Lead is a known toxicant and is banned as a paint additive in many countries. If you live in Brisbane and your fixer-upper needs a fresh coat of paint, you must determine if you have to deal with lead paint. But how can you tell that you need to remove lead paint? If you live in a home that dates back to the 1960s, it was most likely painted using lead-based paint.
Lead testing kits available online can help put the matter to bed by ascertaining whether you have a lead problem. While a test might indicate the presence of lead on your painted surfaces, it might not always be reliable. Why? The top coating may not contain lead, but the layers underneath are likely to have used lead-based paint.
If the paint is sound (there are no signs of peeling or flaking), there’s no cause for alarm. But, if signs of wear or chipping are apparent, you’ll need to remove the paint before considering a repaint.
Chemical Strippers Work Best
So, what’s the safest approach to getting rid of lead paint and averting the risk of lead poisoning? The opinion is divided, but using a chemical stripper is arguably the best way to remove lead paint.
The stripper works by binding paint particles. In so doing, it prevents lead dust from building up. The bound particles are non-hazardous, making them more accessible and safer to remove from various surfaces. These may include wood, stone, plaster, or metal.
A stripper’s versatility makes it perfect for extracting lead paint. Besides, it might be cumbersome trying to work on particular materials, not to mention that you can easily damage them while trying to scrape peeling paint.
A chemical stripper is ideal for removing multiple layers of lead-based paint in one fell swoop. This eliminates the need for scrubbing or sanding a surface and its attendant woes- dust buildup.
To save time, you can remove the objects from which you need lead paint removed and take them to a stripping company. Doing so for furniture or doors provides a cost-effective and safest alternative to buying a paint stripper and doing it yourself.
Hiring a certified contractor also offers the safest option for lead paint removal. Such professionals are trained and understand the safest way to get rid of lead-based paint. They are also attentive to detail and are more likely to adhere to laid-down safety precautions or rules.
Lead paint poses serious health risks. If you plan to tackle a renovation or remodeling project that involves removing lead paint, remember to wear fully protective clothing. The safety gear should include:
- Goggles or safety glasses
- Respirator with a HEPA filter
- Shoe covers or disposable shoes
- A hat
Cover the floor and other surfaces on the worksite with plastic sheeting. The work area should also be free of furniture, curtains, and other items that can be contaminated by lead dust. Similarly, cover the air vents and chimneys and secure the edges of your sheeting with duct tape.
Also, keep windows and doors shut, and contain the work area with a plastic curtain, if possible. This prevents dust from escaping the worksite. Most chemical strippers limit lead dust but do not entirely prevent it from forming. Thus, a containment strategy is a critical safeguard to have in mind.
Contain lead dust by spraying the work surfaces with water. Dampness minimizes the risk of inhaling toxic lead dust. Still, keep your work area well-ventilated.
Cleanup and Washing
Use a HEPA vacuum to spruce up your worksite. You can typically rent such a vacuum from your local yard. Don’t cut corners using your den’s conventional vacuum, even if it’s fitted with a HEPA filter, as this may disperse or distribute the dust to other rooms.
Clear the work area by removing the plastic sheeting and trash in your work area and placing it in garbage bags. Clean or dispose of the protective gear upon finalizing the project. Plus, follow your area’s disposal regulations.
Once the paint stripper does its magic, you’ll need to clean up with water or a degreaser- depending on the stripper’s ingredients. After washing the surfaces, flush the wastewater down the toilet. This prevents environmental pollution that would otherwise occur if you pour the water on the ground.
While a chemical stripper is the safest option for lead paint removal, please don’t use it blindly. Ensure to follow user instructions to the letter and the additional guidelines we’ve discussed. In so doing, you can complete your project safely and give your space a much-needed facelift. Otherwise, hiring a professional might be the way to go. Good luck as you take your pick!