A simple list of commonly used automotive paint-related terms…

Abrasion ResistanceResistance to being worn away by rubbing or by friction; related more to toughness than to hardness. A necessary quality for automotive finish durability.
AbrasiveUsed for wearing away a surface by rubbing. Examples are sandpaper, steel wool, compound, clay, scotch-brite, etc.
AcceleratorA chemical that can be added to some paints to speed the curing time.
AcrylicSynthetic resin used in a latex coating with good gloss and color retention.
Acrylic EnamelChemically enhanced enamel formulas are the mainstay of modern refinishing products. Many acrylic enamels recommend a catalyst, while others require it, to induce chemical reactions that produce a paint film of remarkable durability, chemical resistance, and gloss. Acrylic enamels can be polished like lacquer to a mirror finish.
AdhesionThe ability of a coating to stick to a surface.
AerosolA product feature that uses compressed gas to spray the product from its container.
AlkaliA substance such as lye, soda, or lime that can be highly destructive to paint films.
AlkydSynthetic resin modified with oil. Common in the early automotive enamels in the �60s, offered good adhesion to a clean surface, and good gloss, color retention, and flexibility, but tended to chalk out sooner and offer a shorter life that either the pervious lacquers, or the later acrylic enamels. Slow-drying.
Anti-Corrosive PaintMetal paint designed to inhibit corrosion. Applied directly to metal.
BenzenePowerful but highly toxic and flammable solvent, usually restricted to spray application.
BenzineOften used as a lacquer dilutent. Highly volatile and a fire hazard in shipping and storing.
BinderFilm-forming ingredient in paint that binds the pigment particles together.
BleedingUndercoat staining through the top coat.
BlisteringThe formation of bubbles or pimples on the painted surface caused by moisture or other contamination, by painting before the previous coat has dried thoroughly, or by excessive heat.
BlockingSanding primer or topcoats by hand with a flat backing surface such as a long-board or rubber sanding block.
BlushingA gloss film turning flat or a clear lacquer turning white, usually caused by moisture
BuildThickness or depth of paint film.
CatalystAn ingredient that speeds up a chemical reaction; sometimes used in two-component paint systems. Sometimes referred to as activators, catalysts contain chemicals that interact with the resins of the base paint allowing it to cure more rapidly.
ChalkingThe formation of a loose powder on the surface of a paint after exposure to the elements.
CheckingA kind of paint failure in which many small cracks appear in the surface of the paint.
Clear CoatingA transparent protective and/or decorative film.
CohesionAttraction of molecules within a coating [how it holds together).
ColorantConcentrated color that can be added to paints to make specific colors.
CoverageThe area over which a given amount of Paint will spread and hide the previous surface. (Usually expressed in square feet per gallon).
CrazingSmall, interlacing cracks on surface of finish.
CuringFinal conversion or drying of a coating material.
DiluentAnother term for solvents used to thin paint.
DrierA paint ingredient that aids the drying or hardening of the film.
Dry Dust FreeThat stage of drying when particles of dust that settle upon the surface do not stick to the paint film.
Dry Tack FreeThat stage of drying when the paint no longer feels sticky, or tacky when lightly touched.
Dry To HandleThat stage of drying when a paint film has hardened sufficiently so the object or surface painted may be used without marring.
Dry To RecoatThat stage of drying when the next coat can be applied.
Dry To SandThat stage of drying when a paint film can be sanded without the sandpaper sticking or clogging
DurabilityThe ability of paint to last or hold up well against destructive agents such as weather, sunlight, detergents, air pollution, abrasion, or marring.
EnamelBroad classification Paints that dry to a hard finish. Enamel is a general term covering a wide range of paint, including hardware store spray cans. Single-stage alkyd automotive refinish enamels have been replaced by acrylic enamel which generally gives you the option of using a hardener or catalyst. Urethane enamels are even more durable and require a catalyst.
EpoxyClear finish having excellent adhesion qualities; extremely abrasion and chemical resistant. Epoxies are alcohol proof and very water resistant.
EtchSurface Preparation by chemical means to improve the adhesion of coatings.
