing to create a variety of patterns. Artex is good at covering a whole range of imperfections.. To remove it, use a steam stripper first to soften the paint. Don't sand it off unless you're certain of what age it is; older paints often contain asbestos.
Art Nouveau.A European design movement that started in the late 1800s. It is characterised by the whiplash line, with designs featuring sinuous curves of flowers and other images drawn from nature.
Asbestos. Highly hazardous material commonly used in buildings up into the 1960's.
Ash. A good quality hard wood, light in colour.
Asphalt varnish. Asphalt varnish is composed of asphalt pitch that is heat-treated with Gilsonite and thinned with mineral spirits or naphtha. Varying degrees of flexibility and toughness are obtained by varying the ratio of pitch to Gilsonite.
Astral. Akzo Nobel paint brand.
Azure. Heraldic term for blue.



Badger. A very soft brush made from badger hairs used for smoothing lines in graining and varnishing.
Berlin Blue. Another name for Prussian Blue..
Binder: The binder cements the pigment particles into a uniform paint film and also makes the paint adhere to the surface. The nature and amount of binder determine most of the paint's performance properties -- washability, toughness, adhesion, and color retention. Acrylic polymers are the binder of choice in producing quality high-performance latex paints.
Binks. Makers of conventional paint spraying equipment.
Bituminous Paint: (1) Originally, the class of paints consisting essentially of natural bitumens dissolved in organic solvents. They may or may not contain softening agents, pigments, and inorganic fillers. They are usually black or dark in color. Within recent years, the term "bituminous" has, by common usage, come to include bitumen-like products such as petroleum asphalt. (2) A low cost paint containing asphalt or coal tar, a thinner, and drying oils; used to waterproof concrete and to protect piping where bleeding of the asphalt is not a problem.
Blackfriars. A brand of paint, varnishes and stains. E.Parsons and Sons Ltd.
Blankstock. Ceilings and wall lining paper.
Bleaching: Loss of color, usually caused by exposure to sunlight.
Blow-lamp. A gas or paraffin-oil fuelled blowtorch. Used for burning off old paint.
Blistering: The formulation of dome-shaped, hollow projections on paint, often caused by heat or moisture. Can also be caused by solvent entrapment in a paint film which has surface dried before the solvent has completely escaped.
Boiled Oil. Linseed oil which has had driers added. Derived from flax seeds.
Bondex. Zinsser subsidiary brand.
Boxing. Mixing paint for a large area to ensure even shade.
Breccia. Commonly classed as a marble. Strictly speaking it should be classed as a limestone.
Brown Bagging. A decorative technique applied by sticking torn pieces of brown paper bags onto walls etc. Now becoming increasingly popular in USA.
Brush Mate.1)In the UK a liquid-free storage system for keeping brushes soft between uses without the need for cleaning. Only suitable for oil-based paints and varnishes. 2)In the USA a water based system for power cleaning brushes.
BSI British Standards Institute.
Bump, bumping. Missing out a required coat of paint or taking shortcuts to save time or cost. For example, glossing over gloss.
Burning-off.A means of removing old paint and varnish, with either a heat-gun or a blowtorch(blowlamp).
BWF British Woodworking Federation


Calcium Plumbate. A primer for galvanized metals.
Capstan. Undiluted paint used straight from the container.
Carrara. A white marble, sometimes bluih grey, from Carrara in Italy.
Casing wheel. A small wheel on a handle used to cut lining papers especially. 
Caulk. (pronounced cork) Flexible filler in tubes.
Ceiling Texture. Usually known as artex in the UK. A textured finish with a wide variety of patterns.
China-wood oil. A drying medium. Also called Tung oil or wood-oil.
Cill. A mis-spelling of  window 'sill' in widespread use in the construction industry.
Cladding. Boarding, usually horizontal, on the outside of a building.
Colourwashing. A technique of coating wood with a water-based paint and then removing most of the paint with a cloth thereby exposing the grain. Also used on walls to give a semi-opaque finish.
Comb. Toothed tool used mainly for wood graining.
Constructivism. An early 20th-cent. movement in sculpture, painting, architecture, etc., orig., in the Soviet Union, characterized by abstract and geometric design, man-made materials, and massive structural form.
Cornice. Moulded coving round the edge of a ceiling.
Coving. Ready made cornice generally fixed with adhesive. e.g.Gibroc Coving
Cowboy. Rough and unqualified worker.
Creosote. A wood preservative for exterior fencing etc.
Crossline. Fixing strips of lining paper horizontally.
Crown. Large paint and wallpaper supplier. Crown Berger Limited. Now merged with Dulux.


