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Construction tips

Midland Lead: Construction Tips and How to Clean Lead

Top tips to help you look after your lead

Lead is such a durable, hardwearing metal. Put it up on a roof and it can withstand the elements; it will last for a hundred or more years easily. But lead is a soft, malleable metal too. So it needs to be treated, handled and stored with care.

We’re often asked about cleaning lead – and we’ll answer that question for you below – but if you store it right, your lead won’t need any special cleaning before you use it.

Here’s what you need to know…

How to store lead products properly

When you store your lead products right, they’ll be ready to use with minimal preparation whenever you want them. Your lead may be in sheets or rolls, either way, we recommend that you:

To ensure your lead arrives in premium condition, we send all our lead rolls out in individually packed batches on pallets which are never stacked on top of each other.



Lead cleaning tips

The best piece of advice we can give you is this: treat your lead with patination oil first and you won’t have to worry about cleaning it at all.

A good application of patination oil will prevent any unsightly white stains on tiles or brickwork adjacent to new lead work. It 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.

How to deal with lead stains

Most lead stains can be easily prevented. Lead just needs to be stored correctly or properly treated after it’s been laid. But if you find that your lead has stained, before, during or after installation, this is what you need to do:

Type of stain Probable cause How to treat the stain
Light white stains on the surface of the newly laid lead sheet Newly laid lead has not been treated with patination oil If the stains are not too severe, they can be removed with a mild acid solution – vinegar or lemon juice work well. Use a nylon brush or very fine wire wool.
Heavy white stains on the surface of the lead sheet A reaction of the lead to an acid-curing silicon sealant that has been used to fit the lead flashings If the lead is fairly new, we recommend you remove the sealant. Next, clean the lead (see above), then apply a coat of patination oil. Use a non-acid-curing sealant or traditional mortar on the joint that needs to be sealed
Rusty or orange stains on the surface of the lead sheet Lead sheet has been stored in damp conditions and moisture has been trapped between the sheet Use our specially developed lead cleaner and restorer and remove the stains with a nylon brush or scourer.
Red stains on the surface of the lead sheet Run-off from water of copper or other metals on 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.

Working with lead – safety tips

We would like to reassure you that the lead sheet or any lead products you receive from Midland Lead are not considered to be hazardous materials. Therefore they are not covered by COSHH (control of substances hazardous to health).

Working with lead does not present a health risk provided you follow some very simple steps:

  • Always wear protective clothing, e.g. work-gloves and safety boots, when handling lead products.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly – even if you’ve been wearing gloves – as soon as you’ve finished work (and before eating, drinking or smoking).
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke in the immediate working area.
  • When welding or burning lead products, wear safety goggles and respiratory protective equipment.
  • When sweeping up in a lead storage area, wear a protective mask and, where possible, spray water onto the dust as you sweep.
  • Lead is a heavy metal and care should be taken when lifting. Do not attempt to lift a roll of lead or any of our products, unless you are completely confident you can lift them safely. Make use of lifting aids whenever possible. Link to Safety Lead website

For more information…

If you need any more advice about looking after your Midland Lead products, give us a call on +44 (0) 1283 224 555.

And let us know if you need any more lead safety advice. You can also download a free leaflet – INDG305 ‘Lead and You’ – from the Health and Safety Executive website:

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