Learn new things…or die trying!
For a quick catch-up: my husband and I bought a new house except it isn’t new it is really old and built in 1924.. The big things (plumbing, electric, roof, hot water heater, etc.) have all been upgraded in the last five years so really it is the little things that are left to get to. This house needs a little TLC and well, a little DIY too and luckily for it (and our wallet) I like to learn how to do new things!
Lead paint. Bad words if you have kids that would consume it unintentionally. Also not good to ingest as an adult either but hopefully, most of us grown-ups don’t go around eating a lot of paint chips anymore. Our two little ones are dogs and don’t chew the walls and luckily my male Boxer, Kendi, couldn’t get much dumber even if he did so I’m not worried. However, the color of the trim inside is just terrible. Okay not
the worst ever (the undercoat of the baseboards and moldings in the master bedroom are a lovely lavender) but still not aesthetically pleasing. All the baseboards and molding throughout the whole house are a creamy-yellow shade (that I don’t like) and poorly applied. Worse, the last people here didn’t care for the lavender trim in the master bedroom (I don’t blame them) but you can’t paint latex paint over oil without proper prep people! So while the shade of off-white is fine in there, it is peeling off all over the place and you can pick it off with your fingernail in large pieces.
Which leaves me and my neurotic self to deal with the paint, lead and all. I think 100% of paint before 1978 was made with a lead base, it was just how it was done then and worked well except if you swallowed it. The laws were changed after the problems with it became obvious and now there isn’t lead in paint anymore so children and pets are safer in their homes. *problems being developmental delays in children, neurological problems, seizures and/or death.
All that being said, I am learning to strip. Paint. As if the job weren’t messy enough no matter what way you do it, dealing with the lead in it puts it in another category for the average DIY’er. This is my disclaimer: if you have lead paint in your home and want to remove it get a professional. I am not a professional and am taking my life in my own hands. I am not suggesting you do that! All of this is personal opinion and my trial-and-error speaking and is not recommended. And if I have a seizure in front of you call 911 and explain for me.
Firstly, watch a video on a professional coming in to do a lead-paint removal job. Notice that they look like they are going into an Ebola virus outbreak area by the way they are dressed. I don’t know if it is all that dramatic but well, you should know that going in. Okay so stripping with a sander or a hand-scraper creates dust and flying chips. Since there is lead in it, it is bad to breathe in and since it is dust well, it is super easy to spread all over the house. I bought a special respirator and took precautions to contain the dust but well, there is a lot of area for me to cover here and that method was going to take the rest of my life (assuming it wasn’t cut short by several years from the lead-dust). Everybody agrees that a belt-sander is a bad way to get lead paint off because it creates even more dust than sanding by hand. Scratch that after working for 3 days to get the paint off one side of one of the 12 doors upstairs. Plus my right arm was going numb. So that leaves chemically stripping. Ugh.
Stinky. Messy. Sticky. Expensive. After I set up and suit up (mask if working inside, chemical resistant gloves, outfit that I don’t mind ruining, splash goggles) I have to paint on this goo that within minutes begins to eat away at the years and layers of paint and varnish on the wood. The paint becomes soggy and begins to wrinkle and pucker and you can tell where the paint got a really great grip on the wood by the areas that refuse to let go. Scoring those areas and putting more paint stripper on helps that. Once it reaches the wrinkly stage, after about 15 minutes, you can literally wipe it off with your hand but I suggest using a paint stripping tool. Basically it looks like a little plastic shovel with a flat nose. The plastic doesn’t react with the chemicals and doesn’t scratch the wood. All the while being careful to not get the goo on you, your stuff or anywhere that you didn’t intend, you have to keep skimming off the paint and on parts like in the corners or around the detailed moldings, I have to use a wire brush. A lot of times there is a sticky residue left that I think is a varnish or poly-urethane coating that was originally on the wood and if you wait too long, the paint itself become a slimy goo too that doesn’t want to come off clean either.
I have peeled off an entire gallon of paint’s worth of paint from the master bedroom and I think I have gallons to go. Once the old paint is secured in a metal container with a lid, the soap and sander-sponge comes out and I have to scrub off the leftover goo and liquified paint/varnish off the wood to make it smooth and clean. After THAT it has to dry. Thank goodness at least that step doesn’t require me to do anything. Then starts the painting process. The primer and two coats of paint. Don’t get me started on clean-up…that takes forever and I have to take the lead-paint waste to the collection center so they can dispose of it properly.
I have finished one and a half doors. Sigh. I am hoping that some of this baseboard work goes more quickly since there is less detail. Too bad I can’t take the baseboards outside like I took the doors. Anyway, that’s what is keeping me busiest right now but the finished areas look GREAT! On a side note, I am also removing years of tarnish from the brass door-knobs complete with skeleton keys.