Renovate Safely — Job #1: Become informed about environmental & safety issues in your home — Get your own properly licensed professionals

vintage safety poster from mitzi of vintage goodness = happinessLead – in lots of places
Asbestos – in lots of places
Electrical Safety
Glass Safety
Window Treatment Cord Safety
And more — I am not the Expert — Consult with a Professional!

Renovating and remodeling our mid century homes can be fun galore, but PLEASE ALWAYS REMEMBER, there are many known hazards in surfaces, layers and materials that you need to take personal responsibility to become knowledgeable about, so that you can make informed decisions about how to handle. I sometimes feel like I am a naggy broken record bringing this up all the time, but here goes again, another big reminder to start the year: 

We all care very much about managing environmental and safety issues properly, so when undertaking your restoration project, be sure to familiarize yourself with and use recommended best practices. For example, the EPA hosts a website on lead in the home and a website on asbestos in the home. Consult professionals regarding these materials, and also about the proper disposal of debris, etc.

Some other resources regarding potential lead hazards in the home:

  • LeadFreeKids.org —  a joint effort of the Ad Council, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. That’s their video at the top.

Other potential issues — and do not consider this a comprehensive list as I am not an expert in the area of environmental and safety hazards in the home — include: Tempered glass in windows and shower doors… wiring and fire safety in the house as well as lighting and appliances… drapery cords… lead and asbestos in all kinds of locations…radon…. Gosh, I don’t want to be a nervous nellie or debbie downer but You are an Adult Now. It is your personal responsibility to become informed about all these issues and to GET AND CONSULT WITH YOUR OWN PROPERLY LICENSED PROFESSIONALS so that you can make informed decisions. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to your and your family’s safety and health. Thank you.

PLUS: See our Be Safe / Renovate Page for more info.

Thanks to Mitzi of Vintage Goodness fame for permission to feature her vintage safety poster, which was for sale (subsequently sold) on etsy.com. 

  1. Marcia says:

    wow! I’m so glad to have found this site. I had a 1940s bathroom in Dallas demo’d by a contractor and to my knowledge no tests were done to detect the presence of lead. That was about 10 years before this article on ceramic tile was published. I feel for the guy who did the project, as I didn’t observe him using a respirator. (I temporarily relocated during the project since it was the home’s only bath.) Thank you for the reminder about safety!

  2. nina462 says:

    I must say though, I love looking at the old advertising – sure I’ll paint my house with white lead paint, or install asbestos tile. And lets not forget a carton of cigarettes makes a perfect gift!

    Thanks for the reminder Pam & Kate!

  3. Jay says:

    How timely! I tore up the shag carpeting in the basement six years ago that was glued and nailed to the original tile. My guess is it is more then likely to be asbestos tile. I figured the new floor would have to float over the existing tile, such as laminate strips that attach to each other. Anyway I would like to know for sure what it is because I am tired of looking at it and want to put a new floor down.

  4. Tom says:

    To clarify one point, the safety issue is a l*a*c*k of tempered glass (i.e. safety glass) in applicable areas like shower doors and tub surrounds. The requirement for safety glass in windows and doors depends on how high the bottom of the pane is above the floor and your local and/or state regulations. A quick call to your local building inspection department will get you the answer to that question.

  5. Tom says:

    If … [most of comment regarding asbestos in flooring and adhesives edited by Pam] … The big issues with asbestos products …[ edited by Pam ] … (I am a licensed residential building inspector, so I do know whereof I speak.) Check with your local inspection department to get the lowdown on your city’s regulations.

    PAM SAYS: I have edited this comment. NOTE, everybody: I do NOT like readers giving specific advice on environmental and safety issues and generally will not approve (or will delete or edit) such advice. READERS, YOU NEED TO GET YOUR OWN PROPERLY LICENSED PROFESSIONALS. Thanks, Tom, for trying to be helpful; I really appreciate your generosity — but like I said, I want and need readers to get their own live experts!

  6. pam kueber says:

    Thank you, Tom. I will leave this one up — because you say to check with local officials.

    NOTE, everybody: I do NOT like readers giving advice on these issues and generally will not approve (or will delete or edit) such advice. YOU NEED TO GET YOUR OWN PROPERLY LICENSED PROFESSIONALS.

  7. Jay says:

    Trust me, I have no intention what so ever of attempting to remove this tile. It’s intact. I intend to have it analysed by a professional. If left in place, I will [edited by Pam – peoples get your own properly licensed professional to determine what you are working with and how to handle].

  8. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Ever since moving into my 1959 house, I have been careful about ripping things up, sanding before painting with a particle mask and so on. The home was inspected prior to sale, and we were warned about possible lead paint inside and out and possible asbestos tile underneath everything. When we had an addition put in in 2012, the contractor agreed with us that there should be tests for “vintage nastiness,” as Pam calls it, on any original surfaces that were being disturbed, such as the wood siding. It turns out the original homebuilder/home owner was way ahead of his time and used the then brand-new exterior latex paint! Turned out when they tore down part of the wall in the kitchen he used interior latex indoors as well.

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