Painting home walls or wooden furniture isn’t as straightforward as painting on canvas. But don’t worry. All you need is at least a bit of starting knowledge so you don’t feel too lost on what to do or where to begin. For newbie DIYers, here are some painting terms to introduce you to the wonderful world of home painting. Remember, knowledge is power! These may be your first steps to gaining the confidence you need to embark on your first painting project.

1. Primer, Putty, and Topcoat

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Let’s say you want to repaint a wall from a previously dark color to a lighter one. You’re going to need a primer, possibly some putty, and a topcoat. These three things—primer, putty, and topcoat—are, a lot of the time, essential to a painting project.

In newbie-friendly speak, primer preps your wall for paint, putty corrects your walls imperfections (such as hairline cracks) to give it a smoother finish, and topcoat is your chosen paint color. So, not just for when you’re doing repainting projects but many other painting endeavors, you’re likely not just buying topcoat. You will also have a few other products that are vital if you want to accomplish your project correctly and well.

Learn more about repainting room walls here: Boysen Beginner’s Guide: How to Repaint a Room.

2. Painting Schedule

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Because you’re likely to need several products for one project, painting schedules are a big help and act as “cheat sheets”, especially for newbies. If you’ve already got your chosen topcoat, for example, all you need to do is look at the painting schedule that comes with it and you know what primer and putty you need to get too! Convenient, right?

Find more about painting schedules here: Painting Schedules: How to Read Them and Why They’re Important.

3. Surface Preparation

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Surface preparation encompasses the necessary steps you need to take to make sure whatever you’re painting is in the best condition to be painted. Skipping this can lead to problems down the line (such as efflorescence). Some examples of surface prep include treating new concrete, scraping off old paint if repainting, and priming metal.

The process will be different depending on the type of surface and project. One easy way to check what type of surface preparation you need to do is to look at the label of the Boysen product you’re purchasing. General instructions should be there. You can check the Boysen website and app too.

If you want detailed and easy-to-understand surface prep guides, Let It B has you covered. You can find them in the Surface Preparation section of the blog.

4. Paint Compatibility

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There are several different types of paint specially formulated for different surfaces. To put it simply: concrete paint for concrete, wood paint for wood, metal paint for metal, and so on. (Note that some paints are compatible with more than one type of surface.)

Each paint product is specifically formulated for the surface they’re meant to be applied on. This is to ensure good adhesion and to provide adequate protection to the surface. Match the wrong paint to the wrong surface and you get all sorts of problems including kumukulong pintura. You can learn more about it here: Common Painting Mistakes: Using the Wrong Type of Paint for the Surface.

So, newbies, when you’re buying paint at the hardware store, make sure to ask if it’s compatible with what you’re working on.

5. Paint Finish

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Paint will come in different finishes. Paint finish pertains to the “shine” or lack thereof of your paint when it’s fully dry. When it comes to the world of paint, the “most shiny” will be paint in a gloss finish and the “least shiny” being paint in a flat finish. In between those two are semi-gloss, satin, and matte finishes.

Picking a paint finish can be a matter of preference but there’s also a fair bit of practicality to consider. Each of the finishes has its own characteristics and properties. Therefore, there are situations where one may be more appropriate than the other.

Here’s a starter guide for where each paint finish is typically used in the home: semi-gloss for exteriors, satin and matte for interiors (such as room walls), and flat for ceilings. Want to know why? Read up here: Paint Finish: What does Sheen, Gloss or Kintab in Paints Mean?

6. Water-based or Solvent-based

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Some paints are water-based and some are solvent-based. As a newbie, you don’t have to worry too much about the technical aspects of this. It is, however, important for you to identify which of the two your paint product will be for a few reasons.

First, it’s how you know if your paint is likely to be low-odor or not. Water-based paints will not typically have a strong chemical smell. Boysen Healthy Home, for example, is a water-based paint formulated to even be odor-less.

Then, there’s also the matter of what you’ll use for clean-up later on. Water-based paint splatters can be cleaned with just water. For solvent-based paint, check the product label for what you need to use such as paint thinner.

And those are some of the essential painting terms every newbie DIY painter needs to know! There’s a lot more to learn but what we’ve covered here is enough to consider starting your new paint project! Begin with something relatively simple, like repainting one wall of a room, and be amazed at what you can accomplish. If you’re unsure about anything, come back to Let It B. We have tons of helpful articles ready for you. Good luck!


Jill is a writer on a continuous journey to learn about paint and share them with you, the reader. She has an interest in the technical side of things but also thoroughly enjoys playing with colors. She likes calm greens, quiet blues, and mellow yellows best.

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