The Finishes and Interiors Sector (FIS) has launched a Best Practice Guide – Repair of Historic Ceilings to help promote best practice in the repair and restoration of historic plaster ceilings.

Produced by the FIS Heritage Plaster Group which includes representatives from the plastering trade and building conversation, and written by Sarah Mayfield, a building conservator, sculptor and ornamental plasterer, the guide is an invaluable aid to building owners, managers, architects or surveyors, plaster contractors or conservation officers. This publication will guide them through the specification of traditional ceilings, the multiple varying scenarios and the advantages and disadvantages of each repair technique in accordance with its historic value.

Split into sections, the guide covers everything from the principles of building conversation to understanding the history of the ceiling and its materials, along with the assessment process. It offers a series of points to consider when carrying out repairs in terms of the appropriate materials and techniques, and suspension methods, and includes:

  • Guidance for inspection procedures, scope and site considerations
  • Assessing the historic value and significant features
  • Understanding past interventions, historic maintenance work to the ceiling and its value
  • Future inspection regimes
  • Competence of plaster inspectors and craftspeople

‘It’s a document written for the trade by the trade, and I think that gives it some strength and relevance,” said Roger Curtis MRICS, Head of Technical Resources, Operations Directorate at Historic Environment Scotland.

Commenting on the Guide, FIS Technical Director Joe Cilia said this guide is the culmination o almost three years work to ensure that the content was relevant, informative and importantly peer reviewed by the sectors conservators, craft experts and other associate bodies who work to ensure our heritage is maintained and recorded for others to see, enjoy, and study for years to come.

By increasing a level of understanding of the technical issues among key stakeholders, the guide will play a part in raising the standard of repairs so that the significance and authenticity of the ceiling can be assured.

FIS can trace its roots back in the plastering trade through the Worshipful Company of Plasterers.  FIS represents suppliers and contractors in the finishes and interior sector. Its members are vetted when they join and then every three years. They abide by a code of conduct and agree to carry out work in accordance with the FIS best practice guides.

A valuable resource for improving works package delivery, these guides work well when they are included in proposals and project plans to demonstrate how to best approach a project.

A searchable list of FIS members can be found here

You can download the Best Practice Guide – Repair of Historic Ceilings