Architectural Paint Research

Architectural paint research (APR) studies the evolution of painted decoration schemes in a building: how paint and colour were used to articulate architecture. This includes wall surfaces and architectural elements such as mouldings, panelling, skirting boards, metal railings, cornices, doors and windows.

Like wall painting conservation, it requires research in art and architectural history, with a detailed understanding of painting techniques and materials over time.

APR is usually commissioned to understand and recreate the decoration scheme of a particular historical period. Through the examination of the layers of surviving paint as evidence, APR may also greatly contribute to our knowledge of the structural development of a building.

For more information on architectural paint research in England, please refer to our Further reading list.

Interior view of The Adam Library, Kenwood House, London.
© Historic England
Kenwood House, Adams Library
The Adam Library, Kenwood House, London, 1760s. Top photograph shows the Adam Library as it used to look, with a decoration scheme and colour palette different than that originally designed by Robert Adam. Carried out as part of the 2012-13 restoration project, architectural paint research – involving cross-sections examination and the analysis of pigments and paint binders – combined with archival evidence, allowed the accurate recreation of Robert Adam’s original colour scheme (photograph below). © Historic England
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