How to Remove Lead Paint

Lead-based paint in your home is dangerous as lead paint chips can come loose, making them dangerous and a cause of lead poisoning. Removing it can be even more dangerous because when done improperly you can create dust that can spread lead throughout your home. Your best bet and the safest choice for lead paint removal is to contact a qualified and certified contractor to do the job, but if you want to try to remove lead-based paints from your home here are a few tips to help you get the job done right.

The three main points to remember when removing lead paint are: control dust, work wet, and clean up completely. Doing these properly will take time and patience so go slowly and carefully to reduce the danger.

The first thing you’ll need to do is seal off the work area with plastic to help contain lead dust that’s created when removing the paint. If possible, get yourself a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter for the room you are working in. To seal off the room you’ll need 6mil plastic and duct tape. For the rest of the job, you’ll need medium and coarse sanding sponges, a scraper, a respirator, rubber or neoprene gloves, and a HEPA vacuum.

After you’ve completely sealed off the room you’ll want to cover the floor COMPLETELY with your plastic sheeting. Once lead dust gets into the carpet it’s virtually impossible to remove, so make sure you cover every last inch with plastic and seal it off with duct tape. Remove as much from the room as possible. Rugs and furniture are all places dust can settle. If it can’t be moved you should cover it with poly sheeting and tape the edges to the floor. You should also keep the windows closed to keep dust from blowing around.

After donning your gloves and respirator, and turning on your HEPA filter, you’ll begin by spraying down the painted surface with a spray bottle filled with water. Then you can begin wire brushing, scraping, and wet sanding to get the paint off. Work from the top to bottom, and regularly collect the sludge and put it into a garbage bag to be removed later.

Safety tip: NEVER use a heat gun or an open flame torch near your paint as it can vaporize into the air and be inhaled.

Make sure you continue working wet the entire time until you are finished, and use the hose from your HEPA vacuum to clean up any dust that collects—this includes cracks and crevices.

Once all the paint is gone, including dust and any loose particles, you’ll want to use a heavyweight paper towel and some all-purpose cleaner and wipe down the entire area you have just cleaned. After this, you’ll rinse the area again with a towel and clean water. Rinse the towel in a bucket of clean water and replace the water in the bucket often.

Next, wet down all of the plastic you’ve just used from top to bottom. Working from outside to inside, ball up all of the plastic and put it in a garbage bag that you should then seal with duct tape.

Finally, you should use your HEPA vacuums and vacuum all of the cracks and edges along the floor. After that is done you should wash the floor with an all-purpose cleaner and a cloth, always wiping in the same direction to avoid recontamination.

The process may seem long and tedious—and it is—but it is for the safety of yourself and anyone else living in your home so never skip a step.

Again, your best bet is to call a professional who is certified in lead paint removal like Branch Services. That’s the best way to make sure you’re not exposed to lead, and your home is lead-free after the project is done.