Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Our Nemesis

Oh dear, it has been a month and half again already since the last post! Apologies! Happy New Year!

We finally got a tiny bit of snow last month:

And then again yesterday:

but it melted very quickly. Bummer. 

Great news on the floors I wrote about last the two downstairs rooms, the floors and joists have been examined and found to be solid, so they have been blocked up and the house no longer shakes when we walk across the living room! Our neighbor and friend, Jake, has been helping us out with this. There is also a vapor barrier down everywhere.

While we did have to cut big holes in the floor to get under them, the fact that they were able to be saved was such a relief to me, as these are the original poplar floors from the 1850s. We honestly are trying to work with what we have and restore, rather than replace.....but this leads to the big topic of this post.....

......our nemesis......

.....the fear of all old-house restorationists......

....LEAD PAINT, of course.   Just typing those words makes me shudder. We have two of them just about to turn 3, and lead poisoning is extremely, extremely dangerous.

Anyway, I finally went down to the mega hardware store and bought the lead check kits...they are swabs  that you rub on the area you want to test.  Not only did I find it on the floor, and the door trims as I suspected I would, but it is pretty much everywhere. Remember the cool shiplap-type siding in the kitchen? Lead paint. The door trim that I stupidly scraped with a heat gun without a respirator? Lead paint. Stairs? Lead paint. It is pretty much poison everywhere.

I have to look on the bright side. It does make some of our my design decisions more straightforward. Where I would have sanded and stained the front room floors, they will now be painted. Same with the baseboards, chair rails and picture rails. It's all about encapsulation, people.  AND extreme caution with the kidlets. The little one was in the house today and I was afraid for her to even touch anything. Lead is not dangerous unless ingested but you know how kids are. They stick their fingers in their mouths sometimes for no good reason.

There are some options to remove the lead paint including a cool-sounding soy gel product that renders the lead inert. The problem is that it is $100/gallon. What?!   Another option is the good ole heat gun, but now I know that lead fumes are really, really seriously bad and I NEVER should have gone that route without a respirator.  Then, there is a cool device that I heard about from Jack the window guy. He is my restoration guru now because I've called him on a number of occasions to ask questions and he always patiently answers my million questions. (I ask questions pretty well, I's part of my paying work.)  His recommendation is an infrared heating thing that I'm not going to name until I use it. I read about it too on my favorite magazine's website too. (This Old House, if you must know. ;-) )
It costs a pretty penny, but we feel that it is our best option given all the woodwork that needs stripped -- in technical speak, the price/performance ratio is the most attractive.

In many cases, we will just carefully remove the old, leady (is that a word?) woodwork and replace it, possibly adding a little bit of fancy here and there...but not too much. Our house was a true farmer's home and a modest one, which is one of the many reasons we fell in love with it. It is charming and simple and strong -- just like we imagine the Tash family was that built it. That said, I'm excited to give it the polish it deserves and a little bit of bling, here and there -- detail on the picture rail, for instance.

I fear I have gone on too long and lost some readers. This happens in real life too. Someone will ask about the house and I will start talking until I realize the person's eyes have glazed over. Oh well.

Here are more pics to entertain you!

Thanks for reading!


A Chambers stove we are considering for the kitchen:

Putting some poly on a sample of our bathroom flooring:

Oscar, our California boy, hiding from the snow:

Yet another floor that definitely needed to be torn out. More on this in the next post:

Upstairs floor. We finally removed the old Congoleum. We love the dark finish!

Oscar, Tabby, Indiana and Yogurt: