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Painting the Lighthouse

Whether you’re renovating just one room or an entire building, the cost of renovation can be particularly high when you’re dealing with a historic property. Inevitably, unknown problems present themselves and push budgets to the max. Likewise, it can be difficult to find the skilled craftsmen who still have the knowledge and wherewithal to do intricate or unique repairs. Replacement parts may need to be custom fabricated as many of the ways of doing things have changed considerably over the years.

Such is the case for Fairport Harbor West Lighthouse. Since the building was built in 1925, it was manufactured of materials that nowadays are very expensive to use for residential construction – including cast iron, plaster walls, maple hardwood and solid brass hardware. In addition to being expensive, these materials can be difficult to procure and even more challenging to install.

In order to bring the lighthouse back to a condition of which we can all be proud, time has come to paint the outside of this historic and iconic building. Like the old world materials used inside, the outside of the lighthouse is sheathed in metal from top to bottom. Much of the metal is chipped, rusted or just in downright bad condition. Also, since the last time the lighthouse was painted is unknown, it may have lead paint encased below the surface paint. As such, painting the outside is going to be difficult, time-consuming and require professional know-how.

Fortunately, there's just the man for the job. Phil Van Tilburg, a professional house painter, has volunteered to paint the outside of the lighthouse. He will be using Sherwin-Williams Pro-Industrial™ Pro-Cryl® Universal Primer and Sher-Cryl™ High Performance Acrylic Coatings -- paint specially formulated for the lake and weather conditions designed for a metal exterior. While not exactly a one-man job, Phil was determined and spent weeks transforming the exterior all while carrying the paint and supplies down the break wall. Prior to the exterior coating work, the lighthouse was power washed and prepped for painting. Given the conditions of the exterior paint, the lighthouse’s location in a state park with protected dunes, and the proximity to Lake Erie, it was important to encapsulate as much loose and flaking paint as quickly as possible so it would not detach and fall into the surrounding environment, another reason that painting by hand was preferred to spraying the structure.

Once completed, the transformation was substantial. The sunlight that now bounces off the shiny white paint is almost blinding. The red roof is bright and happy and the grey shutters and black trim are perfect accents. Thanks to Phil, the lighthouse is once again beautiful inside and out.

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