Do you know when your home was built? That can be an important answer if you are about to start painting your Concord home. All paint contained lead prior to 1980. So scientists experimented and determined it was hazardous to people’s health, particularly pregnant women, seniors and very young children. Since that time, all paint has been made without lead.
Removing lead-based paint is not a do-it-yourself project. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has strict guidelines about who is able to remove lead paint from a home and how it should be done. Choosing to attempt removing lead paint could result in lead exposure and possible health issues for everyone in your family.
If your home was built prior to 1978, you will want to have painted surfaces tested for the presence of lead. Lead tests can be purchased at stores such as Wal-Mart or home improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot. Today’s tests can give you nearly immediate results for the presence of lead, but they cannot tell you how much lead is present.
If you get a positive result, contact your local health department for information about having further testing done. It will also be necessary to have children 6 and younger tested for lead. Your child’s pediatrician or health department can conduct these tests.
Having a professional remove the lead from your home is the safest way to handle its removal. This option is expensive, however. It can cost $15 per square foot or around $10,000 for average houses. If this is outside of your family’s financial ability, you can also consider these options:
- Encapsulation: A special encapsulant is painted over surfaces that have lead paint. The paint bonds with the encapsulant to reduce the chance of it chipping. If you follow the instructions, you can expect a long-lasting bond. This special encapsulant ‘paint’ cost about $35/gal which makes it about $1,000 to paint your house if it is average size. If you have a painting contractor do the work, labor is extra.
- If encapsulation isn’t within your budget, consider removing items that have lead-based paint on them. Windows, doors and trim are easily replaced and much less expensive than removing the paint. However, if the lead-based paint is on the walls, this option is not practical.
- Covering the lead-based paint may be something to consider if it on the walls. Use sheet rock, wallpaper or paneling to cover over the paint. This will keep access to the paint to a minimum. Remember to disclose the presence of lead paint if you choose to sell your home.
- If your family does not have small children, pregnant women or the elderly, and the paint is in good repair, you may not have to do anything. If you decide to sell your home in the future, you will want to disclose the presence of lead-based paint so prospective buyers are aware.
The EPA website (epa.gov) offers the publication “Steps to Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting.” Follow their instructions for disposing of lead-contaminated debris.
Speak with prospective paint contractors about their experience with lead-based paints. They will be able to provide suggestions on how to handle the paint as well as testing your home to verify lead is present. The right contractor will knowledgeable and ready when you are to start painting your Concord home.