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Msupsic 07-06-2010 02:28 PM

Lead Paint - Old Door Removal
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My house was built in 1947, with an original 1-car garage.

I wanted to replace the side door with something more thermally insulated, and also something a little more secure. Problem is, to install a new door, looks like I'm going to have to get out the old sawz-all and cut the old jamb out, as well as enlarge the hole for the door by cutting the outside wall of the house.

In the first photo, the jamb is highlighted in green. The second photo is a side view of the jamb and outside wall. Notice how the jamb is actually built behind the siding. This is why I'll have to cut the siding away to fit the new door.

I am almost 99.9% sure the original paint on the jamb and the outside wall of the house are lead-based. What would be the best way to remove the jamb and cut the outside wall out without creating a major lead hazard?

Nestor_Kelebay 07-06-2010 06:16 PM

I think the most effective way to avoid inhaling lead dust when you're doing that cutting would be to just wear a dust mask. The dust created by cutting is different depending on the saw you use. A circular saw has a lot of teeth around it's circumference and turns fast, and therefore creates a very fine dust. A reciprocating saw creates a much coarser dust. Still, 3M makes some very good dust masks for only about $25, and it's good to have dust protection available to you if you own an older home with lead paint and possibly asbestos as well.

Lead is a health hazard mostly to babies because their bodies are growing and any lead ingested tends to get incorporated into those growing bodies, so it stays with them. Apparantly, lead can affect brain development in infants. Lead dust is much less of a health risk to adults simply because adult bodies aren't growing any more, and so much less of the lead dust an adult inhales gets incorporated into their bodies.

I'm thinking you could cut through that aluminum siding with a circular saw fitted with a metal cutting blade. Just wear a dust mask with filters rated for fine dust, and you should be OK. Also, you might want to do that work on a day when you have a breeze so that the dust is carried away from where you're working. With 3M's system, you buy special cartridges to filter out certain kinds of hazards, like ammonia or solvents in the air. However, all of the cartridges for these hazards are all the same shape, and you can buy a standard dust cover that fits over each cartridge to also protect against inhaling dust. All you would need in your case would be a cover rated for fine dust.

To make sure the dust mask is not leaking, hold your hand over the inhalation port(s) and inhale. You should feel a partial vaccuum inside the mask. Also, hold your hand over the exhalation port and exhale. You should feel pressure building up inside the mask. If the mask leaks in either case, it's not fitting your face properly.

Msupsic 07-07-2010 07:43 AM

Thanks, Nestor. I was worried sick after reading all of the warnings about lead. The government Sites are super-cautious about this issue, and pretty much everything I read said to make as little dust as possible, contain the area, wear disposable clothes, etc. Most text said to not disturb it at all, if possible.

I'm not sure how realistic these guidelines are, I have to imagine that this sort of work goes on every day. Somewhere in the country, someone is working on an old house with lead materials. My guess is that most guys out there are doing little to nothing about it. Your typical jobber would go straight in there and start cutting away, probably without even wearing a mask in some cases.

That being said, I want to try to do the cleanest job I can. I don't want to expose my yard, my wife, my neighbors, etc. to any danger.

I bought a nice, high, quality particle mask last night for about $30. I plan to tape up some 3 mil plastic, block the door area off from the rest of the garage interior. I'll do my cutting from the exterior of the house. I'll probably lay out some more plastic under the cutting area, to catch any dust so I can bunch it up and throw it out afterward. I'll then mop the area with some disposable mops afterward.

You're right about the dust. I imagine a reciprocating saw or a jigsaw will make less dust. I have a nice rotary cutting tool, with a metal cutting wheel, that I can use for the aluminum siding.

Thanks so much for the help.

Nestor_Kelebay 07-07-2010 09:54 AM

The government always wants to err on the side of caution for fear of being sued. Lead isn't healthy for you, but if it were as dangerous as they describe, plumbers would have been dropping like flies before they banned lead in copper pipe solder joints back in the 1980's. If you think about it, back then plumbers would sand down the soldered joint on the end of a pipe in order to get the pipe end to fit in a new socket before re-soldering. Few of them ever wore dust masks when sanding that old solder off, and that solder contained A LOT more lead than old paint ever did.

PS: You don't need to know this, but the "lead" in lead paint is in the form of lead carbonate. Lead carbonate is a white powder and was used as the hiding white pigment in paints prior to the mid-1970's. You can still buy lead carbonate in artist's supply stores; it goes by the name "Flake White". During the mid-1970's, "Earth Tones" became popular as paint companies relied on inorganic pigments (the dust created by pulverizing coloured rocks, basically) to provide good hide in paints. Nowadays, the hiding pigment in white and off-white paints is titanium dioxide, TiO2. So, there's no actual metallic lead in your paint, that lead is in the form of lead carbonate, which was used as a white pigment years ago.

Msupsic 07-07-2010 10:55 AM

Yeah, I figured the lead Web sites were all going err on the side of extreme caution. We live in a very litigious society, most of it is a measure to protect children and protect from lawsuits. Of course, lead is dangerous and should be treated with as much caution as possible. Just not to the point where you're scared stiff to touch it or go near it.

If I just hired a jobber off the streets to install this door for me, he probably would have just cut right into the siding, never even mentioned it. He would have used whatever tool was quickest, and left the pile of dust there for me to clean up. Not saying that would be the right approach, but I think it could be worse if I leave it up to someone else. At least if I do the job, I can take some precautions.

I'll do my best to be safe. Thanks for the advice.

Msupsic 07-15-2010 11:38 AM

I was driving through a local neighborhood today, when I saw that they're knocking down an old house that was built on a slab. The house has been there since I was a kid, and must at least 50 years old.

So, they're just bulldozing the thing over and throwing it all into a dumpster. I had to laugh, there's probably tons of asbestos and lead paint all over the place, and here I am worried about one little doorway!


Allison1888 08-04-2010 09:55 AM

lead paint
Another way to do this is to keep a spray bottle handle and mist the door every once in awhile. It makes it a little messier, but keeps the dust down. In terms of the mask, you should really wear a respirator, which is much safer than just a cloth mask. Also, tape plastic down on the floor for several feet inside and outside of the door to catch any paint chips. When you're done, just fold it all up and it helps contain it. Then vacuum with a machine that has a HEPA filter and wipe down any remaining dust, throwing away the towels. Not hard, but it does take a little more time.

Msupsic 08-05-2010 02:00 PM


I just did the door last week, and the procedure pretty much went down as you described. It worked out well and there was minimal mess. Used as respirator and 4 mil plastic sheeting, etc. Wrapped it all up and disposed of it in nested garbage bags.

Thanks for your help.

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