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Making History

From PWC, December 2009



More items for Maintenance + Renovation

by John Leeke

Painting old and historic buildings raises special issues. Here are some key considerations. Also: Working Lead Safe; Maintenance Minder; Tips and Techniques; Choosing the Right Coating (by Deborah Slaton)...
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Tagged categories: Coating properties; Coating selection; Maintenance coating work; Paint and coatings removal; Paint application; Restoration; Surface preparation; Wood

Comment from Catherine Brooks, (3/1/2011, 9:46 AM)

It is unfortunate that John discounts the use of heat for paint removal. His recommended method of steam pushes water into the wood to make the paint release. To get the paint off, a deeper layer of wood also comes off during the scraping. As a result the gray wood surface is left feathered and usually must be sanded after a full drying step of at least 24 hours to get it smooth for repainting. I agree with John that the old methods of open torches and high heat guns (1000+ degrees)increased the risk of fire and vaporized the toxic lead in the paint. Both are now outlawed for these reasons. However, low temperature (400-600 degree) infrared heat does not generate lead vapors and has a low risk of fire when used properly (20-60 seconds on wood surfaces). In addition, the entire process using infrared heat for paint removal is safe, faster, and more protective and gentle on old wood than the steam method.


Comment from John Leeke, (3/23/2012, 10:21 AM)

The editors added a photo and the following caption to this article. I do not condone the use of power washing on older wood exteriors, nor do I advocate the use of any particular paint. John Leeke www.HistoricHomeWorks.com


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