Painting & Decorating Contractors

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There's a whole string of words and phrasing in the Painting & Deccorating world that probably means absolutely nothing to you. Here you can view a useful description on the meaning of each term:

Abrading (abrasion)

To wear away by rubbing


A term describing water 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


To stick




Giving something an aged appearance - various techniques can be used, such as staining and denting. Also referred to as Antiquing or Distressing


Having a pH greater than 7 (an acid has a pH less than 7)


An oil based paint made from synthetic resin instead of natural oils


Originally a trade name but now used generically to describe wallpaper with an embossed surface pattern


see Ageing


A decorative moulding, usually made from timber, that is fitted around door and window frames to hide the gap between the frame and the wall


Creating an arc or a seciton of a circle


When a liquid is broken up into tiny droplets like a mist


Where brickwork has sections in slightly different shades

Barrier cream

A cream used to protect the skin from damage or infection


A heavy, semi-solid, brown-black substance also known as asphalt or tar

Bleed through

A painting fault resulting from a wood knot, solvent or other contaminate under paint showing stains in the paint


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


A traditional paint technique where paint is diluted and used to create a semitransparent rather than an opaque finish


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


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


see Ageing


A paint effect using a flogger (a long-haired paintbrush) is dragged across a glaze to create a series of random fine lines


An oil or water based paint with a semi-gloss finish


A water based paint normally used to paint large areas such as walls and ceilings

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


A long haired paintbrush used to create a Dragged paint effect


A friable surface is one which crumbles away easily when you rub your hand over it


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


A paint effect giving a realistic hardwood appearance to softwood


A painting fault where paint has been applied too thinly over darker surfaces, the surface below may show or grin through


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


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


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


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"


A paint effect used to create the impression of a marble surface


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


Allowing things to pass through

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


Polyvinyl acetate - the basis of various types of adhesives, paints etc. Often used diluted as a stabilising solution on powdery surfaces


Polyvinyl Chloride (a tough plastic)

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


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


A Chemical reaction that makes soap and so foams up as a result


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


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


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


A liquid which is applied to flaking or dusty surfaces to bind the surface in preparation for subsequent decoration


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


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


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


A resinous or water-based solution that seals and protects surfaces


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


A wood finish which is absorbed into the outer surface to provide colour and protection