Materials and components

Explore information to help you better understand the traditional materials used in old buildings.

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Timber floor structures

Sometimes strengthened without good reason, or destructively levelled out, old floors are an oft-abused treasure. This article explains how best to treat them.


Timber roof structures

High up, largely out of site, is some of our oldest wood craftsmanship. This article explores why timber roofs are worth conserving.


Infill panels

This article reveals the hidden truths behind wattle and daub, brick ‘nogging’, and other materials used in walling.


Timber frames

This guidance note explores the challenges that arise from timber-framed construction, how to analyse and repair timber frames and more.


Parge-work is seen to best effect when the sun is out, when light and shade on its three-dimensional form leads to subtle changes in the appearance of a building throughout the day.

Shingle roofs

A vernacular roof covering, once found across Europe and North America on a wide variety of buildings, can offer a highly pleasing effect. Yet shingles are practical and durable too.

Timber floorboards

Repair not replace. Imperfections can contribute to historical interest and should not necessarily be eradicated - or used as a reason to lay a new floor when repairs are often feasible.

Tuck pointing

People often don’t realise they have tuck pointing – because it’s a deliberate deceit, done not to be noticeable! Due to this, and the fact that tuck pointing demands great skill, it is sometimes replaced with unsuitable forms of joint finish.

Lead paint

In the 1980s the SPAB helped prevent an EU ban on lead paint. This article explains how it can be used safely in conserving old buildings.



Thatched roofs

Thatched roofs are one of the most evocative symbols of the British countryside; thatched buildings are our best-loved. Thatch was the commonest roof covering throughout much of the country until the end of the 19th century, and remains a viable, sustainable solution for many rural buildings. This article sets out the do's and don'ts.