Following are descriptions of the most commonly used vehicles and binders for paint:
Natural Drying Oils. Drying oils harden by absorbing oxygen. The most important natural oils are linseed from flax seed (for many years the standard paint vehicle), tung oil (faster drying, good compatibility with varnish), oiticica oil (similar to tung), safflower (best nonyellowing oil), soybean (flexible films), dehydrated caster (good adhesion, fast drying), and fish oil (considered inferior but cheap).
Alkyds. These, the most widely used paint vehicles, are synthetic resins that are modified with various vegetable oils to produce clear resins that are harder than natural oils. Properties of the film depend on relative proportions of oil and resin.
The film is both air drying and heat hardening.
Latexes. Latex paints are based on emulsions of various polymers including acrylics, polyvinyl acetate, styrene-butadiene, polyvinyl chloride, and rubber. They are easy to apply, dry quickly, have no solvent odor, and application tools are easily cleaned with soap and water. The films adhere well to various surfaces, have good color retention, and have varying degrees of flexibility.
Epoxy and Epoxy-Polyester. Catalyzed two-part, all-epoxy coatings are formed by addition of a catalyst to the liquid epoxy just before application (pot life a few minutes to a day). Films are as hard as many baked-on coatings and are resistant to solvents and traffic. Oil-modified epoxy esters, in contrast, harden on oxidation without a catalyst. They are less hard and chemically resistant than catalyzed epoxies, but dry fast and are easily applied. Epoxy-polyesters mixed just before use produce smooth finishes suitable for many interior surfaces and are chemically resistant.
Polyurethanes. These produce especially abrasion-treatment, fast-hardening coatings.
Two-component formulations, of variable pot life, are mixed just before use.
One-component formulations cure by evaporation and reaction with moisture in air (30 to 90% relative humidity). Oils and alkyds may be added.
Vinyl Solutions. Solutions of polyvinyl chloride and vinyl esters dry rapidly and are built up by successive, sprayed thin coatings. They characteristically have low gloss, high flexibility, and inertness to water but are sensitive to some solvents.
Adhesion may be a problem. Weather resistance is excellent.
Dryers. These are catalysts that hasten the hardening of drying oils. Most dryers are salts of heavy metals, especially cobalt, manganese, and lead, to which salts of zinc and calcium may be added. Iron salts, usable only in dark coatings, accelerate hardening at high temperatures. Dryers are normally added to paints to hasten hardening, but they must not be used too liberally or they cause rapid deterioration of the oil by overoxidation.
Thinners. These are volatile constituents added to coatings to promote their spreading qualities by reducing viscosity. They should not react with the other constituents and should evaporate completely. Commonly used thinners are turpentine and mineral spirits, i.e., derivatives of petroleum and coal tar.