Chippy Old Door and Testing for Lead in Old Paint

Happy Friday Friends!

I hope you have all had a wonderful week. 

I've been busy setting up my Christmas decor and it is all coming together so well.  I love going all out at Christmas and I like to have it looking different every year.  Which in turn means a lot of pre-planning. I probably start throwing around ideas in early October. It's now mid November and I'm still tweaking things. Hehe. I've bought a few new decorations and some new fairy lights and tea lights to really set the mood. I've also made a few things which I can't wait to share.  In fact, I'll be sharing all my Christmas related posts from now on. How exciting! After all, only 6 weeks till Christmas!  😍

For today's post I'm so excited to be sharing my "new" old chippy door! And very importantly, how I tested and found it was coated in paint containing lead! 😱


I spotted this door on Marketplace. I had been looking for an old chippy door to form part of my Christmas decor for a while and this one looked good and wasn't too far away. So, we decided to take a road trip last weekend to pick it up. 


The only hardware on the door was this screwed on latch with a locked padlock. I knew straight away I wanted to remove it and put on my own vintage door knob. The screws were stripped so we couldn't unscrew them. But luckily, the screws went right through the other side so hubby hammered them forward and literally just pulled the screws out just like you would a nail. Too easy. 


I wanted to keep the rusty hinges. They are super cool and authentic. 

After standing the door up I had a better look at it and discovered there was a lot of paint chipping off in some areas. It was worse on this side.  It was then that hubby mentioned we should be careful about the paint containing lead. I was aware of the dangers of paint containing lead and so this got me thinking. 


Strangely, it had not crossed my mind to be concerned about chippy paint containing lead before now. I've had old chippy items before and have never really though about it. But this was a large door that I wanted to have in our home so I started doing some research. I discovered paint containing lead was used up until the late 1970's when no one knew the lead could cause lead poisoning and could be dangerous to your health. And I was pretty sure this door looked to be old enough to have been used prior to the 70's. Thankfully the internet said there were ways of either removing the paint or sealing it.  All that Googling got me thinking, I'd rather know what I was bringing into our home, than not know. So I did some more research and found you can buy lead testing kits. 


The only one available at Bunnings was this one from 3M for just under $30. It contains 2 testers, but I still thought this was quite expensive. But for peice of mind, I was willing to pay the price. 


All you need to do is compress the tube in two places, shake and then squeeze out some of the orange liquid onto the tip of the swab.  Then you find where the paint is chipping so you can ensure the test gets into all the layers. 


This door seems to have a green paint underneath the white so it was important to make sure the liquid got into both layers. After rubbing the swab down along a portion of the paint I waited to see what colour it changed to.  


And guess what? Red means lead! My swab turned pink immediately, and then became darker. Definitely a positive for lead.


To ensure you are not getting a false positive, the kit includes this confirmation card. Each circle contains lead, so when you rub the swab on it afterwards, it confirms it is working. The orange outside the circle confirms it is not picking up any lead. Therefore, the test was correct. I had lead. 😱

I didn't want to strip all the original chippiness from the door, so I opted to seal it. I read on another blog that they used clear varnish. Ultimately, you want to seal the paint so it is not chipping and no paint dust particles are being released into the air you are breathing. 

(Unfortunately I had already brushed over the door with my dustpan and brush outside after we got it home to remove and dirt and some of the worse flaking paint. Doh! 😣 So we had to do a bit of cleaning up on the verandah to try and collect all the escaped paint flakes. Lesson learn't. I will be a lot more careful next time!) 


I opted to use my trusty British Paints One Coat Clear varnish to seal the door. 


You want to use a brush you can throw away so I used this cheap flat sponge brush I had on hand. I also used an old paint tray that I could throw away afterwards, just to be on the safe side and so I didn't have to worry about washing anything. It's also very important to wear a mask and gloves.  

Even though this is a one coat application, I also did a second coat, but this time I used a roller to apply the varnish which was faster and easier. I also used an old brush to coat the framed door inserts. 

After this was all dry, I went over the most chippy areas again with my paint brush, just to ensure it was all thoroughly sealed. No chance of chipping now!


So after ensuring the door was safe, it was time to think about the positioning of the new hardware. On the most chippy side, the side I wanted to face outwards, there were a number of holes, including the screw holes from the old slide bolt, a door knob hole, a keyhole, and another random hole higher up. 


And the other side had the same holes. I didn't have a small round backplate to match the current one on the back, so I knew I was going to have to make some adjustments. 


And the remaining holes I would fill with Timber Mate Wood Filler. This product works relatively well. My only real complaint is the size of the pot. It is impossible to get a paint scrapper in it, so you need to either use a knife or your finger to get it out. 


After deciding the positioning of my faceplate and knob, I filled the extra holes and waited overnight for them to dry. 


Then I have the filler a light sand and painted over the wood filler with a similar shade of white paint from a sample pot I had on hand. And lastly I sealed that paint with more varnish. You can barely notice.


My back plate was coated in the original off white enamel paint. Likely this contained lead too. In any event, I decided the plate would look better on the door if it was the bare metal colour like the door knob. 

So I turned to Natalie from The Vintage Porch's technique of stripping paint, varnish and stain using oven cleaner. The cleaner was only $3.50 so I was willing to take a chance. After all, everyone is doing it! 


I took the plate outside and sprayed on a thick coat and allowed it to sit, for like an hour. You really only need to let it sit for 20 minutes, but I forgot about it. Whoops. 


This is how it looked when I came back. 


I grabbed a bowl of dish washing liquid in warm water and a scrubbing brush and cleaned off the now lifted paint.


Wow, it worked so good! I must have missed the edges, but that was okay. I applied another coat and left it again. And this time it all came off! Honestly, this certainly beats other methods of paint stripping. I'm totally sold. 


And here it is, attached to the door. I love that the metal still retained some of its original patina so it still looks old.


And here is my finished door! 


I love the original hinges. 


They poke out enough that you can hang stuff on them. 


Like these super cute bells I recently bought at Tree of Life for my Christmas display.


Speaking of Christmas, here is one of my little trees I recently brought out, on my recently painted vintage plant stand. 


A softly lit lantern and cosy Christmas cushion on a white wooden chair really set the scene for this photo shoot. 


Our cat, Raven, seems to like it too! 

The door is actually going to go behind our Christmas tree, which I'm currently putting the finishing touches on. I can't wait to show you all!

Take care for now and stay safe friends. 

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