The lead pigment was a staple of all paint dating to the Colonial era in the United States. The additive made the product more durable, allowing everyone to get more time and enjoyment from the investment.
By the middle of the 20th century, scientists recognized that lead exposure led to severe health consequences. Constant exposure or ingestion of the materials could lead to organ and brain damage.
Lead paint was banned entirely in 1978. If you have an older home with the original window or door trim, painted stairs, or walls that haven’t had recent updates, you might need to remove this toxic material.
Steps to Follow When Removing Lead Paint
Tests for lead paint are available to confirm your suspicions of what is potentially lurking in your home.
If the paint is in excellent shape, it can be encapsulated and repainted to protect against exposure. When it is deteriorating by peeling or creating dust, you’ll need to take care of the problem.
These steps can help you get the work completed quickly and safely. Please remember to follow all local rules and regulations for its disposal.
1. Remove the items from the room.
You’ll need to take out the area rugs, furniture, and any other removal items from the room. Once it is clear to work, 6mm plastic sheeting needs to protect the entire floor. Use duct tape to secure the edges of your baseboards and walls. This step prevents dust and paint chips from contaminating these areas.
2. Turn off your HVAC system.
You’ll need to turn off the heating and cooling system next. More plastic sheeting needs to cover your registers. If you don’t take this step, the lead paint dust could get into the vents. It also helps to close your windows to prevent drafts that could redistribute the debris from your cleaning work.
3. Get a bucket of warm water.
Fill a 5-gallon bucket halfway with warm water. Put it in the room with rags or sponges where the lead paint is getting removed.
Once you have it in place, seal the adjacent rooms with additional sheeting to prevent the paint from going to other areas of the house.
4. Put on your personal protective equipment (PPE).
You must protect yourself in the same way that you safeguard your home from lead paint exposure. Instead of wearing a dust mask for this job, you must put on a lead-rated respirator to do the cleanup work. This product must be fitted with an approved HEPA filtration product to keep you safe.
Since lead can enter through your skin, you’ll need to have rubber gloves, protective goggles, and clothing that prevents the materials from getting on your body. Once the work is complete, just throw out the apparel and PPE.
5. Spray the paint with water.
The best way to remove lead paint is to keep it wet. This step keeps the dust levels down so that fewer particles get into the environment. It also helps to keep your working area to about three feet or less to ensure the wall stays damp while you scrape away the loosened paint with a hand scraper.
It isn’t necessary to remove all the lead paint. You must get rid of everything that is deteriorating to create a safer environment. Anything that doesn’t come up when scraped can get painted over safely.
6. Use sanding sponges to smooth rough areas.
After spraying the area with water again, use sanding sponges to smooth the rough spots caused by the scraping. You’ll need to keep the surface wet while working. Although it’ll take longer to complete the removal process this way, it’ll keep the environment safer. As you work, use a dampened sponge to keep cleaning the area. You might need to change the water in the bucket or have multiple containers available to have enough liquid to use.
7. Clean the work area with a certified HEPA vacuum.
You cannot use a household vacuum with a HEPA filter for this job. It must be a certified product designed to contain potentially hazardous particles. You can use the equipment over the plastic sheeting to get rid of as much dust as possible. Once you’re finished, you can remove the sheeting, folding the edges into the center to prevent chips and dust from escaping.
Once you’ve finished these steps, you can dispose of the protective materials according to local rules and regulations. Your room or home is now ready to receive a fresh coat of lead-free paint!