Dado. The lower part of a wall decorated differently.
Dado rail. The wooden or plaster moulding designating the top edge of the dado.
Découpage. Decorating a surface using  delicate paper cut-outs and lacquer.
Die Form Doors. Moulded skin wood fibre doors for internal use only. Now the most common interior door in new housing.
Distressing. Treating surfaces so they look old and worn, especially wood.
Dormer. A protruding window on the slope of a roof.
Drawdown card. A card, normally printed in black and white, which is used to test the opacity of paint. Drawdown refers to the action 'drawing down' a sample of paint over the card which is placed on a special drawdown device(normally a metal plate with a blade which spreads the sample at desired thickness).
Drop. A length of wallpaper cut to wall height ready for pasting.
Dulux.Large paint and decorative products supplier.Now merged with Crown paints. ICI Paints Division.


Coloured to imitate Black laquering..
 Ebony. Usually a black(but can be striped or pale) colored wood used for a variety of things.
Efflorescence. Powdery residue coming out of stonework onto the painted surface. An encrustation of soluble salts, commonly white, deposited on the surface of coatings, stone, brick, plaster, or mortar; usually caused by salts or free alkalies leached from mortar or adjacent concrete as moisture moves through it.
Eggshell. A shiny satin type of finish.
Emulsion. A water-based paint known as latex in the USA.
Enamel: (1) Topcoat which is characterized 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. (2) A class of substance having similar composition to glass with the addition of stannic oxide, SnO2, or other infusible substances to render the enamel opaque.
Encaustic. Mixing colours with hot wax.
Etch. To wear away or roughen a surface with an acid or other chemical agent or with a fine abrasive prior to painting to increase adhesion; to prepare the surface of metal or concrete using acids.
Extender: A less-expensive ingredient than titanium dioxide that fills out and extends the pigment's capabilities. Extender cannot be used without pigment. Some common extenders are clays, calcium carbonate, and silica.


Fading: Lightening of the paint's color, usually caused by exposure to light or heat.
FADS. Nationwide (UK) paint and wallpaper supplier.
Fascia. Externally, the board on the ends of rafters usually carrying the guttering (rain trough).
Faux. Faux(meaning false) are the techniques used to change surfaces into appearing to be of a different material.
Feng Shui. Ancient Chinese practice about the placing and arrangement of objects to create harmony, success and happiness.
Filler. Comes as a ready-mixed paste or in powder form and is used for repairing small holes and cracks in the surface to be decorated.
Filling knife.A flexible bladed knife, 1 to 6 inches wide, used to apply fillers.
Film Formation: The paint's ability to form a continuous dry film. This process is the result of the water or solvents evaporating and the coming together of the binder particles. A continuous dry film repels water.
Fitch. A small long handled brush used for intricate work.
Flat. A large brush used for ceilings or walls. Also called a distemper brush.
Floetrol. A latex/emulsion additive to increase open time and help smooth out brush lines.
Floor Paint. A specialized finish which can be matt, gloss, non-slip, rubberised, cement-based etc.
Foreigner. A small job often carried out in the evenings or week-ends away from ones regular work. These jobs are usually done for cash in the hand or reciprocal advantage.
French Polish. Shellac dissolved in industrial alcohol for use on furniture and high-quality wood finishes. Produces a high quality finish but is easily marked heat, water, solvents or even using a coarse dusting cloth.
Fresco. Applying thin water paint to still wet plaster.
Futurism. Avant-garde art movement founded in 1909 by the Italian writer Filippo Tommaso Marinetti.


George. A small aluminium shield used as an aid when cutting in, especially window sashes. Ideal for metal windows.
Gibroc. Ready made plaster shapes, especially coving.
Giclee. Ink-jet printing used as an artists medium.
Gilding. The application of gold leaf or gold powder to a surface.
Gilders Cushion. Pad used to hold metal leaf prior to affixing.
Gilders Knife. A flat bladed knife used to lift gold and silver leaf off the cushion.
Gilders Wheel. Tool used to apply gold or silver on rolls.
Glair. Size or glaze made from egg-white.
Glass-paper. Abrasive paper used in preparation work. 
Glass Paint. A paint used specially for window panes, mirrors, etc.
Glazing.(1) A process of applying transparent or translucent coatings over a painted surface to produce blended effects of their colors. (2).Putting glass in windows, doors etc and replacing damaged glass.
Glazing compound. A dough-like material used for sealing window glass in frames. It differs from putty in that it retains its plasticity for an longer period.
Glider. A thin flat brush for applying varnishes.
Gloss paint. The shiny finish coat of paint. Low-gloss or flat finish is the result of formulating with excess pigment, so that some pigment particles extend above the coating surface. Semigloss finish is the result of formulating with less pigment, so that some pigment particles are below the coating surface. High-gloss finish is the result of formulating with still less pigment, so that all pigment particles are below the coating surface.
Gold Chloride. Gold chloride is usually produced by putting gold powder in a container and applying chlorine gas.
Gold leaf. Leaves of hammered-out very thin gold for Gilding. An ounce of gold can be hammered out to a sheet of over 30 square yards.
Goldsize. Adhesive used to fix gold leaf.
Graffitti. Mural type adornments on any surface (particularly walls) generally illegal and classed as vandalism.
Graining. Painting surfaces with a variety of materials to give the appearance of a desired effect e.g. marble but especially wood.
Graining nail. The uncut thumbnail, never shortened, formerly used in wood graining by master painters.
Graco. Major maker of airless spray painting equipment.
Green. Colour. Mix yellow and blue to get green.
Grisaille. Monochrome painting used to create special effects using elaborate shading technique.
Ground. The base color for graining etc..


