Adrian Cruce

How to Remove Lead Paint from Your Home Safely

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Lead paint is a known health hazard. When children are exposed to it as dust that comes off the walls as the paint wears away, the toxic metal can cause brain damage, while vulnerable unborn children exposed to it are at increased risk of birth defects if the mother is exposed. Yet lead paint remains in many older homes. Here is real advice on how to remove lead paint from your home safely according to professionals.

Painting Over It

There are times when painting over it can be a solution. Lead paint that is not flaking or chipping, that doesn’t wear away on contact like a door on a door frame or windows sliding against a window sill, could be painted over. However, in most cases, it’s better not to paint over lead. Removal is thus your only option.

Protective Measures

The first step is to seal off the room before you start working so that lead dust doesn’t escape into the rest of the house. You’ll also need protective clothing for the job; gloves are a start but far from the end of it. You need a HEPA filter mask to avoid inhaling the toxic particles that can cause brain damage in adults. You’ll want to put a protective cover on your shoes if the protective suit doesn’t do that. It would be wise to put dust trapping mats outside the room so you don’t accidentally track the lead paint dust throughout the home when you leave.

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Initial Removal

The next step is to strip down to the bare wood any place where lead paint was used. You can use a small chisel and mid-grade sandpaper. The priority is to remove any lead paint where the paint is cracking and chipping. If the paint is intact on a wall, you could leave it alone for now, paint over it or wait for a remediation service to remove it later.

Note that lead paint is especially common on window sills, doors and window frames. There have been cases of toddlers chewing on window sills and eating chips of the paint due to lead’s sweet taste. This lead paint needs to be sanded or chiseled away. Or you could take the easy way out and replace the entire door, including the jamb. Likewise, you could find it much easier to simply rip out the molding covered in lead paint than trying to scrape away all paint and then paint over it.

The Clean Up

You’ll need to take care to have all of the paint dust vacuumed up and removed. However, you should not use your home’s vacuum cleaner, since that will collect the dust that could billow out the next time you empty it. Instead, use a HEPA filter vacuum for the job; they’re available for rent. Another way to control it is to use damp sponge mops to pick up all the debris and dust. If you think you’ve gotten it all, take another pass.

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Painting over lead paint is an option in spaces where children and pregnant women rarely visit and the paint itself is intact. Otherwise, you need to engage in intense protective measures and start removing every trace of the paint. Don’t neglect to clean up every trace of the lead paint for your family’s sake.