Dealing with lead paint in your home is never easy, always terrifying, and usually very expensive. That's because there are numerous health risks associated with the presence of lead-based paints, and handling these materials requires specific training and certification. The paint used in homes prior to 1940 had high amounts of lead, ranging anywhere from 10% to 50%. In 1978, the United States banned the production of lead-based house paint due to the health risks, yet you can still find lead paint in many older homes.
Unfortunately, even after 1978, lead was still sometimes used, and the lead paint that was already used to paint the walls of countless homes remained untouched. Luckily, if you believe your home is contaminated with lead, you have a few options for lead paint removal.
If after one or more home inspections you've become aware that you have lead paint in your home, encapsulation can be your simplest and most affordable method of lead remediation. The process of encapsulation is fairly straightforward: the affected surfaces are covered with a paint-like coating that neutralizes the lead paint. The encapsulation coating creates a water-tight seal and encloses the lead paint. Eventually, the opening and closing of doors and windows could wear off the coating, so it may need to be reapplied.
This method isn't ideal, but can provide an immediate option of lead removal. Enclosure, like encapsulation, deals with the lead paint by covering it up. The enclosure method relies on materials such as drywall, aluminum, and wood to place over the lead-painted surface. The downside with this process is that, should the enclosure material ever be removed, you'll once again have to find a way to deal with the lead paint.
Removing the lead paint directly from the surface will have greater results and prevent the need to revisit the situation later on. However, handling lead paint is extremely dangerous and if done improperly can be more hazardous to your health than leaving it alone. There are many ways to physically remove the paint, such as using a wire brush or wet hand scraping with paint removers. Professional lead remediation experts might choose to use a wet sander, heat gun, or other more efficient (although regulated) means of removal.
All of these methods of remediation can be effective, and you should consult with your contractor as to which one is best for your situation and budget. If you're unsure if your home has lead-based paints, consider home inspections. Many home inspections include a portion where the inspector looks for lead paint, which will indicate whether you need to be concerned.
Whether you're concerned about lead, radon, or are looking to buy or sell, home inspections can help you ensure you know exactly what you're dealing with. Call us today to set up an appointment.