Paint is a very complex material consisting of many components. Modern paints may contain ten to twenty components, each responsible for giving a specific quality to the paint. However, basically all paints have the following five components.
1. base character
White lead, red lead, aluminum powder etc. were the pigments which were initially used in oil paints. These ingredients make up the bulk of the paint in a finely divided state. It provides durability and protection to painted surfaces as they have a high resistance to the elements. The base must be consistent with the material to be protected. For example, white lead gives no protection to steel. It is used only for woodworking. Red lead base is used for steel.
2. vehicle or binder
Materials such as linseed oil when used as a binder facilitate the spread of paint and bind the paint and surface together. Binders can be oils, resins and bitumen or cellulose derivatives.
3. solvent or thinner
It adjusts the viscosity of the paint to suit the method of application. Turpentine is commonly used as a thinner in oil paints. Water is used as a thinner in emulsion paints.
This accelerates the drying process of the paint. Substances like cobalt, lead, manganese dissolved in volatile liquids are used as driers.
5. color pigment or expander
They are added to impart color and can also serve as a partially inexpensive alternative to expensive base pigments.