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Archive Language Point 126

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Painting vocabulary

Khalid up a ladder painting

Types of paint and colours

a type of paint that you put on walls first, before you apply a layer of colour. You often use undercoat if you want to paint over a dark coloured wall with a lighter colour. Undercoat is usually white or cream.
We need to put some undercoat on this red wall if we don't want the white paint to end up looking pink!

a type of paint that is not shiny
Do you want matt or gloss paint?

a type of paint that has a shiny or smooth appearance
I don't want this wall to have a dull finish. I think gloss paint will work much better than matt.

a primary colour:
red, yellow or blue. These colours can be mixed together in different ways to make any other colour
Children often like bright primary colours but I like more subtle colours.

a pastel colour:
a pale and soft colour (light pink or yellow, for example)
My teenager daughter wants her bedroom decorated in pastel shades of pink and lilac.

earth tones:
rich dark colours which contain some brown
I want strong primary colours but he's more into browns and oranges and all those earth tones.

Equipment we use with paint

a brush / a paintbrush:
a tool with short pieces of stiff hair, plastic or wire attached to a wooden or plastic handle, which is used for painting
We need a thick brush for the walls and then a small one for around the light switch.

a roller:
a tool which has a sponge cylinder attached to a wooden or plastic pole which is used for painting walls, large or high areas
We'll need to use the roller to paint the ceiling.

paint stripper:
liquid used to remove old paint from wooden surfaces (for example, doors)
First we'll use the paint stripper to get rid of all the old paint, then we'll redo the doors a lovely sky-blue gloss.

a colour chart:
a piece of paper or cardboard that shows small samples of different colours to help you choose which pot of paint to buy
I don't know exactly what shade of blue to paint this room. Which blue on this colour chart do you think looks best?

Painting idioms and expressions

to paint a rosy / bleak picture:
to describe something in a particular way, either very positively (rosy) or negatively (bleak)
The boss painted a rosy picture of the firm's future, saying it would be making bigger and bigger profits over the next 10 years.
She always paints such a bleak picture. She's so sure that global warming, wars and famine are the only things in store for all of us.

to paint the town / to paint the town red:
to go out and enjoy yourself, (often drinking alcohol, dancing and having a good time) usually to celebrate something
When she heard that she'd passed all her exams, she went out with her friends and painted the town red. She didn't get home till 3 in the morning!

to watch paint dry (usually used humorously):
used to talk about an activity that you think is very boring
I'd rather watch paint dry than play computer games. They're so boring!


something that has a lot of small holes, so liquid (for example, paint) can pass through, especially slowly

a painter and decorator
someone who works painting and improving the appearance of people's houses

a project manager
someone who works as the overall manager of a piece of work or project (which usually involves a team of workers and a budget of money and resources)


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