Emissions from products – paints and varnishes – historic buildings


This KBCN covers the use of paints and varnishes for the ’emissions from products’ criteria. These are paints that:

  • May contain high VOC content exceeding BREEAM limits or
  • Falls within the scope of ‘Volatile Organic Compounds in Paints, Vanishes and Vehicle Refinishing Products Regulations 2012’.

These paints may be used in new extensions to historic buildings (this KBCN is a manual compliance note in RFO 2014).

Exemptions for use

The use of such paints is allowable if:

  • There is an explicit requirement from the local authority conservation officer or the national conservation body to use specific paints and varnishes and
  • The building is listed and protected under a historic buildings register.


National conservation bodies and accepted grade listings applicable to this KBCN are:

  • England: English Heritage – Grade I and II*.
  • Wales: Cadw – Grade I and II*.
  • Scotland: Historic Scotland – Grade A and B+.
  • Northern Ireland: Department for Communities (HIstoric Environment) – Grade A and B+.

Remedial actions

In all cases, procedures are in place to flush the building out for a sufficient period before occupation. This is to reduce the risks associated with VOCs in accordance with the criteria.

11-Oct-2022 KBCN restructured for clarity. Title amended for clarity. National conservation body for NI updated. Scheme applicability updated.