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Does anyone on the board have experience with removing lead paint?

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Our house is 100 years old, and the original paint is still underneath the current paint on the exterior of part of the house. I have had two painting contractors tell me that they would charge more than $8000 to remove the old paint and repaint it. This is not affordable to our family at all, and I have tried to research how to best remove the lead paint ourselves.


There does not seem to be a good way to remove it. Chemicals need to be used by professionals, sanding and scraping is too hard to "save" and dispose of the removed paint, a blow torch releases lead vapors and a heating plate is inefficient. ARGGG. Some of the paint is chipping and exposing wood to the elements, some of the paint is stuck TIGHT to the wood.


Just tearing off the siding is not really an option because the lapped siding that the house has would be about $20,000 to replace.


Any suggestions at all?

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Removing involves wet scraping using full protective gear and double layers of plastic protecting the work area. You have to clean up every day and remove all gear before exiting the work area...in between the two layers of plastic. It's a lot of work and you have to be very careful. That's why it costs so much.


If you choose to cover it instead of remove it, you have to be careful with chipping paint continuing to chip, keep the paint in excellent shape, and use a wet method of hanging anything the walls so dust isn't released.


You're finding about one of the exact reasons we let our house go. We couldn't afford to fix the lead paint problem nor could we stay there and watch our daughter's blood lead levels increase. There were other issues leading to our move, but the lead was the final straw.

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Thank you for the replies. We had the inside tested when we bought the house, and there is no lead paint on the inside. Only half of the exterior has lead paint, the rest is an addition. Unfortunately all of you have reinforced what I already thought. It looks like gentle scraping and repainting over what is already there.

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There is something that you put on the paint, and then peel away; it gets the paint off without creating dust in the air, which is the danger. Dust is worse than chips, because the smaller particles get breathed into lungs, wiped into eyes, etc. more easily. If done professionally, there are all sorts of precautions they take, certifications they have to have, and such, which is why it's so expensive. I want to say that a friend used some sort of goopy encapsulating paint, which covered up all the lead paint without actually removing it. If it's not actively peeling and leaving chips around, it might be better just to leave it.


If you do work with it, use a respirator, and wash your hands in cold water, not warm; warm water opens up the pores so that your skin absorbs more lead.

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Contractors have to follow very strict procedures for removal because the dust and flakes can embed in the soil around the house and cause contamination. Your two options are removal or encapsulation. Encasulation (painting over) will probably be the less expensive- but I don't know the details regarding the standards for doing so. I also am not certain whether homeowners are governed by the law regarding lead paint or just commercial contractors.


Whatever you do, keep in mind the long term consequences. If if you are "ok" with one method or another, there may be disclosure and testing requirements should you try to sell the house.


Here's some preliminary information:



I think the EPA may have issued additional information and regulations since the above as it dates to 2003.

Edited by MomatHWTK
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