Best practice external and internal finishes

Issue date December 2016


Do not

Vulnerable materials
Vulnerable finishes at low level are to be avoided.

Future maintenance
Materials at high level which will require regular maintenance must be avoided due to the cost of access equipment etc.

Suspended ceilings
Concealed systems are not to be used. Access above suspended ceilings can be frequent. Conventional lay-in grids provide quicker easier access and result in less damage to the system. Damaged tiles are also more easily replaced.


Quality of materials
Use materials that are robust, low maintenance, are vandal resistant and offer good value.

Future maintenance
Future maintenance costs and availability of replacement parts must be considered when choosing materials.

The Head of Establishment and TVPA Crime Prevention Design team are able to provide useful feedback in order to assess the likelihood of vandalism at the site location and suggest design features and specifications to minimize its impact.

Produce a limited range of neutral / pastel colours for the end user to choose from. The colours chosen need to be suitable for future as well as present occupiers. Ensure that the requirements for people with visual impairment and where appropriate autism is considered when choosing colours for both internal and external finishes. Specialist advice should be sought where appropriate.

Zurich Design Guide
The Zurich school and academy design guide  must be considered and discussed where appropriate with the Oxfordshire County Council Corporate Landlord (OCCCL). Special attention is drawn to section 5.2.3 regarding appropriate areas, height and treatment of timber cladding. Where there is significant conflict with the guidance the written response of Zurich must be obtained and discussed with the county council project leader prior to design solutions being submitted to planning.

Recycled materials
OCC encourage the use of recycled materials provided the product is well researched and has an appropriate life expectancy of 60 years. Consultation should take place with the Service Provider (SP) energy team.

Sto Render
When considering the use of this material take into account:

  • Time of year it is to be applied. The material cannot be applied below certain temperatures
  • Vandalism

Fire protection of internal timber cladding
Timber used as a cladding for walls and ceilings that is site treated with a proprietary fire retardant coating system to achieve a spread of flame rating will require regular inspections to ensure that the fire rating is maintained. This will involve maintenance costs for clients. Ensure that:

  • the OCCCL and the head of establishment are aware of the need for the  inspections and the future maintenance costs
  • details of the inspections and the need for remedial work are included in the health and safety file.

Corridor dado rails
Hardwood dado rails in corridors can help to protect walls and reduce maintenance costs. The use of carpet fixed to walls below the dado rail should also be considered.

Floor and wall coverings
Ensure both maximum wear and ease of maintenance.

Coverings are to be laid in accordance with British standards.

Carpets to be specified with 'a low radius of effects of ignition' when tested in accordance with BS 4790:1987

Unfixed material must be stored in such a way as to avoid posing an unacceptable fire hazard.

All carpets are to be anti-static.

Manufacturers specifications with regard to laying and adhesives used are to be strictly adhered to.

Ensure that necessary assessments required by the COSHH Regulations when using solvent based adhesives are carried out.

  1. The contractor is to ensure that the floor surface is dry and suitable for the floor covering to be laid.
  2. In kitchens, bathrooms, toilets and shower rooms etc. care must be taken when fitting vinyl sheet to floor gullies etc.
  3. Impervious floor coverings should neither be laid in old buildings without dpm's or on existing woodblock floors.
  4. Matwells are not to be used in new buildings and consideration should be given to infilling existing matwells during refurbishment projects. For entrance halls barrier matting should be specified. In heavy use areas dust arrester matting should be capable of coping with a heavy volume of traffic in a short period of time.
  5. Careful consideration should be given to the usage of an area when selecting carpets instead of vinyl sheeting.
  6. Incorporate a silicone seal when sheet floor finishes such as vinyl abut skirtings or fixed furniture.
  7. Before laying carpet to existing suspended timber (ground) floors check that continuous through ventilation is available to the underfloor area.
  8. 'Contract quality' carpets should be specified.
  9. When choosing colour schemes discuss with supplier any known cleaning problems with the colours being considered.
  10. Warning: Care must be taken when selecting floor finishes at external entrances to ensure that the floor covering will not present a slipping hazard when wet.
  11. Recommended types of floor covering for various areas (.pdf format, 63 Kb)

Do / ensure

External painting
Removal or partial removal of existing coatings for redecoration should be as follows:

  • Only remove existing areas of coating that are damaged or flaking or where it is necessary for a change of coating system. When using microporous systems for redecoration all existing alkyd systems must be totally removed.
  • Unless a total removal of existing coatings is necessary redecorate using a coating system that is compatible.
  • Unless known otherwise it is to be assumed that previous paintwork will have a lead content either in the top coat or in previous layers of paint so all stripping, where necessary, should be carried out as follows:
    • Comply with statutory regulations relating to lead based substances.
    • Use methods for removal that will not damage the substrate or adjacent surfaces or adversely affect subsequent coatings.
    • Removal of coatings by burning will not be permitted
    • Use wet sanding to keep dust to a minimum.
    • Use impervious sheeting so as to collect all debris and thoroughly clean area before repainting takes place.
    • Vacuum clean all internal surfaces.
    • Dispose of waste in sealed plastic bags as a controlled waste, do not burn.

Low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints
Low VOC paints are to be used wherever possible.