Paint is any pigmented liquid, liquefiable, or mastic composition that, after application to a substrate in a thin layer, converts to a solid film. It is most commonly used to protect, color, or provide texture to objects. Paint can be made or purchased in many colors—and in many different types, such as watercolor, synthetic, etc. Paint is typically stored, sold, and applied as a liquid, but most types dry into a solid.
The sheen or gloss level of a paint is principally determined by the ratio of resinous, adhesive binder which solidifies after drying, and solid, powdery pigment. The more binder the coating contains, the more regular reflection will be made from its smooth surface; conversely, with less binder, grains of pigment become exposed to the surface, scattering the light and providing matte effect. To a lesser extent, gloss is also affected by other factors: refraction index of the pigment particles, viscosity and refraction index of the binder.
As a gloss finish will reveal surface imperfections such as sanding marks, surfaces must generally be prepared more thoroughly for gloss finishes. Gloss-finish paints are generally more resistant to damage than flat paint, more resistant to staining, and easier to clean. Flat paint may become glossier through burnishing or staining with grease; glossy paint may lose its gloss and look scratched if abraded. Unlike gloss paint, flat paint can generally be touched up locally without repainting the entire surface.
The vehicle is composed of the binder; or, if it is necessary to thin the binder with a diluent like solvent or water, it is the combination of binder and diluent. In this case, once the paint has dried or cured very nearly all of the diluent has evaporated and only the binder is left on the coated surface. Thus, an important quantity in coatings formulation is the “vehicle solids”, sometimes called the “resin solids” of the formula. This is the proportion of the wet coating weight that is binder, i.e. the polymer backbone of the film that will remain after drying or curing is complete.