Lustron Porcelain-on-Steel Homes
Built in 1949 and 1950
950 sq. ft.
Window frames and roof also porcelain
Porcelain tiles in bathrooms and porcelain tubs
Have porch, living room, kitchen, laundry room, 2 bedrooms, and 1 bathroom
Owners manual asks them not to use pesticide. ( Let the management take care of those problems.)
Home for Sale. I'm writing you about my Lustron home and have some interest in selling it if it might be of any help. You can call me. 1-866-382-0000
Lustron Home for Sale. Havana, Illinois. You would find us halfway between Peoria and Springfield on the map. We will need to have the house taken off the lot. $25,000. Wendy. firstname.lastname@example.org
Lustron home for Sale. 2 bedroom, on 2 lots with a 2-car detached garage. $35,000. It does have some deterioration in the foudation. Drema Simpson in Beckley, WV email@example.com
I'm a sufferer of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and I would be interested in this as non-toxic housing to accommodate my disability. My chief interest in Lustron homes is as MCS housing -a quiet crisis in the US right now with some 50% of the current million or so sufferers of this condition ending up homeless. Some other MCS patients have been successful with Lustrons and there is growing interest in that community. But I'm wondering about the logistics of restoring and relocating such homes. Would readers of this forum be interested in discussing this?
As I see it there are three stages to this; dismantling the home and demolishing and cleaning up the site, putting the 3000 or so Lustron components into some kind of storage and performing restoration and replacement, and finally reconstruction atop a newly built foundation - including new wiring, radiant floor heating, and new insulation. There are a few issues that need to be dealt with to make the homes suitable as non-toxic housing. The original asphalt foundation seal has to be replaced with something less toxic, new non-toxic flooring must be used, the new insulation must be of a non-toxic type, the humidity problem with the bathroom must be solved by adding an exhaust fan, and all heating and appliances running on combustion must be replaced with electric alternatives.
Here are my questions:
How many people and how much time is required to dismantle and assemble one of these homes? I would probably have to rely on volunteer labor to do this and getting it together in Indiana, then later in one of the likely low pollution regions (it's basically a choice of Arizona, New Mexico, and Hawaii at present) when I'm located far away in New Jersey would be a challenge.
How much storage space would one of these homes require when dismantled? I have approximately 500sf of empty basement space in my current location that could be used for storing water-resistant materials (but nothing else)
What is typically involved in restoration and how much time for the work is typical? I imagine the process is similar to antique auto restoration in that it basically involves cataloging, cleaning, repairing, and replacing un-repairable parts from salvaged parts. I recall hearing of places that specialize in the restoring and re-coating of Lustron components. Part of this work would include some of the modifications to suit non-toxic requirements -like fashioning a sealed-top electric range that will fit in the form-factor of the original range and adding a fan to the bathroom. Has anyone ever put a duplicate of the original kitchen fan into the bathroom using the same fittings?
The heating system replacement is actually pretty easy when relying on hydronic radiant floor heating powered by a compact on-demand water heater as it would not require any changes to the original structure. But air conditioning would be a more complicated prospect. I understand that Lustron owners have had trouble using conventional through-window and through-wall AC units for obvious reasons. But a non-toxic house cannot use the conventional primitive ducted HVAC hardware. A better alternative is the use of Mini-Split or 'ductless' AC systems which rely on an external heat pump linked to in-room cooling registers by a small fluid line. Common everywhere except the US, these are slowly becoming more readily available and offer a variety of cooling register forms. But most are retrofit mount units that are placed high on a wall or in the ceiling. There would be far less modification than is needed for typical HVAC but one still must cut holes in the panels -though I think in a worst case scenario one could mount the register on a wall using magnets with a hose link to the floor. There are, however, some units which are made to fit into the space of commercial office drop-ceilings and raised floor panel systems. These could possibly be fit within the wall or ceiling space if a special wall panel bezel were fashioned for them.
I understand that the original built-in metal furniture was not porcelain coated like the panels but painted and, of course, was prone to frequent re-painting with whatever VOC-laden stuff was handy. Restoring these could be a big problem. Normally, the only tolerable paints for a non-toxic home are water based inorganic pigment paints which only work on porous materials and baked enamels. What paints are commonly used in restoring Lustron furniture and has baked enamel been used before?
Use of remote power is another issue that would have to be considered during restoration. One usually has to go to fairly remote places to find low pollution and affordable land in the US. Much of this land is beyond the reach of utilities. There are a few options that can be explored here but use of solar power, for both electric power and possibly for water heating, is the most likely. Has anyone had experience putting solar panels on the Lustron roof, or would relying on separate solar mounts be better?
What is involved in typical replacement foundation construction? Is the Lustron foundation relatively simple or are there some special features to it and is there anything that would complicate the use of radiant floor heating?
Answer: Lustron will need around 800sf of storage and restoration work space when disassembled and replacement foundation slabs with hydronic heat tubing installed are estimated at about $3000 according to one individuals experience -though, of course, that will vary with region.
What alternative forms of insulation and foundation seal are used in typical reconstruction? I understand the homes originally used an asphalt foundation seal and this, of course, cannot be used in a non-toxic home.
But any alternative must itself be non-toxic. The same is true of the insulation. The most popular form of insulation for non-toxic homes is Airkrete mineral foam, a spray-in-place foam that has a consistency like stale angel food cake. This should work fine with the metal panels as long as there is a path of foam flow and a point to pipe it in. Airkrete is so non-toxic one can actually eat it yet is immune to moisture damage and is the most fire-resistant insulation available -actually being used as lining in blast furnaces. The next most popular type is isocyanaurate polyurethane spray-in-place foam which has the same form of installation but has the two drawbacks that it may stick to the metal panels like glue and it takes a couple weeks of outgassing after initial installation before it becomes non-toxic. Another option is chemical-free cotton batt insulation which would be the easiest to install but is the most susceptible to moisture and has low fire and pest resistance. Does anyone have experience with these types of insulation in a Lustron?
Anyone care to speculate on cost and on the prospects of obtaining volunteer assistance from the Lustron enthusiast community or history restoration community? Being disabled, I have only SSI income and this is pretty meager to work with. And I lack the physical ability to invest a lot of sweat equity -especially where it concerns the use of chemicals in any restoration work. Is this likely to be feasible for me, or something only the well-off can manage? Any and all comments appreciated.