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What to use on top of two coats of old chipped house paint? any non toxic choices?  RSS feed

 
Judith Browning
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We are finally caught up enough to start thinking about painting our house....it has nice pine siding from when it was built in 1950 and also quite a bit of the original paint with another coat on top.  All badly chipped and flaking but still some of both adhering solid to the wood.  I've looked into milk paint and it sounds as though it won't work over the old paint.  It sounds like some low VOC paints might work although I'd like to keep searching and paint it with something that won't add to the toxic ring around the house already there from lead paint likely falling off for years.

We are scraping by hand so far...have access to a pressure washer but some say that won't work that well to remove paint.  We are assuming the original paint has lead and likely the second coat also, so we are treating it as so and will probably get a test kit soon.

I would prefer bare wood, but the paint that is stuck is really stuck...not going to come off without a fight.

Is there a non toxic sealer or oil that we could just use to preserve the bare wood and could go over the painted bits too, maybe stained so that it would blend in with the parts that still have paint?  We want it too look nice and also not add any toxicity to the environment...so a solid paint is still preferred....

ideas?  even crazy ones? 
 
Bryant RedHawk
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first question Judith, Is that water based latex over oil base? sounds like the first coat would be oil based for sure but that second might be an older latex.
You can use one of the "sealer" products like Kilz to seal it all under two coats, that will also help if you are trying to cover a dark paint.

Definitely don't use high pressure, and don't sand, no need spreading questionable stuff all over the place. Scraping by hand is hard work but safer for you and the land.
Don't forget to catch as much of the scraped paint on drop sheets as possible. 
(There are now some really good, non toxic, paint removers that work in just a few hours time and they make scraping to wood pretty easy as well as holding the old paint together as it comes off.)

Oil stains are not going to give a good color over paint and many might even unstick the paint.

Good to see you still around kola, hope Steve is well.

Redhawk

 
Judith Browning
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thanks redhawk,

first question Judith, Is that water based latex over oil base? sounds like the first coat would be oil based for sure but that second might be an older latex.


I tried a 'test' I read about with a rag and rubbing alcohol....color from both paint layers came off on the rag and that was supposed to show that it was latex.  I think the paint is so old that what it was showing was 'chalking' instead and didn't prove one way or the other what type of paint was used.  Do you know of any other test to show whether it is oil or latex?  I thought we couldn't paint an oil based paint over latex?
I think the second coat was cheap, cheap stuff as it was a rent house for a long time in the eighties and nineties....so maybe not lead paint but likely an inexpensive latex.....

I'm looking into paint strippers....might try a small area somewhere just to see how they work, thanks for that suggestion....
 
Angelika Maier
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You will never get the old paint removed completely. But you have to remove everything which is flaking it is a pain. Have you looked to have the paint removed by someone? Because this is the big job not the painting. You will need a good sander....sometimes  a power washer is enough.
 
Judith Browning
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Angelika Maier wrote:You will never get the old paint removed completely. But you have to remove everything which is flaking it is a pain. Have you looked to have the paint removed by someone? Because this is the big job not the painting. You will need a good sander....sometimes  a power washer is enough.


Thanks Angelika...It might be possible to hire some scrapers...my husband thinks we can do it.  It's a fairly small one story house.  The main thing I'm interested in finding out is what non toxic finish/paint to use over the old paint that is still adhered and the bare wood wood, in order to preserve the old wood siding and also to look nice.  I just don't want to use anything that's going to eventually add to the paint chip fall out already circling the house.

 
Miles Flansburg
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I used a heat gun and a small propane torch once a long time ago but be careful with that.  It seemed to take the old paint off pretty well with a scrapper following the heat, but I was worried that it would "burn" the wood so that the new paint would not stick as well ?
 
Judith Browning
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Miles Flansburg wrote:I used a heat gun and a small propane torch once a long time ago but be careful with that.  It seemed to take the old paint off pretty well with a scrapper following the heat, but I was worried that it would "burn" the wood so that the new paint would not stick as well ?


thanks Miles...I've heard of that, at least the heat gun part.  My concern would be that the exposed wood (where the paint is gone) is very very dry old pine, solid, but very brittle and would be too flammable?

