The materials used in constructing heritage buildings are often considered well above the standards found in those built today. This is just one of the reasons why heritage restoration is considered a good investment. But exposure to the environment, in some cases for over one hundred years, will eventually cause some structural wear, especially where regular maintenance has not been done.

Realizing that each heritage painting project will be different, it is safe to say that unless houses have been properly maintained, each will have encountered similar problems during its lifetime. Unless proper remedies were applied, it is possible that these problems still exist and should be corrected before a new coat of paint is applied. About 85 percent of coating failures are the result of poor preparation of surfaces.

The goal of this section is to promote proper preparation by identifying the basic problems and providing solutions that will ensure adequate protection of the structural material or substrate. In many cases, the solutions will be more expensive initially but will reduce the amount of future maintenance.

Once proper paint restoration has been completed, ongoing maintenance is important. By keeping the same colour scheme, it is necessary only to recoat the worn or failing areas. For example, the south and southeast sides of homes in Victoria receive continual wear from sun, wind and rain. New coats of paint should be applied more frequently in such areas to ensure that the elements do not reach the structural materials.

On the other hand, the northern and shaded areas are more prone to mold and mildew growth and should be washed regularly with a solution of TSP (trisodium phosphate), bleach and water. Mildew feeds on the oils in solvent-based paints and on the thickeners in water-based paints. Controlling its growth will promote coating life.

Ken Marchtaler
Victoria Heritage Foundation –
Vancouver Heritage Conservation Foundation
Heritage Society of British Columbia –
British Columbia Heritage Trust –

Jennifer Barr – Editor
Bob Baxter & Camilla Turner – Editing
Judith Anderson – Photos
Janice Tindall – Desktop Publishing

Copyright 2000 Victoria Heritage Foundation