Hacking knife. A thick bladed knife usually with a leather handle used to hack out old putty when reglazing windows.
Hanging. The term normally used when fixing wall coverings to a wall surface.
Hallman Lindsay Quality Paints. Paint supplier. USA.
Hammerite®. A one coat hammered-finish paint for ironwork.Also comes in a smooth finish.
Heat-gun. An electric blow-torch for safely burning off paint.(Referred to in the trade as a hair-drier)
Herbol. Akzo Nobel paint brand..
H-I-S. Paint manufacturer USA.
Hessian. A coarse fabric wallcovering in common use. It can be paper-backed or 'unbacked'.Also known as burlap(USA).
Hop-up. A box, milk crate or anything used to raise user up about 18 inches.
HVLP. High volume low pressure, paint spraying equipment


Imitation Marble. Technique used on all surfaces to give appearance of marble.
Inglenook. A type of fireplace that spanned the entire length of a chimney-breast and had seating either side.
 Indian Red. True Indian Red is made from natural earth found in India. It has a darkish tone, often with a purplish hue..
Indigo. A dark blue colour.This deep blue pigment is derived from a variety of plants.
Inlay. A decorative technique used in furniture design. Small holes are gouged out of the wooden carcass and materials inserted flush against the wood to make a pattern - you can use mother of pearl, ivory, metal and glass. It can also be used on small objects. The Italians often used semi precious stones for their inlays known as pietre dure. Mother of pearl and tortoiseshell inlays were particularly popular during the Art Deco period.
Inset. Recessed panel in a door.
Interlux. Akzo Nobel paint brand.
International Paint. Akzo Nobel hardwearing paint brand.
International style. Whereas Modernism refers to a complete break with the past, which was not so much a movement as a way of thinking, 'International Style' was the name of an exhibition in New York in the thirties and the name promptly stuck. Buildings by Le Corbusier, such as his Villa Savoie at Poissy near Paris and Walter Gropius' Bauhaus art school had flat roofs and large expanses of glass and were labelled as being international style.
Interpon. Akzo Nobel powder coatings brand.
Intumescent Coatings: Fire retardant coating which, when heated becomes plastic and produces nonflammable gasses, such as carbon dioxide and ammonia. The gasses are trapped by the film, converting it to a foam about fifty times as thick as the original paint film. At this stage, the film solidifies, resulting in a thick, highly insulating layer of carbon, which effectively protects the substrate from fire.
Ivory. Creamy off-white colour.


Jade. Faded green colour.
Jamb brush. Old name for a dusting brush.
 Japanese. A style about simplicity and ritual. It uses natural materials, such as wood, cane, bamboo and paper. The space is divided with sliding screens and tatami mats are used for eating, sitting and sleeping. Everything is low off the floor and the colour scheme is muted colours with accents of red, black and gold. Its pared down look hugely influenced the Western trend of minimalism.
Japans. This is a generic name given to a range of finishes prepared by adding various grades of bitumen to heat-treated oil, with the necessary driers, and, after cooling, volatile thinners.In the best quality Black Japan, a proportion of resin is included, to produce a harder, stronger, and more lustrous film.
Jasmine. A lemon yellow colour.
Jelly Size. A convenient form of glue size which melts easily and moxes easily with warm water.
Johnstone's. Paint subsidery of Kalon 
Jojoba.Liquid wax from tree of same name.