Did you do a large area that way?

We used a propane torch on the inside of some old pine beehives though (no paint, just to sterilize/clean them) and scorched them in some places without setting them on fire  

I need to get a lead test kit first, I guess, and find out what we're dealing with.  If it is for sure lead paint, I think it's probably best to scrape only as much as necessary and get a cover coat or two of something much less toxic over it. 
If it's not lead, I might want to experiment with some stripper or the heat gun you mentioned. 

Trying not to add too much to the world's toxic overload 
 
Walt Chase
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Scraping and wire brushing works the best for me.  I don't like a pressure washer just for the fact that all the resultant paint flakes are blown all over the place.  Zinzer bullseye 123 should work in your situation http://www.rustoleum.com/product-catalog/consumer-brands/zinsser/primer-sealers/bulls-eye-1-2-3-plus-primer?ls=249937&lc=Primer-White

Zinzer also has several other primer/sealers available that may suit your needs as well or better. One is a primer for peeling surfaces.  May make your repaint job easier.

Kilz is another primer/sealer that may be suitable for you.  I've used Kilz premium http://www.kilz.com/products/primer/kilz-premium and a zinzer product before.
I couldn't really tell a difference in one over the other except the zinzer seemed to offer more coverage per gallon than the Kilz.

Definately test for lead paint before going further with scrapin etc.  If lead is present make sure to wear the proper respirator to avoid inhalation of lead.  I'd also suggest at least a dust mask and gloves even if no lead paint is present.

I'd also suggest either renting or borrowing a sprayer to spray both the primer and top coats.  Makes the job soooo much faster and easier.
 
Chris Knite
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I've used both power pressure washer, and scraping for removing old paint.  Definitely did not enjoy the pressure washer.  Made a huge mess with shoddy results that then had to be scraped or wire brushed afterwards. 

I never knew if it was lead based paint, so I just wore a mask to keep it out of my mouth.  It would be smarter to test for it.

Here's my big tip that someone told me.  I bought a 5 gallon bucket of one of the primer/sealers available at home depot, but had it colored to closely match the final paint.  Hopefully saved me a coat of final paint.  No downside since it didn't increase cost - but you could see where you missed due to different sheen between paint and primer.

 
Emma Basham
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ROMABIO has a mineral-based interior/exterior paint.  http://romabio.com/downloads/TDS-EcoDomus-EggShell.pdf
http://romabio.com/products/
I've never used it, but have ordered samples from the company and they are very good to work with, responsive to email and phone, etc.  They also have an exterior varnish (intended for decking i think, but you could ask them about use on siding) that I think is the lowest VOC available for polyurethane-type products.  That's their manufacturer claim for the varnishes, and I've searched high and low for others (AFM, VT natural coatings, etc) and as far as I know, this claim is true. 
 
Greg B Smith
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Peel bond is one brand that will work.  I think it is made by zinzer but may be by XIM. I am a commercial paint contractor and we occasionally find ourselves having to deal with cracked,  checked,  or alligatored coatings. Products like peel bond are designed to "surface" over cracked coatings.  It will bridge small cracks and lock down the old checking paint. It goes on fairly thick. Be sure to force it into as many crevices as possible.

As far as lead,  just assume it is in there.  I am pretty sure all paints from the 50's had lead, at least all that I have tested did. If mildew seems to be in check after all these years then there is a great possibility there are heavy metals in the paint.  That is what the lead was for, to control mildew.  Encapsulation is one way to deal with it.  Removing it by stripping or mechanical means is the other.  Stripping older multiple coats is usually done with something like peel away.  It is a caustic that will require some special handling and is usually performed by professionals. 

I personally prefer to remove the loose stuff and encapsulate it before putting a top coat of high quality latex of your choice. 

As a side note the alcohol test is tough to do on old paint that is chalking. Paint from the 50's would have been an oil base but not to worry, nearly any quality modern latex will adhere to oil if it is clean,  dull,  and dry.  You will be priming it anyway so no worries.
 
