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Defining Binder

By Jack Wogan

All of us have painted something at some point in time, either out of curiosity or plain need. It is general knowledge that paint contains pigments, solvent, binder or additives. It may contain more, but these are basic. When we think about the fundamentals of paint, for whatever reason, we think about pigments and consider binder of secondary importance. In practice, things are the other way around, binder being the crucial element. Binder not only makes the mixture called paint possible, but also makes possible its application to whatever material. You might skip one or another of the other components, but binder is vital. It is the starting point for determining the pigment and solvent.

The type of binder required is dictated by the paint applications. The binders used in artistic painting, such as linseed oil, gum or fresco, are not the ones used in industrial applications. It depends also on the use of solvent or water in the paint composition, if you are to choose as a binder an alkyd resin or an acrylic emulsion. Industrial paints in their turn are of many usages and while in general they use alkyds, the binder may differ if you paint a car or an underwater marine tank. Among the specialized binders, there are polyurethane resins, silicone based resins and other resins with impossible names. Therefore, once you know what application you need the binder for (fine arts, architecture or industry), you may make the right choice.

Then you have to know at least in general what is manner the binders work in. By now, you know the process during which this nonvolatile component becomes inseparable from the end solid film of paint. How does the solidification occur, given you know that paint is liquid? In the case of resin polymerization, the mechanism is curing, if you have a solvent, it simply evaporates, or the wax paint ‘cools’, hardening to that very extent.

In whatever manner, the binder will influence the properties of the paint applied, from the more apparent sheen to toughness, uniformity, degree of adhesion, resistance to water etc. Therefore, another criterion you might want to consider in choosing your binder is which one of these properties interests you most and how you want it to be adjusted.

Eventually, you have to know what quantity of binder to use. This is subject to the degree of wetting the pigments you are interested in. In this connection, you would choose the right binder in terms of particle size, shape or wetting capability. If by now you feel overwhelmed, asked a specialist and you may avoid the inconvenience of the paint smell.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Wogan, Jack "Defining Binder." Defining Binder. 3 Jul. 2010. 6 Apr 2015 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Wogan, J (2010, July 3). Defining Binder. Retrieved April 6, 2015, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Wogan, Jack "Defining Binder"

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