KALON. Makers of paint and equipment. Parent of Johnstone's; Leyland; Manders;Vallance; Mangers.
Kalsomine. Formerly, an American term for distemper.
Kauri. A fossil resin from New Zealand used in the preparation of high grade varnishes. Also spelt Cowree.
Keeper. A brush suspender or 'keeper'.
Kevin McCloud. British decorator and designer and television presenter.
Khaki. Yellowish-brown colour.
Kings Yellow. Arsenic trisulphide. Highly toxic. Not to be handled in powder form.
Kite mark.  Stamp of approval of the BSI.(British Standards Institute).
Knockdown. If you don’t want to do the traditional "Orange Peel" splatter, another option is knockdown textures. The term "knockdown" comes from the technique used to knock the top of the splatter down for a unique look.
Knotting.A sealer used on knots in softwoods to prevent resin bleeding through the paint. Good quality knotting should consist of pure shellac and methylated spirits.


Laquer. Transparent protective film. Can be matt, gloss or eggshell.
Latex: (1) Stable dispersion of a polymeric substance in an essentially aqueous medium. (2) Fine dispersion of rubber or resin, natural or synthetic, in water; the synthetic is made by emulsion polymerization. (Strictly speaking, after polymerization a latex is a solid dispersed in water, and therefore is not an emulsion. Latex and emulsion are often used synonymously in the paint industry.)
Lead paint.No longer allowed but is still found on old paintwork.
Lilly Bristle. A brush used in wood-graining.
Linseed oil. Linseed oil is the general term for the oil extracted from flax seed. Raw linseed oil has not been treated, and dries very slowly. "Boiled" linseed oil has additives called "driers" which make it dry quicker.
Liming.Lime was originally used as a protection against worm and beetle attack but later became fashionable for the way it showed off the grain especially in oak. it is now currently back in fashion.


Macedonian Bianco. A white marble from Macedonia.
maggie. British tradesmen term for magnolia emulsion
Magicote. A jellied one coat paint. Crown Berger limited. The technical term for this kind of paint is 'thixotropic'. That is a paint which will become liquid upon stirring but will revert to jellied form when left to stand.
Makrana A fine grained pure white marble from Makrana in India.
Malachite. 1.The brightest and most naturally occurring green pigment known in olden times. It was ground to a powder. 2. The imitation of malachite as a decorative finish.
 Malbutter. An old-fashioned name for meglip(see below).
Manilla paper. An oiled paper used to make stencils.
Marble. Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite. It is commonly used for sculpture and as a building material.
Marbling Using paint to imitate natural marble.
Mastic. Commercially made compound used for sealing joints.
Mastic-gun.The applicator for tubes of mastic, decorators caulk, gripfill etc. Usually referred to simply as a 'gun'.
Matt finish. A non-shiny surface after paint has dried. Called 'matte' in USA.
Meglip. A mixture of mastic varnish and linseed oil. It makes the paint very glossy and easy to spread but discolors and becomes brittle with age.
Memphis. A style influenced by Art Deco and Pop art, incorporating bright colors and shocking shapes, from 1980 to 1988. Formed in Milan, by a group of Italian architects and designers, to challenge the current use of colors and shapes.
Modge Podge. Medium used in decoupage; all-in-one sealer, glue and finish. Dries clear.
Mordant. Mordants is the name given to the various binding materials (such as tannic acid, alum, urine, sodium chloride) used as an adhesive coat for attaching decorative metal, either in leaf or powder form, to a surface .
Muntin. The central stile of a panel door.
Mural.Wall painting, often on a large scale. Murals are the oldest style of decoration known and often still exist in ancient cave dwellings.


Neoclassicism. Neoclassicism is the name given to quite distinct movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw upon Western classical art and culture (usually that of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome). These movements were dominant during the mid 18th to the end of the 19th century.
Newel post. Vertical posts supporting the handrail on stairs.
NHBC National House Building Council.UK.
Nippers.Type of pliers used to remove glazing staples.
Nitromors.Chemical paint stripper. Two types; one for oil-based paints and one for water-based paints.
Non-slip paint A paint for floors. Floor paint can be applied with a large roller.
Numidian Marble.A yellow marble from Tunisia.


Ogee. A double elongated letter 's design' associated with the Gothic style of architecture.
Oil paint. A paint which is not water-based and can be diluted with turpentine or white spirit. 
Olive. Olive-green; a muted green color.
Opacity. Covering power of paint.
Op art. Using geometric shapes to create optical illusions.An art movement originating from the sixties, which creates the illusion of moving images. Sixties designers used op-art on everything from chairs to whole interiors in black and white to give a disorientating, hallucinatory feel.
Optical Illusion. Trompe l'oeil.
Orange. Colour made by mixing Red and Yellow.
Orange Peel Effect. The texture left by many rollers when applying emulsion or latex paints.
Oriel Windows. Narrow windows in a bay shape that open using the cantilever principle (a downward force only at one end). They are often found on the first floor to let light into a stairwell or hallway. They usually have small leaded panes of coloured glass. The modern equivilent are known as Velox.
Oriental. Styles coming mainly from China, Japan and India.
Ormolu. A type of gilt decoration that was used extensively in the Baroque and Rococo periods, especially during the reign of King Louis of France. It was made by mixing powdered mercury with gold to make a paste. The paste was applied onto bronze, then the object was fired to evaporate the mercury, leaving the gold. It was an extremely expensive method but this didn't stop Louis XIV using it everywhere at Versailles, from clocks to chandeliers.
Oval. Egg shaped.
Overalls. Normally white for painters and either Boiler-suit or Bib-and Brace


