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Glossary of Terms
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Abrasion
Wearing away of a surface in service by action such as rubbing, scraping or erosion.

Abrasion resistance
The ability of a material to withstand mechanical action such as rubbing, scraping, or erosion that tends to progressively remove material from the surface.

Abrasive
Any material used to wear away, smooth or polish a surface; for example, sandpaper that is used to smooth wood.

Absorption (light)
The light energy (wavelengths) not reflected by an object or substance. The color of a substance depends on the wavelength reflected.

Abuse-resistant drywall
A heavy-duty type of drywall, available in 1/2- and 5/8-inch thicknesses, that has heavier paper than regular panels and a reinforced core.

Accelerated weathering
Tests designed to simulate, but at the same time intensify and accelerate, the destructive action of natural outdoor weathering.

Accelerator
A substance used in small proportions to increase the speed of a chemical reaction. Accelerators are used in paint to hasten the curing of a coating system.

Accent
In a room scheme, a small area of intense color that contrasts, either in hue or tone, with the lighter or more muted prevailing colors. Often provided by accessories and trimmings, accents add detail and draw the eye to various elements.

Accent light
A type of light that highlights an area to emphasize that aspect of a room's character.

Accent lighting
A type of lighting that highlights an area or object to emphasize that aspect of a room's character.

Accessible designs
Those that accommodate persons with physical disabilities.

Accordion folding
A folding technique used for a booked strip of wallpaper. The paper is folded back and forth to keep pasted sides together and allow relaxing or expanding time. This fold also makes long strips easier to manage during the installation.

Acetate
The plastic sheet material often used for making stencils.

Acetone
A solvent used in fast dry, film building coatings. Good solvent, with a low flash point.

Achromatic
Lacking color, black, gray or white.

Acid demand
The amount of acid required by a body of water to raise the pH to neutral (7).

Acrylic
A water-based plastic polymer that acts as the binder in acrylic paints.

Acrylic paint
A water-soluble paint with a plastic polymer (acrylic) binder.

Acrylic resin
An aqueous dispersion of acrylic resins, water-white in color, very transparent, and resistant to discoloration, moisture, alcohol acids, alkalis and mineral oils. Usually made by polymerization of acrylic acid and methacrylic acid.

Acrylic varnish
A coating that contains the same medium used to make water-soluble paints and glazes.

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)
A plastic formulation (typically black in color) used for some rigid pond shells, also for drainpipe in plumbing systems.

Activator
The curing agent of a two compound coating system.

Active
A state in which a metal tends to corrode; opposite of passive.

Active solvent
A liquid which can dissolve a paint binder when used alone.

Actual dimension
The exact measurements of a piece of lumber after it has been cut, surfaced and dried. Example: A 2x4's actual dimensions are 1-1/2 x 3-1/2 inches.

Actual dimension (lumber)
The exact cross-sectional measurements of a piece of lumber after it has been cut, surfaced and dried.

Actual dimensions - masonry
The measured dimensions of a masonry unit.

Actual length (rafters)
Length of a rafter after half the thickness of the ridgeboard has been subtracted.

Adaptable
Refers to design that can be easily changed to accommodate a person with disabilities.

Adapter
A fitting that connects two pipes of different sizes or materials.

Additive
A substance added in a small amount, usually to a fluid, for a special purpose - such as to reduce friction, corrosion, etc.

Adhesion
The property of a paint film that enables it to stick to a surface.

Adhesive aeration
A condition where the adhesive is filled with miniature air bubbles. Mixing or whipping the adhesive in too vigorous a manner is usually the cause. These bubbles can cause small blisters to form beneath the wallpaper, especially when installing nonbreathable types.

Adhesive mastic
A pastelike cement used for applying floor and wall tiles; a waterproof caulking compound used in roofing.

Adhesive penetration
The process where the adhesive soaks into the wallpaper substrate during the relaxing or booking period.

Adhesive viscosity
The internal friction of an adhesive that restricts its tendency to flow or spread. The viscosity controls the amount of adhesive you can spread at a given thickness. Adhesive viscosity also affects drying time.

Adhesive volatility
The evaporation time associated with a particular adhesive. Volatility increases during the hot summer months, especially if you are working on new construction and there is no air conditioning.

Adhesive wrinkles
Wrinkles or ridges that occur immediately following the installation of wallpaper, caused by further expansion of the paper. Inadequate booking time is often a cause. Adhesive wrinkles normally dry out within 24 to 48 hours. Wrinkled wallpaper should generally be removed and reinstalled rather than fixed.

Adulteration
Any admixture of less value than the accepted standard, or the partial substitution of one substance for another without acknowledgment.

