Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Conservation of surface finishes

Discover the rich diversity of surface finishes in Scotland's traditional buildings. Learn about their history and how to conserve them.



Our Advanced Diploma prospectus contains information about all our short courses:

Download our prospectus


2 weeks


26 March - 3 April 2020

Study time

Taught:4 days


As a stand-alone short course:£420


Looking for a related qualification? Learn about our Accredited Diploma that can be taken part-time or full time.

Explore Diploma Course
Someone painting a piece of decorative stonework for a building

This course offers a historic overview of the use of paints and other coatings in Scottish architectural traditions, from the medieval period through to the 20th century. Explore the impact of internationally renowned Scottish artists such as Adam, Cottier, Mackintosh and Traquair.

What you will learn

In this short course, you will learn about technological developments, from hand-mixed coatings using natural materials such as lime and earth pigments, to the manufacturing of paints and varnishes on an industrial scale and innovative synthetic materials.

You will also get the chance to study the physical properties of paints, varnishes and other coatings, high-style decorative finishes such as gilding and stencilling. Learn more about the technical skills and knowledge required to conserve, restore and replicate these finishes today.

Join the course

Book your place for 2019, starting on Thursday 4 April.

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Topics covered

  • Properties and characteristics of traditional paints
  • The use of colour in interiors: 1700-1820
  • The use of colour in interiors: 1830-1955
  • Conservation of historic wallpapers
  • Commissioning paint analysis
  • Conservation and restoration of easel painting
  • Conservation techniques for structural paintwork
  • Historic stencil restoration

Course content

Short courses offer the opportunity to learn about building conservation through lectures, workshops and site visits. 

Classes, lectures and presentations

Students benefit from attending classes and lectures taught by national and international experts. Forthcoming lectures are to be confirmed.

Previous speakers have included:

Potential site visits

Students have the opportunity to participate in site visits. These vary from one year to another.

Previous site visits for this course have included:


Although our short courses are not formally assessed, students will be awarded a certificate upon successfully completing this course.

A formal qualification can be obtained by studying our Advanced Professional Diploma on Technical Building Conservation.

What our students say