How to green my leadpainted siding?
July 14, 2008 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Green Construction Filter: What's the best way to fix my lead painted siding?

I have a house with shiplap redwood siding, built in 1947 and the paint is failing. I assume the paint is lead based (the paint in the kitchen was lead base so...) and the siding has shrunk leading to lots of little (1/8") gaps between the strakes. The house has little to no overhangs, but I'm in Sonoma County and don't get a lot of rain (compared with the Pacific NW, or Florida). I want to fix it in the most cost effective, greenest way possible (but I'm on a limited budget, of course).

Ideally I'd like a solution that limits the risk from lead paint exposure, looks good, and will last a very very long time with minimal maintenance. I was thinking of unpainted shingles, because they should weather, but remain sound for decades, right?

Are there other options I'm not thinking of? What are the details I should be looking for in shingles (e.g. species, fastners, sub-surface prep, etc.)?
posted by gofargogo to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
Just to clarify, are you going to remove and dispose of the existing siding, do you want to repaint or are you covering it with some other sort of siding?
posted by electroboy at 11:50 AM on July 14, 2008

I'll do whatever works out best. The first option is to repair/repaint, but I'm leary of the lead paint. The second option is to remove and replace with something else, I was thinking shingles for I have little faith that the siding of today is better quality then the redwood siding of 60 years ago.

I didn't know you could cover the old siding in place. How does this practice hold up over time, such as moisture infiltration?
posted by gofargogo at 11:54 AM on July 14, 2008

I suppose your success at paint removal would probably be determined by the texture of the siding, the rougher it is, the more difficult it would be to remove. That said, Peel-Away is pretty much the standard for lead paint removal. You can get it at Home Depot, so you could certainly try it out and see it you have any luck.

But if you're sure it's redwood siding, you may not need to repaint. Redwood heartwood (as opposed to sapwood) is pretty rot resistant and is used in outdoor decking and furniture.
posted by electroboy at 12:02 PM on July 14, 2008

A cementicious siding could be used to replace the shiplap. It is available in what we call here clapboards, plus shingles and panels. lots of advantages.
posted by Gungho at 1:00 PM on July 14, 2008

Well, you could encapsulate the lead paint by thoroughly repainting right on top of it (no stripping), but this produces the risk that the new paint will fail sooner than normal. The main risk of lead paint is in eating it or inhaling the dust, so once encapsulated it's pretty safe.

Personally, I'd just slap on several coats of new paint & cross my fingers. If it only works for a few years then I'd cross that bridge when I come to it.
posted by aramaic at 1:58 PM on July 14, 2008

Gel based paint removers usually work pretty well. It's also worth bearing in mind that lead in paint isn't too bad on adults. We have a lot in our house and the balance of advice seems to be that wherever possible you should paint over it if you can.

Worth looking here: it's a UK gov't website. But we have a lot of old houses.
posted by rhymer at 1:58 PM on July 14, 2008

lead in paint isn't too bad on adults

Yeah, smoking is not too bad, either. It all depends on how you handle the paint. Dry sanding, scraping, sand blasting, power washing, or torching that paint releases lead into the air, and would expose the person doing it, or anyone around your house, to lead poisoning. Lead can poison adults as well as children (remember the Roman empire?), and this type of project is one of the leading ways they get lead poisoned. So, be sure to use a method that's consider safe in terms of lead dispersal during the process (meaning, basically a wet or gel process as suggested).
posted by beagle at 6:37 PM on July 14, 2008

Actually the wet process is going to be difficult to control as well. It won't be airborne, but it'll be much more difficult to corral the liquid than it will with the Peel-away I suggested earlier.

Using a heat gun is safe, but you have to keep the temperature below 1100 F, and obviously put down a drop cloth to catch all the paint chips.

this type of project is one of the leading ways they get lead poisoned.

That's not exactly correct. It's more likely they'll be exposed by living in an unrehabilitated house or by being exposed to soil with significant lead levels.
posted by electroboy at 9:34 PM on July 14, 2008

1- Paint over it.
2- Hire a lead abatement contractor.

To my knowledge, lead paint is bad only when it is disturbed or eaten.
posted by gjc at 6:04 AM on July 15, 2008

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