Gregg Zuman’s house in Beacon, New York, was built near the start of the Civil War, and like most any building of that era it’s in need of a few repairs. At the moment, Zuman is stuck on what to do about the clapboard siding.
“It’s slathered with lead paint, of course,” Zuman writes in a Q&A post. “The issue is how to move ahead: figure out a way to remove the lead paint and apply a coat of 50-50 pine tar-raw linseed or cut losses, remove the old clapboard, replace with cedar clapboard, and apply 50-50 pine tar-raw linseed or suck it up, paint over the lead paint with decent lead-free paint, and embrace compromise.”
The cheapest option probably will be painting over the lead paint, but Zuman worries that would make the wall a vapor impermeable barrier — something he wants to avoid at all costs.
The house is balloon framed, with no space between the framing and the siding — meaning no sheathing. Zuman plans on using Airkrete insulation, and his overall objective is to “honor the history of the structure while updating the materials were needed with products free of fossil fuels.”
How does he proceed? That’s the issue for this Q&A Spotlight.
This wall needs a rainscreen
Lead is an obvious concern, says GBA senior editor Martin Holladay, and any prep work on the clapboards will need the help of a contractor who understands and follows lead-safe procedures. Even if the lead problem can be solved, however, Zuman will have a wall without an effective air barrier.
“If you leave the existing clapboard in place, you’ll have a wall without a rainscreen and without a decent exterior air barrier,” he says. “(Airkrete has a tendency to shrink…