Advancing colors
Warm, saturated colors that seem to come forward toward the viewer. Advancing colors can make rooms seem more cozy and objects slightly larger.

Aeration cell
An oxygen concentration cell; an electrolytic cell resulting from differences in dissolved oxygen at two points.

After-tack
Film defect in which the coated surface, having once reached a tack-free stage, subsequently develops a sticky condition.

Agglomerate
Clumps of pigment crystals which have formed loose clusters containing entrapped air. Usually undesirable in paint, as they tend to settle out and have poor optical properties.

Aggregates
Crushed stone, gravel or other material used with cement and water to form concrete.

Aging
Allowing to stand undisturbed for a period in order to develop certain characteristics. Some materials improve upon aging, others have a tendency to lose their value.

Air barrier
An air-infiltration barrier or house wrap that can be used to protect a storage area in the attic from moisture and dust.

Air barrier tape
A moisture-proof tape that covers the joint and sticks to the substrate. Duct tape or contractor's tape work well.

Air brush
Very small spray gun, not much larger than a fountain pen, designed as an artist's tool.

Air cap (air nozzle)
The structure at the front of a spray nozzle which directs compressed air against the paint to form and shape an atomized cloud of droplets.

Air chamber
A vertical, air-filled pipe that prevents water hammer by absorbing pressure when water is shut off at a faucet.

Air drying
The most common form of curing a coating in which drying takes place by oxidation or solvent evaporation by simple exposure to air without heat or catalyst.

Air entrapment
The inclusion of air bubbles in liquid paint or a paint film.

Air gap
The distance between the outlet of a faucet and the overflow level of the fixture.

Air-dried lumber
Lumber that is dried by being exposed to air, rather than an oven or kiln.

Air-dried wood
Lumber that is stacked with spacers to allow air to circulate and is usually marked indicating its maximum moisture content at the time it leaves the mill.

Air-entrained (concrete)
Concrete that has been mixed with an admixture that causes tiny bubbles of air to be held in the mixture as the concrete sets. Air-entrained concrete is more workable and less vulnerable to frost.

Airless spraying
Process of atomization of paint by forcing it through an orifice at high pressure.

Alcohol
A group of solvents of relatively high evaporation rate but with fairly low solvent strength. Methanol, ethanol, and isopropyl are common alcohols.

Aliphatic
A class of organic solvents which are composed of open chains of carbon atoms, derived from paraffin base crude oil. Aliphatics are relatively weak solvents. Among the typical aliphatic hydrocarbons are gasoline, mineral spirits, naphtha and kerosene.

Alizarin crimson
One of the basic pigments, alizarin crimson is synthetically derived from coal tar and ranges from scarlet to maroon.

Alkali
An aqueous liquid which has a pH value of between 7 and 14. A base or caustic material.

Alkyd paints
Paints with artificial resins (alkyds) forming their binder; often imprecisely called oil-based paints. Alkyds have replaced the linseed oil formerly used as a binder in oil-based paint.

Alkyd resin
A modified polyester-type resin used widely in the coatings field. Alkyd resin coatings are outstanding in their weather resistance.

Alligation
Fine cracks resembling alligator skin that appear in a primer-sealer coat. Alligation can result when there is grease, dirt or wax buildup on a wall surface, when the temperature is low, or when the product is not thoroughly mixed.

Alligatored finish
Any finished surface that shows numerous cracks caused by aging and drying.

Allowance - wallpaper
The 2 to 3 inches of material for trimming included at the top or bottom of a strip of wallpaper.

Alternating rolls
The technique of working with two separate rolls of wallpaper to minimize waste while installing a drop-match patterned design.

Aluminum
A lightweight, corrosion-resistant metal used for vertical and horizontal siding.

Aluminum oxide
A long-life grit for abrasive wheels and sandpapers.

Aluminum paint
A paint that includes aluminum particles and gives a metallic finish when dried.

Aluminum-oxide sandpaper
A tan-colored sandpaper that is commonly used on sanding belts and disks.

Ambient lighting
General illumination that surrounds a room. There is no visible source of the light.

Ambient temperature
Room temperature or the existing temperature of the surroundings.

American single roll
An increasingly uncommon unit of wallpaper, usually containing between 34 to 36 square feet. These rolls vary from 20.5 to 36 inches in width and from 4 to 7 yards in length.

Amide
A functional group which can act as an epoxy resin curing agent.

Amine
Materials often used as curing agents for epoxy coatings.

Amphoteric
Possessing both basic and acidic properties.

Anaerobic
An absence of unreacted or free oxygen.

Analogous colors
Any three colors located next to one another on the color wheel.