Palmer, Thomas. The inventor of anaglypta in 1886.
Paper tiger. A device used to scratch wallpaper prior to soaking.
PDCA Painting and Decorating Contractors of America.
Pigment: Finely ground, natural or synthetic, inorganic or organic, insoluble dispersed particles (powder) which, when dispersed in a liquid vehicle to make paint, may provide, in addition to color, many of the essential properties of the paint: opacity, hardness, durability, and corrosion resistance. The term is used to include extenders, as well as white or color pigments. The distinction between powders which are pigments and those which are dyes is generally considered to be on the basis of solubility. Pigments being insoluble and dispersed in the material, dyes being soluble or in solution when used.
Plumbline. Length of string with weight attached, for checking vertical lines
Polymer:This binder is produced from petrochemical feedstocks. The binder's polymer particles are small in size and carried in water. The binder polymers and water mix is known as emulsion.
PQI. Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute.
Prairie. A plain and open style of architecture and design created by Frank Lloyd Wright, originating in Illinois, USA.
Primer. The first coat of paint applied to a surface.
cPrussian Blue.Prussian blue is a very dark blue, colorfast, non-toxic pigment, one of the first synthetic pigments, which was discovered accidentally in Berlin in 1704. Its name comes from the fact that it was first extensively used to dye the dark blue uniforms of the Prussian army. Another name for the colour Prussian blue is Berlin blue. Pure wax. Another name for Beeswax.
Purdy. Since Purdy’s beginnings in a small garage in Portland, Oregon in 1925, the art of making premium painting tools has always been at the heart of the Purdy success story.
Putty knife. A narrow metal bladed knife used for glazing etc.
PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate): A colorless, thermoplastic, water soluble, resinous high polymer derived from the polymerization of vinyl acetate with a catalyst; used as a latex binder in certain, generally lower quality water-base coatings.


Quadrant. Wood beading cut quarter circle often used to hide uneven or poor finish(especially in new houses) above skirting boards, along architraves, round windows etc.
Quart. A unit of measurement equal to two pints.
Quarry-redA deep brick red.
Quatrefoil. An ornamental design of four leaves or lobes, like a flower or clover. Quicksilver. Mercury.
Quicklime. A white substance(calcium oxide) used in the making of cement and mortar.
Quill. Long feather used for delicate paint touches.
Quirk A groove or channel in a moulding.
Quoin. The exterior angle in a building.
Quote.Estimated cost of a job.


Rabbet. The same as Rebate; the rectangular recess, usually applies to windows and door-frames.
Rag-rolling. A method of producing decorative broken-colour effects by rolling a piece of crumpled fabric or paper over the wet surface of a glaze or distemper.
Rail. Horizontal bars in framing, panelling, etc.
Rebate. A rectangular recess in the edge of a substance so as to fit into another piece, thus forming a joint.
 Resin:(1) General term applied to a wide variety of more or less transparent and fusible products, which may be natural or synthetic. They may vary widely in color. Higher molecular weight synthetic resins are generally referred to as polymers. (2) A solid, semi-solid, or pseudo-solid organic material that has an indefinite and often high molecular weight, exhibits a tendency to flow when subjected to stress, usually has a softening or melting range, and usually fractures conchoidally. (3) In a broader sense, the term is used to designate any polymer that is a basic material for coatings and plastics.
Reveal. The inner surfaces of a bay or opening.
Riser. The vertical part of a step on a staircase.
Roller..Used for applying paint, often emulsions.
. A graining tool usually rubber.
Rococo.A very flowery decoative style of French origin.
Round. A term used by painters to denote the consistancy of paint which is somewhat thick or stiff.
Rubber. Pad of cotton wool wrapped in cloth used to apply stain or french polish.


