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Paint Pigments: Titanium White (PW 6)

A look at titanium white paint pigment, including its characteristics.

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Paint pigments titanium white PW6

Paint Pigment: Titanium White PW6 (mixing into phthalo blue)

Image: ©2007 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc

Characteristics: Titanium white is bright, intense, warm white that is extremely opaque (so it's useful for painting out mistakes), and has an extremely strong tinting ability (so a little lightens another color very quickly). Titanium white is the most common white used today (often sold as "mixing white") as it's an inexpensive pigment.

Common Names: Mixing white, permanent white, white.

Color Index Name: PW 6.
(Color Index Explained)

Color Index Number: 77891

Pigment Origin: An opaque white oxide derived from the metal titanium.

Used for Painting Since: 1920s.

Opacity/Transparency: Opaque.
(Opacity Explained)

Tinting Ability: Very strong.
(Tinting explained)

Lightfastness Rating: ASTM I.
(Lightfastness explained)

Oil Paint Drying Speed: Slow.

Specific Notes:

  • Not recommended for priming/initial layers or thick impasto in oil painting because of slow drying rate and tendency of the pigment to become brittle when dry (in oil paint only).
  • Extremely strong tinting ability, so easily overwhelms a transparent pigment. Use with caution.
  • A warmer white than zinc white.

Quotes About This Pigment:
"Titanium dioxide, or titania, has twice the covering power of lead white and is extremely stable. Once the manufacturing difficulties were resolved, titania quickly became the dominant white pigment: by 1945 it accounted for 80 per cent of the market. ... Today most white paint of any sort is 'titanium white'." -- Philip Ball, Bright Earth, p382.

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