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A Primer on Paint - Information about paint and coating ingredients and manufacturing.

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The U.S. paint and coating industry primarily includes manufacturers of architectural coatings (i.e., house paint) a diverse collection of product coatings applied as part of the manufacturing process (original equipment manufacturer, or OEM), and special purpose coatings, such as those for garage floor coatings, marine applications, offshore oil and gas rigs, auto refinish and highway and traffic markings. Raw materials suppliers and distributors are also components of the industry.

Generally, paints and coatings are applied to products to protect them from environmental effects, and improve their consumer appeal. In some cases, paints and coatings provide an element essential to a product's use, such as the coatings that protect food and beverages in metal cans from contamination and spoilage. .

The chemistry of paint is a continuously developing science and although the ingredients have changed over the years, the four basic types of materials that make up paint are, Solvents, Binder, Pigment and Additives. .


Solvent is the liquid or vehicle that carries the solid components of paint. It must be present to allow the paint to be of correct consistency for application by brush, roller, spray or dipping. It also promotes the transportation of resins into substrates. A good example is solvent based concrete floor coatings. The resins are actually conveyed into the substrate by the vehicle (solvent). .

The choice of solvent also effect the flow of the paint after it has been applied so that the film develops the correct surface appearance and so that the paint film "wets" the substrate to which it has been applied thus maximizing adhesion to the substrate. The choice of solvent also influences the initial drying properties of the paint film. .

The binder, or resin component is either dissolved in liquid solvent or dispersed in non-solvent. After application the solvent evaporates to leave a solid dry film on the substrate. .

The most common solvents used in floor paint and coatings are water or mineral turps, water is used in acrylic floor paints and mineral turps is used in so called "solvent based paints" such as alkyd based floor coatings. A wider range of solvents are used in industrial type floor paints and coating, these are generally stronger solvents and include aromatic hydrocarbons, ketones and esters. .


The binder or resin is one of the most important components of floor paint. It is the basic solid film former that remains after the solvent has evaporated and which binds the pigment particles together into a cohesive paint film. .

The binder determines many of the necessary film properties such as adhesion, gloss level, hardness, abrasion resistance, flexibility, speed of drying and durability. In heavy-duty solvent based concrete coatings and paints the binder is usually an alkyd resin, in water based floor and concrete coatings the binder is usually an acrylic emulsion but some vinyl emulsions are also used. .

A wider range of binders are used in industrial floor paints, these are usually very specialized and specific to the type of paint in which they are used. Industrial floor coatings vary, from simple alkyd based floor coatings for general use, to paints for manufacturing and industrial floor coatings applications. .

The more specialized binders include polyurethane resins, epoxy resins, silicone based resins, acrylic resins and inorganic silicate based resins. .


This is the component that gives floor paint and coatings the critically important properties of color and opacity. The pigments used in floor paints are normally present as fine solid particles that are dispersed, but not soluble, in the binder and solvent. .

The most common pigment used in floor paint and coatings is titanium dioxide and the majority of white paints use this pigment. Other inorganic colored pigments are used such as red and yellow iron oxides, aluminum flakes and mica flakes. .

Synthetic organic pigments are used to produce very bright clean colors such as blues, greens, reds, oranges and violets. Extender pigments are used in primers and primer surfacers to enhance film properties and to determine the filling and sanding properties of the concrete floor coating film. They are also used in penetrating sealers and the like where the use of more expensive colored pigment is not necessary. .

The most common extender pigments are barium sulphate, china clay, talc and various other silica based pigments. .


Additives are the specialist components of paint, they are used in small quantities to improve production and storage properties of the liquid concrete floor coating as well as application and other performance properties of the floor paint film. .

Some typical additives that are used are:

  • Wetting/Dispersing agents, used to facilitate wetting of the pigment particles and dispersion of coarse aggregated pigment particles to the degree of fineness required.
  • Anti-settling agents, used to reduce settling of pigment particles during storage.
  • Anti-skinning agents, used to prevent the formation of a tough skin film on the floor coating during storage.
  • Drying/Curing agents, used to improve and control the drying properties of the paint film.
  • Stabilizers, used to improve long term storage properties of the liquid paint.
  • Anti-foaming agents, used to prevent foaming or bubbling of floor coatings during manufacture and application.
  • Anti-marring agents, these are usually silicone based compounds that are used to improve resistance to scratching and marring of the paint film.
  • Anti-mould agents, used to reduce mould growth on the floor paint film in very damp and humid environments.

Three common types of paint are:

  • Solvent-based (Oil or Alkyd) In oil-based floor paint the liquid solvent is typically mineral spirits. Oil-based paint dries slower than latex — usually taking 24 hours to dry.
  • Water-based (latex or acrylic) The liquid is water. An advantage to latex paint is that it dries relatively fast, which may or may not be desirable in hot weather or direct sunshine. Clean up is faster, requiring only soap and water.
  • Primer (solvent or water-based) Primers allow floor paint and coatings to bond better, inhibit rust, improve performance and increase the film life expectancy. The right primers can help cover imperfections improving the overall appearance of the finish because typically, especially when they are high build sandable floor coating primers. When you select a floor coating primer, make sure you consider your application carefully before making your selection because often garage floor coatings, concrete coatings, wooden deck paint, metal and masonry require separate primers.

Sheen is the term used to describe the degree of light reflection a paint or coating has. Usually the less sheen a paint has, the less stain-resistant it is. Different manufacturers may have various trade names for them, but in general sheens are classified as:

  • Gloss is the toughest. Virtually all floor coatings, industrial and marine coatings are high gloss. It cleans easily and resists scuffs better. Therefore, it's a good choice for areas of high traffic or constant use, like garage floor coating or industrial floor coating applications. High gloss concrete floor paint provides a sleek, eye-catching look. Gloss floor paint will, however, show imperfections in the surface more than other sheens.
  • Semi-gloss floor coatings are also durable and easy to clean, but have less shine than gloss. They are about as suitable for use in floor and concrete coating applications in most instances.
  • Satin (sometimes referred to as eggshell or low luster) offers a good combination of easy-clean and moderate sheen. It's a good choice for walls and trim but higher gloss performs better in most instances.
  • Flat or low luster floor paint and coatings are usually found in porch and deck paint products. It hides imperfections well and spatters less when applied. It's also easier to touch up, however, it tends to show mar easily.

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18701 58th Ave N.E. Bldg. 43
Arlington , WA , 98223