Tim Pelton
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Here are a couple of lead-testing kits. There are links included for purchasing. http://lifehacker.com/how-to-perform-a-diy-test-for-lead-paint-in-your-home-1732514709
 
Dan Kline
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My sympathies to you in your hopes in finding a non-toxic solution to old peely pine siding like yours.
Non-toxic is easy with inside paints, but outside is a different.
I seriously doubt if any non-toxic solution exists that will last more than a couple years, and then it will break down and turn loose, and you will be doing the same thing as now.
I spent a decade renovating old houses for a living, and some of my paint efforts held up for about 10 years before they started to break down. The key is surface preparation and application of quality products.
The real challenge is achieving adhesion of new paint to the old surface.
A good paint store will have several options for any kind of challenge.
And exterior paint on old surfaces is one place you must be willing to pay more for the better paints.
Paint adhesion has been studied by the best scientists, and while they are not concerned with permaculture, they do strive for long lasting solutions.
If you had a lot of money, you could remove the old pine and put on a durable wood that doesn't require so much to keep it going. At the same time you could improve insulation.
But if that is not possible, you may be a lot happier in the long run to take the professional advice of Greg B Smith, a professional paint contractor.
I wish you well in this.
 
Greg B Smith
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Here are a couple of products by Sherwin-Williams.  One is called rejuvenate.  It is a high build primer/top coat in one.  It is not quite as good a primer as the peel bond type primers but will surface out some imperfections. The other is called prime rx peel bond primer. Both are low voc products.

I would think a prime coat of the peel bond rx then a top coat of the rejuvenate would last a long time and would look really good. 

I am glad I saw this thread as I have a job coming up on a 150 year old bldg that is checked badly. 

Btw, I do not work for SW or receive any gain from promoting their products.  I do buy a LOT of there products though.

Good luck.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Judith Browning wrote:We are finally caught up enough to start thinking about painting our house....it has nice pine siding from when it was built in 1950 and also quite a bit of the original paint with another coat on top.  All badly chipped and flaking but still some of both adhering solid to the wood.  I've looked into milk paint and it sounds as though it won't work over the old paint.  It sounds like some low VOC paints might work although I'd like to keep searching and paint it with something that won't add to the toxic ring around the house already there from lead paint likely falling off for years.

An electric hand held sander will remove anything that is loose  pretty fast. As long as you have some paint left, you will keep having issues though, but at least, sanding the problem will give you time. You can still do touch ups when needed.
As far as putting new stuff on, stain will not work even if oil stain because that stuff will not cover the sports where pain still sticks. My suggestion for a "forever" solution is a mixture of bee's wax and mineral spirits. It will look like the original wood. My husband did a deck like that. Use one part bee's wax to 3 parts mineral spirits. Be very careful as it is very flammable. Choose a hot dry day and warm up the mineral spirits using a small electric stove (no flames!). Have your bees wax either melting in a double boiler, or grated in tiny flakes. When it is all good and warm, mix together and apply. Make small batches and have lots of paint brushes because they will be hard to clean. The mineral spirits helps the wax get deep in the wood. The wax totally seals the job.
If your house is too big to do that, they sell some sealers with those ingredients too, but they only have 2% wax. It is expensive too because of the bee's wax, but you can apply right out of the can.
You may also want to talk to some beekeepers in your area: they sell the best products for painting hives.
As far as color, It may be really hard to add in that mix. You may want to go with a very good paint as a second coat.
 
Hank Roberts
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Someone, sometime, has to take on the cost of dealing with lead paint.

We did with our stucco bungalow -- it had many layers of paint on it, under something tenacious that had cracked and started to peel exposing the underlying leaded paint.
The stuff that had been put on in the 1940s was 30 percent lead.

We found a professional firm that does big buildings, ships and shipyard gear and bridges and the like -- they'd never done anything as small as a house.
They use hot water carrying abrasive grit, and a suction and HEPA Filter system that picks up everything blasted off the surface.  They plastic-bagged the house and worked in bunny suits and respirators.

Yeah, we were determined to be responsible.  We knew when we bought the house that we'd have to deal with it.

Our neighbors have babies.

The stuff filtered and collected off our house was so high in lead that it can't be legally landfilled in California.  It had to be packaged and trucked to a Nevada desert landfill.

