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Jargon Buster


The major liquid content of a paint, commonly referred to as the base, traditionally consists of water for emulsions and solvents for gloss paints. Due to environmental concerns and EU controls of the use of solvents (see VOC's) water based products are becoming more prevalent and the use of solvent is reducing.

Water based paints dry quicker than solvent based and tend to give off less odour. 


The altering effect on the sheen of a painted surface when washed or scuffed. Matt paints are more susceptible than Silk.


The solid ingredient within a paint that holds the pigment together and ensures a strong adhesion to the surface. Generally the higher the % of binder and pigment the better the quality paint. Quality paints will have pigments/binders in excess of 30%.  


An alternative title for a sheen level similar to Silk. Sometimes used to denote particular suitability for use in demanding areas such as Kitchen & Bathrooms. 


A generic description covering all water based interior wall paints. 


A very reflective hard wearing paint generally used on woodwork e.g. doors, skirting and balustrades. Highlights imperfections so not generally used over large areas.

Matt Emulsion

Less reflective emulsion paint that hides small wall imperfections. However, more susceptible to marks and scuffs and tend to burnish when cleaned although durable hard wearing varieties are available. See Dulux Diamond range.


The ability of a paint to block light from passing through and revealing the original surface.


The second part of the solid element of paint which introduces colour to the mixture.


A less reflective version of gloss, with a greater capacity to hide surface imperfections, but with similar hard wearing capabilities.. Generally used on woodwork e.g. doors, skirting and balustrades.

Silk Emulsion

Intermediate sheen level that does less well at hiding imperfections than a Matt finish but has greater ability to withstand marks and scuffs as well as being wipeable.


Term used by many manufacturers to highlight the inclusion of water borne acrylic polymers within the paint. Improves adhesion and long term surface protection. Some formulations also provide added resistance to alkalis present in many household cleaners.


Volatile Organic Compounds. The inclusion of easily evaporated carbon compounds in paint was reduced in 2010 due to health and environmental concerns and subsequent EU rules.