Traditional Heritage Finishes

Traditional Heritage Finishes

Lancaster Painters Australia provide painting methods that are reproduced using the same paint methods and materials employed after which painting methods began to dominate the industry. All our heritage work is based on exhaustive and continuous research into methods, materials, techniques and styles. We take extensive measures to ensure all our heritage finishes are individually hand painted by highly skilled heritage painters and artisans without compromises in quality, historical accuracy or consistency.

Lancaster Painters Australia Heritage Paint ScrapingsWorking from original paint scrapings, we have successfully reproduced heritage finishes by understanding documentary evidence and accurately reproducing the style, character and look of the original period look. We use historic paint analysis to determine the colour of the finish used at a particular time in the building’s history, usually the original construction, but not always. We are able to determine the ingredients used, such as media (water, oil, latex, etc.) and pigments (organic pigments, inorganic pigments, dyes, etc.). We are committed to using only the correct paint and materials for heritage work, recommending those with low VOCs.

How do traditional paints differ from those available today?

Traditional external paints fall into two main categories: those used on masonry and those used on timber and joinery. The former included the simple lime washes used on service buildings, and the more sophisticated washes applied to better classes of buildings. The latter were the functional, protective coatings designed to shield timber and woodwork from the ravages of the elements. Oil paints, mixed on a base of white lead and linseed oil, were most commonly applied to timber and sometimes masonry surfaces. However, as the harmful effects on human health of white lead poisoning became fully understood, replacement pigments, including zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, were introduced to replace lead. White lead and red lead paints are no longer available to purchase for general use.

In the past, interior finishes for heritage buildings included water-based distempers for walls and ceilings and a range of clear varnishes made from resins for use on timber joinery. The modern equivalents of these materials are the water-thinnable emulsion paints and acrylics, which can produce the same flat, even finishes as calcimine, and the synthetic resin varnishes.

Heritage Colour Schemes

Heritage Colour Scheme Reconstruction

In the reconstruction of traditional colour schemes, Lancaster Painters Australia are able to accurately reproduce the colours and finishes of the paint schemes of bygone eras in most cases. However, we have found that it is sometimes necessary to introduce conjecture to finalise all of the details. In such cases we recommend to work from one of the heritage colour ranges to choose colours which are known to be correct for the period, since these palettes of heritage colours are based on authentic paint colour palettes.


Now that modern paints come in a wide range of colours and finishes, it is possible to repaint old paint schemes to match the originals very closely – at least in terms of their colours and gloss levels. However, new paintwork will never achieve the same surface characteristics, because modern paints are more sophisticated and, when brushed out with conventional brushes, appear smoother and more uniform than the original. Lancaster Painters Australia take great care in specifying finishes which will not adversely affect the conservation of the substrate. For example, modern paints do not allow damp substrates to breathe, although some acrylics achieve a degree of permeability.

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Decorative Finishes

Heritage Decorative Finishes

Lancaster Painters Australia are highly skilled in replicating the decorative finish work of the historical masters of the past in colour, texture and design. Based on the decorative arts, all our finishes are applied by hand. Heritage decorative finishes include faux marbling, faux wood graining, wallpaper hanging, heritage motifs and designs, gilding, decorative ceiling roses and cornices, washes, strié, soft distempers, stencils, scumbling, ragging, sponging, glazing, Venetian plaster, frescoe, trompe l’oeil art and more.

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See Our Decorative Finishes

Traditional Heritage Decorative Finishes