Lead poisoning causes serious health problems, especially for small children. That being said, improper removal can cause more harm than leaving the paint alone – so it’s vital to know how to remove lead paint safely and efficiently.
In this article, we’ll break down how to remove lead based paint in simple steps. But before we discuss the variety of ways you can address your lead paint problem, let’s dive into the details of lead based paint itself.
What is lead paint exactly, and if it’s so dangerous, why was it used in the first place?
What is lead based paint?
Lead paint is paint that contains amounts of lead equal to or greater than 1 milligram per square centimeter. Lead was added to the paint because it increased durability, resisted moisture, sped up the drying process, and helped maintain a fresh appearance.
For thousands of years, we’ve known that high doses of lead could be deadly, but it wasn’t until the late 1970s that Dr. Herbert Needleman first discovered even low doses of lead could be harmful.
It was found that even small amounts of lead can cause serious damage to your nervous system, as well as kidney damage, infertility, and stunted growth. It is especially dangerous for children aged six and younger, and can be deadly to pets as well.
Seemingly overnight, everyone wanted to do away with their wall paint. Unfortunately, not many knew how to remove lead paint properly, and their actions often caused more harm than good.
The fact is, if your lead paint is in good condition, it’s often best if you don’t remove it at all. You can simply seal it in with new layers of polymer and paint. If the paint is flaking or peeling, however, then you’ll want to know how to remove lead paint safely.
How to remove lead paint
When practicing how to remove lead paint from wood, concrete, or brick, you will use the same basic techniques. That’s because our primary goal is to avoid the spread of any paint dust, which is the main source of lead poisoning. This means we need to properly seal the area, work wet, and clean up thoroughly.
If there is lead paint on wooden furniture or shutters that can be removed and stripped for you outside of your house, that is the safest recourse. Otherwise, prep your work area by removing everything that you can – especially soft furniture, curtains, and carpets. Cover everything you can’t remove with plastic sheets and tape them in place.
Turn off the furnace, seal registers, and keep windows closed. You may also wish to have toddlers or pets sent to the neighbors so they don’t disturb the hazardous work zone.
Before you start in, it’s important to wear a certified dust mask or respirator with a HEPA filter, as well as protective clothing, gloves, and hair covering. Make sure the shoes you use while removing lead paint don’t leave the work area until they are washed, and that any clothing you wear is washed separately from other garments to prevent contamination.
Use a chemical stripper to bind the paint particles together. This will help contain the paint dust. If you choose to hand strip any paint, always spray the area with water first. When you finish stripping the paint, wet-sand the surface to get rid of any remaining residue.
After sanding, wash the area with all purpose cleaner, starting at the top and working towards the bottom. Wipe in one direction for horizontal areas, refolding the cloth as you go to expose clean surfaces after each wipe. Repeat the entire rinsing process with a clean cloth and fresh water, changing the water bucket often as needed.
Once you are completely satisfied that the area is clean, you can remove the poly, wash the floors, and finally, repaint.
Leave the hard work to the professionals
Sound like a lot of work? That’s because it is! But the licensed contractors at Asbestos Removal PRO are happy to take it on for you. In fact, some states require lead paint to be removed by professionals.
Our team has the experience and equipment for the job, and is comfortable removing lead paint from any size of residential or commercial building. Best yet, we offer free quotes and consultations on our services, so you know exactly what to expect before committing to anything.