If you're a fan of This Old House like I am, you've undoubtedly seen the recent focus on the new EPA guidelines and restrictions when it comes to hazardous materials handling by contractors. From lead paint stripping to asbestos removal, the workers covered in white suits look like nuclear facility works, and the buildings or homes, covered in scaffolding and plastic, appear to be harboring ET. Though it's one thing to see it on TV, it's another to see it in person.
Living in the historic district, there's no shortage of ongoing construction projects at any given time. On our many runs or walks with Lulu, we often ooooohhhh and aaaahhhh at the new scaffolding that we see set up at various houses.
We talk about the tuck pointing taking place, or new copper roof and gutters being installed.
And we reminisce about the long and torturous days when we did our own siding work.
But several weeks ago we had one of our first glimpses at some of the extra efforts that are necessary whe it comes to protecting neighbors and pedestrians when lead hazard is involved.
A very nice wood frame house on Lee Street was having its paint stripped from the original wood siding. Here's a Google street view photo of the house prior to the commencement of the siding work.
By the time we saw it, the scaffolding had gone up and plastic wrap applied to the exterior of the scaffold to keep any lead dust contained.
When I took these photos, much of the hard work had already been complete. However, each day, at the end of the day, the workers needed to wrap up any paint that had been scraped from the house and properly dispose of it.
You can see from the side shot just how much had already been completed. The paint was largely removed from the side and the clapboards exposed, while the front of the house already had it's first coat of paint.
Some people wonder why you should strip paint rather than putting another coat over the old. The answer is simple. Sometimes it's necessary, and sometimes it's a preference. If the existing paint has failed to the point that it's beginning to peel and flake, you need to get rid of the failing paint so the next cost can properly adhere. Otherwise you're just throwing good money after bad. Often removing just the failing paint will leave such a bumpy and poor surface to paint over, that it is far more aesthetically pleasing to take all of the old off and give a nice and smooth surface to work with. And sometimes, when it's lead paint or the owner just likes the smoother look, paint removal is the only way to achieve the end goals.
A few weeks after the first photos were taken, I stopped back by the house to check out the progress. What I saw was a beautifully painted home that looks like its ready for another 200 years (with proper maintenance, of course).
They had done a very nice job with stripping and surface prep and seemed to have a great base to work with. The best part is that the owners chose to do both the facade of the house and the side. Many people opt to leave the side untouched in tight alleys, but that's just opening yourself for problems and inconvenience down the road.
Have you seen anything similar in your neighborhood? I assume this sort of thing is not normal in most places, as you'll typically only see it in historic districts with pockets of many older homes. What do you think?