What Are the Main Ingredients in Paint?

Paint is one of the most important elements in home decorating. There are a wide variety of colors and textures from which to choose, and each choice you make regarding paint will determine the final look and feel of your project.

The main ingredients in paint vary depending on the type of paint.

In order to make an informed decision about what kind of paint you need, it's a good idea to be familiar with the main ingredients in all paint.


Tiny chemical particles are used to color paint. The chemicals used depend entirely on the paint color, the type of paint and the manufacturer. Some examples of pigments include carbon for black, titanium oxide for white, copper calcium silicate for blue, and cadmium sulfide for red.


Not only does the paint need to stick to your wall or the surface you're painting, the pigments must also stick together for a smooth finish. Water-based paints usually contain either latex, vinyl, or acrylic as their binder, and oil-based paints typically contain a substance called alkyd.


Paint thinners like mineral spirits or turpentine are used in oil-based paints so as these solvents evaporate, the paint dries and the rest of the paint ingredients remain. Water-based paints dry as the water in them evaporates, leaving behind the pigments, binders, and additives.

Other Additives

Additional ingredients can be added to paint for different purposes. For example, propionic acid can be used to prevent the growth of mold, and silicone can be added to help waterproof the painted surface.