Old houses can be beautiful and unique, but there are a few things you should know before you take on a new renovation or house-painting project.
This is a post written to those people who either have bought an old house or are thinking of buying one and then either painting it or renovating it.
One of the most important things you have to worry about is your health when it comes to homes that are older. Yes, buying an old house is exciting, old homes have standing, character and a distinct style. Moreover, you are doing something worthwhile; you are becoming a part of a community that restores a part of our history. Still, here is the thing. People with newer homes do not have the same issues as homeowners of older homes, and you need to be prepared. In fact, one of the most important issues that you might be facing, and one of the most dangerous is lead poisoning caused by misinformation and not implementing lead paint safety actions. How is that? It’s a fact. Many old homes still have old paint on the walls, windowsills, doors, stairs and even ceilings, and that paint might be full of lead. Therefore, the issue we want to talk about here is knowing how to identify and deal with lead paint problems in older homes, but first you need to understand what lead poisoning is and how it can affect the youngest of your family members the most.
What is Lead Poisoning?
Lead is a very toxic metal that can be poisonous and causes serious illness, in some cases even death. Ingestion of lead causes these serious issues, and the worst part is that lead builds up in the body and causes all sorts of health problems.
What Products Contain Lead
Manufacturers use lead for industrial purposes, and that is ok. However, its use has been banned in homes or household products. Still it has only been about 30 years since lead was banned in house paint, and even then, it was often used in other products such as;
How Do Children Ingest Lead?
Children get lead in their bodies by placing objects that contain lead (paint) in their mouth or by chewing, licking or touching objects that have lead (window seals, door panels, furniture, walls, etc.). Studies now show that lead harms children and animals more than it does adults because their brains and nervous systems are in development. Medical investigations have found that children absorb as much as 50% of lead, while adults only absorb a tenth of that.
Another problem with lead ingestion is that it is slow acting, so you may not realize your child or pet has been affected until he/she presents serious mental or nervous system issues. The good news is that lead poisoning can be treated but damage that lead causes cannot be reversed.
Lead Paint is an Important Consideration When Renovating
So why is this important if you are buying or renovating a home? Well, you may know about asbestos, but did you know that many older homes were painted with lead paint? This old paint can be a health risk to the people that live in the home.
If you are renovating or even gearing up for a good maintenance job for your home, you need to be aware of the risks you take, especially in homes built before 1970. Homes that are this old can continue to have this paint, and they require special attention when removing or making it safe for children, pets and adults.
Note that breathing or ingesting lead paint flakes or dust can lead-to-lead poisoning, which can damage all of your organs. These are just a few of the negative effects it can cause:
Ingesting lead from flaking paint is a high dose of poison because lead grows in the body. The poisoning results in emergency symptoms that come on suddenly and unexpectedly. The symptoms might include:
What is the Cure for Lead Paint Ingestion?
The first thing you need to do to treat lead poisoning is to find and remove the source. Therefore, if you have just bought an older home, one that was built before 1978, you need to check the paint and remove it. However, if it can’t be removed, then you need to seal it. Moreover, the best way to do this is to call in a professional painting contractor to help.
If the lead poisoning is severe, you need medical emergency services where they will bind the lead through activated charcoal binding treatment. Even so, you should note that even with treatment, you might not be able to fully reverse the effects of the lead exposure.
Prevention is Key
Now that you have heard the worst of it, you gotta know that lead poisoning is totally preventable, even in older homes, and the fix is easy. You just need to get a professional contractor to come in and either remove the old lead paint for you, or at the very least, seal off that old lead paint and prevent chipping or dust from getting into the air where you, your children or your pets can breath it in and get this horrible illness caused by poison.
Where Do You Start?
The first thing you need to do is to determine if your home has or could have old lead paint. This can be paint on the walls, the doors, window seals and even the ceiling. Ok so let’s rule out the easiest determining factor. How old is your home? This is a very important factor, when your home is newer than 1978, then you really don’t have to worry about this problem. Painting contractors and builders stopped using lead based paint after 1978.
