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How stuff works

Learn more about the material finishes from how stuff works website.

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Technology student

Revise about symbols that appear on paint containers.

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Paints DT Materials

Most paints are usually suitable for metals or timber but not plastics. However there are a few specialty paints available for plastics. Paints are divided into three main groups oil based paints, water based paints and solvent based paints.

1.) Oil based paints

Oil based paints are normally only available in gloss finishes. They are tough and long-lasting and are appropriate for metals and woods. When you paint it is important to prime the material first. This primer helps the paint stick to the material better and produces a better finish. Always use a good brush or roller and clean them after with a turps substitute or white spirit. Most new oil based paints are suitable for use on children’s toys and can be used for internal or external work.

Oil based paint

Water based paint
Water based paint


2.) Water based paints

Water based paints unlike oil based paints are available in a wide range of finishes from matt to high gloss. A few water based paints are only suitable for light work such as painting walls for example ‘matt vinyl emulsion’. They are mainly suitable for wood only, however there are some available for metals. Water based paints are not as durable as oil based paints but you only need warm water and detergent to clean up afterwards.

3.) Solvent based paints

Solvent based paints are often found in spray cans and dry a lot faster than other types of paints. There are non spray types available but these are hard to apply with brushes. These paints include fascinating finishes such as speckled, hammered, etc. Solvent sprays can be very expensive but give very good results on small projects. A cellulose based solvent is needed for cleaning up. Good ventilation is compulsory as the vapours are very toxic and flammable.

Solvent based paint
Solvent spray

Design and technology question time
Mr DT says 'Read the text above and then answer these questions below'. Write your answers on a sheet of paper, don't forget to write your name on the sheet!:-

1). Name the three main groups of paints?
2.) Why should you prime before you paint?
3.) What should you use to clean your brush after using oil based paints?
4.) What products are oil based paints suitable to be used on?
5.) What finishes are available for water based paints?
6.) What should you use to clean your brush after using water based paints?
7.) What special finishes are available for solvent based paints?
8.) What should you use to clean your brush after using solvent based paints?

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