How to navigate the aisles of a Czech hardware store

Maybe you need to do some minor repairs. Or perhaps it’s time for a bigger change; our guide will help you get the job done Staff

Written by Staff Published on 02.09.2020 11:58:00 (updated on 15.10.2020) Reading time: 5 minutes



Image by DarkmoonArt_de from Pixabay

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:

Important vocabulary for paint jobs

  • 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)

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 coarser the grit. The term for grit size in Czech is zrnitost.

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:

  • masking tape (maskovácí páska)
  • double-sided tape (oboustranná páska)

Important vocabulary for 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.

  • 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.)

  • 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.

  • Acrylic sealant/putty (interior and exterior walls, plaster, drywall, and wood)
    akrylátový tmel
  • Oil-based sealant (for wood/plaster)
    olejový tmel
  • Polyester putty
    polyesterový tmel  (metals, cement, stone, clay, wood)

Image by analogicus from Pixabay

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.

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


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 a few different types to choose from:

  • Cement render / cementová omítka
  • Lime plaster / vápenná omítka
  • Gypsum plaster / sádra


Image by tookapic from Pixabay

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).

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:

  • hexagonal / šestihranná  matice
  • square / čtyřhranná matice
  • Cap or acorn / klobouková matice
  • Self-aligning / Samojistná matice
  • Wing / křídlová matice

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.

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.

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