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Originally the painters hired by the Madisons would have used a linseed-oil based paint mixed with lead white as a base for their paints.  While these traditional paints, which were developed through hundreds of years of testing and experimenting by individual painters, have been proven to be stable, effective coatings, they were not used on the restored exterior of Montpelier.  The main factor in the decision was the fact that lead-based pigments are a potential health hazard.  Because substituting a safer white pigment for the lead white in a linseed-oil paint would have resulted in an unpredicable exterior paint, it was decided to use a modern exterior-grade acrylic paint for the Mansion's trim.  By specifying a modern paint the Restoration Team acted to preserve the surviving Madison-era trim and insure that it would not be damaged by premature paint failure.  The modern paints also had the extra advantage of reducing future maintenance costs due to their dramatically lower price.


A restoration painter paints a window sash on the North Elevation.