A Breakdown of Paint

June 30, 2008

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Paint is the heart of the painting and coating industry, and the focus of this week’s examination. Today, we begin with an overview of paint’s components. The characteristics of a given paint are the result of the specific combination of four components: pigments, binders, liquids and additives.

Pigments are the materials that give paint its color. Pigments may derive from organic or inorganic sources. The chemical composition of the pigment directly affects the finished color of the paint. For example, most white paints get their brilliant color from titanium dioxide. The amount of pigment affects the gloss of the finished coating. More pigment creates a flat finish, while less pigment creates a glossy finish.

Binders help the paint adhere to a surface, which affects the finished coating’s longevity, durability and resistance to cracking. Binders are generally either oil-based or latex based.

Liquids are a medium for the other components. Two types of liquids are commonly found in a coating product, solvents and diluents. The solvents help the binder and the pigment remain in suspension, and may be either a volatile compound like paint thinner or a harmless substance such as water. Diluents fill out the volume of the paint.

Additives are the most diverse components of paint. The types of paint additives vary considerably from product to product, and each additive type supplements the qualities of the finish. Anti-mold and mildew qualities, improved hardness, splatter resistance and anti-foaming qualities are some of the common qualities that additives can impart to paint.

Coming up: More about pigments.

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