Colour Ranges

Dec 2nd, 2011 | | Colour Ranges | History | No Comments

Colours for Flat Finishes for Wall Decoration

BS Flat Finishes

British Standard 1572: 1949 Colours for Flat Finishes for Wall Decoration was a range of paint colours designed for the Ministry of Works for the purpose of interior decoration.

This range of 17 colours (two were not displayed on the card – White and Off-White (Ivory)) superseded an earlier British Standard – BS 381WD: 1945 Flat Colours for Wall Decoration, which showed just ten colours:

101 French Beige
102 Banana
103 Cream
104 Light Straw
105 Champagne
106 Corn Husk
107 Honeysuckle
108 Opaline Green
109 Shell Pink
110 Eau de Nil

BS381WD: 1945 - with thanks to Colin Mitchell-Rose

BS381WD: 1945 – with thanks to Colin Mitchell-Rose

As you see on the colour card at the top, five new colours were added in 1949:

111 Suntan
112 Mushroom
113 Cement Grey
114 Pastel Blue
115 Pale Primrose

BS 1572: 1949 Text

We are told:

“This colour card for flat finishes for wall decoration* supersedes B.S.381 WD, and provides a limited range of colours for bulk production.

“In addition to the fifteen colours shown, the standard range covers white and off-white (ivory) but it is not considered necessary to provide specimens for these two colours.

“The names correspond, as far as possible, to the nearest colour in the Dictionary of Colour Standards1 of the British Colour Council.

* For ceiling decoration, white, off-white (ivory) and cream will generally be suitable and these are available in “non-washable” quality, which can easily be washed off for re-decoration.2

It is not known which type of “Flat Finishes” were referred to in the title of this small range. It could either be Flat Oil, such as Unicote Flat Wall Finish, or it could be Water Paint such as Parsons’ Parlyte, Duresco or Walpamur.

Scheme 3

Ministry of Works Colour Schemes

In 1952 HMSO published a set of short term standards in the form of a small colour card entitled Ministry of Works Colour Schemes for Interior Decoration of Normal Office Accomodation. This was designed to show how certain of the colours in B.S. 1572 might be used on which surfaces and in which types of paint. It was revised two years later.

Colours for Flat Finishes for Wall Decoration was superseded in 1955 by BS 2660: 1955 “Colours for Building and Decorative Paints”.


1 This refers to the predecessor of the Dictionary of Colours for Interior Decoration.
2 Possibly Ceilingite (see below).


T. & W. Farmiloe Ltd’s Ceilingite was a ready-mixed Soft Distemper that came in paste form that required thinning with cold water. Approximately 1 pint of water was added to every 7lbs of the paste. The covering power was about 3 square yards per pound of paste.

When redecoration was needed it was washed off easily.

Current Availability of Colours
As with almost all the colours shown on this site they could be mixed into conventional modern paint by Papers and Paints Ltd

Colours and associated data from BS1572: 1949 are reproduced by permission of BSI.

Papers and Paints can be found here:

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