Pigments are one of the four basic components of paint. The other three components are resins, solvents and additives. Out of the four, pigments are actually responsible for providing the color of the paint. They are the result of a manufacturing process based on the use of either organic or inorganic raw materials and in their final form they resemble a very fine powder of various colors. Paint is the result of pigments being mixed with resins which bind the powder particles together, with solvents to provide a liquid quality and with additives which may improve certain qualities of the paint such as the adherence or fluidity factors.
There are basically two types of pigments according to their role in paint composition – prime pigments and extender pigments. Prime pigments are the main ingredient providing color to the paint. They are quite expensive, especially when used in production of high-quality paint, and have a major role in the overall behavior of the paint.
Extender pigments are used to fill up the rest of the pigment composition and add to the color of the paint. Extenders are even more important than prime pigments as a high quality prime pigments can be ruined entirely if the extender pigments are not of the same or equivalent quality. Extenders influence the intensity of the paint color and its resistance to cleaning, but are major with regard to the hiding power of the paint – the capacity to conceal previously applied coatings.
The main characteristics of pigments are the size of the particles – or granularity – and the resistance to light exposure.
Particle size plays is very important for the paint’s coverage ability. To make it simple, very small granularity causes pigment particles to become electrically charge and repel each other, similar to how magnets of the same polarity do. This results in the fact that the painting needs to be applied twice or thrice before obtaining the desired result.
Light resistance is the second important characteristic for pigments. It means how long a time would go by before a repaint in needed and is directly related to origin of the pigment – organic or inorganic. Organic pigments do not provide an even level of performance from this perspective – some are great, others very poor. This behavior has improved in recent times with the use of right additives. Inorganic pigments, however, behave excellent in contact with light, proving to be more efficient in this respect.
Organic pigments provide paint with brighter colors and are safer for both users and workers. This comes at the price of being quite expensive – an aspect which was corrected by the recent investments of paint producers in developing user and environmental friendly products.