What’s the correct paint to use on the top part of a BISF House?

bisf house maintenance advice

I wondered if anyone could advise on the type of paint I should use on the steel of my BISF house?
I stay in Southhouse in Edinburgh; it is an ex Council house and although all the other houses in the area have now been cladded my house is still original and the Council don’t have any record of paint used in the past.


  1. Just got back from a short break in Reykjavik where there are lots of quaint, brightly-coloured wooden and steel-clad houses of the type that probably inspired the design of the BISF house, and now I want to paint my house this bright blue colour upstairs. I think we’re much too conservative with colour and design in this country!


  2. Just a quick update on exterior painting. I’ve been restoring the downpipes while we’ve had good weather. As you probably know, the original downpipes of a BISF house are made of galvanised steel and the brackets that hold them were put in before the render was applied. Many houses have had them replaced with PVC, presumably because it’s quicker for a roofer etc to replace them than it is to repaint them.

    However, many high-end buildings continue to be built with galvanised steel or aluminium rainwater goods as they should last a lot longer than plastic so I thought it would be a pity to lose them.

    As they had been badly neglected I took off the old flaking paint with alkaline paintstripper (same one that took off the textured paint on the render) before repainting. Should last another 65 years!


  3. Hi Ed,
    The house looks fab well done. I also have the same problem with my porch in that one of the legs has completely rusted away so it’s useful to know how you have done that and I can maybe ask my dad to help with that part.
    An I ask what paint you ended up buying for the steel part of the house? I was in B&Q yesterday looking at masonary paint but I’m a little apprehensive this won’t work and of course the tins of paint for exterior steel are small and the colours all wrong!

    Cheers, Justine

  4. OK it’s almost done, just the underside of the canopy to go. At the last minute I changed my mind and went for blue instead, but I think it looks much better and smarter with the matt black metalwork and a cheerful but tasteful colour (no Valleys Nicole bright pink!). I’m always quite surprised that around here at least almost everyone goes for very dull colours or non-colours like grey or brown for BISF houses, when I think they look much better in something fresh and cheerful.

  5. OK it’s almost done. At the last minute I changed my mind and went for blue instead, but I think it looks much better and smarter with the matt black metalwork. I’m always quite surprised that around here at least almost everyone goes for very dull colours or non-colours like grey or brown for BISF houses, when I think they look much better in something fresh and cheerful.

    1. Ed, I can only say that I think your paintwork looks fantastic and I’m so glad to see that all of your hard work has paid off. I think your choice of colour is excellent and I agree that the black metalwork contrasts really well against the blue.
      Sorry I didn’t get chance to reply to your earlier posts regarding the canopy but I’ve had a few personal issues that I’ve been dealing with over the last couple of months and haven’t had as much time to login.
      Looking at the image above, I wouldn’t have even been able to tell that the metalwork had been repaired. It looks like your Father has done an excellent job which has really smartened up the front of the house along with the barked flower bed and retaining wall.
      I always enjoy reading your updates and look forward to seeing more.
      Well done Ed!

  6. Does anyone know if it is safe to stand on the canopy of the porch? I’m guessing it must be otherwise it would be difficult to paint and decorate the upstairs of the house. The reason I ask is I’m renovating the porch and need to replace the bitumen felt that is on top, which has broken down. My dad suggests a fibreglass kit with resin for a longlasting solution, what do you think?

    I have stripped all the old paint off the porch, taken the rust off, sanded it down and repainted it with anti-rust treatment and it looks so much better, all sharp and new looking. One of the ‘legs’ had also rusted through just above the ‘foot’ so my dad has cut it out and welded in a new piece of steel, a bit like a mini stanchion repair.

  7. Not strictly painting, but while rubbing down the porch preparing to repaint it I found one of the ‘legs’ has rusted right through directly above the little circular ‘foot’, so the whole thing is hanging with a milimetre gap or so. The other three are fine. Is this possible to DIY repair, say with a mig welder?

    Back to painting and I’m thinking of blue rather than yellow, like this Scandinavian house, which I think is the sort of thing that inspired the BISF design.

  8. All washed down and ready to repaint downstairs at the front! As you can see, the alkali paintstripper doesn’t dissolve the yellow emulsion paint that was underneath the textured coating. The darker colour on the corner of the house and outhouse is the bare render where the whole lot was loose and blasted away by the pressure washer.

    1. Actually I was glad of the hot weather as it’s a VERY wet and messy job, so it would be miserable to do in the cold! Also it’s been ripening the fruit and vegetables nicely in the garden, but that’s a different story.

      You’re right about the colour, I was intending to paint it magnolia downstairs and yellow upstairs (eventually) with white window and door surrounds, porch and downpipes to match next door, but I’m not totally decided… slightly darker like that sandy colour makes the surrounds stand out better which is nice.

