From churches and train stations to office buildings and the houses we live in – our heritage is all around us. Older buildings connect us to the past and the communities that used them before us. They give a place a unique character and help us to create a sense of community identity. Especially where they were built by artisans and craftspeople using a wide range of materials and techniques that we might not use anymore, like unusual glasswork, ironwork or wall paintings.
While older buildings were often made of high quality materials built to last, they still need conservators to look after them. To make sure they are protected against decay and neglect so that their stories survive to inspire present and future generations. Here are 5 unusual materials conservators work on in buildings – next time you visit a historic house, look out for them!
'Trippy' stone floors
Toxic timber doors
Doors make a big impression on people because we interact with them to enter a building. There are hundreds of examples of old doors, and they contribute a lot to a building’s character. Door handles, knockers and letterboxes can be lovely design elements often with a distinctive patina, the clear sign of many generations of use. There’s no need to replace most old doors; they can easily be repaired or upgraded for better security or draught-proofing...BUT... there is one element in door design that requires particular care: old paint!
Lead paint was traditionally used on doors on Georgian and Victorian buildings. Lead is harmful to human health and removing paint from old surfaces is potentially hazardous. However, because lead based paints are incredibly hard-wearing, and very beautiful, it is possible to use them to redecorate Grade I and II* listed properties, using paint supplied under licence from Historic England. If the building is not Grade I or II* listed then a suitable alternative is modern linseed oil paint which uses titanium dioxide as the pigment.
Find out more
- Introducing Icon - the expert care and repair shop
- Icon's Resource Hub - guidance on caring for your treasures
- Conservators you can Trust - find out more about working with an Accredited Conservator-Restorer (ACR)
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