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Removing Lead Paint From Your Home’s Exterior: Why You Should Only Trust a Pro

We’ve reached a point where most of us are aware of how dangerous the presence of lead in house paint can be. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that lead paint has already been removed from every older home.

If you’re looking to repaint your home, it’s imperative that you don’t try and remove lead-contaminated paint yourself. You should hire a professional instead.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about removing lead paint.

breathing mask for lead paint removal

It’s Dangerous

Lead paint on its own is hazardous to the health of children due to their bodies absorbing and retaining more lead on average than adults. They’re also the most likely to come into contact with it since children frequently touch their surroundings.

But, this doesn’t mean that adults aren’t at risk if the paint is disturbed.

Those who try and strip paint off their home by themselves may inadvertently cause it to be ground into dust during the process (depending on the method), causing them to breathe in the particles. Sanding is a common removal method that can be dangerous to utilize on your own.

The symptoms of lead-based paint hazards include:

  • Abdominal pain/vomiting
  • General fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Joint/muscle pain or discomfort
  • Headache
  • Mood disorders
  • Lowered sperm count

Attempting to remove the paint on your own also poses a threat to the rest of your family.

Removing paint on your own runs the risk of contaminating other areas of your home (even if you’re sure that you’ve cleaned up all the paint you worked with). This can easily cause complications if you have young children or elderly family members who frequent that area of the house. 

damaged wood

You Could Damage Your Home

If you’ve never removed paint off of a building before, it’s likely that you may cause damage to your property.

Attempting to remove pain too aggressively can easily damage the wood underneath, leaving you with the need to make repairs before you can repaint the surface.

People who remove house paint on their own often need to work on the entire house, meaning that they won’t have the time to meticulously strip every square foot of their home’s surface. This leads to working more quickly than you should and potentially making mistakes.

This is particularly true for any methods that use heat, as it won’t take much to char the wood underneath the paint.

So, attempting to save money by removing paint on your own could actually result in you spending more money if you cause enough damage.

Vinyl siding over lead paint

Removing The Lead Paint Isn’t The Only Option

Dealing with lead paint doesn’t always involve the actual removal of the paint. There are other effective solutions that can save both time and money.

The two most common include:

  1. Enclosure: The process of covering the old, contaminated surface with a new one. Drywall, aluminum, and vinyl cladding are all options for protecting you and your family from the lead-contaminated paint underneath.
  2. Encapsulation: This method is similar to the one above in the fact that it is meant to create a protective covering over your home’s paint. A special type of paint is rolled over the surface that bonds to the lead paint, ensuring that it stays adhered to your home.

Attempting to install a physical covering yourself could prove to be fairly difficult. You also run the risk of contamination while working, as using tools during installation may disturb the paint and proliferate it throughout the surrounding area.

Many homeowners may attempt to go the encapsulation route on their own but forego the use of the special bonding paint. But, this doesn’t eliminate the health risk.

Even if covered by a layer of regular paint, lead paint could eventually contaminate the covering layer. From here, you’re left with the same situation you began with: a house covered in lead-based paint.

This situation could actually be more dangerous than before, since some homeowners may believe that their home’s contamination problem is solved. This could result in people who are working or playing near the home being less careful than they should be.

flaking lead paint chips

Cleaning up Is Crucial

Performing the removal (or covering) process on your own will likely be long and grueling. When you’re done, you’re likely going to be done. So, the importance of cleanup often gets overlooked.

While your house may look great and may even be contaminant-free, this doesn’t mean that the surrounding area is safe.

Paint chips and paint dust are hazardous to anyone who comes in contact with them. If a side yard between homes is contaminated, you could pose a threat to other people in your neighborhood, as well.

All paint chips and debris must be collected to avoid contaminating the soil or house. You’ll need a HEPA vacuum filter, wet wipes, and sealed plastic bags for storing paint chips. You’ll also need a lot of patience while you decontaminate the area, especially when searching through the surrounding grass.

Since cleanup is such a vital part of the process, a certain level of care and effort must be present while doing it.

Your best bet is often to contact a professional contractor in order to complete the job safely and efficiently.

EPA lead safe certified seal

Removing Lead Paint Can Seem Difficult

But it doesn’t have to be.

With the above information about removing lead paint in mind, you’ll be well on your way to finding a qualified professional and repainting your house as soon as possible.

Keep in mind, it is against the law for a non-certified contractor to do remodeling work when lead paint is present. Make sure the company you choose has been certified by the EPA, and ask to see their certificate.

Want to learn more about residential painting? This article has plenty of useful info on how to repaint your interior.

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