What Chemicals Are Used in Paint?

Paul Bradbury/Caiaimage/Getty Images

Paint contains several kinds of material: pigments, binders, extenders, solvents and additives. The additives themselves can include a vast array of materials, such as dispersants, silicones, thixotropic agents, driers, anti-setting agents, bactericides, and fungicides and algaecides.

All the pigments in paint are used to set the color and opacity. The binder, or resin, is a polymer that forms a matrix to hold the pigment in place. With the extender, large pigment particles are added to improve adhesion, strengthen the film and save on binder. There is also the solvent or thinner, which can either be organic or water, that is used to reduce the viscosity of the paint to make its application better and easier.

Along with those base ingredients, the additives within paint consists of several substances. For example, dispersants are placed in paint to separate and stabilize the pigment particles. There are also silicones, which are used to improve the paint’s weather resistance. Driers are placed in paint to accelerate the drying time. Anti-settling agents are used in paint to prevent pigment settling. The final additives in paint are the fungicides and algaecides, which are used to protect exterior paint films against disfigurement from molds, algae and lichen.