      Thanks for the info about the upstairs paint, it’s definitely useful as I’ll be doing that too some time.

  9. Just a quick update to say that most of the downstairs I have been able to clean off with just a pressure washer right back to the render. It will need some paint stripper around the edges and the top 30 cm or so under the cladding lip where the sun or rain or whatever loosens the paint hasn’t had so much effect.

    It’s a very wet and messy job, but we’ve had the right weather for it!

    I nave noticed some cracks on the corner, I’m hoping these are just superficial and not a sign of stanchion corrosion, but we’ll only know when I reinsulate the hall which will probably be the last room to do. What would you suggest to fill them, and also some holes left by old rawl plugs?

    1. Hi Ed, so glad to hear that it’s going well so far.
      I don’t think there is much fear of Stanchion corrosion from what I can see as the surface appears to be in pretty good condition.

      I am still awaiting a response from Kennet construction and I have just sent off another e-mail as it has now been 14 days and no response given.
      Even if it turns out to not be one of their applications, I hope that they may be able to offer further advice, fingers crossed.
      I was down your way earlier this week and decided to do a quick detour to Bath from the M40 thinking that it was nearby.
      How wrong I was lol and so many country lanes on the way!
      Hope the heat isn’t too bad while you’re doing all that exterior work but I’m sure it will be worthwhile. :0)

    2. You’re right that getting to Bath from the M4 isn’t easy, especially if you don’t want to go down the A46, which is the wrong side of town from here anyway.

      Funny you mention the steel panels as it’s flaking badly there too, but in a different location and in a different way. The textured coating has failed on the downstairs render on the east side of the house only and on the steel cladding on the south only (at the back). On the render the point of failure has been between the oldest layer of paint and the render itself, I guess because of some dampness in the render. On the steel cladding the point of failure is between the textured paint and the next layer of paint underneath, I’m guessing maybe caused by the sun.

      Anyway, as the upstairs is only exposing the next layer of paint rather than the steel it’s only cosmetic for now and will have to wait a while to be done. Another annoying thing is it’s constantly shedding the grit from the surface so every week I have to sweep it all up from the back terrace!

  10. Hi again, I got a test pack of two types of special paint strippers from http://www.stripperspaintremovers.com . Both their Solvistrip and Stripper 4-F take off the top layer of paint containing the grit, but only the Solvistrip removes the paint underneath which I think needs to come off as it is flaking badly and letting the water get to the render underneath. It’s then removed with a pressure washer, which I’m borrowing from a friend.

    I’ll let you all know how it goes as this is my next project. At the moment the outside of the house is all sad and grey, so I’m looking forward to getting it back to a more fresh and colourful appearance!

    Here it is after taking a wire brush to it to take off the flaking textured paint:

  11. Hi all, just wondering if anyone has anything else to add or experiences. Our house needs repainting as the paintwork is starting to flake off in places. Unfortunately the previous owners had the house painted in a textured/gritted paint which looks as though it might make things difficult. I’m not sure what it’s called but its a paint with some sort of grit applied to the surface.

    The most urgent I think is the downstairs as the north east corner of the house is flaking and exposing the mortar underneath which may let rain start corroding the steel laths.

    I’ve looked into this before but not really found anything about how you remove textured paint that is starting to flake off. I’ve removed some where it was splashed onto the window surrounds with paintstripper, but doing the whole house would take too long and cost a fortune!

    1. Hi Marc and thanks for your research! I’ve been looking into what it is for a while and not really found anything.

      My plan was to start with the north east corner of the house (in the photo) between the outhouse and the front door as that is where the problem is worst. The textured paint seems to have stuck better to the original paint that that has to the render so it all came off together leaving bare render exposed to the weather.

      The picture is after I’d spent about half and house scrubbing with a wire brush and the problem is that because the render is textured too it is very hard to get all the loose bits out, so I’m worried that if I paint over the top it will carry on flaking off.

      From the test patch brushing the stripper on with a large brush and then washing it off after a few hours seems like by far the quickest way of doing it. I’m leaving the upstairs for now as although it’s flaking too, it’s only flaking back to the paint underneath which is still OK rather than exposing the steel.

      I’m not sure if it was something done by the council as my neighbours don’t have it and a few doors down something similar is on a very DIY-looking enclosed porch!

  12. Hello JustyB
    Take a look at this previous post regarding paint for BISF houses.

    Rust Prevention and Maintenance – BISF House.

    Although it doesn’t provide a specific brand to use it may give you some pointers. Smile
    Each former Council used their own different paints but care should be taken in choosing the right one as many can react with the old paint. Some paints used turned chalky in nature, others just peeled away because they were not designed for use on steel. Remember that being steel the paint is subjected to different expansion and contraction stresses caused by heat and cold.
    It may be worth speaking to the manufacturers help desk, such as International Paints.