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Paint is any liquid, liquefiable, or mastic composition which after application to a substrate in a thin layer is converted to an opaque solid film.

Paint is used to protect, preserve, decorate (such as adding color), or add functionality to an object or surface by covering it with a pigmented coating.

Paint may be used to add functionality by modifying light reflection or heat radiation of a surface.

Paint can be applied to almost any kind of object. It is used, among many other uses, in the production of art, in industrial coating, as a driving aid (road surface marking), or as a barrier to prevent corrosion or water damage. Paint is a semifinished product, or intermediate good as the final product is the painted article itself.

Paint Components

Pigments are granular solids incorporated into the paint to contribute color, toughness, texture or simply to reduce the cost of the paint  Alternatively, some paints contain dyes instead of or in combination with pigments.

Pigments can be classified as either natural or synthetic types. Natural pigments include various clays, calcium carbonate, mica, silicas, and talcs. Synthetics would include engineered molecules, calcined clays, blanc fix, precipitated calcium carbonate, and synthetic silicas.

Hiding pigments, in making paint opaque, also protect the substrate from the harmful effects of ultraviolet light. Hiding pigments include titanium dioxide, phthalo blue, red iron oxide, and many others.

Fillers are a special type of pigment that serve to thicken the film, support its structure and simply increase the volume of the paint. Fillers are usually comprised of cheap and inert materials, such as talc, lime, baryte, clay, etc. Floor paints that will be subjected to abrasion may even contain fine quartz sand as a filler. Not all paints include fillers. On the other hand some paints contain very large proportions of pigment/filler and binder.

Some pigments are toxic, such as the lead pigments that are used in lead paint.film.

Binder or Vehicle or Resin
The binder, commonly referred to as the vehicle, is the actual film forming component of paint. It is the only component that must be present; other components listed below are included optionally, depending on the desired properties of the cured film.

The binder imparts adhesion, binds the pigments together, and strongly influences such properties as gloss potential, exterior durability, flexibility, and toughness.

Binders include synthetic or natural resins such as acrylics, polyurethanes, polyesters, melamine resins, epoxy, or oils.

Binders can be categorized according to drying, or curing mechanism. The four most common are simple solvent evaporation, oxidative crosslinking, catalyzed polymerization, and coalescence. There are others.

Note that drying and curing are two different processes. Drying generally refers to evaporation of the liquid (called the vehicle) which carries the pigment, whereas curing refers to polymerization of the binder. (The term "vehicle" is industrial jargon which is used inconsistently, sometimes to refer to the solvent and sometimes to refer to the binder.) Depending on chemistry and composition, any particular paint may undergo either, or both processes. Thus, there are paints that dry only, those that dry then cure, and those that do not depend on drying for curing.

Paints that dry by simple solvent evaporation contain a solid binder dissolved in a solvent; this forms a solid film when the solvent evaporates, and the film can re-dissolve in the solvent again. Classic nitrocellulose lacquers fall into this category, as do non-grain raising stains composed of dyes dissolved in solvent.

Paints that cure by oxidative crosslinking are generally single package coatings that when applied, the exposure to oxygen in the air starts a process that crosslinks and polymerizes the binder component. Classic alkyd enamels would fall into this category.

Paints that cure by catalyzed polymerization are generally two package coatings that polymerize by way of a chemical reaction initiated by mixing resin and hardener, and which cure by forming a hard plastic structure. Depending on composition they may need to dry first, by evaporation of solvent. Classic two package epoxies or polyurethanes would fall into this category.

Still other films are formed by cooling of the binder. For example, encaustic or wax paints are liquid when warm, and harden upon cooling. In many cases, they will resoften or liquify if reheated.


The main purposes of the solvent are to adjust the curing properties and viscosity of the paint. It is volatile and does not become part of the paint film. It also controls flow and application properties, and affects the stability of the paint while in liquid state. Its main function is as the carrier for the non volatile components. In order to spread heavier oils (i.e. linseed) as in oil-based interior housepaint, a thinner oil is required. These volatile substances impart their properties temporarilyonce the solvent has evaporated or disintegrated, the remaining paint is fixed to the surface.

This component is optional: some paints have no diluent. Water is the main diluent for water-based paints.

Solvent-based, sometimes called oil-based, paints can have various combinations of solvents as the diluent, including aliphatics, aromatics, alcohols, and ketones. These include organic solvents such as petroleum distillate, esters, glycol ethers, and the like. Sometimes volatile low-molecular weight synthetic resins also serve as diluents. Such solvents are used when water resistance, grease resistance, or similar properties are desired.

Besides the three main categories of ingredients, paint can have a wide variety of miscellaneous additives, which are usually added in very small amounts and yet give a very significant effect on the product. Some examples include additives to modify surface tension, improve flow properties, improve the finished appearance, increase wet edge, improve pigment stability, impart antifreeze properties, control foaming, control skinning, etc. Other types of additives include catalysts, thickeners, stabilizers, emulsifiers, texturizers, adhesion promoters, UV stabilizers, flatteners (de-glossing agents), biocides to fight bacterial growth, and the like.

Related pages varnish , lacquer , spray gun , primer, aerosol paint
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