“Don’t eat the paint chips”, your parents might have said. They had good reason for saying this.
Many homes built prior to 1978 have lead-based paint, either visible or hidden in a sub-paint layer. Back in the day lead increased the paint’s durability, with little thought taken into account for its affects on people’s health. Think smoking on a plane… does that really make sense??
If lead paint is intact, meaning still smooth with no cracks or chipping, then the paint serves no serious health threats. HOWEVER, lead paint becomes a serious health problem as the paint starts to deteriorate. It will chip, flake or rub against surfaces that then create lead dust – a big health no-no. Note: Lead exposure is most toxic to young children and pregnant women, but can also affect the average person.
Side effects for exposure in young children include: slowed growth, behavioral and learning problems
Side effects for pregnant woman include: premature birth and reduced fetus growth.
Side effects for everyone else include: Cardiovascular effects, increased blood pressure, decreased kidney function, reproductive problems (in both men and women)
Lead Paint and the Real Estate Disclosure
Recent laws make it ‘mandatory’ for sellers to disclose if they have lead paint, however, a loop hole has been created where sellers can give a $500 credit to the buyer to do their own lead inspection. Most of the time, buyers pocket the credit and never learn if their house has lead paint prior to purchase. The important thing is what you, as a new homeowner, do next.
Testing for Lead Paint
It’s better to be safer than sorry when it comes to lead paint testing. Test kits are inexpensive and will help you make informed decisions when it comes to home improvement projects. Bauen recommends the following:
1.Test for lead paint if you plan on doing any type of renovation, scrapping or sanding on paint that looks old or if you will be disturbing sub-paint layers.
2. If you move into a home built prior to 1978 or so, perform a lead paint test on painted areas that are cracked, peeling, or flaking. Even if you aren’t doing work, you should know what exists.
Once again, this is all done in order to keep your mind at ease. Ready to test? Buy your test kit here.
Help! I have Lead Paint!
So you realized that your dreamy 1930’s tudor has lead paint galore in the sublayers. There are a few ways to deal with it.
1. Encapsulation: A paint like substance that bonds to lead paint to create a barrier. You can then primer and paint.
2. Replace: It might be a good time to replace the lead painted areas, especially if they are in poor condition. This is a good idea for moldings and window trims. Might as well beautify the room and add value while making your home safe.
3. Enclosure: Cover the lead painted area with a different surface. For example, new drywall over old drywall.
4. Removal: The use of chemicals and tools to remove the lead paint from the area. Three types of removal include:
5. Wire brushing or wet hand scraping: The use of non-flammable solvents specific for paint removal followed by scrapping with a stiff putty knife or bristle brush. We recommend hiring someone to do this, however, if you plan on DIY’ing, make sure to wear a full body protective suit, goggles, mask, shoe protectors. Think…outift.
6. Wet hand sanding – sanding with wet sandpaper to limit the amount of dust released in the air.
7. Heat Stripping – the use of a heat gun to loosen the paint, then followed by hand scrapping. Not advised for the average DIY’er.