Does my home have lead paint?
The dangers of lead paint were not known until the late 1970s, and this type of paint was banned from home use in 1978. However, before this time lead was a common ingredient in house paint. Prior to 1960, almost 70% of all homes used lead paint, and after that about 30% of all homes had lead paint until 1978, when its use was banned in the U.S. If you are questioning if your home might contain lead paint, you can get it tested by a home inspector, or you can test it yourself by purchasing a lead testing kit from your local hardware store.
The census bureau lists more than 40 million homes built in and around 1950s and even more in the following decades. This means that the chances are high that many of these older homes still contain lead paint, and that can be a problem.
What To Do About Lead Paint?
Initial Inspection - The first thing you should do, especially if you are new to the older home is do an initial inspection. In fact, if you are in the buying stage, you should get a thorough professional inspection. If you already own the home, do a walk through, inspect your windowsills, your doors, walls, trim. Check for flaking paint, move your window dressings and see if there is some dust in the air. This means there is paint dust in the air. Now you need to determine if this paint dust has lead.
How Do You Test for Lead Paint?
Before you start your renovation project, test the paint on the walls, both exterior and interior, for lead. Note, lead paint only becomes a danger when it is disturbed or damaged. If you see flaking ur chalky flakes you need to test as the paint may be leaving lead contaminates in the house and these can go airborne and may cause health issues with you or your family. Here are a few ways you can conduct a test.
As we mentioned before, you can test for lead paint using a kit you pick up at a hardware store for about $60, but you need to know that this is not an official evaluation method approved by the EPA, and according to them, these tests can fail. One of the reasons for the unreliable results is that the lead paint is buried under a few layers of non-lead paint.
If there is lead in your home, that does not mean you necessarily have to remove it. There are no laws that require you to take it out, but you do need to manage it and keep it from harming your family. You manage the problem of lead paint in your home by using appropriate lead-safe work practices, and hiring a professional contractor to minimize your risk.
Lead Safe Vs.. Lead-Free
A lead free home does not have any lead in the house, whereas a lead-safe home may have lead but it does not represent a danger to the household members.
Will Removing the Lead Paint Increase the Value of the Home?
The issue and risks people experience in older homes is not very well known at this point. But that is changing, and more people are becoming aware of the risk of lead paint poisoning. In turn, this will create the demand for lead-free homes.
Lead Paint is Not A Danger Unless...
Lead paint is only dangerous if it is flaking or becomes chalky. If the paint in the older home is in good shape then there may not be a need to do anything. However, if the paint is in bad condition your best recourse is to get a professional in to repaint your home and either remove or seal int he lead paint and eliminate the health risks.
Renovating a house with lead paint
If you plan on doing a renovation and you suspect lead paint then you need to consider how you will get it removed, and if it is a substantial amount of paint, you really need a professional to manage the removal process.
Don’t get into trouble here. An older home is lovely, a real piece of American history and while you can handle much of the renovation work, you don’t want to deal with the paint. This is an area you want solved by painting professionals, and you can always consult with the Boston Painting Co pros. They will know how to remove and safely dispose of lead pain left in the home.
Are you afraid to get into the task of painting your home exterior? Like many people, you probably are not an artist and don't understand much about color theory but you don’t have to have a degree in art to figure out what color you want your house painted. OK so facing the task on your own can be a bit daunting but not if you get a little help before you call in an exterior painting service provide.
Hire a Professional Painter
Sure! You need to make a few decisions regarding the project. You should be the person who decides on the color. Determine whether the color you choose will fit the style of the home and the neighborhood architectural style, but you don’t have to go out and paint the house yourself. In fact, you shouldn’t because exterior painting is a task that is best left to a professional painting company. This type of contractor has the experience, the work force and the knowledge to get the project finished quickly, and let’s not forget that a professional will also take climate and building material into account. Sure, You may be tempted to save money and turn this into a do-it-yourself project, but the quality of the project, the material costs and your safety all come into play here. House painting professionals have special equipment and can get up to those hard-to-reach or high areas faster and more efficiently than you can. More importantly, they carry insurance for this type of job and that offers added protection to you. Just make sure you use a contractor with a good reputation, one that is insured.
