Failing Linseed Oil Paint

Close up of failing historic linseed oil and lead paint from page 482 of “Restoring Your Historic House.”

Did you know that eventually historic linseed oil paints need to be stripped from the exterior of a house? The natural chemical reaction that allows liquid linseed oil to become a solid film, making it a useful vehicle for paint pigments, never stops. Eventually, this causes the oil film to become brittle and start cracking and separating from the base material.

It can be a century or more before the first layer of paint begins to fail in a significant way, especially if it has been repainted regularly. Once it begins in earnest, the only good way to get a lasting paint job on the house is to remove all the paint back to wood and start over.

Paint in the condition shown here is easily removed with a sharp scraper. Paint that hasn’t reached this state of failure yet may require other stripping methods. Infrared heat for siding and professional-strength soy gel stripper for moldings are my preferred methods, but all commonly used methods are explained in “Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners.” Lead safe information is also covered.

Signed and personalized copies of the award-winning and bestselling 720-page hardcover book are available from the author in our shop, YourHistoricHouse.com/shop/.

Our shop also carries select preservation and restoration titles by other authors.

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