Learn What Technical Painting Terms Mean

Painting professionals and manufacturers are guilty of using paint terms that most consumers cannot relate to. These standard terms are a part of our industry and sometimes the easiest and only way to describe the specifics of home and commercial painting.

Here is a list of some of the most common painting terms.

Cutting In

Painters use “cutting in,” which includes fine detail work while painting with a paintbrush. Common areas include interior wall and trim work.

Paint VOC’S

Paint VOCs are harmful carbon gases emitted while the paint cures or dries. The concentration of volatile organic compounds increases when paints contain additional chemicals and additives.

Hide/ Coverage

Paint hide, also known as coverage, is paint’s ability to eliminate the visibility of the existing paint color or discolored areas of a surface.


Paint bleed is likely one of the most straightforward to explain. There are two ways paint bleeding can be used. The most common is when a contaminant leaches or bleeds into the paint film, causing discoloration.

Bleeding can also describe inconsistent paint tint or colorant on a dried surface.

Paint Holidays

Paint holidays are nothing like it sounds. Holidays allude to visible insufficient paint coverage. In this case, a “paint holiday” refers to another coat of paint needed for proper coverage.

Paint Stipple

Paint Stipple refers to the texture when paint is applied. The term refers to dried paint texture. Rollers will create more texture than paint sprayers. Microfiber and thin rollers will leave less texture.


Hat banding is the noticeable difference between edges painted by a brush and the remaining area painted by roller. Texture, shine, and color differences all contribute to hatbanding. Some interior paints are prone to it, while others offer an even color and texture.

Paint Leveling

Paint leveling refers to how well a paint dries flat, eliminating brush and roller marks. Paints that dry faster often leave less time for paint to lay flat. The consistency of the paint will also determine how a paint levels.

Lap Marks

Lap marks refer to the visible lines that show the pattern of how the paint is applied. Some lap marks are shiny, and some are dull. Maintaining a wet edge when painting will help keep an even paint coating, increasing the likelihood of a consistent finish free from lap marks.


Paint flashing is a term used to describe an inconsistent sheen in a paint finish. Dull spots within an interior paint finish often relate to interior drywall patches, while inconsistent exterior paint finishes are typically the result of inadequate paint. However, dark paint and stain colors are also subject to flashing due to heavy pigmentation.

Rooster Tails

While rooster tails are not scientific, they explain the adverse effect of applying too much pressure to a paint roller, leaving paint lines on the surface. Eliminating these lines requires painters to load rollers with adequate paint and apply consistent pressure on surfaces, checking for rooster tails to smooth out before the unwanted texture dries.

Paint Overspray

Paint overspray is excess paint from paint sprayers on unwanted areas. Extra fine paint mist will settle on uncovered spaces and is excessive when painters increase the pressure of paint sprayers.

Paint Spatters

Painters use paint spatters or spattering to describe tiny drops of unwanted paint, often from rollers and paint tools. The consistency of the paint and how fast the paint is applied will determine the amount of paint spatters. Spattering can happen when pouring, brushing, or rolling paint.


The emulsification process combines opposing contents and elements, making them mix or join to make one compound. In paint, emulsification allows water and oil molecules to connect by adding heat and spinning them at high speeds, and this is how water-based hybrid paints are available.

Alkyd Paint

Generally, Alkyd paints are made from either alcohol or mineral spirits. Because they use chemical binders and thinners, alkyd hybrids are often referred to as oil-based paint. However, some forms of Alkyd-enhanced paints don’t contain oil-based paint.

The definition of alkyd paint is convoluted as each paint manufacturer implements their chemical spin by mixing water and other materials. Overall, Alkyd paints provide fortified resins that are most resistant to moisture and abrasion.

Latex Paint

Water-based acrylic house paints do not contain latex, which is used to describe the paint’s ability to flex.

Enamel Paint

Enamel refers to a paint’s ability to harden and doesn’t indicate the contents of the paint. Enamels are available in oil and water-based formulas and are best for interior and exterior trim.


Paint polymers include a proprietary cluster of molecules, including vinyl and acrylic in water-based paints.

Paint Sheen

Sheen refers to how shiny a painted surface is at an 85-degree angle. Paint “Gloss” is measured at a 60-degree angle. Greater angles reflect more, making paint sheens deceptive.


A paintable substrate refers to the surface or material the paint is or will be applied to.

More Terms

We are professional painters who aim to create a platform to educate and inform our customers and audience. As more terms continue to rise, we will add them to the list.

If you live in Raleigh, NC, and need quality painting services, we are here to help. Contact us for your free quote today!

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