If you’re about to start painting in Concord, you may not be thinking about lead-based paints. However, if your home was built before the 1980s, it is important to note all paint included lead. As scientists learned the effects of lead poisoning, particularly in children, pregnant women and the elderly, they recommended removing lead-based paints from homes.
Many home owners think they can handle this task as a do-it-yourself project, but it really is best left to the professionals. There are a variety of methods to remove lead-based paint but if you don’t fully understand the best way to do it, you could be exposing yourself and your family to the hazards of lead exposure.
Before starting any painting project in homes built before 1978, it is important to have the painted surfaces tested for lead. You can purchase lead tests at home improvement stores and some larger department stores. This is especially important if you notice chipped or peeling paint. Today’s tests can be done on any surface and most will provide immediate results.
Once the test has confirmed the presence of lead, a laboratory analysis will be able to tell you how much lead is present. You will want to have children under the age of 6 tested for lead – this can be done at your child’s regular doctor or local health department.
You have a couple of options available to you on how to handle lead in the home. The wisest and safest way to avoid lead poisoning is to have a licensed lead contractor to remove the lead from the home but this is expensive - $8 to $15 per square foot for removal which would be about $10,000 for an average-sized house. If this is not possible, there are other options to consider:
- Encapsulate the paint. This is done by painting a special encapsulant over the lead-based painted surfaces. It bonds with the lead paint to keep the paint from chipping by creating a long, lasting bond when you follow product instructions. This ‘paint’ is around $35 per gallon and will cost about $1,000 to paint an average-sized house, not including labor.
- Replace the items that have lead-based paint. Doors, windows and woodwork like trim are often easier to replace than trying to remove the paint from the surface. Of course, if lead is present in the wall itself, which would be more costly to replace and is not practical.
- Enclosing or covering the lead-based paint might be another option. If the paint is on the walls and you’re replacing the trim, windows and doors, you may want to cover the existing surface with wallpaper, paneling or sheet rock. This will keep
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website explains more about lead paint and has a publication “Steps to Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting” that can help. It is important to note that proper disposal of debris containing lead is crucial. The EPA also has guidelines for disposal.
- Depending upon the condition of the lead-based paint and whether or not there are small children in the home, it may not be necessary to do anything. As long as the paint is in good condition, you don’t have to do anything. If you sell your home, however, it will be necessary to disclose the fact the house has lead-based paint.
Talk with the painting contractors you are considering for painting your Concord home. They will know how to test your home and give you suggestions for the best way to handle lead-based paint in your home.