How To Remove Lead Paint

Knowing how to remove lead paint safely is vital if your home was built prior to the late 1970s. Lead was a common additive in paint during this time period. Over time lead paint can chip, peel and turn into powder, which can cause grave health concerns. Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of lead dust. To properly remove lead paint, you need to follow certain guidelines.

To remove lead paint, you will need:

  • Wire brush
  • Scraper
  • Liquid paint remover
  • Power sander with HEPA filter
  • Heat gun
  1. Consider covering the lead paint. Sometimes it is easier to just cover the lead paint surfaces. Wallboard is a good choice. Vinyl can be used to enclose window sills. Any material used for covering lead paint should be fire resistant and durable. A method called encapsulation can also be used. This is a procedure where a material is bonded directly to the lead paint. Be advised should the material you used to cover the lead paint ever be removed; you will once again face the original lead problem.
  2. Utilize wet scraping to remove lead paint from smaller areas. A wet scraper in conjunction with paint remover can be used on window sills and wood moldings. You can use this method along with a wire brush to remove chipped and peeling lead paint.
  3. Only wet sanding should be used on lead painted surfaces. Wet power sanding can be used, but only if the sander has an attached vacuum and HEPA filter. Of course, wet hand sanding can be used too. Do not dry sand because it will create too much lead dust, and is dangerous.
  4. Heat stripping is another lead paint removal method. This technique should only be used by experienced lead paint workers. This is because heat guns used with scraping causes both lead vapors and dust, and is a fire hazard. Only low temperature heat guns should be used.  
  5. When the job is complete everything in the work area must be vacuumed. Only a vacuum with a HEPA filter should be used. All debris in the work area must be misted with water before discarded.
  6. Only proper safety methods should be used when removing lead paint. It is important that children and women who are pregnant not engage in lead paint removal, and should not be in or near the work area. Only work in one room at a time, and cover all air conditioning and heat vents. Remove or wrap all furniture with plastic, and securely cover the floor. Lead removal workers should wear goggles, an approved respirator, and wear throwaway coveralls. Dispose of coveralls, and remove all lead dust from your clothes with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter when done working for the day. Workers should shower as soon as possible.

When removing lead paint always think safety first. Use the proper methods, and wear only approved work gear. Follow all local, state and Federal laws when discarding lead contaminated debris.

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