Thursday, July 21


Very very slowly, it dawned on me. The circa 1961 paint on the upstairs floors is probably lead-based. Ugh! Double UGH! I want to be responsible to the environment, our community, and the floor refinishing guys, but I don't want to spend a million extra dollars for some crazy kind of abatement. So is sanding out of the question? How much containment do I have to do? Has anyone ever used a home lead paint test kit? Are they reliable? Help me, house bloggers and preservationists, you're my only hope.


At 10:31 PM, Anonymous heather said...

It's a messy way to go but soy-gel paint stripper is safe for lead paint abatement as it encapsulates the paint and prevents particulates from becoming airborne. If you absolutely have to sand to remove the paint here are a few suggestions.

1. Wear a lead/asbestos approved mask. The ones with the canisers. They run about $40 at the big box stores.
2. Use plastic dropclothes to completely enclose the room you are working on (Cover doorways, floor to ceiling). Cover all heating/cooling vents and make sure that any cold air returns are covered with plastic as well...thus preventing any dust from spreading to other areas of the house. (Good idea even if paint isn't lead).
3. If at all possible create a double door entrance. Meaning you will have one set of plastic cloths sectioned off about 5 to six feet in front of another.
4. Wear coveralls and hats. When you leave the work area...take them off in the 5 - 6 foot area you created with the two plastic drop cloth doors. Don't track the clothing out of the work area as the particulates will be on the clothing. Leave hats, clothes & masks in this area when not in use. Put in a plastic bag to transport to the laundry room. (You may want to take them outside to shake them off before laundering them as well)
5. Shower IMMEDIATELY after leaving the work area.
6. When you are cleaning up the dust in the room, use a shopvac with a hepa filter.
7. If using the home based lead kits...test several areas of dust AFTER you have cleaned the room but BEFORE you remove the drop cloths and expose the rest of the house...if they test positive, clean again!
7. Keep children & pregnant woman away from the work area at all times. If they can easily be sent away during the work, that's even better.

Hope these suggestions help. If you have any other questions, stop by my site and send me and e-mail (found on the About Us page)

Good Luck!

At 10:48 PM, Blogger Gary said...

Too many people worry excessivly about lead paint and asbestos. The asbestos issue was a big ploy to get federal funding for new schools a couple of decades ago. Somebody had to come up with a reason to get rid of the old schools and asbestos became the scapegoat. In Dayton you can remove asbestos yourself as long as you dispose of it properly. If you contract the work out there is a major cost factor because of liability to the company removing it.
Lead is a similar problem but is mainly an issue if there are children around to ingest the flakes of paint or the dust. If you do the job yourself you are only liable to your own health. Wear an approved mask when you sand and vacuum well. If you contract the work out and you disclose that you know there is lead paint on the floor then you open yourself up to the possibility of paying a premium for the "dread" factor. Lead will likely not pose a health hazard to you and can be reduced in the body by a good diet over time. Check and see if your town or county offer a lead abatement program to assist in the cost to remove lead.
Personally, I would remove the paint myself and sand the floors and nobody would be any wiser except me. My advice is "Let your conscience be your guide."

At 11:03 PM, Blogger MandaLiet said...

I freaked when I realized how much lead paint there might be in my house. And I have to agree with heather that Soy-gel really works well. It's a little expensive, but it works so well and really isn't too hard to control if you just start in one corner and scrape your way to the other. And it has very little smell, so it's really good for indor applications. Don't be scared, just be careful, and good luck!

At 9:48 AM, Blogger K. said...

Thanks for the advice....the thing is we weren't planning on stripping the paint at all, let alone ourselves. So it adds a huge additional project (1000 sq. ft. of stripping). When we've already got a huge to-do list before D. starts his job. And I don't think the floor guys have a care in the world about sanding the hell out of that lead paint. But I do. Not just for my health, but their health, and the health of the people affected if it's not disposed of properly...oh god, this is such a mess.

At 10:15 AM, Blogger Serendipity House said...

First of all, relax. Try not to get too overwhelmed in the thought process. Been there, done the point of losing sleep. One visit from a friend of mine who builds houses and I was reassured that the huge gaping hole in a major structural beam in my house was not the huge deal I thought it was. While I would take certain precautions, I wouldn't get overly worked-up about the situation. You've hired the work out; ask them what their plan is for working with lead-based paint. If they don't plan to take minimal steps to protect themselves and the rest of the house properly, then I would probably get another estimate. Knowledge is power! Educate yourself with professionals who have experience. And relax!! :)

At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Shawn said...

When we were preparing to tear out our bathroom walls, we bought the special masks, got full white suits to wear, had the dropcloths and everything ready to go and then one afternoon we found my dad had been there all day tearing out the old plaster and lath and the walls were completely gone - no mask, suit or plastic dropcloth in sight. At first we were a shocked, but then my dad said that in his 65 years, he'd been exposed to far more lead paint than would have been on the walls in the bathroom and he was still fine, so this much more wouldn't hurt him.

While I can't recommend anyone doing the same thing, it did help that we don't have any kids and we weren't living in the house at the time, so it still got a good, thorough cleaning before we moved in. Yes, lead paint is hazardous, especially to children, but I personally don't think it's quite as big of a deal as it is sometimes made to be, as long as some common sense is used and as much precaution as possible is taken.

At 1:19 PM, Blogger K. said...

Okay, breathing a little easier. But I have a question: when you SoyGelled or otherwise removed paint that you believed might have contained lead, how did you dispose of it?

Thanks! I am completely dependent on HouseBloggers! K.

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be honest...I just put it in a plastic garbage back and put it out with the trash!

At 3:57 PM, Blogger Jocelyn said...

I have been stripping lead paint for a few years now with a heat gun and chemical strippers. I sand it outdoors and I don't wear a mask. I also have had my lead levels tested by my doctor annually and they are "normal". What I have read is that the most danger is for kids and pregnant women.

I also just throw it in the garbage- and that is what happens to most of it in all the condo rehabs in Chicago. They yank all the woodwork and plaster walls out and it goes to the dump somewhere.

Common sense and simple precautions go a long way: I don't prepare food after handling boards for example.

It's all about the individuals comfort level though- you have to do what makes you feel ok.

Now as to asbestos, I would pay for abatement on the insulation we have on the pipes in our basement. I wouldn't touch that because it would be too easy for it to become airbourne and spread everywhere- that would be foolish to me. We did remove an old tile floor that had asbestos in it and we knew because we had it tested- BUT- it came off in huge pieces and did not crumble and turn to dust. We got it out FAST. And we had the whole area sealed off from the rest of our house.

At 4:04 PM, Blogger Jocelyn said...

Oops- a few more things: I definitely recommend having it tested to be certain. You could be getting alarmed for naught. If it does indeed have lead, then use a company that you feel comfortable with. I think that some air cleaners might be in order for this and separate the area with plastic tarps as someone said above. The guys should wear respirators as well. It doesn't have to be a total disaster- there are things you can do to protect yourself and others.


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