Once you’ve determined that it’s legal for you to remove the lead-paint yourself in your city and state, then a chemical paint stripper is the best way to remove lead-based paint. Just ensure that it doesn’t use methylene chloride, as this chemical can react with the lead and produce toxic fumes.
Today I’ll talk about lead-paint removal and give you some tips on removing it yourself, why chemical strippers are ideal, and some tips on choosing the best chemical strippers.
Let’s take a look at the best lead paint removal options!
Can I remove lead paint myself?
With lead-based paint, it is possible that you will be able to remove it yourself, but you are definitely going to want to check with state and local guidelines. Testing is required to determine if the paint is lead based and from there it boils down to laws passed in 2010 by the EPA.
In most cases, your best bet is going to be to go with a contractor to test the paint and to help you to determine the best course of action Due to the inherent dangers of lead paint, the most commonly used methods by professionals for dealing with it are as follows:
- Enclosure – Enclosure is basically ‘locking away’ the offending sections, often with drywall and other coverings to seal the lead paint away. The lead paint is still there and must eventually be dealt with, but it is sealed away for now.
- Encapsulation – One of the more affordable options, encapsulation using specialized paints that are designed to form a watertight seal as a containment option. As the seal weakens, the lead paint can still become exposed, but this buys you a little time for now when dealing with lead paint.
- Removal – Brushing, scraping, and wet sanding are examples of how you or a contractor would actually remove these paints rather than isolate or replace them.
- Replacement – In some cases, replacement of contaminated sections may be the most cost-effective and safest option.
Will paint remover remove lead paint?
Chemical paint strippers will do the trick, but again it is important to do a little homework to determine if you are legally allowed to attempt lead paint removal on your own an if so, to next research proper safety for doing this.
Both OSHA and the EPA have chemical paint strippers listed as an acceptable option for reducing your exposure to lead dust. It’s endorsed well enough that it’s actually the preferred method reconditioning old boats or restoring historical landmarks.
That said, I cannot stress enough that you should research the safety precautions involved. At the very least you will l need facemasks, gloves, and HEPA filters to help minimize the chances of lead poisoning. So, do your homework first, but the answer is ‘yes, paint strippers are an effective way to remove lead paint’.
Tips for selecting chemical paint strippers
As every DIYer and professional handyman knows, you always want to use the right tool for the right job. To that effect, I’m including some tips for selecting the best chemical paint stripper for ‘getting the lead out’, so to speak. Here is some advice for making sure that you pick the best chemical stripper for the job:
- Industrial strength but non-toxic options are great – You’ve got a lot of strippers out there that are citrus-based and ideal for indoor conditions. These strippers are effective, just a bit slower, but this is a great fit for dealing with lead paint slowly and carefully and as a bonus, they smell MUCH better.
- Gel-type strippers are ideal – You want something that strips paint and that goes on thick. The gel type strippers accomplish this and the thickness makes it easier to put a heavy coat on normally difficult surfaces. Best of all, many of these let you leave them in place for 24-hours or more so you can coat, wait, clean-up, and you’re done.
- Stay away from methylene chloride – Check the label of the stripper you want to use and make sure that it doesn’t include methylene chloride. This chemical is quite common in paint stripers and you can NOT use it with lead. This chemical interacts with the lead in lead-based paints and can produce toxic fumes!
- Look for lead-specific options – A number of specialty strippers will include a bonding agent that can render lead inert for easier removal. Look for strippers that are designed for this and you can make the removal process quite a bit safer for yourself and your helpers.
Some final words on lead paint removal
Today we’ve talked about DIY lead-paint removal and as you can see, chemical paint stripper is the best way to go, just be sure to check local laws and safety guidelines before you get started. Lead paint removal may not be legal to remove on your own, so be sure to check first! Slow, non-toxic gels are a great option for getting the work done and avoid methylene chloride-based strippers as these can cause toxic fumes.
While we’re on the subject, check out this 3rd party link from HUD and you can find a pdf with tips on reducing lead hazards when you’ve got some remodeling to do. It’s well-written and will definitely help you out. Good luck with your project!