Now the for Tough Part; How do you choose the right exterior paint color for your home?
Does the thought of choosing house paint color scare you silly? The array of colors available can be terribly dizzying, especially because you don’t know where to start, and at $30 plus for a gallon of good quality latex paint, you can’t afford to make a wrong choice. In addition, there is the matter of the neighbors too. If you don’t like the new color then your neighbors probably won’t either.
Don’t worry! Just a little research and planning can help you find the perfect house paint color to make the final exterior paint job perfect. You no longer have to make a decision based solely on the suggestions given to you by the professional house painter, a bland choice of neutral colors, mainly consisting of white, tan or taupe. Instead make your house stand out with that paint POP, all you have to do is follow a few of these tips.
You Don’t Have A Blank Canvas
First go outside and look at your house. Notice the windows, the roof, the brick, stone and siding. Really look! Do you see how these items already have a color hue. Your home is not a blank canvas. You can’t change the color of these items. So you need to create a color palette.
A Two to Four Color Paint Scheme
Your exterior paint Scheme should have two to four colors. One color for large areas such as walls, another for the trim and a third for the accent or specific elements like doors shutters and other architectural features, the elements you want to be focal points of the home.
The main color should be the paint you use on your walls, which is the color that people will see the most from far away. This color will lead to your selection of the paint for trim and accent.
What is your objective?
Before you make a paint selection, you need to think of your objectives. Do you want your house to stand out from the others on the street? Do you want it to look larger? Alternatively, do you want it to seem smaller? Take note; lighter wall colors will make your home look larger and darker colors will visually reduce it in size. However, this does not necessarily mean you should paint your house white or a light color as lighter colors also make a home look flimsy, while darker colors give it a strong and solid look.
Even so, the trim color actually makes or breaks the color scheme. Painting the trim the same color as the walls can make the home seem a bit Bland. On the other hand, dark or trim, especially around windows and doors can give the features a framed effect, where the windows look like pictures hung on a wall.
Of course, keeping the trim lighter than the walls is usually the safer solution. As a rule, gutters downspouts and other elements should have the same pain as a trim color. This helps them disappear into the background.
The accent color gives the exterior paint that POP. This slight bit of contrasting color gives the home life in an otherwise muted color scheme. Another reason to use a contrast or analogous color as an accent color is that it draws the viewer's attention to these interesting features.
Where to Put Accent Colors?
The most important visual features of your exterior of the home are the front doors, shutters, and window frames.
Match the Paint Scheme to the Home’s Architectural Style
A very important consideration when choosing the color scheme of the exterior of the home is the overall architecture of the house and the style of the neighborhood. While you may want to paint the walls pink and use white accents, if your home sits in a historical neighborhood this action might make it stick out like a sore thumb. Historic architectural styles always look best in their original color schemes. Colonial homes were often quite colorful on the inside but very reserved on the outside, whereas Victorian homes are thought of as the “Painted Ladies,” sometimes showing off as many as six colors. However, making several colors look good on this type of home takes a professional color specialist and extra time to check and verify all color combinations. It is often easier when you just use three colors in your color palette.
Early 20th century American homes where a bit darker and Earthier in color. They use deep Browns, hunter green and red oxides. Homeowners often like this color scheme for their exterior paint.
If you are still unsure, look through historical documents and pictures to see what the conventional house colors were for homes built like yours. Take advantage of this information and use a similar color scheme. You can also take note from other houses in your area. Look around and see what colors you like. Just remember, that there is no reason why you can't change up the color so long as the three colors you do choose blend well together. Your house can have its own personality and style.
