With our corporate painting business partners at DULUX, PPG, Sherwin - Williams and Benjamin Moore, we researched which historical colours are deemed appropriate to paint your exterior property with. To facilitate your historical paint selection process, we created a referring fan deck. This fan deck is a genuine representation of the 'acceptable historical colours in London'. This fan deck was developed in November 2019, in anticipation of the 2020 exterior painting season for our clients in London's Historical Conservation Districts.                                                                                   

                                                                                               Robert Dorn | 519.701.9636


     Paint has been used, in a variety of formulations, throughout history to decorate and protect our buildings.  For a building material that costs so little and represents such a small quantity of the volume of materials in a building, paint has an enormous impact on the visual appeal and the longevity of a building.  The traditional image of heritage buildings has always been determined in part by colour fashion and in part by availability of pigments and binders for paint.  The reason that most barns were painted red initially was the source of inexpensive paint concoctions that included animal blood as a principal component, and trimmed with whitewash from powdered lime and milk.


     Prior to the advent of โ€œpressure treatedโ€ wood which has a rot-resistant chemical injected into the fibres, virtually all wood used outside needed to be painted on a regular basis to prevent deterioration and rot.  Some wood that was naturally rot-resistant (cedar) was used unpainted for fences and shingles, and some utilitarian buildings such as sheds and barns were left unpainted to age to a deeply textured, gray finish.  But all wood associated with residential construction was painted to present a finished appearance to the neighbourhood, and to protect the investment in the house.  The recent introduction of pressure treated wood has been a mixed blessing.  The treatment process usually only penetrates the outside layer of wood and does not protect the core from rotting eventually if exposed to prolonged dampness.  The treatment process does not prevent the cycle of swelling and shrinking with changes in environmental moisture, and the resulting deterioration of the surface texture, combined with sun and weather exposure.  Better protection is still afforded by a paint film, properly maintained by regular re-painting.


     The use of paint, or finishing films or coatings on stone or brick or concrete masonry has traditionally been applied in certain conditions.  In locations where soft or porous masonry was exposed to dampness or hydrostatic pressure, such as in a foundation wall, water-resistant coatings were often applied with varying success.  For aesthetic appeal, principal walls that were constructed of poor quality masonry, such as stone rubble or inferior brick, were sometimes covered with stucco and possibly painted with a mineral based paint.  

     In some cases, and in limited areas, good quality masonry was parged and/or painted for utilitarian or aesthetic effect.  The brick wall inside a deep porch might be painted a light colour to brighten the shaded condition, and to present a renewable finish to an exterior room of the house.  The window surrounds might be parged and/or painted a light colour to create a frame for the window and to increase the brightness into the interior.  The cast stone columns or capitals may have been upgraded from the gray concrete colour by painting.  In most cases, these examples were limited to special locations for special purposes, with the understanding that there would be increased maintenance of the finish required.

     Any paint coating used on the exterior of a building should be able to โ€œbreatheโ€ to allow any build up of moisture vapour on the inside to escape to the outside without raising blisters or peeling off the film.  This is particularly important with brick and most masonry materials that are porous.  Paint coatings over large areas of brick are inclined to seal the surface, trap moisture, and cause spalling and other deterioration of the masonry.  Exterior paint requires regular maintenance and occasional repainting compared to exposed brick masonry.  Many examples of exterior brick masonry walls were constructed by highly skilled masons using a variety of bonding patterns, textures and sometimes multi coloured brick and mortars to create a distinctive decorative effect.  The covering of this detail by painting diminishes the heritage character of the original building and introduces a maintenance responsibility for the remaining lifetime of the building.

     Do not permit sandblasting, either wet or dry processes, to be used on soft clay brick.  Sandblasting is too aggressive and quickly removes the original surface of the brick, exposing the soft core to rapid deterioration and changing the texture and appearance of the surface.


     Colour preferences and styles change.  It is difficult to find accurate records for original colours of buildings except on the building itself.  Paint scrapings can determine with reasonable certainty the progression of colours on the building.  The bottom layer may be the first colour, but perhaps not the best choice.  Allow some latitude in the research and methodology for choosing the colours to arrive at a selection that you and your neighbours are happy to live with.

     Fortunately, for our clients, we have assembled colour palettes that would have been traditional choices in this area during the era of construction activity.  Remember that lighter colours reveal more of the bas relief sculptural detail in trim elements.  Some owners may also prefer to accentuate the facets of painted trim details by using slightly different shades of colour for recessed and projected surfaces.  This technique should be undertaken with subtle shading differences and test panels to ensure that the finished result is not garish.

     "ALL of our exterior works are ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ง๐™ง๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™š๐™™ ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง ๐™–๐™จ ๐™ก๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™–๐™จ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ก๐™ก ๐™ค๐™ฌ๐™ฃ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง ๐™ฅ๐™ง๐™ค๐™ฅ๐™š๐™ง๐™ฉ๐™ฎ against fading, peeling, blistering or cracking. No one in London offers this warranty in writing. They don't know how to. Rather, others knowingly offer two year warranties. Therefore expecting you to spend thousands more on exterior painting works every two years or so. Who wants that? รœBERPAINTERS ๐™ž๐™จ ๐™‡๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™™๐™ค๐™ฃ'๐™จ ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™ฅ๐™–๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™›๐™ž๐™ง๐™ข ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ค๐™›๐™›๐™š๐™ง๐™จ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง ๐™ก๐™–๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™š๐™ญ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง๐™ž๐™ค๐™ง ๐™ฅ๐™–๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™ฉ ๐™Ÿ๐™ค๐™—. We have over 400 satisfied Heritage & Century Home clients. You could also be added to that list."         Robert Dorn | 519.701.9636


     If you have a brick house that has painted elements, try to understand the purpose for which they may have been painted.  If the purpose is logical and the appearance is attractive, there may be good reason to maintain this tradition.  If, however, you have a brick house that has been completely painted, and the purpose and the appearance is not appealing, you may wish to restore the original appearance of the exposed brick.  The best method requires an application of a chemical stripper that softens the paint and permits it to be rinsed away with water.  The process is caustic to skin and plants and requires professional skill and equipment to prevent overspray and to ensure proper containment and disposal of the waste.  Some light abrasive wash, such as the Joss System, may be used for the removal of stains and excess soil build-up.  Ensure that the applicator company has heritage experience and understands the importance of mild cleaning to avoid removal of the historic patina on the surface of the masonry and to avoid damage to the brick itself.