Very high quality brush. Often used in signwriting and fine detailed work. Heraldic term for black.
Sadolin. Akzo Nobel stain and varnish brand.
Sander. A tool or machine used for smoothing surfaces.
Sandpaper. An abrasive paper used for smoothing surfaces.
Santex. Exterior wallcovering paint.A product of Akzo-Nobel.
Satin finish Paint finish with dull sheen akin to eggshell finish.
Schonox. Akzo Nobel paint brand.
Scraper. A stiff bladed knife, usually between 1 to 4 inches wide, used for general preparation work and paint stripping. 
Scratch. Slang term for any type of abrasive paper.
Scrim Pole. A pole used to maneuvere wide wallcoverings when hanging.
Scumble. Removing parts of a coating (usually a scumble-stain), while still wet, to expose the previous coat. e.g. in Graining.
scraffito. See graffito below.
Seam roller. A small wooden or plastic(top quality: stainless steel) roller for use on wallpaper edges.
Selvedge. The protective edging on untrimmed wallpaper.
Semi-gloss. Less than a full gloss; eggshell type finish.
Semi-trimmed. Seemingly untrimmed wallpaper, which has been partially cut though by machine trimmer and which can be trimmed by knocking the edge firmly and sharply, thereby removing the selvedge.
Serpentine A greenish colored marble. One of the principal green marbles.
Sgraffito.This is a technique often used for wall decor, produced by applying layers of plaster tinted in contrasting colors to a moistened surface.
Shabby Chic A decorating style originating in the USA.
Shaker A minimalist style of furniture and decoration originating in the USA.
Shave Hook or Shaving Hook. A trianguler scraper used in paint stripping. There are variations on the plain triange shape of the blade, some being curved edged to assist in stripping mouldings. The blade is set at right angles to the handle.
Shellac. The resin lac spread into thin plates, used in varnish making, after being melted and strained.
Siccative. Drying medium.
SignboardA board showing the name or logo of a shop or business.
Sikkens. Akzo Nobel speciality paint brand.
Silicate: Any one of a large family of substances chiefly used with titanium dioxide, the primary pigment, as an extender pigment. When used in moderation, these silicates (magnesium silicate, aluminum silicate, etc.) are valuable in helping control gloss, aid brushability, and increase hold-out properties and overall exterior durability.
Silvering. Applying silver-leaf to the prepared surface.
Silver Leaf Very thin silver used in lettering and ornate gilding.
SilverfishSmall insects with fish-like bodies found in damp areas.
Skylight A window in roof or ceiling.
SkirtingA board running round the base of walls touching the floor.
Slasher In times gone by; the expert user of a large distemper brush.
Soffit. The underhang between exterior wall and fascia board. Eaves.
Softwood. Timber cut from pine trees.
Space stick. A made to measure width stick used primarily in paperhanging; a smaller version is made for treads and risers on stairs.
Spattering: Droplets of paint that spin or mist off the roller as paint is being applied. The application of droplets of paint to obtain a Spatter finish.
Spindle. The narrow posts supporting the handrail on a staircase.
Steel toe-caps. Safety footwear now mandatory on all building sites in the UK.
Steel wool. Wire wool abrasive.
Stencil. To produce a pattern or design thru a paper cut-out.
Stile. The vertical beam on a window or panel-door.
Stopper. Wood filler to match colour of the timber.
String. The boards running up both sides of the steps on a staircase.
Stripper. A chemical compound, in jelly or liquid form used to remove old or damaged paint.
Stucco. A coarse finishing material for walls and wood (mainly exterior), often to hide imperfections.
Sub Turps. Turpentine substitute or White Spirit.
Sugar Soap. A caustic soap used to remove grease and dirt from paintwork.
Surfactants. Surface-active agents, these are additives which reduce surface tension and thereby improve wetting (wetting agents), help disperse pigments, inhibit foam, or emulsify. Conventionally, they are classified as to their charge: anionic (negative); cationic (positive); nonionic (no charge); or amphoteric (both positive and negative).


