3 Main Paint Ingredients You Should Know About - On the House

3 Main Paint Ingredients You Should Know About

By on August 8, 2015
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What’s even in that paint you’re putting on your walls? You should know about the ingredients!

Because if paint is in all of our homes, in nearly all of our rooms, we should know what ingredients are in that paint!

And if you need help picking a paintbrush, check out this article.

Also, don’t forget to use painter’s tape too!

We’re here to tell you the three main paint ingredients you should know about!

Part of a recent press release we received from a major paint manufacturer read as follows:

“Paint is a creation of man used from the beginning of recorded history – from the caves of Lascaux in France to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel…. It is used for decoration, for communication, as a preservative and as a maintenance tool. Today, paint has evolved into the protector, preserver and beautifier of home, workplace, public spaces….. A thin film of paint — a few thousandths of an inch thick — protects, seals, hides, decorates and is not hazardous to the user. Simply put, paint is long term protection at a very moderate price….”

We agree that paint is a good preservative and that painting needs to be a part of every home dweller’s maintenance program.

First and foremost because it looks good — and that improves value. But more importantly, painting protects the wood parts of a house better than anything else we know about. However, we don’t feel exactly like the paint company person who wrote the opening paragraph. Paints vary in quality and price, and where paint materials [and labor costs] may seem moderately priced to some folks, others might not agree that an $8000 paint job every five to ten years is a “moderate” investment in maintaining the exterior of one’s home.

Even with the best preparation, some paint jobs fall apart in no time — you know, cracking, peeling, chipping, etc.

As we have always said, “80 percent of a good paint job is in the preparation”. But good quality paint is important as well. And, knowing what makes good paint good can improve the chance that the job will be a good one.

Here are the three main paint ingredients you should know about:

  • pigment
  • binder
  • solvent

The pigment provides the texture, color and hiding properties of the paint. Pigments actually used to be pretty dangerous and included: lead, chromates and asbestos. Dangerous pigments are in very rare use and are outlawed in most places. Titanium dioxide and iron oxides are safe, high-grade pigments and are found in better quality paints. Clay and silica are also used but don’t hold up as well.

Cheaper pigment materials cannot be ground as finely as the better pigments can be ground. You can actually tell whether paint is good or not by rubbing it between the tips of your thumb and index finger. If the paint feels gritty, it more than likely contains either a cheap pigment or lot of cheap filler — like clay. This kind of paint will not normally last as long as paint that contains mostly Titanium dioxide or iron oxides which tests very smooth to the touch.

In paint (and crib notes — haha), the binder is what holds everything together.

Linseed oil is usually the binder in oil-based paint, which is frequently mixed with one or more other vegetable oils. However, in water-based paint, one popular binder is polyvinyl acetate (white glue). As a matter of fact, there is a latex undercoating called PVA which is short for Poly Vinyl Acetate. Pretty creative huh!?!

The solvent in water-based paint is water.

In oil-based paint, the solvent is thinner (petrochemical distillate). When the water is evaporating out of latex paint and when the thinner is evaporating out of oil base paint both processes are referred to as drying. Before they evaporate, the solvents keep their respective pigments and binders in solution and help them penetrate deeply into the surface being painted. After the solvents have evaporated they leaving a thin hardened layer of pigment and binder that we know as paint.

There are other additives that help flow, reduce bubbles, control consistency, etc., but remember good paints are not gritty.

Here’s another test you can make. Apply a spot of good paint to any surface. Apply a spot of cheap paint next to it. Once the paint has dried completely, put a drop of food coloring onto each spot of paint. The good paint will hold the food coloring together. The cheap paint will allow the food coloring to spread.

For more home improvement tips and information search our website or call our listener line any time at 1-800-737-2474! All you need to do is leave your name, telephone number and your question.

*Updated on 07 November 2019

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