Sealing reclaimed barnwood - lead paint

by Rohan H
(Chicago)

Hi Barn Geek,

I have a piece of barnwood that i want to use to make a mantel. One side has the nice weathered gray patina. The other side is a mix of gray and slight reddish color.

I am assuming the red color is old lead-based paint.

Two questions:

1. What's the best method to finish reclaimed wood, or should I keep it natural?
2. Will an oil or poly seal in the lead-based paint?

Thanks
Rohan

Comments for Sealing reclaimed barnwood - lead paint

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Nov 12, 2014
Lead Paint
by: BarnGeek

Hi Rohan,

Great Question!

My first advice is to test the paint, if you are worried about lead. In my experience the red barn paint is rarely lead based. So don't just assume that it is, or that it isn't for that matter.

Test kits are fairly inexpensive and sometimes free. It is worth while to test the paint to be sure.

The best finish for reclaimed wood that you want to keep the grey patina is no finish. Everything else will turn it dark brown. Except for Valhalla, which is intended to turn the wood grey anyway.

One big reason for finishing wood is to keep it from discoloring or turning grey.

If this is for outside use and you want to preserve the wood, you should use the Valhalla wood preservative because it won't remove the grey... although it might make the wood a different shade, so it would be best to test a small piece first before you apply it to your project.

As for your second question... I don't think oil or poly will seal in the lead paint, if in fact it is lead paint. Two part epoxy probably would, but it will discolor your wood.

Thanks!
BarnGeek

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