What Is the Difference Between Paint and Glaze?

paint vs glaze

There are so many different versions of paint, primer, base, glaze, sealer, and everything else, that a project that requires any of these products can become quite daunting.

Without a little guidance to make the job easier for you, the whole process can become terribly overwhelming.

Rather than giving up, or just using the first thing you grab off of the shelf and hoping for the best, read this article to understand the difference between the products.

In this article, we will specifically focus on the difference between paint and glaze, but we will briefly touch upon the other products so that you know what you’re dealing with.

Very briefly, let’s cover just a few of the other options besides paint and glaze.

1- Primer-

Primer is a preparatory coat used before painting to improve adhesion between the paint and the surface.

2- Sealer-

Sealer is usually applied over a painted surface to protect it from damage from things like sunlight and wind.

3- Base-

The base is a white paint that is meant to be a starting point. A tint is added to create the desired color.

What is Paint?

This might seem like a silly question at first, but if you think about how many alternatives there are to paint, you realize it might help to specifically define what paint actually is.

Let’s start with the basics, paint is a liquid used to add a protective or colorful layer over something else.

The four most prominent ingredients in paint are resin, additives, solvent, and pigment. The resin acts as a sort of binder to hold the pigments together.

The additives are there to enhance the performance of the paint, like decreasing drying time or making it glide more smoothly onto the walls you’re painting.

The solvent is a sort of carrier that binds the solvent to the pigment. The solvent can be something as simple as water.

Lastly, the pigment gives the paint its color.

Paint comes in many colors; so many, in fact, that it would be pointless to try to name them all here. Suffice it to say that the possibilities are virtually endless.

Some of the many different kinds of paint are as follows:

Paint Sheen:

These are basic categories of paint that you would normally use in your home. There is a flat, matte, glossy.

Put simply, the difference between these is how shiny each one is, with flat having almost no shine, and glossy being the shiniest.

Oil Paint:

As the name implies, these paints are oil-based. Oil paints are typically used by professionals for hard finishes because they are water and stain-resistant.


Water-based enamel paints are a safe option for interior walls. This is because they dry quickly, have less odor, and clean up easily.

Latex Paint:

Latex paint, like enamel, dries quickly and is easy to clean up compared to other types.

Unlike enamel, latex is highly resistant to the effects of direct sunlight, making it the best choice for exterior jobs.

What is Glaze?

Where paint is made to add color and change the appearance of whatever you’re applying it to, the glaze is made to add a clear protective layer, often over the paint.

In general, the glaze is a thin transparent or semi-transparent layer that is often applied to paint to modify or enhance the appearance of an underlying painted layer.

What is a glaze made up of?

Glazes are often made up of 3 basic ingredients silica, flux and alumina (or aluminum oxide) that are present in a balanced quantity.

Applying glaze is easy – you can use a decorative glaze with a soft and dry bristle brush ( a rag or a roller) to provide a nice glazed look to kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, wood furniture, etc.

What does it do for paint?

When compared to paint glazes contain a smaller amount of pigment and a good amount of binding medium that can work to change the texture, hue, and value of a painted surface.

The thing you need to remember when applying glaze is it works best over the surfaces that already have semi-gloss or low-luster acrylic or latex paint.

You should avoid putting glaze on flat paints as they do not take it well.

If you are working with wood surfaces, its recommended to apply the glaze on a finished piece of wood (and not on unfinished one), even if the wood surface is painted on stained.

Paint vs. Glaze: What Is the Difference?

The main difference between glaze and paint is that glaze is not really meant to altogether change the appearance of whatever you’re applying it to.

To summarize what we’ve covered here, paint is meant to protect and color a surface, while glaze is meant to add a clear protective layer over the painted surface.

There are, however, some effects and tricks you can use it for, like giving the surface a higher sheen, but the real purpose is to add a protective layer while still allowing the layer beneath to show through.

In the end, it’s true that a new painting project can be a little more complicated than you’d expect if you do not know the difference glaze and paint.

But hopefully, this article has helped to shed a little light on at least part of it!

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