Painting & Decorating trade jargon

Jargon by trade

The use of sandpaper or other abrasive papers to smooth down a surface before painting, or to give an already-painted surface a 'matt' texture, so it better holds subsequent coats of paint.


Small particles of various crushed stone, rock, or gravel. Often used to refer to any loose building material such as sand, ballast, gravel, MOT, etc.

Base coat

The first coat of a surfacing material, like paint.



The state of cement rendering or plaster that is no longer bonded to the wall behind it.


Horizontal moulding running between the walls and ceiling of a room, or at the top of a kitchen wall units.


A shaped decorative moulding, usually made of wood or plaster, made to fit into the space between the top of a wall and a ceiling of a room.


The fine cracks which typically occur when a hard material is applied over a soft material and then dries.


In this context, the chemical process by which paint dries.

Dry lining

The fixing of plaster boards to timber/metal frames to create partition walls/ceilings.


A type of paint which, in terms of glossiness, sits in between matt and high gloss.

Emulsion paint

A water-thinned paint, typically used for covering walls, which dries to a matt finish.

Enamel paint

A high-gloss, slow-drying and low-transparency paint.


A material used to smooth out small imperfections in a surface.

Finish coat

See also top coat, the last coat of paint applied if multiple coats are being used.

Gloss paint

Gloss refers to the paints ability to reflect light. High gloss paint will be shiny, low gloss will appear dull.


A substance painted onto the knots of wood to stop resin seeping from the knots and affecting the finish.


A mixture of lime and water that can be used to coat exterior walls.

Lining paper

A plain wallpaper used to cover up plaster that cannot otherwise be adequately prepared before painting or wall hangings are added.

Matt finish

A dull or flat paint finish, with little sheen or gloss.


How transparent a layer of paint is. Paint with high opacity will better hide the underlying surface.

Pebble dash

A finishing for an external wall where it is covered in mortar or cement, with a layer of pebbles then applied.


The first coat of paint applied to a surface, used as a base for subsequent coats.


The first rough coat of cement-based mortar applied to external walls as a protective coating.

Silk or satin finish

A style of painting with a low to medium degree of sheen or gloss.


A component of paint and adhesives which helps the consistency, and evaporates after use.


A smooth cement or rendering applied to exterior walls, often designed to resemble stone.


Top coat

The last layer of paint to be applied, and the one which remains visible.



A layer of paint laid on top of the primer coat, and before the surface coat, to help prepare the surface for a better finished appearance.

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