We want to renovate or paint wood panelling that lines the walls of a room. On looking further, we are mystified as to what it is made of or how to renovate. It is heavily varnished over a layer of something like plaster and hair. Anyone know what it is?

The house is C1820’s or earlier but the panelling looks Arts and Crafts or later. It is pale in colour, although probably faded from the original, and has an artificial finish that shows a wood grain and looks very convincing from a distance. However, closer examination shows that it heavily varnished and not a natural wood finish. We assume it is wood underneath but the top layer is nothing we have seen before. At some edges near the skirting boards and where there have been picture holes it is beginning to break down and shows a fine plaster with small fibres like hair. We want to renovate or paint it but don’t know what it is or how to deal with it.

  • Natasha Johnson

    Hi Jan,

    I am a little baffled myself but we will see if we can find out. In the interim, I recommend contacting the Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) as they may be able to help you diagnose the materials and possibly even suggest how to renovate or repair.

    Their contact number is 020 7377 1644

    We'd love to hear if you find out what it actually is!!

    Kind Regards


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