How is Paint Made?

Whether you’re interested in low-VOC paint, how paint pigment is created, or the difference between water-based and oil-based coatings, this is your ultimate guide to how paint is made.

Benjamin Moore employees working with raw materials in a Benjamin Moore warehouse.

Ready to Learn More about How Paint is Made?

There are many different types of paint out there, each with their own formulas. Just like baking requires different recipes for cakes, each paint type has its own recipe depending on the need or function of the coating.

However, for most paint used in home painting projects, there are some consistent components and practices when it comes to how paint is made.

One thing is certain: the quality of ingredients— especially when it comes to the resins—is directly related to a paint’s performance.

Benjamin Moore makes its own proprietary resins. We carefully test each component of our paints in our research and development facilities. We also create our own colorants—the pigments that give paint its unique color and hide properties.

In fact, it’s the combination of our proprietary colorants and other unique ingredients that make Benjamin Moore paint unmatchable in color and quality.

Making paint is both an art and a science. Read on for everything you need to know about how paint is made, including the four components of paint, what VOCs are, how Benjamin Moore makes its award-winning paint specifically, and more.

The Four Components of Paint

There are four components that make up any paint. Each element serves a distinct purpose and offers specific benefits.

Component #1: Pigments

The color, hide, protection, and finish of a coating. Key responsibilities of paint pigments include:

  • Color – combinations of pigments in the paint result in a variety of shades visible to the human eye.
  • Hide – the ability of paint to conceal the surface it covers— related to the paint’s overall opacity and the ability to cover the surface.
  • Protection – shields surfaces from damage.
  • Finish (sheen) - the reflective quality of paint, from high-gloss to a low-flat sheen.

Component #2: Resins (Binders)

The main binding property and the backbone of a paint.
Key responsibilities of paint resins include:

  • Binds paint to the surface you’re painting.
  • Holds pigment particles together.
  • Creates a paint film – the protective layer that forms on the surface of paint when it dries.
  • Supports adhesion – the ability to stick to a surface.

Component #3: Solvents

The liquid portion that makes paint easier to apply.
Key responsibilities of paint solvents include:

  • Promotes the transfer of paint from the applicator to the substrate.
  • Controls viscosity to make paints workable and wet.
  • Dictates how the coating dries.

Component #4: Additives

Enhance specific properties of a paint. Examples include:

  • Mildew resistance – the ability to counter mold or mildew.
  • Flow and leveling – creates a uniform film formation by reducing application marks from a brush or roller, resulting in a smooth finish.
  • Formation of paint film – the process of forming a thin film on a surface.

Helpful Tip

It’s important to remember that resin is the backbone of any paint. In general, resin types are latex acrylic (water-based), alkyd (oil-based), or a combination of these.

What are VOCs?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a type of solvent that control the transfer of paint to a surface.

  • VOCs are more common in alkyd/oil-based paints.
  • Latex/water-based paints typically have low or no VOCs.

The majority of Benjamin Moore architectural paints are low to zero VOC. Examples include:

Helpful Tip

Q: What is Benjamin Moore’s Greenest Paint?

A: Eco Spec: In addition to having zero VOCs and zero emissions, Eco Spec is certified asthma and allergy friendly®, and a great eco-responsible interior paint choice.

How Benjamin Moore Makes Premium Quality Paint

Benjamin Moore is committed to leveraging research and development to create pioneering technology for the most premium quality paint.

Our dedicated chemists, chemical engineers, technicians and support staff work diligently to provide superior formulations. This commitment to research and innovation led us to be the first company in the U.S. to introduce a zero-VOC waterborne colorant system to the marketplace—our patented Gennex® Color Technology, launched in 2006, contributes to our paint’s remarkable durability and extreme fade-resistance.

Unlike most paint manufacturers in the industry, Benjamin Moore makes its own resins and pigments, all in the U.S. The combination of Gennex and proprietary resins makes Benjamin Moore paint and color truly unmatchable.

Proprietary ingredients and custom formulas optimize the performance of our products. Every product is designed and crafted to:

  • Perform
  • Serve a distinct purpose
  • Deliver specific benefits

These ingredients give our paint extraordinary application properties, durability and longevity.

Helpful Tip

Benjamin Moore paints are formulated specifically for different uses—that information is available on each paint’s Technical Data Sheet (TDS).

Quality Ingredients Lead to Quality Paint Performance.

Benjamin Moore’s proprietary resins combined with our patented Gennex Color Technology make our paint and color unmatchable. We curate our resins for craftsmanship based on science for quality.

Check out our ideas and inspiration pages, as well as our how-to guidance to get help with your next project. And as always, visit your local Benjamin Moore retailer for help with all your painting needs.