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Why paint a lintel?


CheckItOut
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I've always been told that lintels should be painted; if not they will rust

and cause uplift. But the part that needs painting is buried or covered with brick

and mortar and thus can't be painted after installation.

So, is the idea then to paint the exposed parts so that rust will not begin there

and spread elsewhere? If buried sections were painted real well to begin with I

don't think the rust would spread. But if the burried sections were not painted I guess the rust could migrate to under the mortar(?).

What do you think?

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Around here (Seattle), I find them unpainted all the time on homes that are 60, 70, 80 years old. All have rusted. Some have spalled and spread but most are still doing pretty well - even in our somewhat less-than-dry climate.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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At least 2/3's of any lintel is buried up in the masonry. That's usually the part that goes first. Or, that's what I see when I tear them out.

If it isn't perfect primed & painted before it's installed, the little bit of paint on the visible portion isn't going to matter. Moisture in the masonry, and the corrosive nature of portland, tend to eat up paint finishes anyway. They are going to rust. Flashing is what probably makes the most difference.

IOW, it doesn't really matter, although it sounds bad to say it.

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Originally posted by kurt

At least 2/3's of any lintel is buried up in the masonry. That's usually the part that goes first. Or, that's what I see when I tear them out.

If it isn't perfect primed & painted before it's installed, the little bit of paint on the visible portion isn't going to matter. Moisture in the masonry, and the corrosive nature of portland, tend to eat up paint finishes anyway. They are going to rust. Flashing is what probably makes the most difference.

IOW, it doesn't really matter, although it sounds bad to say it.

That is what I was thinking as well.

Interestingly, around here they used to paint bridges but stopped several years ago. Now they are all an ugly rust color. Many eons ago they used to paint them with really cool orange lead paint - stuff weighed 35 lbs per gallon.

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Originally posted by CheckItOut

I've always been told that lintels should be painted; if not they will rust

and cause uplift. But the part that needs painting is buried or covered with brick

and mortar and thus can't be painted after installation.

So, is the idea then to paint the exposed parts so that rust will not begin there

and spread elsewhere? If buried sections were painted real well to begin with I

don't think the rust would spread. But if the burried sections were not painted I guess the rust could migrate to under the mortar(?).

What do you think?

I can't remember if my 93-year-old lintels are painted. I can tell you that the lintels are holding up just fine, even on the weather side of the house.

That said, if I were building a new house, I'd prime and paint the lintels before I put them in place.

WJid="blue">

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Prime coat is more important than the finish. All of them should be primed and most are.

Red oxide primer was the preferred for many years, then gray became the standard. Red lead primer was also used extensively. There are some steel materials that require no primer or paint and oxidize naturally to form a protective film.

We look at many things that are cosmetically challenged and sometimes report them as "deficient". I regard lentils as one of those things. A pinch of salt and a little butter with some nice yogurt sauce is the only way I can put up with "lentils"

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I've probably looked @ somewhere in the vicinity of 100,000 lintels in my career, and probably looked @ another 100,000+ just driving around Chicago. That is not exaggerated; it's a masonry city.

I think I recall seeing painted lintels on a couple occasions.

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I know it's not right, but it's reality.

In a world where builders & masons still haven't figured out flashing, wicks, & weeps, I'm not holding a lot of hope that something like lintel preparation is going to occur.

Salt air & seaside environments, OTOH, seem to have mega problems w/it. I'd think it would be required @ these sites.

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So when it comes down to it ,can we pick and choose what we feel is right according to common sense,thus overruling what so called experts may have to say on the subject?

Sometimes these are grey areas and my original post was pointing that out,even though I agree paint is bound to wear off with no way to touch it up once in place,if embedded in mortar.Yet there is a conception that they should at least have a primer coat.

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Originally posted by chicago

So when it comes down to it ,can we pick and choose what we feel is right according to common sense,thus overruling what so called experts may have to say on the subject?

Well, sure. That's what we're paid to do; my customers hire me because I know what's *important* and what's not.

In this case, it's a little teeny tiny nearly inconsequential item; I'd like to see paint, but never have, and I'm not going to bother my clients about something that's going to take approx. 75 years to even begin to matter, and even then, it might not. I'd be much more concerned w/flashing, wicks, & weeps. That matters; big time. Shoot, you and I look @ the same stuff; I see 100 year old unpainted steel lintels without flashing on a daily basis that are doing just fine. If they're messed up, then tell the customer; if not, why waste everyone's time telling them about their century old unpainted lintels?

If I was in a salt air environment, maybe I'd talk about it a lot.

If it was a life safety item, then of course we'd pick & chooose what would be safe, conservative, & prudent advice.

If I tried to give my customers a list of every item that might have a reference note somewhere, w/the idea that they should be informed of every item that might possibly show up on the radar in the next 50 years, it would be overwhelming, for the customer and for me.

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Seems like an easy call to me. What's the HI going to do? Tell the customer to tear into the brick, pull out the lintel, paint it, and put it back?

Clearly, the cure would be much worse than the disease. Why induce a failure (remove the lintel) when it'll rust away all by itself in 100 years or so? Paint the replacement, in 2107.

WJ

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  • 2 years later...

I know it's not right, but it's reality.

In a world where builders & masons still haven't figured out flashing, wicks, & weeps, I'm not holding a lot of hope that something like lintel preparation is going to occur.

Salt air & seaside environments, OTOH, seem to have mega problems w/it. I'd think it would be required @ these sites.

kurt

this lintel is painted.

is there eidence of defects here? what types? its appearance is comprimised, yes?

dont see any crack brick just the "stairstep" pattern of cracks along h/v mortat joints

Is it worth saving?

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tn_2009817132414_lintel1.jpg

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We (me and my friends) describe lintels like that as "working the joints", and we don't mean functional working, we mean it's starting to jack up the masonry.

Paint doesn't mean anything on this lintel; the angle in the wall is delaminating and causing the cracks.

Most folks wouldn't address this as it's not bad enough visually to warrant tear out, but that's a mistake.

You want to replace the thing now before it totally jacks up the gable end. If you don't, you end up with really ugly stairstep patching up the entire wall, and maybe have to rebuild portions of the wall.

Just replace it and get it over with.

You live in a beatiful part of the world; I used to fish on Torch Lake when I was a kid.

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