Older homes can have so much character and charm. Some owners of older homes choose to keep as many of the original features as possible. Yet there can be hidden dangers lurking in the walls because of old paint. According to the CDC, lead-based paints for residential use were banned in 1978 due to the risk of lead exposure to young children living in the home. Even if a child doesn’t actually eat or chew on paint chips that peel from the walls over time, the dust created by rubbing or friction to the paint can be just as hazardous. This is why the EPA requires disclosure notices for homes with lead-based paint when the home is for sale or being rented to tenants. If your home is older than 1978 and you suspect you have lead paint, there’s no need to panic. If there aren’t any young children in the home, you can choose to leave the paint alone as long as it is in good condition and not peeling or chipping. But if you want to be on the safe side, there are several options for living safely in a home with lead paint.
Options for Covering
Some experts say the most affordable and easiest way for homeowners to deal with lead paint is to cover it by rolling on a watertight coating called “lead paint encapsulation” which is specifically made to seal the surface. The downside of this approach is that the coating may wear off around windows and doors over time due to opening and closing.
Another option is to cover the paint with brand new drywall. This means the windows will also need new aluminum or vinyl cladding. This can be a costlier and bigger project overall.
Whichever method you choose, don’t use a machine sander without a HEPA filter attachment. Also, beware of using a power washer without a plan for how to contain and safely dispose of the paint chips and contaminated water.
Clean-Up and Safety
If you’re not sure which method you want to use for the removal of lead paint in your home, you should minimize your exposure and your family’s exposure in the meantime. Clean up and dispose of paint chips right away. Wipe floors, windowsills, and frames regularly with an all-purpose cleaner. And above all, keep children from ingesting paint chips! The idea of eating paint chips as a kid maybe a funny joke to make sometimes, but complications from lead poisoning is a very real and serious hazard for young children which can be prevented with correct methods and help from professionals.