Anchoring
Mechanical bonding of a coating to a rough surface, as contrasted with adhesion, which is chemical bonding.

Angle of incidence
Angle between the axis of an impinging light beam and a line perpendicular to the specimen surface.

Angle of view
Angle between the axis of observation and perpendicular to the specimen surface.

Anhydrous
Containing no water.

Aniline dye
A synthetic tinting medium made from coal-tar products, which can be dissolved in water or alcohol and used to change the color of wood.

Anionic surfactant
One which has a negative charge and migrates toward the anode or positive pole while in solution.

Anode
The positive terminal of an electrical source. In a corrosion cell, the anode is the electrode that has the greater tendency to go into solution. The point at which corrosion occurs.

Anodic protection
An appreciable reduction in corrosion by making a metal an anode and maintaining this highly polarized condition with very little current flow.

Anti-corrosive coating
A paint made with neutral or slightly alkaline pigments and a water resisting vehicle to be used as a primer on steel and other metals to prevent or retard corrosion.

Anti-mildew agent
A coating additive, usually toxic in nature, which inhibits the growth of mildew, fungus and other organisms.

Anti-settling agent
A material which slows down the natural settling of pigments and prevents hard settling.

Anti-skinning agent
A type of antioxidant, usually volatile, which when added to a varnish or an oil, will tend to prevent a skin of partially oxidized material from forming on the surface of the liquid while in the container or before being applied to the work.

Antioxidant
A material which, when added to a varnish or an oil, retards or prevents oxidation and drying.

Antique finish
A finish usually applied to furniture or woodwork to give the appearance of age.

Antiquing
Any technique used to make a painted surface look old; usually refers to a thin glaze that is applied to a surface, allowing the undercoat to show through.

Appliance finish
Generally, the thermoset coatings, which are characterized by their hardness, mar resistance and good chemical resistance.

Apron - bathtub
The front extension of a bathtub that runs from the rim to floor.

Apron - furniture
The board between the tops of a table's legs that supports the top or, in the case of a chair, the seat. Also called the "skirt."

Apron - window
The piece of trim around the interior side of a window that sits below the window stool and supports it.

Apron tile
Trim or facing on the side or in front of a countertop edge.

Aqueous
Pertaining to water; an aqueous solution is a water solution.

Arbor
Garden structure that can support plants and serves as a transition between sections of a yard or as an architectural feature that complements the landscape.

Arc
Any portion of a circle, such as those found in an archway or curved wall.

Arch bead
A plastic or metal strip designed to finish curved drywall seams in arched doorways or windows.

Architectural coatings
Coatings intended for on-site application to interior or exterior coatings of residential, commercial or institutional buildings -- as opposed to industrial coatings. Also called Trade Sales Coatings.

Architectural grade lumber
The best-looking and most expensive grade of lumber.

Armoire
A large, ornate cupboard or wardrobe that is used for storage.

Aromatic
An organic chemical possessing the benzene ring structure. Benzene, toluol and xylol are typical aromatic hydrocarbons.

Art deco
A decorative style that was based on geometric forms. It was popular during the 1920s and 1930s.

Art nouveau
A late-nineteenth-century decorative style that was based on natural forms. It was the first style to reject historical references and create its own design vocabulary, which included stylized curved details.

Artificial break
The point where the wallpaper or border ends against a decorative wood strip, spindle or other object. This lets the wallpaper or border end without an obvious mismatch.

Artist's acrylics
Paints that contain pigments suspended in acrylic resin, similar to latex paint but of much higher quality.

Artist's oils
The tube or oil-stick paint associated with fine-art paintings. They consist of pigments suspended in linseed oil, and come in a wide range of saturated colors.

Arts and crafts movement
A decorative style that began in England during the late nineteenth century, where it was known as the Aesthetic Movement. Lead by William Morris, the movement rejected industrialization and encouraged fine craftsmanship and simplicity in design.

Asphalt
A bituminous compound, dark brown or black in color, used in the manufacture of asphalt roofing shingles.

Asphaltic concrete
A mixture of liquid asphalt and aggregate used as a paving material.

Astragal
A vertical strip attached to the opening edge of one door in a pair, forming a jamb for the other door to close into.

Atom
The smallest particle of an element.

Atomize
To break a liquid into a mist or droplets. Spray guns atomize paint by forcing the paint through a small orifice under high pressure and through air stream interaction.

Attic
The space between the rafters and the ceiling joists.

Available lighting conditions
The ambient light in a room, including natural light and artificial light. Imperfections in the wall surface or wallpaper are more evident as the ambient light increases.

Awning window
A window with a single framed-glass panel. It is hinged at the top to swing out when it is open.
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