Architectural Paint Research

Architectural paint research is a highly specialised and relatively new research tool that allows the decorative history and archaeological development of a building to be discovered. There are very few professional paint researchers and Lincoln Conservation has a reputation for excellence in this field.

Architectural paint research is regularly a condition of many projects seeking listed building consent and/or funding from national heritage bodies and is normally undertaken at an early stage to inform the conservation plan for the building, as it allows for the development of an in-depth understanding of the decorative, architectural and social history of the site. It also presents the project team with the full scope of possibilities for re-presentation, conservation and reinstatement of that building. The information gained from the material analysis assists the replication of suitable paint finishes. In addition, any underlying or potential issues of material incompatibility are identified before the client embarks on a major works program.

The accumulated paint finishes within a site are researched and analysed; then the findings are interpreted, in conjunction with archival data. The skilled researcher provides the client with an extremely detailed interpretation of the decorative history of a building and also its archaeological development.

Archival research is a key element of a paint investigation and may reveal the significance of paint schemes in relation to major events within the building’s history.

The process of paint research involves the removal of discreet paint samples from the architectural features of the building or structure; the sites of which are fully recorded. The samples are then examined in cross-section at high magnification, with the individual layers cross-referenced between samples and in relationship to known archival evidence. Where possible archival datum points are then noted in the paint strata. The results of this are recorded in scheme charts for each area under investigation and for the whole building, if required.

Following the on-site paint research, uncovering the historic surfaces can then be undertaken in a fully informed way. Overlying paint schemes and layers can be removed to reveal the historic paint surfaces, which are invaluable in identifying colour allocation in complex schemes, the nature of colours used and surface qualities.