Glossary of terms
I throw a lot of terms around on this site. Primer, sealer, blocking … it can all be very confusing. To help those who don’t do this every day, I am providing a handy definition guide to help everyone understand the terminology. I will also post these in the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section for future reference.
Acrylic (Enamel) (Paint): A common type of paint used for automotive finishes. Not as durable as a urethane enamel, acrylic enamels can be polished to a high gloss finish like a lacquer paint.
Base Coat: This is the actual pigmented color that covers your car. I frequently refer to this as the color layer in this blog for clarity.
Blend(ing): A technique for matching old paint to new. Blending feathers the newly applied paint into the existing paint so the eye cannot detect a change in color if one exists.
Block: A flexible object around which sandpaper is wrapped. The block prevents the introduction of imperfections into the surface caused by hand sanding and allows the sandpaper to remove more material from high spots while skimming over low spots, producing a smooth and even surface.
Blocking: The process of using a block while sanding.
Body Filler: A product that dries to a hard surface suitable for sanding and shaping. Body filler is designed for smoothing and filling of shallow dents, not for major repairs.
Booth: See Paint Booth.
Buffer: A high-speed tool used to apply and remove polishing compound. See Polishing.
Candy: A thinned base coat applied over the regular base coat to produce a deeper, richer color.
Catalyst: An ingredient that causes a chemical reaction by interacting with the resins of the paint allowing it to cure .
Clear Coat: The final coating applied over the base coat to protect the finish and provide the gloss.
Enamel (Paint): A general term for paints that dry to a hard, durable finish. Acrylic enamels and urethane enamels, along with hardware store type spray paints are all enamel paint.
Epoxy Primer: An undercoat that can be applied over etching primer or bare metal to seal the body from moisture and provide a barrier to damage, such as rock chips and scratches.
Etching Primer: An undercoat that is applied directly to bare metal. The etching primer bonds directly to the metal surface to provide rust protection and adhesion to the following layers. The etching primer and epoxy primer work well together as a single unit.
Filler: See Body Filler.
Flake: See Metal Flake.
Gloss: The luster or shininess of paints and coatings are generally classified as the gloss. Common definitions are flat, semi-gloss, or gloss; the latter having the highest reflecting ability.
High Solids Primer: A product used to remove the tiny imperfections from cars. Typically used under the most demanding finish, such as our High Performance Finish, a high solids primer provides the smoothest base possible for the base coat and clear coat. It functions in the same capacity as body filler, but is used over the entire car and is applied as a spray.
Lacquer (Paint): A type of paint characterized by fast drying times and the ability to be polished to a rich and beautiful gloss. Poor durability and chemical resistance has led to their replacement by enamel paint.
Long Blocking: See Blocking.
Metal Flake: Tiny bits of various colored flakes that can be added to the base coat to give extra sparkle to the paint. Metallic paints get their name from the inclusion of metal flakes.
Metal Work: A general terms for heavy metal repairs, such as cutting out rusty areas and replacing them with new sheet metal.
Paint: A general term for the various undercoats, base coats and clears that taken together forms the finish on your car.
Paint Booth: An environmental control chamber for the application of various sprayed substances that make up the paint on your car.
Paint Gun: A tool used by painters to apply sprayable substances to a vehicle. A paint gun is typically powered by cleaned and dried compressed air.
Pigment(s): The substances that are mixed into the base coat to give it its color.
Polish: The act of using a high speed buffer along with various polishing compounds to increase the luster of a paint finish. This is typically the final step of painting a car.
Polishing Compound(s): Substances that contain ultra-fine abrasives used to restore or increase the luster of a paint finish. Polishing compounds are available in various coarseness’s depending on the amount of abrasion needed.
Primer: A general term for an undercoat that is applied to seal and protect the metal or plastic before the application of the sealer and paint.
Sanding: A general term for the use of sandpaper for smoothing, cleaning and the removal of imperfections. See Blocking.
Sealer: An undercoat that is applied over all previous layers before the base coat is applied. The sealer fills any tiny sanding scratches and provides a consistent color base in one of seven shades of gray. The sealer and base coat work together as a unit to provide the color for your car paint.
Slick Sand: See High Solids Primer.
Shoot: A slang term for using a air powered paint gun to apply the various undercoats, base coats and clears. Typically would be used as in, “I have to go shoot this car.”
Tack: To remove any residual dust with a tack cloth.
Tack Cloth: A lint free cloth impregnated with a chemical that leaves the cloths slightly tacky. A tack cloth wiped over a surface will cause any dust or loose particles to adhere to the cloth so it is removed from the surface.
Trim Out: The act of applying an primers, sealer and paint to the part or parts of a body panel that cannot be reached after assembly.
Two Stage (Paint): A paint system in which the color is applied as a base coat followed by a clear coat to provide gloss and protection.
Undercoat: Any of the primers and sealers that are applied before the base coat.
Urethane (Enamel) (Paint): A type of paint used in most automotive finishes. Urethane paints are very durable and require the use of a catalyst.
Wet Sand(ing): Sanding of a surface while the surface is wet. The water provides lubricating properties to prevent the removal of too much material and washes away sanding dust so that the effects of the sanding process can be seen.