Paint Restoration


Specification Details

8.5" x 11"
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09 03 91
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Historic Renovation Specs

Paint Restoration

Use this 3-part SimpleSpecs template to specify paint restoration; surface preparation and application of new transparent and opaque coatings on historic surfaces.

Including plaster, wood, and metals. This paint restoration section also covers preserving existing historic paints and coatings by cleaning and applying protective overcoats.


Many historic paints and coatings are no longer available, necessitating the use of paints based on newer technologies. Among newer types of paints and coatings are latex, acrylic, epoxy, and urethane.  The latter two are usually considered inappropriate for historic preservation work.

This section does not cover the preservation of historic stenciled surfaces and artwork. Such work should be referred to a paint conservationist due to the unique materials and procedures involved.

Prior to preparing specifications for historic paint restoration or replacement, a thorough investigation of the existing paints should be performed to establish the types of paints required for restoration work.

A full investigation will require the use of specialized instruments and procedures, many of which require laboratory procedures, and should be performed by a specialist in this field.

In addition to an analysis of existing paint types, existing paints should be analyzed for the presence of lead, a pigment commonly used prior to 1978. The removal of lead-based paints may fall under hazardous material procedures, requiring the use of special procedures and apparatus; check current government regulations.

Surface preparation may range from simple cleaning with water or mild soaps to the removal of some or all paint layers. In general, removal should be performed only down to the layer at which sound paint is reached.

Related Resources

Preservation Briefs, National Park Service,

  • No. 10 – Exterior Paint Problems on Historic Woodwork.
  • No. 28 – Painting Historic Interiors.

Preservation Tech Notes, National Park Service,

  • Exterior Woodwork No. 1 – Proper Painting and Surface Preparation.
  • Exterior Woodwork No. 2 – Paint Removal from Wood Siding.
  • Finishes No. 1 – Process-Painting Decals as a Substitute for Hand-Stenciled Ceiling Medallions.


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