Etching PrimerA primer with ingredients that etch into bare metal for better adhesion, also referred to as self-etching primer. Primarily used to prep bare metal.
FadingThe loss of color due to exposure to light, heat, or weathering.
Feather SandingTapering the edge of dried paint film with sandpaper.
FillerAny material designed to fill surface flaws, from polyester body filler, spot putties and glazes, to primer surfacers.
FilmLayer or coat of paint or other material applied to a surface.
Finish CoatLast coat of paint or other finish.
Fish-EyeSmall circular depressions nearly devoid of paint usually caused by surface contamination with oils or silicones
FlashThe time required for the majority of the quick-evaporating solvents in the material being sprayed to evaporate or “flash” from the surface.
Flash PointThe temperature at which a coating or solvent will ignite.
FlatA painted surface that scatters or absorbs the light failing on it, so as to be substantially free from gloss or sheen.
FlexibilityAbility of a coating to expand and contract during temperature changes.
FloatingSeparation of pigment colors on the surface of applied paint.
FlowoutThe desirable characteristic of droplets of sprayed material to meld together and level into a glass-smooth surface. Air pressure, gun atomization, and the amount of material being applied as well as the mixture of the paint all affect flow
GalvanizedA thin coating of zinc that covers iron or steel to prevent rust.
GlazeMaterial used to fill minor imperfections or improve the surface quality of body filler. Glazing putty was traditionally a single-component acrylic, although today catalyzed putties are available that reduce shrinkage. Fine grain and easy sanding are the main characteristics of glaze.
GlossThe luster or shininess of paints and coatings are generally classified as flat, semi-gloss, or gloss; the latter has the highest reflecting ability.
Gloss MeterA standard scale for measuring the shininess light reflectance of paint.
HardnessThe ability of a paint film to resist denting, scratching, or marring.
Hold-OutThe ability of a paint film to dry to its normal finish on a somewhat absorptive surface.
HvlpStands for High-Volume, Low-Pressure; it refers to the design of modern spray equipment, initially introduced to meet air-quality regulations by reducing airborne overspray.
InhibitorMaterial such as primer used to retard rusting or corrosion.
Intercoat AdhesionThe adhesion between two coats of paint.
Intermediate CoatThe coating between the primer and finish, often called a barrier coat.
LacquerThe old standard for custom paint work, lacquers are a distinct paint type characterized by fast drying times and the ability to be polished to a beautiful luster. Poor durability and chemical resistance are the downside.
LapTo lay or place one coat so its edge extends over and covers the edge of a previous coat, causing an increased film thickness.
LevelingAbility of a film to flow out free from ripples, pock- marks, and brush marks after application.
LiftingThe softening and penetration of a previous film by solvents in the Paint being applied over it, resulting in raising and wrinkling.
LightfastnessNo loss of color due to exposure to light, heat, or weathering.
MaskingTemporary covering of areas not to be painted.
Masking TapeA strip of paper or cloth similar to adhesive tape, which can be easily removed, used to temporarily cover areas that are not to be painted.
MetallicsA class of paints that include metal flakes in their composition.
Mineral SpiritsPaint thinners or solvents derived from petroleum.
Mixing RatiosThe amount of various components in the proper proportion to produce the final mix for spraying.
NonvolatileThe portion of a paint left after the solvent evaporates; sometimes called the solids content.
OpacityAbility of a paint to hide the previous surface or color.
Opaque CoatingA coating that hides the previous surface coating.
Orange PeelA surface flaw in which the paint goes on with too much texture. Usually caused by improper reducing or air pressure.
Paint GaugeInstrument for measuring the thickness of paint film.
Paint RemoverA compound that softens old Paint or varnish and permits scraping off the loosened material.
PeelingDetachment of a dried paint film in relatively large pieces, usually caused by moisture or grease under the painted surface.
PigmentsPaint ingredients mainly used to impart color and hiding power.
Pin HolesSmall pin-sized holes in the paint, resulting from too much solvent, inadequate flash time, or surface contamination.
PolyurethaneWide range of coatings, ranging from hard glossy enamels to soft flexible coatings. Good to very good adhesion, hardness, flexibility, and resistance. Surface preparation critical.