And we got bare, clean stucco to work with.

For indoors, the lead-painted wood trim goes into landfill as well.

Lead is a horror.  Don't use heat (heat guns volatilize lead and the dust gets spread around.  Don't use cheap labor that exposes the workers to the lead dust and leaves much of it in your ground.

Lead paint seemed like a bargain because it was "self cleaning" -- rainwater washes off the surface layer of the soluble lead carbonate paint leaving it looking clean, depositing the lead in your ground and water. 

We bought the problem.  It's our responsibility now.

https://www.google.com/search?q=lead+paint+removal+hot+wet+grit+process
 
Thom Foote
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Judith, as a former owner of a remodeling company in Alaska for many years and a smallholder using permaculture here in Spokane I have to say one thing if it has not already been said, STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING NOW AND DO NOT TOUCH YOUR OLD PAINT UNTIL YOU HAVE TESTED IT FOR LEAD! Pre-1974 house paint used lead extensively. If yours contains lead you can contaminate the ground around your house, track it into your house and contaminate your family, friends and animals. If it does not contain lead after testing, fine but if it does, you should not attempt to remove it AT ALL! You can only seal it with a surface sealer like Kilz or something similar. The posted replies about sanding or scraping are nothing short of irresponsible. If it does contain lead and you decide to roll the dice with your health and that of others, you will need to lay down tarps or plastic, remove it on a completely calm day so the dust does not blow, seal your windows and doors, wear a respirator, full body suit including shoe covers and be prepared to throw away everything after each days work. But please have it tested first.
 
Judith Browning
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Thanks everyone for sharing your information....we are moving slowly and will soon test for lead. 

This house has been peeling paint for a long long time.  I think the soil around the foundation is probably as much of a problem as the paint left on the siding.

I agree, that we 'bought' the problem.  We're definitely trying to approach it in the best and safest way possible.



 
Thom Foote
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Judith, if the paint tests postive for lead you should have the soil around the house tested as well since you will walking there, playing and possible planting.
 
Dave Colglazier
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Judith Browning wrote:We are finally caught up enough to start thinking about painting our house....it has nice pine siding from when it was built in 1950 and also quite a bit of the original paint with another coat on top.  All badly chipped and flaking but still some of both adhering solid to the wood.  I've looked into milk paint and it sounds as though it won't work over the old paint.  It sounds like some low VOC paints might work although I'd like to keep searching and paint it with something that won't add to the toxic ring around the house already there from lead paint likely falling off for years.

We are scraping by hand so far...have access to a pressure washer but some say that won't work that well to remove paint.  We are assuming the original paint has lead and likely the second coat also, so we are treating it as so and will probably get a test kit soon.

I would prefer bare wood, but the paint that is stuck is really stuck...not going to come off without a fight.

Is there a non toxic sealer or oil that we could just use to preserve the bare wood and could go over the painted bits too, maybe stained so that it would blend in with the parts that still have paint?  We want it too look nice and also not add any toxicity to the environment...so a solid paint is still preferred....

ideas?  even crazy ones? 


You might look into boiled linseed oil as your sealer.  We read about it years ago in "The Old House Journal" especially for old exposed wood.  We have an 1889 house with original cedar siding on most of it and have been applying it when we do a side of the house every 10 years or so.  After the initial coating process of at least 2-3 coats, we get about that time before we need to repaint.  Normally the linseed oil base holds so well that we don't have to use it again.  We do notice that a black mold will grow on the surface of our latex final coat but can be scrubbed off easily before repainting.  If you use a dark final color this growth won't be noticeable for quite some time.  It seems the latex breathes (good thing) and the mold will grow on the organic linseed oil base coat.  I would think that an additive is available that might inhibit that growth but am not so sure how "green" it might be.  We feel that if that's the main drawback for using a non toxic sealer, it's acceptable to us, our neighbors, and our environment.  BTW, we used a heat plate and scraped the old paint away in huge chunks without blowing it around with a heat gun and if carefully done, it won't burn the wood.  I'm sure the old oil binder vaporized somewhat but we worked from the top down and collected all the scrapings we could to be thrown away before this current phobia of lead.  I'm not saying it's an improper phobia but it might be a bit extreme.  Think of all the old painted home objects that hit the garbage every day likely having lead paint. 