Try Before You Decide
Once you make a basic color choice try it out on the house. Don't ever buy a gallon of paint ad base your decision from the color chip you find in the store. Purchase a small quart of paint in the color you want and try them out on a small spot of the wall before you commit to a definite color scheme. Ask your professional painter to apply small swatches of the three colors you have chosen. This way you can see them together and better determine if they blend.
Before you make your final decision, ask your painting contractor for his opinion. Remember, he paints all types of houses, all kinds of colors, so be sure to ask for his advice. Then base your decision on your own taste combined with his more professional opinion.
As a Painting Contractor Company in Boston MA, we are often asked about guidelines for selecting colors for painting the exterior of a New England home. First, we’ll discuss the three important components of Field, Trim, and Accent. Next, what style of home you have and how the three components change with style. Finally, a short discussion on common paint problems will be helpful.
Field, Trim, And Accent
The Field color covers the bulk of the house. Lighter colors make the house look larger, but if too light, it creates the illusion of a flimsy structure. Create a sturdier perception by using a darker field, but the house will look smaller.
When picking the Field color, consider the context of the entire neighborhood. Don’t copy the neighbors but choose a color that will set your home apart without clashing with nearby structures.
Think about how your choice coordinates with neighborhood landscaping features, like trees, walls, drives right next door, and with areas on your property that will not be painted, like brick fascia, chimneys, vinyl windows, and other natural wooden features.
The Trim, often the deal breaker, should provide contrast to the Field without looking garish. Using the same color as the Field will give your home an unfinished look. Lighter Trim color is almost always safe. Paint the gutters, downspouts, roof edging and door casings, and similar elements, with the Trim color for that invisible look.
The Accent color provides the “pop” drawing attention to key features of the home and giving it life. Use it on door frames (not casings), shutters, window frames (not trim), and other small areas.
For a modern type home, i.e., a style that represents the 1900s and later, follow the above advice and pick from the thousands of available colors for painting house exteriors. If, however, you want to retain your home’s historical character, your paint choice is a bit more limited.
The Colonial style represents the period from 1630 to 1740. The classic Cape Cod type is a variation. Early in the 18th-century barn red, and it’s rustic hues, were the predominant exterior Field color. White was most often used as a Trim color. White at the time, however, was off-white, not today’s super white. Lighter colors contrasting with the Field were used for window sashes and trim.
Popular in the period between 1700 to 1830 was the Georgian style, and around 1820 or so white became a more popular body color. White and creamy white, with a yellow tint to the palest colors, was used for the Field color. Trim was light in color, same or almost the same as the field. Dark colors, such as black or dark green were used on window sashes, doors and shutters.
The period between 1780 to 1840 saw the rise of the Federal style, and the use of creamy white as a Field color continued. Many of these historic homes had window trim and shutters painted with dark colors, black and dark green still being the most common. Darker color on the window sashes enhances the look.
Between 1830 to 1850 the Greek revival style had a short run. Homes were often painted off-white or had off-white trim with a rustic body color such as straw yellow, gray or tan.
Finally, the Victorian style represented the period between 1855 to 1900. Popular exterior colors were earth tones, better known as ochres, i.e., various shades of rustic colors such as green, browns and deep reds. Victorian Style homes sometimes sported six colors of trim & accent and were often called “Painted Ladies”. Today, you can get by with three colors if well placed.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has color charts that contain 250 hues, and
Historic New England has a handy color guide, featuring 149 colors from architectural styles dating between the 17th and the 20th centuries.
Common Paint Problems
Making the right paint choices, with the help of an experienced painting service professional will help avoid the most common problems of Alligatoring, Blistering, Chalking, Cracking/Flaking, Efflorescence, Fading, Mildew/Algae, Peeling, and Tannin Staining.
Contact a professional exterior painting service, like the Boston Painting Co, if you’re stuck or the house is too much to handle on your own. Remember, one of the most public decisions you make is the color of your house, and it can impact curb appeal.
So, as the Grail Knight said: “Choose Wisely”!