Pot LifeAmount of time after mixing a two-part Paint system during which it can be applied.
Prime Coat Or PrimerThe first coat or undercoat that helps bind the top coat to the substrate.
PropellantThe gas used to expel materials from aerosol containers.
ReducerA solvent used to thin (reduce) enamels, urethanes, and epoxies.
RemoversSubstances used to soften old paint so they may be removed easily.
ResinA natural or synthetic material that is the main ingredient of paint and that binds ingredients together. It also aids adhesion to the surface.
RunsBlemished film caused by excessive flow of coating.
Rust Preventive Paint Or PrimerThe first coat of paint applied directly to iron or steel structures to slow down or prevent rust.
SagsExcessive flow, causing runs or sagging in paint film during application. Usually caused by applying too heavy a coat of paint or thinning too much.
SealerA thin liquid applied to seal a surface, to prevent previous paint from bleeding through from the surface, or to prevent undue absorption of the topcoat into the substrate.
Sealing PrimerA primer used to isolate the existing substrate, or to provide some filling and surface enhancement under the final finish.
SeedsSmall, undesirable particles or granules other than dust found in a paint.
SettlingPaint separation in which pigments and other solids accumulate at the bottom of the container.
ShrinkageThe characteristic of paint or filler to “shrink” with time as a full cure is reached, making surface flaws and sanding scratches reappear. Common with lacquer-based primers or acrylic spot putties.
SiliconeSee Resin.
Single-StageA paint system in which the color and gloss properties are both contained in a single topcoat product.
SkinTough covering that forms on paints if container is not tightly sealed.
SolidsSee Nonvolatile.
SolventThe volatile part of paint composition that evaporates during drying.
Spot PrimingA method for protecting localized spots. The only areas primed are those that require additional protection due to rusting or peeling of the former coat.
SprayingA method of application in which the coating material is broken up into a fine mist that is directed onto the surface to be coated.
StreakingThe irregular occurrence of lines or streaks of various lengths and colors in an applied film; usually caused by some form of contamination.
StripRemoval of old finishes with paint removers.
Styrene-ButadieneSee Resin.
SubstrateSurface to be painted.
Surfacing Primer Or Primer/SurfacerA primer designed specifically to build thickness for filling shallow surface flaws by sanding.
Tack RagA piece of loosely woven cloth that has been dipped into a varnish oil and wrung out. When it becomes tacky of sticky, it is used to wipe a surface to remove small particles of dust.
TackySticky condition of coating during drying, between wet and dry-to-touch stage.
TextureThe roughness or irregularity of a surface.
ThinnerSolvent used to thin lacquer-based products — similar to REDUCERS used in enamels & urethanes.
Touch UpThe ability of a coating film to be spot repaired (usually within a few months of initial painting) without showing color or gloss differences.
Two StageA paint system in which the color is applied as a primary product (basecoat) followed by a clearcoat to provide gloss and reflectivity.
UndercoatA primer or intermediate coating applied before the finish coating.
UrethaneSimilar to acrylic enamels, but using urethane resins. Urethane has most of the desirable features of acrylic enamel but with enhanced durability, although they generally dry slower.
VehicleThe liquid portion of a paint composed mainly of solvents, resins, or oils.
ViscosityThe thickness of a coating as related to its ability to flow as a liquid.
VocVolatile organic chemicals; the VOC level of the final sprayable mix of the various paint and undercoat products is highly regulated in some regions.
Water SpottingA Paint appearance defect caused by water droplets.
WeatheringThe effect of exposure to weather on paint films.
Wet EdgeLength of time paint can stand before applying additional material without showing a lap.
Wet-SandingSanding with wet-type sandpaper with water to clean away the sanding debris. Creates a higher-quality surface than dry sanding and makes the paper last longer without clogging up.
WrinklingDevelopment of ridges and furrows in a paint film when the paint dries.
YellowingDevelopment of a yellow color or cast in white, pastels, colored, or clear finishes.
Zinc ChromateRust-inhibiting Pigment, greenish-yellow in color, that are used with a high-hiding pigment.