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Discussion Starter #1
I got my Christmas present early... enough warm dry weather to open up the porch attic to reinforce the bones and then throw on a new roof.

I started by dropping part of the porch ceiling to inspect & clean.

The ceiling is cedar T&G with a bead, and has probably not seen a lick of maintanence since the place was built in the 1920s.

What do ya'll make of the way the stain has aged? The little balls you see in the pics brush off fairly easily with my hand. How would you prep to re-do it? Take all down or refinish in place? At the moment, I'm leaning toward dropping it all, give it a quick belt sanding, and make a dunk tank to stain them. Never done that though. Your input welcome!

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Thanks for any comments
Steve El
 

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My guess it it's not stain per se, but varnish. Varnish will dry out and flake over time.
 

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If the finish is as old as you say, I strongly suggest you go to a big box or local pint store and purchase lead testing kit. Finishes up to the mid 1970' contained lead which can be very danger if you try to sand it off. It's particularly dangerous if you have little kids around.

The test kit is easy to use.
 

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Thanks Howard, I had no idea lead was ever used in varnish. What I just read says it wasn't in the clear varnish itself, but often lead acetate would be added as a drying agent. Guess I'll have to check it out for lead after all.
 

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SteveEl: are you located somewhere in the east? If so, I can think of two possible, I say possible, reasons for the appearance.
1. That eastern cedar is actually a juniper which has a lot more resin in it that western red cedar.
2. The wood was not particularly dry when the ceiling was put up.

In warm weather, the wood was sweating resin fumes and water vapor that pushed off the varnish.
I imagine from age in service that neither of those issues will affect the new finish.

I'll agree with other posters concerning to potential for some form of lead to be in the varnish formula.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
SteveEl: are you located somewhere in the east?
Yep, Central PA. Thanks for the tip, I'll have to clean up one of the unfinished scraps I found in the porch attic and see what it looks like.

Steve
 

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If the finish is as old as you say, I strongly suggest you go to a big box or local pint store and purchase lead testing kit. Finishes up to the mid 1970' contained lead which can be very danger if you try to sand it off. It's particularly dangerous if you have little kids around.

The test kit is easy to use.
From what I've read, the risk is likely from Lead Acetate which would have been added to colored finishes only. If it's a clear finish, there's likely no risk.

Back when my child was younger, we looked into those lead testing kits and learned that the results are very unreliable. I wouldn't stake my safety on one.

WRT contact while cleaning wood, I'd wear gloves and use a denatured alcohol (in case it's really shelac) or a chemical stripper.

With lead you don't want it in your lungs - and you definitely don't want it getting into your blood. There's actually little risk with skin contact as long as you wash thoroughly with soap, keep you hands out of your mouth, have no open wounds.
 
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