Our neighbors had their lap siding house repainted professionally around 5 years ago and the painter said he used a shellac primer.  That job is holding up really well even though they don't have a vapor barrier installed like we do.
 
Jt Franklin
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Concerns about lead is not a phobia, nor is it overblown. Lead, it's toxicity and harmfulness to people and animals is not really debatable.  All heavy metals are harmful and lead is no exception. There is no safe exposure level for lead or mercury in children and the level allowed in adults is very, very low.  Lead is insidious in how it affects you since it can harm every single organ in the body, but since the symptoms can look like many other things it is not always diagnosed correctly.  Lead decreases cognitive function in both children and adults.  High blood pressure, kidney damage, reproductive disfunction all can be caused by lead.  All these things are facts and not meant to scare but to inform.  Don't be scared, be smart.

Now, most everyone has had lead exposure one way or the other, so everyone had a base-line lead level in their blood.  However, if you have a house with lead paint either inside or outside you are without question going to have higher levels in your blood - particularly if it is peeling.  No one can see that as a good thing.  Lead removal is not in any way a job for DIYers.  You will hurt yourself or others or the environment one way or the other.
 
Judith Browning
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I totally agree about the toxicity of lead and it's dangers. 
We are trying to do the best we can with what we have and we don't take it lightly...

Many of the houses in this town have peeling old exterior paint...it is a poor community now but was built up in the forties and fifties with some nice homes when the railroad went through the area. More recently, even though there are those of us trying to renovate some homes, many are lived in until they crumble, lead paint and all.

If we can, I'd like to jump past the lead issue and stick with more ideas on how to proceed with some sort of non toxic finish to preserve the wood siding and encapsulate or bond the remaining paint after the loose paint has been removed by whatever method we choose.






 
Dave Colglazier
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Either linseed oil or shellac will encapsulate and seal and are "green" products.
 
Judith Browning
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You might look into boiled linseed oil as your sealer.  We read about it years ago in "The Old House Journal" especially for old exposed wood.  We have an 1889 house with original cedar siding on most of it and have been applying it when we do a side of the house every 10 years or so.  After the initial coating process of at least 2-3 coats, we get about that time before we need to repaint.  Normally the linseed oil base holds so well that we don't have to use it again.  We do notice that a black mold will grow on the surface of our latex final coat but can be scrubbed off easily before repainting.  If you use a dark final color this growth won't be noticeable for quite some time.  It seems the latex breathes (good thing) and the mold will grow on the organic linseed oil base coat.  I would think that an additive is available that might inhibit that growth but am not so sure how "green" it might be.  We feel that if that's the main drawback for using a non toxic sealer, it's acceptable to us, our neighbors, and our environment.



thanks Dave....Am I understanding correctly that you use a latex exterior paint on top of 2-3 coats of boiled linseed oil? I like that idea a lot. 

Either linseed oil or shellac will encapsulate and seal and are "green" products.
 

Can we paint over shellac?
  EDIT...I see where you said that 'a shellac primer' was used under the paint.  Would the final coat for either linseed oil or shellac need to be oil based I wonder?

I live with a woodworker whose finishes were all food grade on bowls and spoons.  We are both less informed about paints,etc....
 
Judith Browning
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Dave your suggestions led me to this site...  http://www.solventfreepaint.com/linseed_paint.htm ;
It sounds like we could use raw linseed oil first and then this paint....they also mention mildew and how to deal with it. 

 
Dave Colglazier
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My experience tells me that raw linseed oil doesn't cure out properly and remains too plyable but then again, we're not sitting on a chair or walking on the siding either.  We applied 2-3 coats diluting each one with various degrees of mineral spirits to get the right absorption deep into the bare wood and buildup...25-30% added to the oil was probably the most frequent dilution amount since it's not that critical.  We then used a good quality oil primer over than such as Maxim brown and then applied our final latex color coats over those layers.  Drying time should be observed for maximum adhesion.  I'd be interested in what they suggested for the mildew remediation.
 
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