Restoration, preservation of old New England homes in the face of harsh winters requires sturdy exterior finishes. Changes to the painting industry to protect health and environment will require consumer adjustments until companies produce weather-resistant safe products.
In many Newport, Rhode Island homes, the painted and stained doors are a focus, and in fact, somewhat of an identity, particularly with the historic homes on Historic Hill and in The Point section of Newport.
If you have used the same oil-based paint, stain OR latex paint on your front door for many years and plan to continue, be aware of the changes occuring in the new eco-friendly paint industry.
The Newport Landmark Historic District has more restored homes than any other city in Colonial America. With well over two hundred period homes of the 18th century, half along the waterfront in the Point area, and the balance throughout Historic Hill. Newport showcases one of the most diverse displays of architectural doorways. Early Colonial designs line the cobblestone streets.
Old House Journal discusses the reasons for eco-friendly paint:
In the 1990s the EPA, which regulates air pollutants, began focusing its attention on VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are found in everything from deodorant to shellac. In paint, VOCs are additives or solvents, such as mineral spirits, naptha, lacquer thinner, dryers, oils, and alcohol.
Ethylene and propylene glycol-additives that prevent freezing and promote wet-edge time-are VOCs commonly found in many latex paints, as are the coalescents that promote paint film formation. VOCs are harmful to people and the environment. As paint dries, VOCs vaporize, and when they’re released, they contribute to the depletion of the ozone in the earth’s stratosphere and create smog or ground-level ozone.
VOC’s are not the only detriment to eco-friendly paints, titanium dioxide was heretofore used as a paint ingredient, because it offers an ample covering or “hiding” quality in its whiteness. When titanium dioxide is exposed to the sun, it causes smog, and titanium dioxide has been classified as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen, which can lead to cancer in humans.
There are many aethestics attached to doors in architecture, literature, and visuals of doors, greeting, what lies beyond, function: sliding, rotating, folding, butterfly, pocket…..personal: privacy, convenience, security…symbolic: change, hope, future….
Painting experts will tell you that latex paint, water-based paints, will not stand up to our Newport winters, and they are probably right. AND it takes too many coats to achieve adequate exterior coverage. Latex paints can NOT be used on iron garden gates and doors, as it enhances rust. So head out now and purchase the paint for your garden gate or front exterior door for future use. It won’t take long for the painting industry to produce eco-friendly paints that are just as weather-resistant as the trusted ones you have been using, but it may take a few years.
Older products are grandfathered in, meaning that supplies manufactured before the new regulations took effect are legal to use. Many suppliers purchased warehouses full of paint for this purpose but have already sold out. So check your local hardware supplier for your door paint in Newport.
Parvos’ Benjamin Moore Paints, Middletown; Newport Ace Hardware, two locations; Humphries Sherwin Williams, Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown; Home Depot, Middletown. You might have to look farther than the Island to other paint shops on mainland Rhode Island, Connecticut, or Massachusetts.
Many homes on the East Side of Providence also have distinctive doors and will want to follow this advice as well. The Paint Shoppes.com.
How to store paint once opened:
Cut a piece of plastic or Saran Wrap and place over the cleaned paint can rim before pounding the lid to seal it with a rubber mallet. Store in an above freezing room or cellar, away from the furnace and hot water heater. For added protection, before you place the Saran Wrap or plastic, blow into the can to displace some of the air with your own expounded carbon dioxide.
If you don’t have a rubber mallet, use a block of wood to brace against the blow and a regular hammer to seal the can. Do not use just a hammer, as you will damage the rim of the can.
Newport Doorways, photography by Adele Einhorn, posters available @ allposters.com
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