Lead is known for its durable and hardwearing qualities, when treated correctly it can face the elements with ease and last over a hundred years while still presenting a beautiful finish. But lead is also a soft and malleable metal and, like most natural occurring materials, it can deteriorate or lose its visual appeal if not looked after properly.
Midland Lead’s technical manager, Dave Woolley, who has more than thirty years’ experience in the industry, has provided his top tips when it comes to storing, treating and handling lead.
1. Store your lead correctly
Before installing your lead rolls or sheets make sure you store them correctly, by doing so you can be sure that they’ll be ready to use with minimal preparation whenever you need them. If improperly stored, lead sheet, may become discoloured. To keep your lead in perfect condition follow these four simple rules:
- 1. Store your lead in a clean, dry environment
- 2. Use a raised pallet so that the lead is not in contact with the ground
- 3. Avoid stacking the pallets, this could bend the lead beneath
- 4. Keep the original packaging on until you’re ready to use it
2. Treat your lead
When it comes to caring for your lead the best piece of advice is this: treat your lead with patination oil first. Treating your lead with patination oil before installing it means you won’t have to worry about cleaning it after installation.
Simply apply a coat of patination oil over your lead products before installing them to prevent unsightly white stains on tiles or brickwork adjacent to new lead work. The oil also seals the surface from damp, so there’s never any lead oxide run-off.
Patination oil gives lead a wonderful sheen and lustre too. It’s quick to apply and works out at pence per square metre.
3. Tips for cleaning your lead
As mentioned above, if lead is stored correctly, or properly treated with patination oil after it has been laid, then most stains will be prevented. But if you find that your lead has stained, before, during or after installation, this is what you need to do:
- For light white stains on the surface of a newly laid lead sheet use a nylon brush or very fine wire wool with a mild acid solution, for example vinegar or lemon juice.
- If the stains are heavier and the lead is newly fitted then remove the sealant and then clean the lead sheet with the acid solution. Once done, apply patination oil and use a non-vacid-curing sealant or traditional mortar on the joint that needs to be sealed.
- Rusty or orange stains on the surface of the lead sheet require our specially developed lead cleaning gel. Remove the stains with a nylon brush or scourer.
- For red stains on the surface of the lead sheet, use a strong detergent and remove the stains with a nylon brush or scourer. Then dry the lead sheet with a soft cloth and apply a layer of patination oil.
Once you’ve dealt with the stain, treat the lead with a coating of patination oil. First, wash the lead thoroughly with clean water and allow to dry. Then apply the patination oil with a soft, clean cloth. This will prevent any further staining.
Lead is a simple and undemanding product to work with and, with these tips on hand, easy to maintain too. If you do require any more information on how to keep your lead in premium condition Midland Lead offers video guides on its YouTube channel, including how to apply products with patination oil correctly. Patination oil, cleaning gel and a whole array of other lead ancillary products can be found at www.midlandlead.co.uk.