How To Remove Lead Paint? Options & Costs


If you live in a home built before the 1960s, chances are you’re familiar with lead as a paint additive. Before it was proven poisonous and banned from use in consumer goods in 1978, manufacturers added it to increase paint durability.

When lead paint begins to peel off, it produces chips and dust that can cause lead poisoning when ingested. This condition is detrimental to health and wellbeing, especially in children under six, who suffer developmental problems.

You can remove old lead paint using one of four methods: removal (stripping), encapsulation, enclosure, or replacement of the painted surface altogether. Each one has its pros and cons regarding cost, accessibility, and efficiency in dealing with the problem.

Testing your home for lead paint and removing it if found is a worthwhile cause since it protects you and your family while also increasing the value of your property.

How to Remove Lead Paint?

When dealing with lead paint in the home, you have four options:

  • Removal
  • Encapsulation
  • Enclosure
  • Replacement

Let’s go over each one of them in detail with estimated costs.

Removal

Lead paint can be stripped away from surfaces like doors, windows, and walls, using several techniques your contractor will be familiar with. Wet stripping and sanding or a low-temperature heat gun can accomplish the job with some difficulty. Though most professionals opt for chemical stripping as it creates less lead dust.

This brings us to the problem with the removal method; if your doors and windows can’t be removed to be stripped outside the home, it will create a lot of lead dust. Professional contractors have a protocol to avoid contamination. They use HEPA vacuums and put a layer of protective polyethylene all over the place to catch any lead chips or dust and safely dispose of them.

Lead paint should NEVER be removed using electric sanding or open-flame torching. The former creates a cloud of dust that can get into the HVAC system, and the latter produces highly toxic lead fumes.

Here’s a tool provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency to locate certified lead abatement firms.

The removal method costs between $8–$17 per square foot.

Encapsulation

Encapsulation covers up the lead paint with another safe option to prevent the dust from escaping and causing toxicity. This method is probably the cheapest; it’s also more straightforward and less time-consuming than the others.

However, encapsulation has some cons since you can only use it on sound paint that isn’t peeling or flaking off. It also doesn’t get rid of the lead hazard; it just keeps it in place, so no lead dust is free. Finally, this method requires frequent inspection and retouches when needed.

Encapsulation costs about $4 per square foot.

Enclosure

There’s also the enclosure method, which is “trapping” the lead-painted surfaces inside new materials. Wood panels, drywall, and siding can be used for this purpose.

This method, just like encapsulation, only distances you from the lead hazard but doesn’t eradicate it. If the paint is flaking behind the new panels, its dust will accumulate near the floor.

Enclosure costs vary depending on the material used. But it’s usually around $10 per square foot.

Replacement

Replacement is simply eliminating the lead-painted surfaces and replacing them with new ones. It’s more involved and more costly than paint removal. It could mean demolishing entire walls and replacing windows and doors along with their frames.

The discarded material is then tested to see if the lead concentration is high enough that it requires being dumped in a special landfill. The contractors then remove the debris from the project using HEPA vacuums, and they usually do the follow-up cleanup.

Costs of replacement projects could go anywhere from $1000 -$15000.

Can I Try to Remove Lead Paint Myself?

You should never attempt lead removal as a DIY project. Lead is highly toxic, and lead poisoning is a severe condition.

Aside from the lack of proper equipment, a non-professional simply doesn’t have enough training to learn how to deal with the work or the waste products. This is why the EPA issues certification for professionals wishing to work in lead abatement.

If you want to mitigate the cost, simply ask around your area for different quotes from pros. For example, you can ask them which removal methods they use and choose the one that matches your budget.

Frequently Asked Questions On Removing Lead Paint

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions to give you further info.

Is living in a house/apartment with lead paint dangerous?

Lead paint is only dangerous if it’s not in a good enough condition. Paint that’s intact with no chipping, flaking, peeling, etc., isn’t much of a problem as long as you check on its condition regularly.

Areas most likely to break down are high friction areas like window sills and door hinges. If you notice any deterioration in the lead paint around your home, contact a professional and discuss the options mentioned above.

What other places can lead be found around the home?

Unfortunately, before the ban on lead in consumer goods in the 1970s, it was used extensively in many applications. Leaded gasoline was used until 1975, which is why it contaminates the soil in house yards with lead.

Plumbing and pipe soldering used to contain lead, so it can be found in the water supply. Also, some children’s toys made outside the US could have lead in the paint.

What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?

Signs and symptoms of lead poisoning in adults include high blood pressure, abdominal pain, joint and muscle pain, memory and concentration issues, reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm, miscarriage, and fetal developmental disorders.

And in children: developmental delay, irritability, fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, seizures, hearing loss, and pica, which is eating things that aren’t food, like paint chips.

Final Thoughts

Lead used to be everywhere until it was recently discovered to be highly poisonous; this is why the process of eliminating it has taken decades.

If your home happens to have lead-based paint, consider doing something about it even if the color isn’t peeling or chipping right now. It could start at any time, so it’s best to have a plan when this day comes.

In the meantime, make sure to protect pets and small children from exposure to lead paint. Find a play area away from windows and doors with lead paint, and make sure to wash their toys frequently.

And remember, this is a job for a lead abatement professional. Attempting this as a DIY can be a severe health hazard to you and your family.

Jason

This is the site where I share all of the information about home security. I have been working in this industry from last 10 years and therefore, sharing all my experiences and learnings.

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