The Brisbane Renovators dream of owning and doing a Queenslander is noble pursuit but it can come with any number of ‘buyer beware’ warnings. Now, we at Baker Bro’s Master Painters are pretty handy but really we’re just painters (damn good painters) – so for the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on some of the hazards around that aspect of renovating a Brisbane Queenslander.
If you are alive today you are most likely aware of the more than potential hazards of asbestos. The one-time building material was made using a natural mineral rock containing tough fibres. Those fibres were the problem – especially as they were cut, sawed and sanded to make homes. Once disturbed the fibrous particles were easily inhaled into the unsuspecting lungs of the workers of yesteryear.
Asbestos has been used since the 1800?s but it hit the big time in the 1920?s and was widely used as a building staple from the 1940’s it maintained its ‘perceived’ usefulness right until the 1980’s. A lot, a huge of amount of Brisbane’s suburb expansions occurred within this 40-year timeframe. So, the chances of your ‘renovator’ project containing asbestos is pretty high. Which is good and bad news. Bad news if you?re thinking of disturbing the wall or sanding and we cannot urge you enough to reward your paranoia by getting a professional to handle any asbestos (it’s the law). The good news? It’s highly recommended to paint and seal the asbestos – this work while can be done by you (providing you are not disturbing the material) is best left to professionals – give us a call.
- When was it used? Homes built from 1920’s to 1990’s (became illegal officially in 2003)
- Where in the home was it used? Roof tiles, sometimes insulation in roofs, certainly wet areas.
- What to look for? Looks like fibro cement (walls)
- Note: It’s ‘safe’ if left undisturbed. But requires specialist handling if renovating or disturbing the material.
Aside from some of the above, the other hazard you’ll encounter is lead paint.
Lead Paint in Queenslanders
Like asbestos, lead paint is a problem only if it is damaged or disturbed. Paint in good condition that is not flaking or chalking, or is covered by well-maintained lead-free paint is not a hazard in itself – paint over it but avoid sanding.
However, part of the charm of a Brisbane Queenslander is the lovely heritage windows (casement windows) and often doors. These beautiful windows and doors were all part of the purposeful designs of Queenslanders and played a huge role in cross ventilation during the warmer months. The way windows operate on the swing arm means they cause friction to the paint, meaning that as the window is used it often wears down the paint underneath – if that paint has lead in it then you’re in for some trouble.
Lead-based paint is most likely to be found on window frames, doors, skirting boards, kitchen and bathroom cupboards, exterior walls, gutters, metal surfaces and fascias. But, it can also be found on interior walls, ceilings and areas with enamel paint. Pink and red primer both contain lead, so you should think twice before disturbing any surface which has had any of these paints applied.
As a home renovator, you can be responsible for creating lead hazards without realising it. If you have children in the home or someone in is pregnant then you really need to proceed with caution.
Paint removal by blasting, burning, dry scraping, dry sanding and using power tools creates the most serious dangers because the particles are small enough to be inhaled or deposited in furnishings or carpet, making complete removal extremely difficult. Before renovating invest in a lead paint test kit – they’re about $40 from Bunnings and certainly worth it.
Alternatively, if you’re worried about it, consult a professional like Baker Bro’s Master Painters.
Lead is a heavy metal, as a result, if it’s inhaled as a dust, it can stay in your blood for months and even in your bones for years. It leads to lead poisoning seizures, vomiting, brain seizures. It is much worse in children and developing bodies? (much, much worse) and can lead to developmental issues and even death. So, please take it seriously.
- When was it used? Lead paint was widely used in homes built before the 1970’s (less lead used in paint mixes) Pre 1960?s (heavier use of lead in paint).
- Where in the home was it used? Exterior and Interior painting
- What to look for? Keep an eye open for flakey paint and get a test kit – before starting your renovations.
Renovating and DIY is great, it can be an insurmountable source of pride. There’s nothing quite like sitting in your own home and staring out at your work, enjoying the warm glow of ‘job well done’. As Brisbanites ourselves and with a tonne of industry experience in the region we know the hazards involved. If you have a renovation job on your Queenslander, coming up and need some painting done, give us a shout. We’d love to help! Contact us here!