Tacky. An indefinite term denoting a stage in the drying of a paint finish when the finish is slightly sticky to the touch.
Terebine. Driers for oil-based paints
Terrazzo. A decorative finish for both walls and floors, kitchen worktops and integral sinks. It is made of very fine chips or marble or other stone set into mortar and then highly polished to give a very fine, smooth appearance. It is expensive but very hard wearing. It is a good way of picking up and continuing the colour scheme of a room.
Thinners. A liquid added to paints, emulsions, latex etc to reduce their consistancy so they may be more easily applied.
Thixotropic: Adjective which describes full-bodied material which undergoes a reduction in viscosity when shaken, stirred, or otherwise mechanically disturbed and which readily recovers the full-bodied condition on standing.
Tiffany. Broken colour glazing effects, at one time popular in the USA.
Titanium Dioxide.(Titanium White) Rutile (TiO2): A high opacity, bright white pigment of the non-chalking type, used as a prime pigment in paints, rubber, plastics. Prepared from the mineral ilmenite, or rutile ore. Anatase (TiO2): A high opacity, bright white pigment of the chalking type, used as a prime pigment in paints, rubber, plastics. Prepared from the mineral ilmenite, or rutile ore. Now the most widely used white pigment.
Third man. Sub-turps or white spirit.
Tongue and groove. T&G. Boarding of equal widths and lengths slotted together to form panelling. One edge has a tongue that fits into the groove of the next block. You can buy it ready cut from most DIY stores.
Tower. A smallish lightweight scaffolding built in a square shape.
Transom. The horizontal beam on a window, door-frame or panel-door.
Tread. The horizontal part of a step on a staircase.
Trompe l'oeil. Literally "trick of the eye", used to show 3D scenes in blank alcove, door panels etc.
Tung oil. A drying oil otherwise known as China-wood oil.
Turps Wood turpentine or turpentine substitute, a solvent used to thin oil paints and clean brushes. Equivalent of White Spirit.


Umber. Pigment from natural earth from various parts of the world.Raw umber varies from yellowish-brown to dark-brown depending on its source.
Unbacked Hessian. Hessian without a paper backing used as a wallcovering.
Ultramarine. Made from crushing lapis lazuli semi-precious  stone for a deep and intense blue. Name means from 'across the sea' as it came to Europe from Asia.
Undercoat. Matt finish paint (usually oil paint) used before the finish coat.
UniBond. PVA adhesive and sealer. Widely used.
Utamaro. Old Japanese woodcut artist popular in 19th century.
Utile. Mahogany like wood used in high class joinery.


Vanishing point. Horizon where parallel lines meet.
Varnish. A clear finish in either matt or gloss or satin finish. Broadly speaking, a translucent liquid, which, when applied to a surface in a thin film, dries to a hard and more or less transparent finish.
VAT. Value Added Tax. An additional tax imposed on many items including all decorating products.
Vehicle: The liquid portion of the paint, in which the pigment is dispersed; it is composed of a binder and a thinner
Veiling. Applying a very diluted colour over a previously decorated surface.
Veneer. Very thin sheets of finely grained or coloured woods used to decorate panels on doors and wainscoting, and to form bands or other patterns, which is a form of inlay, and also for coating the whole surface of commoner or stronger woods. Veneers of marble, lapis lazuli, and other fine stones are also used in the same way.
Venetian Plaster. A Finishing technique using thin layers of plaster applied with a spatula or trowel and then burnished to create a smooth surface with the illusion of depth and texture. "Venetian plaster" is American term to explain the variety of techniques and materials used to create the polished stucco finish. The term is mainly used in the US.
Verdigris. Imitating the natural corrosion effect of copper, brass and bronze. A kind of greeny-blue rust.
Vermilion. Any bright red color.
Vert Antique. A dark green marble popular for imitating. Strictly it is a serpentine breccia.
Vert de Mer. A greenish colored marble also called Egyptian green.
Vert  Heraldic term for green.
Vinyl: (1) The unsaturated, univalent radical CH2: CH -- derived from ethylene.
(2) Any of the various compounds containing this group, typically highly reactive, easily polymerized and used as a basic material for coatings and plastics.
(3) Any of the various plastics, typically tough and flexible.
Viscosity. The degree of resistance to flow possessed by a paint, varnish, or other liquid.
Vivechroml. Akzo Nobel paint brand.
VOC. Volatile Organic Compound. Hazardous additive in paint. Any carbon compound that evaporates under standard test conditions. Essentially, all paint solvents except water are VOCs. Governments are beginning to limit the amount of volatile organics found in paint because of concerns about possible environmental and health effects.
Volutes A special scroll, seen, large and at right angles to the wall, on the capital of an Ionic column, immediately below the abacus; small and placed diagonally on the Corinthian capital.
Vorticism. A Futurist form of art in which impressionist views of life and still life are expressed by curves and whorls, spirals, and so on, usually in vivid colours. Has been used for wall decoration.


