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Interior House Painting Jargon Buster

Within this jargon buster we cover the common jargon and phrases used while painting any rooms in your home. If you’re in the process of painting or re-painting your house, then we recommend you take a look at, or even print this list, before getting started to help you avoid any common issues that may occur. Don’t forget to check out our other jargon busters in the jargon guides, as well as our House Painting Cost (Interior) by Room guide.


A term describing water-based and water-resistant decorating materials.

Bleed through

A painting issue which shows stains within the paint, due to wood knot, solvent or other contaminate under the paint.

Colour washing

A painting technique, where the paint is thinned out to create a semi-transparent rather finish.


A paint effect which is used to produce a series of lines by using a decorators comb and dragging across a glaze.

Cutting in

Cutting in relates to painting all those small areas where paint rollers or pads cant get into. Usually use a brush to paint into the edges of walls or around plug sockets / switches.

Durable matt

Durable matt paint presents a velvety texture and doesn’t reflect light so expect a completely different finish to a gloss type paint. This can also be great when covering up any stains and imperfections within the walls of your home.


Eggshell is a paint that presents a relatively low sheen and is an oil or water based paint with a semi-gloss finish.


Emulsion is a water-based paint that offers extra durability and the most common paint for large areas such as interior walls and ceilings.  You can get emulsion paint in various finishes such as durable matt, eggshell, gloss, silk and satin emulsion paint.

Filling in

Relates to the process of adding filler into any holes, cracks or gaps into a surface before painting to help give a smooth surface.

Gloss (paint)

Gloss paint is a highly reflective, hard wearing paint and commonly used as a top coat on woodwork.


Is a paste filler made from a mixture of water, cement, and sand used to fill the gaps and joins between tiles.

Primer (Paint)

A type of paint that’s applied as a base coat, which helps your paint seal and grip the surface you’re covering more firmly, this also helps cover up any stains and giving it a more hard wearing finish. Usually applied to metal and wood surfaces and highly recommended for bare plaster walls.

Stencilling ( Wall Stencil )

A decorative effect which is achieved by applying paint on to a cut-out areas of a paper, cardboard or template design (acetate) to produce a unique design to wall or surface.

Top Coat (Paint)

This is the final coat of paint which is applied to the underlying material to provide a sealing protective layer.

Undercoat (Paint)

Undercoat is the paint which is usually applied after the primer / base coat, which helps to mask the underlying material and to provide ideal finish for your top coat.


Varnish is a clear and transparent water-based solution that seals and provides a protective finish to surfaces.