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Old 12-02-2013, 02:38 PM   #1
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Redoing old trim

Hi all,

I am trying to redo the baseboards/trim in our house. Old home (1915 or so). The baseboards have been repainted many times. I'd like to smooth out imperfections and fill in the cracks and holes before repainting.

Also, the back of the home was extended at some point, and there are some issues where the wall and trim meet, along with where the new trim was added joining with the old. Basically, there are small gaps that I'd like to fill in.

See attached pics for what I'm talking about. (Ignore the red paint over the trim. That's from a new paint job; figured we'd be redoing the trim anyway.)

The questions are:

1. Considering that the trim has been painted in the recent past (last decade), do I need to look out for lead paint if I'm just sanding down to make things smooth (not removing all the paint).

2. What's the best way to fill in the holes/gaps/cracks in the wood

3. What's the best way to fill in the space between the wall and baseboard? Just spackling?

4. Finally, going back to the lead paint issue -- should I consider replacing the trim entirely because of (potential) lead paint in old layers? Is there a way to get this checked?

Thanks all for any help!


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Old 12-02-2013, 03:30 PM   #2
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The original paint or varnish in a house that old almost certainly contains lead, and quite possibly more than one layer.

To be %100 sure, you can get test swabs that are simple an easy to use.

Make a diagonal cut through all the layers of paint in an inconspicuous area so all layers of paint are exposed. Follow directions for activating the swab, and you will get an instant result.

Sanding is one of the worst things you can do to lead paint. Just smoothing out the newer top layers wouldn't be as dangerous obviously, but...
You might take a test swab and test just the top layer, or couple layers, to confirm that they aren't lead.
If the paint is chipping or peeling, or if any of the defects your trying to sand out are deeper than the top layer (assuming its not lead), the risk of creating lead dust is higher.

Lead paint is dangerous when its disturbed, ie sanded, scraped, cut. Removing the trim could also create a lead hazard.

I would fill the cracks/voids on and around the trim with latex caulk. Caulk is flexible, and will hold up better than hard drying fillers like spackle. Caulk also has the advantage of helping to 'hold' the old paint together and prevent future chipping.

If you want to reduce the danger of creating lead dust on this project, I wouldn't be too aggressive with the sanding. Wet sanding will help keep any potential lead dust from going airborne.

If you do this yourself, look into lead safe work practices more.


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Old 12-02-2013, 04:18 PM   #3
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OK, thanks much for the feedback.

The home was rehabbed about 8 years ago, but obviously it was a partial rehab. Before I bought last year it went through the usual inspection which included some kind of lead check. But now that I consider it, I'm wondering if I should have a lead risk assessor check the paint/dust.

In any case, I ordered the lead swab kit you linked to and will test ASAP just for some short-term peace of mind. And I won't do any sanding or other work in the meantime.
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Old 12-02-2013, 04:35 PM   #4
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Just how good do you want this to look?
Those walls are in horrible condition. Looks like someone painted over wall paper to look that bad.
Good luck trying to fill that big a gap with caulking.
For there to be that big a gap someone would have really messed up on there measurements or there's a moisture problem in that wall that caused the drywall or plaster to swell up and push the trim off.
Looks like some one caulked it with a stick.
Yes it sounds like cutting down what you have, want it to look far better, let us know.
Want to just cover it up so you can sell it, patch and paint it.
When posting in forums, letting us know your location will help others give better feedback/advice/solutions to your questions
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Old 12-02-2013, 04:36 PM   #5
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To be honest from the pics I would vote for replacing. It's going to take many hours of sanding to even come close to those being in good shape. You also need some work where the baseboard meets the wall. And no not spackle use caulk.
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Old 12-02-2013, 05:09 PM   #6
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yes ^^^
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Old 12-04-2013, 01:42 PM   #7
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replacement is a better option.
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Old 12-04-2013, 01:53 PM   #8
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Thanks guys. Before doing anything I'm going to check for lead paint. The testing kit should be arriving today so if that checks out ok I'll try to figure out what the least painful option is.

At this point, it's probably just painting and filling until replacement becomes a viable ($) option.


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