Washability. Ease with which washing will remove dirt from the paint's surface without causing damage.
Water-based. Solvent free paint preparations.
Wet and Dry. An fine abrasive sandpaper normally used with clean water to produce a very smooth surface.
Wet edge. The surface area where paint has most recently applied. Important when glossing large flat surfaces.
Whites. Painters white overalls
White spirit. Used to thin oil paints and clean brushes. Slightly cheaper than Turpentine Substitute.
Whitewash.Whitewash is a kind of paint which is made from mixing hydrated lime, salt and water. It is cheap to make andused mainly on farms as it is harmless to animals.
Windsor. Chairs in which the legs and arms are all socketed to form a shaped 'saddle' seat. Each individual chair can be made from a mixture of different woods such as yew, ash and elm. They have been made in Britain since the middle of the eighteenth century. There are two main types, those with a rounded back and a bowed back piece known as a 'hoop' or 'crinoline' back, and those with a straight top rail.
Wiped Finish. A decorative effect obtained by wiping a wet coat of glaze, scumble, or paint from the raised portions of a surface, exposing the ground colour in these areas and leaving the glaze, etc., in the hollows and recessed parts.
Wolman. Wood care subsidiary of Zinsser.
Woodchip. A wallcovering made by including chips of wood in the pulp. It needs painting once hung, and is a good cover-up for poor walls.
Wood filler. Very hard filler for wood repairs.
Woodgraining. A paint effect used to resemble the grain of real wood. A base colour is applied first using an oil based paint in an oak, mahogany or pine colour, followed by a coat of scumble glaze. Whilst still wet and 'open', a special graining comb is dragged through to make the grain. Different sizes of graining comb are available and the finished result can look very lifelike. Alternatively you can use an eggshell paint the colour of your preferred wood and use a scumble glaze in a darker shade. Use a small brush to add details such as knots.
Wood oil. An abbreviation used for CHINA-WOOD OIL.
Wood stain. Transparent finish  to enhance the wood colour and allow the grain to show through.
Wrinkle Finish. A type of finish employed in industrial work in which the film, on drying, assumes a ridged or wrinkled formation which is con­trolled by the thickness of the coating and other factors.


Xanthorrhea. Australian species of tree producing a resin called Black Boy Gum used in the colouring of spirit varnishes.
XIM Bonder.XIM Products, Inc. was founded in 1935 as a manufacturer of bonding primers and sealers. XIM is located in Westlake, Ohio, just west of Cleveland. Early XIM products had the characteristics of both a paint and an adhesive. One of the earliest XIM products was designed to bond to aluminum without pre-treating or etching. The product was called Flashbond®. The name XIM came from a filing formula on the test records. “XIM” which stood for X1000. The product and company were thereafter named XIM.
Xerox.Copy. To reproduce as a stencil.
X-ray eyes. tiny bubbles appearing in gloss finishes due to minute pieces of wax.
Xylem. Tiny vessels in tree roots soaking up moisture from the ground.
Xylene. Aromatic hydrocarbon solvent. Toxic.
Xylol. Similar to xylene. Toxic.
X-pinene. An ingredient of turpentine.


Yacht varnish. An extremely durable exterior varnish.
Yarrow. A very soft silky white colour.
Yellow. Most of the stronger, intense yellows; zinc, strontuim, barium, cadmium, chrome and hansa yellows are toxic and should not be handled in powder form. Kings Yellow is the most poisonous of all.
Yellowing. The discolouration of white finishes due to heat, ageing or smoke/fumes.
Yellow ochre. Natural pigment clay containing minerals, mainly hydrated iron oxide..
Youngmans.A wide wooden scaffolding piece.
Yule Marble. A pure white marble from Colorado, USA.


Zambia teak. A wood generally known as Rhodesian Teak.
Zamix. Bonding primers which also act as stain-blockers. Can be painted on directly with finish coat.
Zebrano. A pale colored wood with dark stripes used for veneers.
Zebrawood. African Zebrawood is another name for Zebrano..
Zero Threshold. The point where a material which becomes unstable when thinned with white spirit.
Zinc. A bluish-white metal.
Zinc Chromate: Bright yellow pigment which chemically is substantially zinc chromate, although its precise composition is rather complex. Its chief use is in anti-corrosive paints and primers for steel.
Zinc Oxide: A fine particle, white pigment used in rubber, paint, and plastic industries for mildew resistance and film reinforcing properties.
Zinc-phosphate. A metal primer.
Zinc Sulphide. Mixed with barium sulphate to produce Lithopone. Used in cheap white paints.
Zinc Rich Primer: Anti-corrosive primer for iron and steel incorporating zinc dust in a concentration sufficient to give electrical conductivity in the dried film, thus enabling the zinc metal to corrode preferentially to the substrate, i.e., to give cathodic protection.
Zinc White. Bright but translucent white.
Zinc Yellow. A strong yellow. Toxic and a known carcinogen.Not to be handled in powder form.
Zinsser. North American paint manufacturer. Now part of the Rustoleum Corporation.
Zygia. A soft, brittle wood used in ancient times to make chairs, tables ete..
Zythum. A beverage made from malt and wheat and used as a binder in graining colour.

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