Deciphering a Czech Hardware Store

Doing-it-yourself in Prague
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Maybe you need to do some minor repairs. Or perhaps it’s time for a bigger change. The guide below should help you work out the material you need whatever the job.

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The products you’ll need will depend on what you’re painting and of course how much care you want to take. If you just need paint, rollers, and/or brushes, you can find many of them on the shelf in a larger hardware store. Though you’ll only need to see the colors, there might be some other terms you’ll want to know.

There are a number of paints, primers, varnishes, and stains on the market. Generally speaking, paints are known as either nátěr – which can be used for anything you apply with a brush or roller – and barvy – which literally means colors, and is used for paints, too. Nátěr can also mean ‘a coat of paint’. The following are some for the key terms you will need to help make sure you make the right purchase:

      Term                               Czech Translation
oil-based paint            olejový / nátěr na olejové bázi
water-based paint        nátěr na vodní bázi
interior primer             vnitřní základ
exterior primer            vnější základ
(wood) stain                mořidlo (na dřevo)
varnish                       lazura / lazurovací lak
thinner                       ředidlo

Deciphering a Czech Hardware Store

Paint strippers (odstraňovače nátěrů / barev) come in a variety of forms. Check that the one you’re buying is suitable for the paint you want to remove. The container should list the types: oil, synthetic, epoxy, and polyurethane paints (olejový, syntetický, epoxidový, and polyuretanových) to name a few.

Sandpaper is known as brusný papír, smirkový papír, or šmirgl. The grit size is either given in the ISO/FEPA system or the CAMI. Basically, with the first there is ‘P ’before the number, with the latter it is just the number. It depends on the manufacturer. In both cases, the smaller the number the courser the grit. The term for grit size in Czech is zrnitost.

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Last but not least, you might need masking tape. Again you should be able to find this on the shelves. If not, or if you need a special type of tape, the following terms are useful:

Term                             Czech Translation
masking tape             maskovácí páska
double-sided tape       oboustranná páska

Home Repairs
Along with the painting, you might at times need to fix up the furnishings and fixtures in your home. Putties, sealants, and similar products are available in wet or powdered form. The general name for these items is tmel or tmelící hmota, but again be careful, because the word tmel covers a wide range of products and some products can have multiple uses.

Term                            Czech Translation
wood filler / putty           tmel na dřevo
wall filler / plaster filler / masonry sealant    tmel na zdivo
parquet sealant             tmel na parkety
glass / window sealant    tmel na sklo / sklenářský tmel

Of course, the type of wood filler you use will depend on the wood.  Some more common varieties are listed in the table below. (In the Czech section, the noun is given first, and the adjective second.)

Wood       Czech / adjective
beech    buk / bukový
birch      bříza / břízový
oak       dub / dubový
pine       borovice / borovicový
spruce    Smrk / smrkový

On other occasions, the sealant or putty will be sold according to its composition or more general use. In these instances, it’s still possible to find what you want.

Term                             Czech Translation                Suitable For
Acrylic sealant / putty      akrylátový tmel                interior and exterior walls, plaster, drywall, and wood
Oil-based sealant           olejový tmel                     wood, plaster
Polyester putty               polyesterový tmel             metals, cement, stone, clay, wood

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Silicon sealants come in an even wider variety of types depending on what the sealant is intended for. Silicon sealants are called silikonový tmel but are also known as silikon. The table below lists some of the types you might find.

Term                           Czech Translation             Suitable For
Universal silicon           universální silikon          For indoor and outdoor use such as sealing gaps in window frames
Bathroom silicon          sanitární  silikon            For tiles in wet areas, shower recesses, basins etc
Neutral silicon              neutrální silikon             For indoor and outdoor use, for porous and non-porous surfaces, a wide range of applications
Glass / window silicon    sklenářský silikon          For glass surfaces such as windows or aquariums

Wall Coverings
Those brave enough to wallpaper should be on the lookout for tapety. There are a few varieties of wallpaper – paper (papírový), vinyl (vinylový), and self-adhesive (samolepící). Wallpaper glue is lepidlo na tapety.
That’s for inside your home. What if you want to do the outside? Paint you already know, but what about rendering.  For that you will need omítka. You have few different types to choose from:

Term                       Czech Translation
Cement render        cementová omítka
Lime plaster            vápenná omítka
Gypsum plaster        sádra

Sometimes it’s not enough to fill a few gaps or apply a coat of paint. Sometimes you need to rip it up and start again.

If you’re renovation concerns tiling, you need to look for the obklady (tiles)  and malta (grout). Again, terms don’t always match up with English terms. Malta also means mortar, so be sure to ask if the malta is for tiles (na obklady). Some types may be labeled as flexibilní malta. Glue for tiles is lepidlo na obklady.
Drywall is referred to as sádrokarton. The putty or sealants you will need for this are mentioned in the putty section above. Varieties of drywall include white (bílý), green (zelený), white set (bílý set), and green set (zelený set).

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Nails (hřebíky) and screws (šrouby) can be found in larger hardware stores on the shelf. In a smaller store, you will buy them by weight or in lots of a hundred.  Flathead screws are called drážka pro plochý šroubovák and Phillips head are křížový Phillips. A self-tapping screw is a vrut.

Šroub is also the word for bolts. Nuts though have a number of terms: matice matka,or matička. The varieties are:

Nut                    Czech Translation
hexagonal        šestihranná  matice
square             čtyřhranná matice
Cap or acorn     klobouková matice
Self-aligning     Samojistná matice
Wing                křídlová matice

Deciphering a Czech Hardware Store

Where to go
Around Prague, you’ll find stores advertising with these items under names such as stavebniny or spojovací material. Large suppliers of these materials include Obi, Bauhaus, and Hornbach.  The locations can be found at their websites.

All the smaller stores would be too numerous to mention, but a couple of famous ones include železářství in Anděl (Na Knížecí) or U Rotta in Staré Město or Rousek on Náměstí Bratří Synků. For paint, the store Barvy, Laky u Pivovaru Hamax has a friendly owner who speaks a little English.

Good luck with the repairs and renovations! Any other tips for people?

Tip: Visit Relocation for more relocation articles, relocation agencies and other tips for life in Prague & the Czech Republic!

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